The low-hanging branches of southern live oak trees stretch out over the house and pavilion areas at Don Strange Ranch, dappling parties, weddings, and corporate team gatherings with splashes of sunlight. Since 1952, the 125-acre longhorn ranch in the Texas Hill Country has hosted myriad events, including scenes from the PBS music documentary series Live from the Artists Den and the wedding of country music stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.
More than just a picturesque backdrop, the ranch’s rugged natural surroundings host outdoor activities such as ropes courses and kayak trips down the Guadalupe River. And the friendly staffers who man 350- to 400-foot ziplines work to ease guests out of their comfort zones, like a mother bird pushing her young out of the nest for their first extreme base-jumping lesson.
S.A. Kayak Rentals equips its patrons with paddles, life vests, and their very own watercraft for self-propelled jaunts over San Antonio's many public waterways. Paddlers simply pick up their equipment and select a launch point, such as the Mission Reach Zone on the San Antonio River or the dock at Elmendorf Lake Park. Whatever location they choose, kayakers can enjoy a peaceful float amid natural surroundings and wildlife, away from the city noise and the lifeguards who frown on kayaking in public pools.
San Antonio’s bustling urban environs and picturesque natural surroundings both serve as the setting for Adventure Club San Antonio’s organized, jovial group outings for singles and married couples alike. Resident staffers heed suggestions from more than 300 members and 200 fortune cookies to devise a calendar of events that brims with an average of 60 activities every month, most of which are free of charge. After perusing the bevy of activities, participants congregate amid the verdant San Antonio–area wilderness for outdoor recreation such as hiking and canoeing, or within the lively city limits for dinners, sports matches, members-only shindigs, and frequent volunteer sessions for local charities.
Aside from the chance to mingle with new friends and explore the region, members receive discounts at dozens of local businesses, and can swiftly find a companion for unofficial events and shadow-puppet castings via a handy activity partners’ forum. Additionally, Adventure Club can connect members to a network of similar groups in Austin and Houston.
The brainchild of outdoor enthusiast Stacey Banta, Texas Pack & Paddle unlocks San Antonio’s local waterways for paddlers and fly fishers with kayaking classes, tours, and aquatic sports equipment. Their American Canoe Association–certified instructor explains how to slice the water with paddles and rev a kayak’s engine during introductory lessons that also review safety and rescue techniques. Those with a firm grip on their aquatic steeds can head out with a professionally licensed All-Water Guide, who calls upon wisdom gathered over 34 years of kayaking to lead expeditions through waterways such as the Guadalupe River. Regardless of their chosen pathway to adventure, visitors can rest assured that all staff members hold CPR and first-aid certifications. Further assurance can be found at the company’s store, which outfits explorers with Keen footwear, dry bags and boxes, and Stohlquist WaterWare, and whittles spears for kayakers set to embark on seasonal kraken hunts.
Since 1971, Guadalupe Canoe Livery has equipped powerful paddlers to explore the scenic upper Guadalupe River with kayaks, canoes, rafts, and inner tubes. Don a life jacket and climb into an Old Town canoe with a pal for a tour of the shoreline that should last 2–3 hours. Fun for navigation novices and seasoned stream skimmers alike, the tour departs from Nichols Landing on Spring Branch Road, a location reachable by a fee-free shuttle.
Chuck's Tubes' team sends their customers on laid-back journeys down the Comal River's tree-lined waterways. Their inflatable vessels—which can also accommodate coolers and nonrobotic dogs—float down the river as it winds through the city of New Braunfels. Once tubers reach the end of their journey, an air-conditioned shuttle ferries them back to the launch point for another trip down the river. A private DJ spins tunes back at Chuck's Tubes' headquarters, where staff members help visitors understand maps of the Comal River and that tubes don't actually taste like donuts.