One inch off the asphalt, roaring by at 65 mph. Because On Track Xperience houses a fleet of NasKarts powered by Honda engines, this kind of wind-in-your-hair action is possible. Helmets, of course, keep wind out of hair, though, while drivers 16 and older zip around Thunderhill Raceway's banked oval track. Each race burns up 10 laps and lasts about five minutes. Those looking to master their lap times can attend speed school and learn the ins and outs from a former pro racer and trainer. And those interested in a little competition can join eight-week racing leagues. Groups can also navigate the oval circuit for birthdays or corporate events that can accommodate up to 400 for team-building racing events where winners are showered in a business-card tickertape parade.
"It's like throwing a party every day," Byron Severance, who co-owns The Jumpy Place along with his wife, Cathy, told the Hays Free Press. "It's the most fun I've ever had in a job." Byron and Cathy's indoor playground—kept immaculate with a strict socks-only policy, daily disinfectant washes, and an unbudging ban on trashcan-dwelling Grouches—relieves the endemic of excess energy common to youths aged 10 and younger. As children bounce in and slide down air-filled fortresses, adults entertain themselves with complimentary coffee, WiFi, and cartoon-free television. Both locations are open every day except Tuesday, and each admission grants all-day access that allows families to come and go as they please.
As the wakeboards, waterskies, and skateboards of The Texas Ski Ranch zoom about outside, the Spring Loaded Indoor Trampoline Park facility holds airborne activities of its own. Trampolines stretch across the more than 15,000-square-foot facility, pulsating beneath the socks of leaping, tumbling, and flipping adults and youngsters alike. The venue also houses inflatable bounce houses for tinier guests, and come Tuesday nights, colorful balls sail through the air during weekly dodge-ball games. The staff hosts birthdays throughout the year, along with Mommy and Me sessions and fitness classes.
Emblazoned with patriotic red, white, and blue, Lone Star Riverboat's vessels churn through Lady Bird Lake, floating alongside towering cypress trees and the city's skyline. Meanwhile, the captain's booming voice narrates each tour and details the steamy romances of the area's local waterfowl.
However, the company's aquatic excursions aren't just restricted to sightseeing. Their largest ship, The Lone Star, boasts two decks and a 150-person capacity. Aboard the ship, DJs spin tunes and caterers serve barbecue for special events such as weddings. On Friday nights, patrons board The Lone Star for moonlight cruises, taking in scenic views of the Austin skyline.
Lone Star Riverboat's enthusiasm for the water extends to environmental preservation. According to its website, the company owns the largest all-electric paddle wheeler in the country. It also donates a portion of its gross sales to the Austin area's park system and provides afterschool activities for at-risk fish.
As a young chef just starting out, Jason Tallent had cooked his way up the ladder, working directly under James Beard Foundation Award–winning chefs. After moving to Austin, he took the reins on the 34th Street Café, designing a farm-to-table menu of upscale New American comfort food. He and his team layer hormone-free meats and local, organic veggies to revamp beloved lunch sandwiches such as the BLT, Reuben, or ham and swiss. During the dinner rush, the menu throws on its formal wear for dishes such as crispy risotto with truffle cheese or panko-crusted chicken picatta drizzled with beurre blanc and sprinkled with capers. Affable owner Eddie Bernal keeps the restaurant’s laser-like focus on serving ethical, delicious café cuisine, while high ceilings and a spacious dining room offer guests plenty of room to relax during lunch, dinner, or Twister matches that determine who’s picking up the tab.
Serving central Texas for more than 25 years, Bridal Extravaganza simplifies shopping for brides and grooms by collecting more than 200 vendors under one roof. The booths of experienced wedding professionals lure in couples to sample their wares, from planners showing off their color-coded to-do lists to caterers doling out tastes of cakes, dinner dishes, and champagne. Fashion shows give onlookers a taste of the latest dress fashions for brides and bridesmaids and the latest developments in the world of cummerbunds for grooms. By the day's end, lucky ticket holders win prizes for a free wedding gown, bridal pictures, and cash. Each bride who attends the Bridal Extravaganza will receive $500 in free Bridal Bucks to spend on select exhibitors or a fairy godmother.