Texas Ski Ranch sends wakeboarders, kneeboarders, and water-skiers skimming across the placid surface of a cable lake—all without the use of a boat. Ropes connected to a circulating cable high above the water pull up to six athletes at a time around the lake, with kickers and sliders stationed throughout to provide opportunities for big air, and a Little Bro cable system is available for beginners. Aside from the cable park, the 70-acre action-filled sports wonderland also boasts a 15,000-square-foot city-style skate park, as well as an indoor trampoline park, beach area, portable rock wall, and Wahoo's Fish Taco restaurant. A staff of coaches and a fully stocked board shop help visitors explore other adrenaline sports, such as wake surfing and extreme sunburning.
A buoyant fleet of inflatable rafts and tubes drifts lazily down two sprawling rivers populated with exciting rapids and falls. During 1.5- to 5-hour treks, guests can traverse the Comal or Guadalupe River in an inner tube, relax with a partner in a two-seater raft, or host a regulation poker game with friends inside a raft that holds up to six. Trip durations and age cutoffs may change on a daily basis depending on current river flow.
Seasoned kayaker John Cline paddles with a local hotel concierge along the Colorado River, periodically explaining that kayaking is perfectly safe for beginners and an ideal way to savor the pleasant Texas weather. Suddenly, the sky erupts and an onslaught of rain drenches the waterborne duo. They rest their paddles on their laps, look at each other, and start laughing. Rising Phoenix Adventures' kayak and canoe trips create these unique memories so regularly that one Belgian businesswoman even makes annual trips to the area just to ride the class-1 river. Since establishing the outdoor-excursion company in 2004 with barely 10 kayaks and canoes, Cline has more than quadrupled his fleet to accommodate the ever-increasing demand. After alighting one of the trusty vessels, adventurers set off to navigate through the river's islands and beneath a scenic half-mile tree canopy, where the shores offer glimpses of wild pigs, great blue herons, and undomesticated beach umbrellas.
Stretching across more than 6 miles, Lady Bird Lake's tranquil waters reflect the Austin skyline, the cliffs at Red Bud Isle, and the Congress Avenue Bridge, home to the largest urban bat population in the world. Throughout the year, Rowing Dock’s instructors take visitors into this manmade lake and teach them to paddle in kayaks or row within stand-up paddleboards. For customers who feel comfortable with their paddling prowess, the staffers rent everything from one-, two- and three-person kayaks, paddleboats and paddleboards, and canoes. As these human-powered vessels float across the lake, passengers can view the area's many native birds or canoodle with their oars at sunset.
Shore Club Restaurant & Bar serves up both gourmet food from the land and sea and a picturesque view of Volente Beach at Lake Travis. While staring out at the rippling water, diners devour Texas rib-eye steaks of marbled Angus beef and black-and-blue bacon burgers. From the sea comes barbecue bacon-wrapped shrimp—stuffed with jalapeños and glazed with Myers Rum barbecue sauce—as well as lobster mac 'n' cheese with lobster claw meat sautéed in spiced coconut oil.
Shore Club Restaurant & Bar encourages folks to come in for a full meal in the restaurant or a quick bite at the bar in between jaunts to Shore Club Volente Beach's sprawling water park. After a day out on the water, many diners head to the bar's outdoor patio to sip cocktails and toast to not running into any krakens.
Sail & Ski Center's amiable staff of sports enthusiasts and shipwrights keep outdoor voyagers plying the waves and skimming down mountainsides with boat-maintenance services and an array of watersport and snow-sport accouterments. Like snagging an entire tray of cheese samples, the vast emporium of snowboards, skis, and wakeboards allows visitors to try out wares before they buy, sending thrill-seekers sailing over seas and snowdrifts atop such brand names as Hyperlite, Liquid Force, Saloman, and Mission 7. The talented servicefolk at Sail & Ski Center also sell, repair, and refurbish a broad spectrum of watercrafts, including yachts, jet skis, motorboats, and rocket-powered dinghies.