Gliding Revolution makes it easy for visitors to explore the storied capital of the Lone Star State. Their tour guides pair patrons with easy-to-navigate Segways, orientating them to the apparatus’s settings and ticklish spots before leading them on any number of scenic jaunts. The Early Bird Special tour introduces riders to the city’s sites before rush hour, while the Capitol Pavement tour grants participants insider knowledge on Austin’s history with stops at the State Capital and Congress Avenue.
Tour guides Stacy and Taylor Smith— along with their intrepid dog Thor—teach students to glide with grace as they lead standup paddle boarding tours over the placid waters of Lady Bird Lake. Sunset tours cross under the Congress Avenue Bridge during its renowned nightly bat exodus when the sky is streaked with shades of melty sorbets. The Barge tour ropes together paddleboards as groups of paddlers drift over waters, pausing to play on rope swings, and sipping on BYOB libations bolstered by complimentary mojito or margarita mix on the tour’s escort barge. Alternatively, the Basics tour proffers a two- to three-hour lesson in the fundamentals of paddleboarding, including kneeling, standing, paddling, and using paddles to stroke the whiskers of passing catfish. Depending on the body's position, core and arm muscles can feel a workout burn or jellyfish-like state of relaxation.
After 22 years in the air force, Water 2 Wine–founder John McFadden established his first custom winery in San Antonio seven years ago. Already the business has spread as far as Milwaukee to the north and Denver to the west, bringing the country's vinophiles more than 100 wines, each of which are fermented on site and available for tastings every day. Those who want to get more involved in the crafting process may sign up to make their own wine and steep themselves in each step of the operation, from selecting the grape varieties, beginning the fermentation process, withstanding a wait of about 45 days, and finally christening their creation by smashing a tiny boat against the bottle. All custom-made wines are plastered with personalized labels made from one of Water 2 Wine’s templates or images that customers design from the ground up.
For more than 18 years, Thao Tran has treated clients to nail services, skincare, and massages that address issues from stress and chronic pain to weak nails and congested skin. Seven days a week, Tran and the staff at Nail and Skin Day Spa knead away tension, remove unwanted hair, and make lashes stand out with tinting, perm, and extension services. Using products from OPI and CND, nail technicians keep nails strong, shiny, and meticulously groomed. Dermalogica products cleanse skin of all types without artificial colors or fragrance. Permanent-makeup services enhance features without constant makeup reapplication through long days, water activities, and sudden liquid-eyeliner storms.
Weddings at The Vineyard at Florence hark back to an unhurried age, when horse-drawn carriages ferried couples to the ceremony, guests stayed in villas overlooking verdant rows of grapes, and the next morning began with a dip in the infinity pool. The sprawling venue embraces this mix of old-world Italy and modern luxury. Intricate stonework on the Tuscan inns contrasts with the sleek lines of its gym equipment, and the murmurs of a spring-fed creek accompany live musical performances in the amphitheater.
Guests needn't be getting married to explore the setting?there are single-day excursions such as the Sunday yoga class. Of course, estate wines remain a prime focus for the staff and the vineyard's visitors, with tastings held most Thursdays and weekends inside the Villa Firenze, where contemporary culture mingles with antiquated charm. Italian decor and architecture typify the rustic interior, though its main hallways give way to galleries where local artists can exhibit their work. Gigantic wooden barn beams grace the ceiling in the traditional wine shop, and the outer decks afford views of the polo field alongside the arbors and herb gardens.
Rather than preserve their slice of countryside with uninterrupted quiet or a colossal snow-globe dome, the vineyard's tenants strive to fill the hills with life. They host classes on topics from pairing wines to organic farming, and welcome diners to sample handcrafted confections at Bissinger's Chocolate Experience and Caf?. Bands fill the wine-tasting room with new rhythms each week, and festivals such as the Harvest Celebration Weekend?where attendees can glimpse stone carvers at work and dine on homegrown cuisine?imbue the rural expanse with a close sense of community.
The Social City Dash puts smart phones to good use during its urban adventure race. Teams of two turn to Twitter and Facebook to solve clues and complete tasks, harnessing the power of their social networks to tackle challenges that take them all over the city. As they race to beat the clock, participants learn new facts about their town and also raise money to support a local charity.