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.
Bandera RiverFest’s schedule enlivens the banks of the Medina River with a host of games, music, festival fare, and events. Witness the festival's capstone, the Anything That Floats Regatta, where decorated vessels crafted from a variety of floating materials, including foamboard and living otters, parade down the river. The dulcet tones of bands such as Fifty Dollar Dynasty and The Perfect Parrothead Party enchant eardrums, and watermelon and Big Lou’s hot-dog-eating contest and a Central Texas Barbecue Association–sanctioned barbecue cook-off challenge bellies to expand themselves. Additional events include a car show, an arts-and-crafts show, and a swap meet, where you can trade Social Security numbers.
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.
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 Ohmes 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.
Sound Excursions describes their carefully curated group experiences as "field trips for adults." It's easy to see why: every outing takes groups to a new realm of Washington, whether it's the frothy shores of Puget Sound, inland forests and mountains, or tables at Seattle's thriving restaurants. The events held at these diverse locations range from culinary workshops on topics such as sushi-making and moonshine-tasting, to adventurous excursions with whitewater rafting or kayaking, to laid-back themed party cruises. For many outings, luxury transportation is provided.