As a San Antonio native, Shelly Reynolds has been exploring the city all her life. Luckily, she doesn't miss out on a global perspective: While sharing her lifetime of knowledge through Historic Texas Tours, she and her staff get to meet and befriend travelers from all over the world. The company's tours focus as much on forming new friendships as discovering the local sights as they expose visitors and locals alike to area wineries, restaurants, and landmarks at the direction of friendly guides. Food tours unearth local eateries with a tour itinerary that varies often to reward visitors who go on repeat trips, and journeys into the Texas Hill Country offer complex tastes of locally made wines. Mission Trail tours explore edifices that date back to the 1700s, including the oldest unrestored stone church in the United States and a used-horse dealership.
Named a Best Bargain Family Adventure by Southern Living magazine, Cascade Caverns encircles visitors in 64-degree corridors where they can see and feel millions of years of terrestrial history. The old and wizened cave was the first of the six major Texas cave attractions to be discovered, and the only one with an interior waterfall, which, at over 90 feet, has inspired awe in throngs of visitors over the years and slowly driven up Batman's rent. Visitors witness millions of water droplets reflecting brilliantly on the Diamond Ceiling, and watch slender stalactite and stalagmite formations slowly work toward their dreams of becoming corinthian columns. While moving from corridor to corridor, spelunkers may spot such unusual animals as cliff and leopard frogs, eastern pipistrelle bats, and Cascade Cavern salamanders.
A crackling fire warms guests perched at white-draped tables in the candlelit wine cellar. Upstairs, diners marvel at the picturesque views of the vineyard and rose garden filling the glass-enclosed patio's windows or deeply inhale the aroma of wildflowers drifting onto the vine-covered porch. It's against these intimate backdrops that servers at The Vineyards Restaurant deliver steak, seafood, and other upscale dishes to tables, which come aglow with candlelight as dusk falls.
The chefs work hard to make each bite as special as the surroundings. They age beef-tenderloin fillets for 45 days before plating them atop garlic-and-mushroom sauce and slowly marinate chicken in a spicy chipotle-garlic oil before nestling it in a bed of pasta covered in cilantro cream sauce.
With such food in such a setting, a regular night out at The Vineyards is one to remember, but a special occasion there is truly magical. For marriage proposals, anniversaries, and the reunions of long-lost pairs of socks, staffers lead guests down a candle-strewn path to a private table set for dessert among the vineyard's rows of grapevines. The Vineyards has held more than 500 weddings in its open-air pavilion, and its on-staff wedding coordinator and floral designer help plan picture-perfect ceremonies.
When horror movies like the Paranormal Activity franchise need a supernatural adviser and The Atlantic Paranormal Society needs a recruiter, they turn to Robert. A former cast member on SyFy's Ghost Hunters International, he draws on his extensive paranormal know-how to lead 90-minute nighttime treks with Ghost Hunts of San Antonio Texas Tour.
Exploring the dusky streets of downtown San Antonio, the tour stops at more than 10 locations with verified ghost activity, including the Flannery House, the Crockett Hotel, and the Casino Club building, where apparitions can be spotted mulling over the same poker hand they've been holding for more than 100 years. Rob showcases modern ghost-hunting equipment while helping guests detect spirits by seeking out cold spots and snapping photographs. When he's not commanding the hunt, he regales visitors with factual accounts of the deaths of famous San Antonio spirits including Mae West, Davie Crockett, and Roy Rogers.
In 1910, Louis Bush led his first tour of Washington, DC, loading passengers into the refurbished chassis of a Mack truck that he had painted blue and gray. From this humble beginning, Louis expanded his Gray Line tours throughout the United States and abroad. The company currently hosts tours in more than 700 destinations across six continents and all three moons. However, Gray Line's expansive international scope isn't nearly as important as its commitment to a narrow, regional focus. Each tour aims to introduce visitors to some distinctive facet of the city's identity, from the ghosts of Savannah, Georgia’s, historic district to the towering redwoods of San Francisco’s Muir Woods. During the chauffeured sojourns, guides dole out intriguing tidbits of local knowledge, giving the groups some invaluable insight into the areas’ histories and cultures.
Inspired by The Amazing Race, CityScape Adventures—held across the United States—entangle race participants in webs of 12 puzzles and challenges in citywide races to the finish line. Participants compete in teams of two, using their wits, teamwork, and underground network of mutant-turtle spies to complete the tasks given at the start of the race. The 12 challenges take the form of puzzles, riddles, and clues that guide treasure hunters to a specific location within the city, where each team must complete a special task using only their cleverness and muscles. Players can also use the Internet, and the winning team is usually the one that best leverages its resources. The first team to successfully complete all tasks and vault over the finish line will receive a prize and assembly line of high-fives.