The engine's howl steadily builds as the Robinson R44 helicopter's blades churn with increasing velocity. Passengers look out of bubble windows and see grass whipping beneath. In a moment, the turf disappears, fading from view as the chopper lifts higher into the sky. So begins an aerial adventure led by experienced pilots Steve Van Buren and John Holler, who venture into the airways above Austin, San Antonio, the hill country, and central Texas. The air-conditioned copters—equipped with four-way communication that allows guides to maintain contact with passengers—glide through the firmament, as pilots obey all stop-sign-shaped clouds on their way to eye-catching views of sites such as historic Gruene. Crews also bring helicopters to clients for party rentals and assist landowners with predator control and game surveys.
On a regular day in New Braunfels, groups of 16 people can be seen pedaling down the street, perhaps drinking beer as they go. They aren't a crowd of irresponsible cyclists: rather, they're passengers on the PubCrawler of New Braunfels. With seating for a driver, 10 pedaling riders, and 5 other passengers on a rear bench, the pedal-powered bus rumbles along at leisurely speeds of up 5 miles per hour.
Though it's been used for events ranging from bachelorette parties to parades, the PubCrawler—true to its name—most often wheels out for pub crawls. For these outings, the bike embarks along scenic areas such as the historic Town Square, pausing only for drinks at up to three pubs. All rides are BYOB, but passengers are required to bring only glass-free containers, such as cans or an entire fermentation tank. On-board taps with ball or pin-lock connections also allow riders to tap into their own pony kegs.
There is a lonely old farmhouse sitting off the road on Highway 1960, and if you ask locals about it, they'll tell you it's haunted. The story usually goes like this: fifteen years ago, a few boys from Humble, Texas went to the empty house to poke around for fun, but were scared away by the specter of a glowing green light that moved through the bedrooms, then came out to meet them in front of the house. Later, the house was bought and its owner started hearing loud bangs in the night, periodically finding his chairs overturned and pantry items strewn across the floor. Unafraid of the spooks, he not only stayed, but now opens the house to the public around Halloween. As Nightmare on 1960, it entreats visitors to explore its creepy haunted maze and other attractions. If you survive, you can take a hay ride or challenge the ghost to a game of ring toss at the onsite carnival.
Fennessey Ranch’s ornithological guides, Nan, Lyndon, and “Famous Shoes” Crofutt, introduce bird watchers to scores of migrating avian species along a 4,000-acre Coastal Bend property. During treks through expansive wetlands, woods, and lakes, up to 40 birders gaze skyward as continuous kettles of hawks and swallow-tailed kites rocket from the Mission River as part of Mother Nature’s routine jet-pack tests. In addition to winged critters, sightseers often encounter deer, alligators, coyotes, and bobcats as they traverse the brush lands and nearby McGuill Lake. Lunch is provided, and guests are encouraged to bring comfortable attire, binoculars, bug repellant, and a sack of beefy worms to snack on.
The accommodating staff at Island Surf Shop and Kayaks rents out a large selection of beach buggies, skillfully coupling wayward beachcombers with a coast-exploring vehicle. Hop into your sand-flecked buggie to discover the dune-hugged beaches of Port Aransas, a town on the northern tip of Mustang Island, replete with brightly hued beach houses, trilling seabirds, and coin-operated sandcastle-building machines. Each one-hour rental outfits sandfaring customers in a shaded, four-seater golf cart fitted with oversized beach-ready tires. Rentals are subject to weather conditions, so plan your adventure on a day with a low chance of raindrops or gumdrops hailstorms.
The courteous chauffeurs of Corpus Christi Party Bus steer festive groups across illuminated pavement for 90 minutes of Yuletide displays. The tour begins when twosomes board the party bus and recline in comfortable leather seats that fill the expansive interior, which holds up to 15 guests or 45 well-mannered raccoons. Two 19-inch flat-screen TVs join forces with DVD players and multicolored LED lights to compete with the spangled domiciles outside, and Christmas songs blast from the bumping sound system. Duos can sip on two complimentary nonalcoholic beverages during the BYOB jaunt or string popcorn garlands across the hardwood flooring and around the bar area. Guests should call ahead to reserve seats; kid-friendly tours can be arranged upon reservation.