The recently renovated Waco Square Premiere Cinema 6 projects second-run movies enhanced with digital DTS surround sound across six silver screens to fully enmesh patrons in cinematic sights and sounds. A schedule bursting with previously debuted flicks, such as The Help, Contagion, and The Smurfs, provides eyeballs with stunning visuals, while popcorn, soda, and candies quell hunger and help quiet chatty mouth holes.
A historic marker may be all that's left of the original Alexander's Distillery, which washed away in a flood in 1865, but that's not to say that the current reincarnation doesn't aim to recreate its predecessor's ambiance. Amid traditional decor elements such as dark, rich woods and scrolled silver platters, guests dine on elegant dishes from a seasonally rotating menu. Entrees have included everything from coq au vin to Black Angus tenderloin filet, which pair perfectly with desserts such as crème brûlée. Alexander's also offers prix-fixe chef's choice menus that include an appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert for each guest, with optional wine pairings available for those who know the proper way to pull out a wine cork using their teeth.
Since 1952, the family-operated lot at The Brazos Drive-in Theatre has invited carloads of movie-lovers to kill their engines, tune their radios to 89.1 FM, and recline as far as their seats allow for the evening’s double features. The historic theatre is the last of its kind in North Texas, and was almost obliterated near to its 50th anniversary when a tornado rampaged through the lot, ripping half of the screen apart and saving the audience from a Rob Schneider film. Refurbished to its former glory, the screen now lights up against the darkening sky to show recently run blockbusters.
Since it first flung open its double doors in 1900, The Beltonian's patchwork brick façade has housed a church, an antique store, and a billiard hall. But its theatrical pedigree proved too strong, and today, the venue has transformed back into a performance space. The Beltonian aims to bring top-notch comedy to the community by booking nationally touring rib-ticklers three nights a week. A menu keeps appetites and thirst at bay while showgoers lean back in plush seats, which are arranged stadium-style to facilitate easy viewing of every clever quip.
Around harvest time on Rising Star Vineyards' verdant acres, vines of chardonnay, merlot, and other Old-World grapes hang heavy, ready for their transformation into the small-batch wines the vineyard is famous for. As detailed in the Abilene Reporter-News, the grapes are trellised several feet off the ground, which owner Michael Oubre says “produces superior fruit” for their distinctive blends of Old-World flavor and Texan style. Their Salado cheesery and tasting room serves salads and sandwiches on locally baked bread for lunch, while vending cheese and other sundries exclusively made by Texas producers. In addition to cheese plates featuring fresh chevre from Bonney Goat Cheeses and Watonga flavored cheddars, the shop serves frozen wine margaritas to sip as talismans against the Samarian curses of the hot sun. The winery also holds regular wine-education and tasting classes, from a basic Wine 101 session to a food-and-wine-pairing session.
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 Café. 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.