When nights get longer, so do nightmares. This fall, Vampire Inc. has erected two thrilling haunted houses, just next door to one another. Chainsaw Nightmare recalls the very place where the massacre took place, made famous by the movie and its remake staring Bozo the Clown. In the Dead Zone, monsters and madmen hide in corners waiting to steal the breath and email passwords from freaked-out visitors.
Brave souls attempt to walk the length of Haunted Hollow's woodsy trail, where the spirits of those who were once buried nearby attempt to find hosts in unsuspecting visitors. As they meander along the path, they encounter monsters, ghouls, and zombies that attempt to thwart their way. To defend their loved ones, adventurers can rent lung-powered marshmallow blasters that can distract the creatures lurking nearby.
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.
Harbor Inn Marina at Northshore Harbor rents covered and open boats to visitors looking to explore Richland Chambers Lake. Its 24- to 36-foot boats roam the lake's 43,384 acres, allowing guests to water ski, break out wave runners, or fish for bass, crappie, and catfish.
Beaumont Ranch is the realization of a dream. Ron Beaumont, the founder and family patriarch, was enamored with the cowboy lifestyle from a very young age, and envisioned himself one day running a ranch like the ones he saw in his favorite western movies. The vision came to fruition in July of 1997, when he and his wife Linda opened their 800 acres of land to the public, allowing visitors to live like cowboys and mingle with their herds of Texas longhorns and horses.
Today, three Beaumont generations live on the ranch, and the guest accommodations have expanded from a 22-room bed-and-breakfast to a 32-room facility boasting an events center, a common area, and a bunkhouse with an additional 48 beds. Well-rested patrons can explore the natural prairies that stretch as far as the eye can see on the transportation of their choice: ATV, horse, or even zipline. After a day spent riding bucking broncos and roping cattle, visitors can kick off their cowboy boots and remove their 10-gallon hats to enjoy pampering serenity at the ranch spa. Here, the aestheticians soothe weary cowpokes' muscles with massages and body scrubs, which were what kept John Wayne so cool under pressure.
Sugar Ridge Winery's rolling acres once held everything from white-speckled fields of cotton to waving meadows of hay. Then owners Don and Michele Andrews planted their first rows of varietal and transformed the land into a verdant, nectar-giving paradise. Michele inherited the acreage from her grandparents and honors their legacy through a red heritage wine that fills the tasting room's antique wooden shelves alongside chardonnays, tempranillos, and cabernets. This pride in the vineyards' history shines through in the decor as well: Outside the tasting room, a wood-sided well stands flanked by giant urns. Shaded by trees, a tranquil fountain babbles on a stone patio and a resident cat and kittens prowl the grounds, guarding the grapes and playing cat games such as Parcheesi. In addition to public and private wine tastings, Don and Michele also host tasting afternoons paired with an outdoor massage and encourage winery visitors to pack their own picnics.