There’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending your summer days hanging out at Six Flags, heading to a water park or roaming the Stockyards. But if you want to try something a little more outside-the-box, you have plenty of different places in North Texas that specialize in the not-so-ordinary.
Whether it’s floating in the clouds, soaring over water or diving in it, those adventures can be had closer to home than you might think. The need for speed and the need for nature also are just short drives away. Here’s a look at a few ways for the truly adventurous to spend a day.
What a Water Rush
If you’re looking to soar above Possum Kingdom Lake or take a deep dip in the water, then head to WaterRush Jetovators. The “Jetovators” allow you to climb as high as 30 feet over the water and go as much as 10 feet underwater all while being tethered to a jet-propelled contraption. Customers are given a demonstration that stresses safety and how to use the Jetovator, and then they’re on their own in the basic 30-minute class.
“You’ll want to do it more than once,” says co-owner Jesse Swanson. “The first time, you’ll be getting your balance. Then from there you’ll be able to do corkscrews, tornadoes and other things.”
Swanson says it normally takes average customers about nine minutes to get airborne, which leaves them about 20 minutes of flight time.
Once they’re airborne the adventure is up to them, which is why, Swanson says, most people make a return trip.
“It’s very addicting,” he says. “It’s a feeling like no other because you have the sense of flight and you’re above the water. It allows you to see things from a different perspective and try something that few people get to do.”
Sure, you’ve traveled by plane, but have you flown over the Metroplex in a World War II era P-51D Mustang? What about in a Boeing N2S-4 Stearman Kaydet biplane?
If you want to feel the wind blowing through your hair, visit the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison and do just that.
“It’s definitely different than a commercial flight,” says Laura Sanchez, who works at the museum. “It’s especially different when you’re flying with an open cockpit.”
The museum offers seven airplanes and a helicopter to ride in, including a popular old Navy plane in which the pilot does barrel rolls and half-rolls.
The total experience lasts around an hour, with 30 minutes dedicated to briefing and talking with the pilot and another 30 in the air.
Get Your Motor Running
Ever dreamed of racing down the street in a Lamborghini Gallardo? What about a Ferrari 360? Or a Porsche Cayman?
Those supercars may not resemble your everyday transportation, but DriveXotic in Cresson can make these and other dreams come true. Here, you can rent fast cars and take them for a spin on a closed 1.3-mile road course.
How fast you go is really up to you.
“The fastest I’ve seen anyone get is around 101 or 102,” says Teri Piontkowski, who works at the track. “It’s really hard to get that much over 100 because there’s just not that much of a straightaway. But you can punch it and go as fast as you want.”
The track offers both four-lap and seven-lap rides in different cars. Drivers must first go through a class, and once they get behind the wheel, it’s with an instructor in the passenger seat.
If you have the need for speed but not the ability, the track also has thrill rides where the instructor does the driving — at even higher speeds. A normal run at the track can take about 90 minutes from start to finish.
When you think of scuba diving, you think about exotic locations and weaving through shipwrecks.
But you can head to Terrell and Clear Springs Scuba Park for the same kind of experience.
Divers can see old boats and even weave their way through a 6,900-pound steel shark in the 22-acre park, a former limestone quarry that is 60 feet at its deepest.
“Our claim to fame is our ecology and the fish that you can dive with,” says owner Robert Cameron, who has run the park along with his wife for the past 14 years. “And it helps that we’re close to the Metroplex.”
Weekends can be busy, and to dive you need to have your C-card certification or have had training with an instructor. For those who aren’t ready to dive, snorkelers can also head to the spring-fed park, where the water is always cool in the Texas heat.
Zip-zag Through Trees
When you think of soaring through the trees, you think of South America — not Dallas, but that’s only because you’ve never experienced Trinity Forest Aerial Adventure Park.
The park, which has been open since 2013, provides you with a workout like no other that’s part zip-line tour, part obstacle course and all fun.
“It’s still kind of a hidden gem,” says Katie Girres, whose family owns the park. “A lot of people don’t know we’re here. It’s 18 minutes south of downtown Dallas, and the thing that separates us from a typical amusement park is you’re outdoors, up in the trees, around insects. You might see a hawk. It’s more physical than a roller coaster. We’re more like an obstacle course in the trees.”
Admission gets you three hours in the park, and it all begins with a 15- to 30-minute ground school to go over the basics and get you strapped in the required safety gear. And then you’re off. Every person has to start on a beginner’s course and then you have options among six courses in the trees.
Each course has at least one zip line, but there are also bridges, tightropes, canopy tours and other obstacles perched high in the trees.
If you want to see DFW from a different perspective, then McKinney’s Rohr Balloons will have you floating on air.
The hot-air balloon company may take flight in Collin County, but by the time you get a few thousand feet in the air, you can see as far as central Texas and Oklahoma — all while soaring in the clouds.
“There’s no other experience like it,” says owner Brian Rohr, who estimates his company has taken 15,000 people up. “In a balloon, it’s like you’re floating. There’s no motion. You can hear everything. You feel the different wind and weather layers. It’s a whole different sensation.”
And it’s one you can do with a group of friends or in a private ride for two. All flights begin before sunrise in the summer because the atmosphere is more stable. An average flight lasts between an hour and an hour and a half, and the total excursion is about 3 1/2 hours.
Rohr also says that if you’re not the adventurous type or willing to take risks, hot-air balloon riding may be perfect for you.
“You don’t really feel the sensation of height,” he says. “You’re not connected to the ground, but in a balloon everything is lower and slower. People don’t get as anxious.”
9012 Performance Court
Hours: The hours vary during the week.
Cost: Prices vary per car — $185 for a four-lap ride in a basic car and $265 for a four-lap ride in the most expensive. Insurance packages are required and start at $29.
Ages: 16 and older
4572 Claire Chennault
Hours: Friday-Sunday with flights starting at 9 a.m. (By reservations only.)
Cost: One-passenger flights $250 to $1,995 for the P-51D Mustang; helicopter flight $150.
Ages: 18 and older
3201 Redbird Lane
Hours: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday (Reservations recommended.)
Cost: $99 for 30 minutes; $185 for one hour; $1,500 for flight club, which includes 20 30-minute sessions
Ages: 18 and older
Clear Springs Scuba Park
8131 County Road 346
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday (reservations not required)
Cost: Diving/snorkeling — $20 for all day; observers $10 (cash only).
Ages: Waivers must be signed; minors must have parental release notarized if not with parent.
Trinity Forest Aerial Adventure Park
1820 Dowdy Ferry Road
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Reservations recommended.)
Cost: $49.95 adults; $44.95 children ages 10-15; $39.95 children ages 6-9 (Senior discounts available.)
Ages: 6 and older
Hours: Open daily, with flights taking off at sunrise
Cost: Shared or group flights $225 per person; private two-passenger flights $750
Ages: 6 and older