New floating water park and obstacle course to open on Lake Travis June 29

If you’ve been seeking a new way to make a splash this summer, you’re in luck — a floating water park and obstacle course will open on Lake Travis at the end of this month.

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Waterloo Adventures, a floating water park on Lake Travis, is expected to open on June 29. Contributed by Waterloo Adventures

The new park, called Waterloo Adventures, comes from the same team that created Lake Travis Zipline Adventures. Participants will take a boat ride (included in the cost of admission) out to “adventure island,” where they will participate in a 45-minute session on the 600-foot Floating Challenge Course that includes more than 70 obstacles such as monkey bars, slides, balance beams, hurdles and climbing walls.

The $50 excursion cost also includes unlimited access to the Aqua Park, home to a 14-foot climbing tower, water slide, jumping tower and 25-foot trampoline.

Oh, and if you want a cocktail, never fear — wine, beer and frozen drinks, as well as other beverages and food, will be available. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday-Monday through October. Reservations are recommended.

This is the second water obstacle course to open in the area this summer — in May, QuestATX cable wakeboard park opened Quest Waterpark.

• MORE ONLINE: Nominate your favorite people and places in Austin for our inaugural Best of the Best Awards 

Is Frontier really offering $15 flights from Austin to Portland, Seattle and other cities?

The latest deal announced by Frontier Airlines earlier today sounds too good to be true — $15 flights from Austin to a variety of destinations including Portland, Seattle, Detroit, Albuquerque, Reno and Providence.

So can you actually go online and book a $15 flight? Sort of.

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A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. credit: Getty Images

You can find one or two $15 fares either to or from each destination, but they’re hard to come by and dates are limited. That said, there are some great deals to be found.

For example, I was able to book a flight to Seattle on June 11 for $59 and get the $15 fare for my return flight on June 16. The total for my reservation was $72.40, a great deal for a roundtrip summer flight to Seattle. Keep in mind that Frontier charges extra if you want to pick your seat or bring baggage, both of which I declined.

If you have flexible dates and want to take a trip in June, it’s definitely worth seeing what you can find. Click here to view all the deals. I recommend using the monthly calendar feature to quickly scan available fares.

This deal must be purchased by May 25 and a three-day advance purchase is required. Travel is available through June 20.

Where to watch the royal wedding in Austin and other things to know

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With the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just days away, royal wedding fever is hitting an all-time high. Whether you’re looking for a place to watch with fellow Anglophiles in Austin on Saturday morning or contemplating a trip across the pond to trace their royal footsteps, we’ve got ideas.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are getting married May 19 in Windsor. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Here are some things to know about the May 19 wedding.

Austin watch party

Want to view the royal wedding with a group of enthusiastic Austinites? Head to the Haymaker, 2310 Manor Road, on Saturday morning for a watch party that will include live hosts, wedding bingo, best-hat and best-dressed contests, a wedding cake ceremony, a themed breakfast menu and beer and cocktail specials. Coming with a group of eight or more? There’s a group-rate discount. For more information, call 512-243-6702, email events@haymakeraustin.com or visit do512.com/events/2018/5/19/royal-wedding-watch-party.

Watch from home

A variety of stations will be broadcasting the wedding live on Saturday morning, including ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, BBC America, E! News, Fox News and HBO. Get more details at atxne.ws/2jZFyzE.

Travel across the pond

Even if you didn’t get an invite to the royal wedding, you can walk in the footsteps of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the other members of the royal family any time of year. Learn how to get the royal treatment in London and beyond here.

Five fun facts

Want to impress your friends with your knowledge of the royal family? Check out these fun facts. 

 

5 things you may not know about the upcoming royal wedding

The wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle is less than two weeks away, and Anglophiles across the world are abuzz with excitement about the royal affair. If you haven’t been keeping up, here are five things you might not know about the royal wedding on May 19, including a possible Texas tie.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are getting married May 19 in Windsor. Chris Jackson/Getty Images
  1. The wedding will take place inside St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, which is located about 40 minutes outside of London. Prince Harry’s father, Prince Charles, was also married to Camilla Parker Bowles in Windsor.
  2. There is a rumor going around Windsor, which I visited last week, that Beyonce is going to perform as part of the ceremony inside St. George’s Chapel. Granted, it’s a rumor…
  3. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will reside at Kensington Palace, the same place where his brother, Prince William, lives with his family.
  4. Meghan Markle is the first American to marry into the royal family since 1937.
  5. The couple’s wedding cake will be baked by Claire Ptak, a pastry chef who was raised in California but now owns London-based bakery Violet Cakes. The flavor? Lemon elderflower.

Berry picking, other spring fun worth a day trip from Austin

The breezes are cool, the sky is blue and fruit is fresh. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to appreciate Texas’ beloved springtime activities (berry picking, anyone?), now’s the time. Here are four places where you can get a true dose of spring fun just down the road from Austin.

Sweet Berry Farm, Marble Falls

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Adrianna Forister marks boxes of strawberries as paid at Sweet Berry Farm outside of Marble Falls in this file photo. Deborah Cannon/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

There’s no better way to welcome spring than by picking fresh berries, and there’s no better place to do that than at Sweet Berry Farm, where you can pluck your own fresh strawberries through the end of May for $2.89 per pound. The farm, which is open daily except Wednesdays and located near Marble Falls, also offers a variety of fun activities such as sand art, barrel train rides and a bounce pillow. You’ll also discover sweet treats including fresh strawberry lemonade and homemade strawberry smoothies. Blackberries may also be available starting in mid-May.

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You can pick a fresh flower bouquet at Barton Hill Farms’ new Backyard Bash. credit: Barton Hill Farms

Barton Hills Farm

Barton Hill Farms has already made a name for itself as a great place to go for fall family fun, but now they’re dabbling in spring, too, with the new Barton Hill Backyard Bash. Held Saturdays and Sundays May 5-27, expect 30 activities including face painting, backyard games, live music and fresh food and beverages including beer and wine. You can’t pick any fruit here, but you can pick a fresh flower bouquet. Barton Hill Farms is located on the banks of the Colorado River 30 minutes from downtown Austin.

 

 

Sweet Eats Fruit Farm

Located just east of Georgetown, Sweet Eats offers a variety of fruit ripe for the picking, including cherries, pears, nectarines and peaches (check website for picking dates). The farm also has lots of fun for the family, such as pony rides, a petting zoo, an obstacle course, a jump pad, live music and more.

Marburger Orchard

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The Marburger Orchard has been serving businesses, pickers, and product for decades. AMERICAN-STATESMAN file photo

A trip to Fredericksburg is always a good idea, especially when you can pick your own fresh fruit along the way. At Marburger Orchard, which is open daily, strawberries are currently on offer, with blackberries and famous Texas peaches on their way soon, too. For more information about pick-your-own season in Fredericksburg, visit visitfredericksburgtx.com/attractions-activities/pick-your-own-orchards-seasonal.

Start planning for summer! 5 water parks to consider across Texas

Are you ready for summer? Temperatures are already starting to creep up, which means it won’t be long before we’re hitting those triple digits. Never fear! There are plenty of water parks across the state that are well equipped to keep you cool and calm. Here are five you might want to put on your summer to-do list.

Epic Waters, Grand Prairie

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Epic Waters is one of the newest water parks in Texas. credit: Epic Waters

This Dallas-area water park opened in January, making it one of the newest, and most innovative, on the scene. There are no bad-weather days at this 80,000-square-foot facility thanks to a retractable roof that keeps the fun flowing all year round. Expect 11 slides on the water park’s slide tower, an outdoor wave pool, FlowRider boogie-boarding, the longest indoor lazy river in Texas and more. Want to make it a water park weekend? Stay at the nearby Great Wolf Lodge, which also houses an indoor water park as well as family friendly accommodations.

Big Rivers, New Caney

Located on the outskirts of Houston, this new water park is scheduled to open for its inaugural season on June 29. Expect a giant wave pool, a sprawling lazy river and the Gator Splash, which incorporates more than 300 water play elements. Also on property is Gator Bayou Adventure Park, where a nature center (with gators!), a petting zoo, pony rides, ropes courses and zip lines await.

Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels

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Grab a gator and float the Kristal River at Schlitterban in New Braunfels. credit: Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort

For water park fun, it’s hard to beat Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, which is already open on weekends and will be open daily starting May 11. Known as “the hottest coolest time in Texas,” this local institution opened in 1979 and quickly became a must-see destination for people across the country.  Go for the day or, for added fun, book a night or two at one of the on-site lodging options — you’ll get access to the park before it opens to the public and after it closes for the night. Special events this summer include American Heroes Week (May 28-June 1), National Women Learn to Surf Week (June 11-15) and the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson (June 21). Heading to South Padre Island, Corpus Christi or Galveston this summer? You can find Schlitterbahn locations there, too.

 

Typhoon Texas, Pflugerville

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The “Gully Washer” at Typhoon Texas in Katy is one of several family-friendly attractions expected at the renovated Pflugerville water park. Courtesy photo

Seeking the thrills of a big water park but only have a few hours to spare? Head to Typhoon Texas, which is located just 40 minutes from Austin in Pflugerville and opens for the 2018 season Memorial Day weekend in the spot that was previously Hawaiian Falls. Don’t miss the Gully Washer children’s playland, which includes seven slides, 100 spray areas and an 800-gallon water bucket that douses the entire space. There is another Typhoon Texas located in Katy near Houston.

SeaWorld Aquatica, San Antonio

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Cool off at SeaWorld Aquatica.

You want to go to SeaWorld, but in the summer it gets HOT. Never fear! Aquatica is here. This water park located on SeaWorld San Antonio property is filled with refreshing family fun, including 450-foot-long body slides, a 48-foot-tall tube ride and Stingray Falls, which takes visitors on a four-seated raft into an underwater grotto where stingrays and tropical fish are waiting to greet you. Go early to avoid the crowds.

 

Peacock on a plane? What airline policies say about emotional support animals

Let’s take a minute to talk about peacocks.

Beautiful? Yes. Majestic? Sure. Travel buddies? Not so much.

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Peacocks aren’t traditionally considered emotional support animals by airlines. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

At least according to United Airlines.

By now, you’ve probably seen photos of the woman who showed up at Newark Liberty International Airport earlier this week with her emotional support peacock, hoping to board a United Airlines plane.

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According to the Associated Press, although the woman said she had a second ticket for the peacock, United denied her request.

So what DO the various airlines say about emotional support animals? Here’s a sample:

United Airlines: Trained service animals are accepted in cabin for qualified individuals with a disability. Emotional support and psychiatric assist animals are also accepted in cabin for qualified individuals with a disability if certain documentation requirements are met, the policy states, but “an animal should sit at the customer’s feet without protruding into the aisles to comply with safety regulations.” Customers traveling with an emotional support or psychiatric assist animal must also give the airline at least 48 hours advance notification.

Delta Airlines: Delta made headlines on Jan. 19 when it announced plans to enforce stricter rules for transporting service and support animals, citing an increase of in-flight incidents and “a lack of regulation.” As of March 1, passengers must submit proof of health or vaccinations through Delta’s website 48 hours before a flight. Those traveling with psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals will also need to sign a document stating that the animal has the ability to behave in the cabin.

Southwest AirlinesSouthwest’s policy allows small vaccinated domestic cats and dogs to travel “in-cabin under the seat in front of you.” Animals on board must also be “harmless, not disruptive, odorless and require no attention during flight.” Service and emotional support animals must be trained to behave in a public setting, the policy states. “Southwest Airlines does not accept therapy dogs for transportation. We also do not allow customers to travel with unusual or exotic animals (including, but not limited to: rodents, ferrets, insects, spiders, reptiles, hedgehogs, rabbits or sugar gliders) acting as assistance animals or emotional support animals.”

American Airlines: American’s policy states that “to travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal you must provide recent documentation (within one year) to reservations at least 48 hours before your flight.” Service animals, including emotional support animals, are welcome at no charge if they meet the requirements.

Attention, last-minute shoppers! You can buy these awesome gifts at the airport

You meant to do your holiday shopping early this year, but once again you’ve run out of time. Now you’re at the airport without any gifts for Aunt Jenny, Grandpa James or Cousin Michael.

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The new Tyler’s store, which opened at the airport in November, is filled with gift options. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

No worries. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare before you board your flight, you can knock out most, if not all, of your shopping list at the airport.

“We pride ourselves in this airport in helping our local vendors,” said Austin-Bergstrom International Airport retail manager Linda Barton. “We do a mix of national brands, but we really, really try to focus on our local vendors to support the community.”

Here are 10 gifts to consider picking up while you’re at the airport.

1. Taco paraphernalia.

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A taco T-shirt, like these, $24.99 at Tyler’s, is a great way to share Austin culture with out-of-towners. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

Austin loves its tacos, so why not spread that love with out-of-towners this holiday season? From taco T-shirts to “taco money” coin purses, there’s options for everyone.

2. Handmade fun.

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This Abbey Roadkill skate monster is available at Tyler’s. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

The only thing that could make these crocheted monsters cooler is the fact that they were created by Abbey Roadkill, a former roller derby skater for TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls. Each monster contains nearly 1,200 individual crochet knots and no two are alike. The young one in your life, or the young at heart, will love ’em. Prices vary; they’re available at Tyler’s.

3. Flying brisket.

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Take your brisket to go at the Salt Lick’s airport location. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

You love Salt Lick. Why not share it with the people who love you? At the airport location, you can purchase a whole brisket with sauce that’s ready to travel in an insulated bag for $64.95. Want dessert? Head to Amy’s, where you can buy a six-pint sampler pack that comes packed ready for an eight-hour trip for $50.

RELATED: Get barbecue shipped from these Central Texas restaurants

4. Onesie ready.

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This onesie at ACL/Waterloo Records and Video at the airport has a statement to make. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

It’s never too early to show someone that Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World. These onesies from ACL/Waterloo Records and Video do just that. They’re around $20.

5. Weather ready.

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This men’s Tumi coat is $245 at the 5th and Congress shop in the airport. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

Looking for a nice gift for the guy in your life? Sample the wares at 5th and Congress, which is well stocked with coats, hats, scarves and accessories.

6. Topped off.

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Get in style with fresh hat from 5th and Congress. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

A hat is a fun and easy gift for your favorite aunt, cousin or friend. This one is $65 at the airport’s 5th and Congress.

7. Orange you ready? 

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Little Longhorns will appreciate this dress. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

Got Longhorns in your life? You’ll find a wide selection of Longhorn gear at the airport’s Austin Article. This sweet dress is $35.

8. Sock it to me.

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The Austin Article features a variety of socks. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

If you’ve got hard-to-shop-for folks on your list, why not consider some fun Blue Q socks? These, from the Austin Article, start around $15, and a percentage benefits Doctors Without Borders.

9. Sweets for the sweet.

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If you know someone with a sweet tooth, head to Tyler’s for a batch of Coover Caramels, which are made in Texas using Grandma Coover’s 1930s recipe. A small box is $12.99.

10. Ready to be pampered.

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Latika lotions are made in Austin. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

If your loved ones could use a little pampering, try Latika’s lotions, creams and bath bombs. They’re handmade in Austin and come in a variety of scents. Prices vary depending on product and size.

Love live music? Southwest Airlines offering in-flight pop-up concerts

If you’ve ever wished you could see a concert from 35,000 feet, you’re in luck. Thanks to Southwest Airlines’ Live at 35 in-air concert series, lucky passengers aboard select flights can do just that.

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Devin Dawson performs on a Southwest Airlines flight. Contributed by Southwest

The program has been around since 2011 but has increased its reach and offerings in recent years to include popular performers such as The Strumbellas, Valerie June, The Rua, NEEDTOBREATHE and Blue October, which treated an Austin to Phoenix flight with their single, “Home.”

Passengers are usually not aware that they’re on a Live at 35 flight until the flight is in the air. Typically the bands are set up at the front of the plane and play two songs. Sometimes they’ll serenade fans and sign autographs, too.

“A lot of times when we’re starting to set up people are wondering what’s going on,” said Southwest spokeswoman Alyssa Eliasen, who has participated in Live at 35 flights in the past. “People pull out iPads, iPhones, they’re capturing the music. We want people to share their experience.”

Southwest typically offers one Live at 35 performance a month. The most recent performance occurred earlier this month when country artist Devin Dawson flew from Nashville to Philadelphia and performed his new single, “All on Me,” from the air.

 

Dawson’s performance coincided with an announcement from Warner Music Nashville naming Southwest its Airline of Record and a commitment from both companies to fortify the Live at 35 concert series, which will sometimes include WMN artists.

 

Love Halloween? These spooky Central Texas day trips are perfect for October

Sure, there are goosebump-inducing haunted houses and creepy costume shops and weird historic buildings in Austin. But did you know the cities and small towns surrounding our fair city are also filled with spectacularly spooky spots?

If you’re a true Halloween aficionado, you can’t beat a quick jaunt to a new haunt in a neighboring town. There’s just something about the way the leaves rustle and the buildings creak and the moonlight casts shadows in an unfamiliar place that can be downright terrifying (in a good way).

Here are five chilling Central Texas day trips to consider before the end of October.

Georgetown

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The Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown. Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman

Located just 30 minutes up the road, Georgetown’s historic square is said to be home to a number of haunted buildings. One such building is the Georgetown Art Center, a former firehouse and city hall space built in 1892, where a tall cowboy in a hat and duster has been spotted pacing the stairs. Another is the present-day Williamson County Courthouse, where visitors have reported seeing a woman in a long dress disappear when approached. Book pages here have also been known to turn on their own. You can learn about these buildings and more when the Williamson Museum hosts Downtown Georgetown Ghost Tours, led by a costumed docent, at 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Oct. 13-14 and 27-28. Buy tickets at hellogeorgetown.com/downtown-georgetown-ghost-tours-georgetown-texas.

San Antonio

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A view of the Alamo in San Antonio. credit: Richard Nowitz

Hundreds of people died at the Alamo, and some of their spirits are said to haunt the grounds even today. One of the most commonly spotted ghosts? A blond-haired little boy frequently seen in the upstairs left window. Learn more about the Alamo and other haunted downtown locations with a 90-minute Ghosts of Old San Antonio tour, offered nightly (ghostcitytours.com/san-antonio/ghost-tours/ghosts-old-san-antonio-tour). For extra points, book a stay at the Menger Hotel, which is widely known as the most haunted hotel in Texas.

Goliad

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The main bedroom of the Quarters at Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, where, rumor has it, ghosts roam about the old fort.

Presidio La Bahia in Goliad was constructed by the Spanish Army and was the site of both the Battle of Goliad in October 1835 and the Goliad Massacre in March 1836. It’s said to still house the spirits of angry and hurt soldiers whose screams you can sometimes hear. For a true scare, stay the night at the Quarters, a two-bedroom apartment inside Presidio La Bahia. Learn more at presidiolabahia.org.

Fredericksburg

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People walk along Main Street in Fredericksburg. Deborah Cannon/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

From haunted historic buildings to Easter Fires to infamous locals, there’s lots of spooky lore to be found in Fredericksburg, located in the Hill Country about an hour from Austin. The Haunted History Tour offered by Fredericksburg Trolley Tours features all of the best-known stories and includes a trolley ride, too. Tours this month will be held Oct. 14, 20 and 28. The tour is not appropriate for children; minors must be accompanied by an adult guardian. Learn more at fbgtours.com.