You don’t have to leave city limits to get on the water and away from it all in these Valencia Group destinations.

Kayak Terry Hershey Park [Houston, TX]

The six-mile stretch of the Buffalo Bayou Paddle Trail within Terry Hershey Park is easily its most serene – and you’d never guess the skyline of America’s fourth-largest city is just beyond the hardwood canopy. Buffalo Bayou Shuttle Service rents flat-water kayaks (from $20) and also transports you to the put-in. This float trip does have its dose of excitement, too – there are some sections as narrow as a station wagon with the forest erupting from the riverbed on both sides, and you may even need to portage in ankle-deep water, particularly in the drier summer conditions. Add in the company of turtles, bass, and sunfish, plus runners and cyclists on the trails above, and the two- to three-hour journey is worth it.

Stay with us: Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE


Windsurfing at Shoreline Lake [Silicon Valley, CA]

Only in Silicon Valley can you harness the wind for an adventure amid some of the world’s biggest tech giants. The 30-foot-deep lake is sequestered from the tides and buffeting offshore winds of San Francisco Bay, a stone’s throw from Google’s headquarters. For beginners, go early when the north-northeasterly breezes are mellower. They reliably reach their blustery peak about 3 p.m. First, visit Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center and Café for a private lesson or to rent a rig (a squared five-meter sail and a 225-liter board are an unsinkable combination that will give beginners plenty of stability). Then, hit the lake’s south lawn to launch. Jibe left to reach the gustiest section – you’ll know you’re there when you spot folks across the way at the ninth hole on the golf course.

Stay with us: Hotel Valencia Santana Row

Sea Sports Scuba [Houston, TX]

Four locations in the city and comfortable heated pools conspire to make this dive shop a reef of learning for prospective scuba divers and Gulf of Mexico excursions. The comprehensive courses cover every possible dive experience you could have in the Gulf, from serene nighttime dives to exploring the many wrecks off the coast of nearby Galveston. If you have enough confidence in your diving abilities to forgo the lessons, you can rent a re-breather, wet suit, and oxygen tanks from the shop and take to the waters with an expert guide.

Stay with us: Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE


Tubing the Guadalupe River [San Antonio, TX]

Be one of many to “float the Guadalupe,” as it’s fondly known in local circles, by selecting an inflated inner tube and spinning your way down nine miles of steadily moving waters. The adjacent park is clean and welcoming, the few small rapids are manageable, and you’ll be able to enjoy the peace and quiet afforded by the towering cypress trees along the river’s banks without needing to paddle your way through. Afterward, take in the leisurely hiking trails by the water. You may catch sight of bobcats and armadillos lurking near the river’s edge.

Stay with us: Hotel Valencia Riverwalk