Aromas of grilled Black Angus burgers waft through All Stars Family Grill, where play spaces for toddlers to 12-year-olds are as much of an attraction as the hearty American fare. Entrees, sandwiches, and kid-size meals appear at the pickup counter with complimentary soft-serve ice cream, which incentivizes alfresco dining at picnic benches on the large, concrete patios. A pair of playgrounds, one designed for toddlers and the other for ages 5?12, entertains kids with slides and tunnels. Inside, wooden tables sprawl out under a checkerboard ceiling, which also decorates three private rooms ready with 50-inch plasma high-definition TVs and AV equipment. An arcade buzzes with 13 games including Madden and Target Terror, and flat-screen TVs sprinkled throughout the restaurant display sports, breaking news, and cartoons.
This heated, indoor waterpark gives Houstinites a place to cool off (or warm up, as the case may be) year round. But there’s much more to do than just splash around: kids can surf at Boogie Bahn, fly down a 244-foot-long slide at 30 miles per hour, and swim in a wave pool.
With the sound of fast-approaching engines roaring in your ear, you jam your foot down even harder on the gas pedal and narrow your eyes at the upcoming left-hand turn, determined not to let up even for an instant. If you do, there?s a good chance that your new view will consist of your competition gloating triumphantly while they zip past you on the track. You may only be driving a GT-5 Sodikart, and not a tricked-out racecar, but you absolutely refuse to let any of the other adult or?gulp?junior drivers beat you.
Track 21 lets speed-demons careen around one of three indoor go-kart tracks at speeds of up to 40 mph as they try to edge past other karts, competing with fellow birthday partiers or coworkers to reach the finish line before it decides to become a finish wall. In case competition gets too fierce, the karts are surrounded by heavy nylon bumpers and rubber blocks designed to absorb impact from all sides.
Friendly rivalries continue on foot inside Area 21, a two-story laser-tag battleground beset with fog, obstacles, and space-age scenery. Sharpshooters zap each other's targets in pursuit of a grander mission, such as capturing the opposing base or stealing the enemy's supply of light, before matches end and scores are tallied on a stats sheet. Glowing decor also illuminates a jungle-themed nine-hole mini-golf course, where gorilla and lion statues bask in the black lights. Track 21?s arcade demands timing and button-smashing dexterity from gamers, and a track-side casino sets up rounds of blackjack, poker, and craps.
A bloody slaughterhouse. A strobe-lit maze patrolled by clowns. A zombie-infested bog. A room full of overdue utility bills. These are the most terrifying scenes humans can imagine, and many of them confront visitors to Screamworld, an attraction that stretches the haunted house experience across five uniquely spooky settings. Here, animatronic scares and disorienting lights lie in wait for groups, as do costumed actors seeking the perfect opportunity to spring from their hiding spots. Screamworld's performers don't shy away from offering an intense, frightening experience, and though the shrieks are all in good fun, the experience isn't recommended for children.
Inspiring those thrills and chills is practically an art form for Jim Fetterly, the mastermind behind Screamworld. Fetterly has designed annual haunted houses since 1989, so he and his team pride themselves on their ability to leave visitors with racing pulses, sweaty palms, and thoroughly spiked adrenaline levels. And their dedication has not gone unnoticed?America's Best Haunts continues to select Screamworld as one of the top haunted attractions in the country, while the Houston Chronicle hailed it as "Houston's longest-running and arguably best haunted house."
Sam Houston Race Park's multifunctional grounds crawl with up to 30,000 spectators reveling amid horseraces, concerts, and private events. Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, and Arabians kick up dust as jockeys maneuver them around the course, cheered on by race fans placing bets based on their stats, the weather, and the size of the horse's toupee. Spectators can also watch and wager on races outside the park's grounds, as monitors air simulcasts of the big races, including the Arlington Classic Stakes and Los Angeles Handicap. In two restaurants under the supervision of executive chef Hugo Gomez, the racetrack treats guests to panoramic views of the competition as they dine on seafood, gourmet pastas, and brunch fare. Guests may also entertain from 15 up to 100 friends, employees, or colleagues in luxury suites equipped with a private bar and an in-room centaur butler.
With a new-trampoline smell still fresh in the recently opened, indoor jump center's air, bouncers somersault and catapult across Cosmic Jump’s 29,000-square-foot of arenas. Four lanes run the length of the main trampoline area, with angled pads at the ends and, in the center, a high vault called The Summit that can only be cleared by heroic bounds or hitching a ride on a mountain goat. After dark, Cosmic Jump transforms into a glowing jump zone as a premium sound system blasts music, with LED black lights and colorful lights pulsing to the beat. Trampolines also host body-sculpting boot camps, dodge-ball classes, and Latin cardio dance classes designed to strengthen the core. Cosmic jump also hosts a wide variety of special events and birthday parties.