After fighting in World War II, Lynn Gripon studied landscape design at Texas A&M and in 1951 opened a gardening shop with the help of his green-thumbed wife. Now operated by his son, Lynn's Landscaping & Water Garden Center has blossomed into a lush showroom of outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, manicured putting greens, and the shop's bestselling disappearing fountains—glazed pots overflowing with water that seems to disappear into the ground. Waterfalls tumble over miniature boulders before slipping into calm ponds filled with leisurely koi, flowering lily pads, and sunken galleons. Knowledgeable staffers serve as tour guides to the veritable forest of plants and dispense helpful tips for creating backyard utopias.Lynn's professional landscapers transform backyards into tiered gardens, spacious party zones, or verdant hiding places for the family's pet T-rex. Designers plot the set-up before gardeners, and handymen plant trees and shrubs or install decks, gazebos, water-efficient sprinklers, and koi ponds. Every design is built to last with quality materials, such as outdoor fireplaces and kitchens made with glass-fiber-reinforced concrete and Vista light fixtures made with weather-resistant carbon composite and bulbs modeled after Superman's eyeballs.
Tiny legs scamper across Lone Star Bounce Town's 9,000-square-foot floor, bounding from one cushy inflatable to the next and pausing before a gallery of kid-friendly toys and games. Disney-inspired bounce houses populate the open space, including new plush slides and domiciles that pay homage to the bubbly heroes of Toy Story 3, Winnie the Pooh, and Dante's Inferno. Tykes hone their hand-eye coordination by shooting hoops on the inflatable basketball court, cracking plastic balls off baseball tees, or threading straws into juice boxes in the Lone Star Cafe. A special subsection designed for toddlers, Lone Star's Tiny Town, features scaled-down playhouses, toy cars, and colorful, bouncy balls.
The clatter of foosball and air-hockey tables makes a steady drumbeat, over which drifts the sounds of an arcade—the happy digital babble of a modem dreaming. Ten leather couches with a full view of the children accommodate parents as they surf free WiFi and enjoy coffee from the café.
Led by experienced captains, the staff members at Caribbean Breeze keep watch over and rent out a small fleet of fishing, pontoon, and jet boats, as well as one socially awkward sailboat. Although they don’t provide the fishing gear or water skis, they keep their boats updated with features such as iPod docks, rod holders, and electric fish finders. The captains also afford guests picturesque views of the setting sun from their 40-foot pontoon party boat during sunset cruises and help passengers find delicious bounties during fishing charters.