Since 1973, Columbia Lakes Resort has spoiled putters with a sprawling 7,000-yard 18-hole course and luxurious accommodations nestled within 2,000 acres of woodland. Power architect Tom Fazio designed the course, which weaves through tall oaks, around lagoons, and beside a 300-acre lake swimming with trophy bass amid an elaborate underwater city constructed from clubs flung away in frustration. Perfect your putt on one of the four practice greens, including a furrowed chipping and putting green and a green with a bunker for practicing sand shots or building sculptures of your friends using golf balls for eyes. Players can also practice on the driving range, stocked with five target greens and four tee areas.
Since 1969, when Gladys Haak gave her husband Raymond two concord grapevines to celebrate their 10th anniversary, the couple's namesake vineyard has flourished into 1,800 vines sprawling across three acres. Galveston County's first and only winery transforms grapes into award-winning potions that have earned the attention of the Houston Press and the Dallas Observer. Whether sipped onsite or at various shops and restaurants, the wines grace glasses with a diverse m?lange of local blends. Custom labels can be commissioned to personalize each bottle with heartfelt dedications or nutritional information written in iambic pentameter.
The vineyard welcomes thirsty visitors with tours of their verdant vines, 25,000-square-foot workshop, and deli stocked with Boar's Head meats and pungent cheese. Frequent guests reap the exclusive benefits of the winery?s club memberships, which include invitations to special events, first tastings, discounts, and complementary bottles. An event-ready banquet space also sets the scene for memorable weddings and events, with the winery?s chef, Mary Bass, overseeing catering duties, cake cuttings, and the busboys? a capella performance of ?Take My Breath Away."
The manmade, 12-acre lake at Wake Nation Houston was designed for wakeboarding, but there's not a single boat on it. Instead, a system of cables and pulleys whisks wakeboarders along the placid surface in much the same way towropes pull astronauts to the moon. Aided by supportive instructors, beginners learn the fundamentals of the sport with the use of a practice cable on a smaller practice pond before taking to the main lake. More advanced aquatic acrobats, meanwhile, soar off floating jumps and slalom around obstacles.
Despite its name, the park isn't exclusively for wakeboarders. Its cables can just as easily haul visitors on kneeboards, water skis, and wake-skates. Water-shy guests can watch their friends from an observation deck, browse the pro shop, or nosh on snacks from the concession stand.
Though it originally sold only two things—audio products and wireless phones—Car Toys has gradually expanded its repertoire. Today, with 50 locations spread across four states, electronics-certified technicians install everything from Alpine in-dash navigation units to phone-integration systems that sync iPhones, Androids, and tin cans to car stereos. Meanwhile, in the garage, detailing technicians meticulously spruce up cars inside and out, using deionized water, paint-friendly shampoos, and high-quality wash mitts to protect against scratches, swirls, and water spots. The team also sweeps through interiors with vacuums, hot-water extractors, and ozone deodorizing treatment, which kills airborne bacteria and nasty smells in one fell swoop.
A+ Pack and Ship escorts delicate belongings across long distances with complete packing, boxing, and shipping services. With full-service treatments, the wrapping specialists carefully ensconce items in bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and cardboard boxes to ensure shipping safety. Same-day delivery and overnight FedEx or UPS services effectively transport items to their proper locales while eliminating the need to breed genetically enhanced, super-strong carrier pigeons. A selection of holiday gift items such as greeting cards ($3.99) and college stockings ($29) accompanies items with additional holiday flair. Shipping prices are determined by weight, dimensions, zip code, and date of arrival requested. For reference, customers can ship a 1-pound package overnight to Atlanta ($10.30) or a 5-pound package to Laguna Hills, California, within four days ($21.54).
Secondhand Diva offers up an array of high-end women’s clothing and accessories in used but excellent condition, plus a selection of new boutique items. Shoppers can pop in and peruse jeans fashioned by brands such as True Religion and 7 for All Mankind ($10+), vintage handbags from Coach and Gucci ($10+), an assortment of gleaming jewelry ($15 on average), and a variety of feet-hugging shoes ($15 on average). Secondhand Diva only sells fashions that are free of stains, odors, and territorial ghosts who refuse to share closet space with photo albums and suitcases.