Perched on picturesque Galveston Island, Moody Gardens possesses a storied history that complements its scenic surroundings. Next to the sprawling grounds, the Moody Gardens Golf Course boasts multiple holes that run alongside the rippling waters of the Gulf and its intervening waterways, forming intimidating hazards and housing a thriving civilization of merpeople who use golf balls for currency. The tourist destination also thrills families with water attractions, including a wave pool and a lazy river. The restored 10-story Rainforest Pyramid holds more than 1,700 exotic plants and animals from Asian, African, and American rainforests, while the Aquarium Pyramid features a diverse range of ocean inhabitants including sharks and penguins.
From their table at Jimmy's on the Pier, people can take in unobstructed views of the gulf, watching as waves bob gently toward the shore. On chillier days, the warmth from the fireplace radiates throughout the space, almost as welcome as the scent of fresh-baked breads coming from the kitchen. Those breads are used to sandwich everything from po' boys to burgers, both of which pair perfectly with hand-cut fries seasoned with sea salt. There's fresh seafood as well?the fish tacos are quite popular?and gluten-free pumpkin pancakes Jimmy's swears rival their traditionally prepared desserts. In the morning, a full espresso bar churns out coffee and lattes, and in the evening, bartenders serve up one of 100 beers and wines.
According to its founders, the Texas Tequila and Margarita Festival was "intentionally created to feel like a passport to a street fair." Luckily for participants, there's no need to visit a government agency to get permission to enter?a simple ticket will do. Once there, guests can sip flavored margaritas, savor non-Mexican funnel cakes or traditional Mexican dishes from restaurants, and peruse gifts from vendors, all while swaying to live blues, Latin, and rock music. With additional tickets, they can head to the Tour de Tequila to sample brands including Blue Nectar Tequila and Tequila Toro de Lidia, pairing them with bites of local cuisine that complement the libations' flavors. There's also a Margarita Grand Tasting, where visitors can judge their favorite margarita with votes from restaurants such as The Spot and Tortuga, and a fajita cook-off with more than 100 participants.
Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.
Pati Villarreal knows the distinctive soil of Galveston Island—she's been tilling it since 1991. As the owner and operator of Island Lawn Care, she and her crews adeptly manage the untamed growth of palms and ferns and keep traditional straight-edged lawns looking neat and green. When hired to do regularly schedule maintenance, they change up the path they take through the yard with the mower to reduce the appearance of ruts in the grass, practicing what Pati calls an "alternate mowing pattern." In addition to keeping yards healthy and aesthetically pleasing, the adept workers can design landscapes, install plants and flowerbeds, and bribe lawn gnomes into staying put.
Despite the many flourishing yards left her wake, Pati doesn't consider a neat lawn to be the sole thing she's selling. "Our primary product is reliability," she says. This dependability surfaces in the business’ commitment to performing regular yard work, providing convenient electronic means of payment, and communicating in both English and Spanish.