Perched on picturesque Galveston Island, Moody Gardens possesses a storied history that complements its scenic surroundings. More than two million visitors a year get to live part of that history, drawn by the 242-acre park's three towering pyramids. After exploring walking and bike trails lined with nearly 20,000 plants and trees, guests can take their expedition underwater at the Aquarium Pyramid. There, a host of aquatic animals including penguins, sharks, and tropical fish swim and frolic in their natural habitats. Nature is also on display at the Rainforest Pyramid, which takes guests on a quest through the jungles of Asia, Africa and the Americas.
In addition to embracing the wonders of nature, Moody Gardens also incorporates adventures in mankind's world of science. Guests can broaden their minds with traveling exhibits at the Discovery Museum, or immerse themselves in the towering worlds of the MG 3D Theater or 4D Special FX Theater. The tourist destination also thrills families with water attractions, including a wave pool and a lazy river. No matter the reason for the visit, guests can also rest their heads at the recently-renovated (and nearby) Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center.
Feet patter across three information-packed floors stacked inside the Ocean Star, a former drilling rig that spends its retirement as a museum and education center on Galveston's Pier 19. After two decades drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the rig has since been revamped and outfitted with interactive models and displays that illustrate the story of offshore oil, gas, and the energies that lurk beneath the world's oceans. Visitors can tap into videos for explanations of drilling, geology, and seismic topics, or stand next to scale models of production platforms. In addition to its lineup of eye-popping sites, Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center harbors ongoing exhibits showcasing the industry's careers, history, and safety measures. Self-guided tours seven days a week enable guests to explore the rig's nooks at their own pace, while an onboard staff stands by to answer questions and courteously laugh at all petroleum-related knock-knock jokes.
The ghastly guides of Ghost Tours Texas lead groups of foolhardy interlopers on story-filled journeys past the spectrally inhabited landmarks of Galveston and Houston Heights. On the Galveston tour, a knowledgeable leader takes parties through the Silk Stocking District to visit the 1858 Ashton Villa mansion, whose second floor is occupied by the phantom “Miss Betty” Brown, and whose basement is occupied by a man who years ago forgot how to work a doorknob. The guide also divulges tales told from eyewitness accounts.
The Houston Heights tour winds through the area's historical and opulent homes, exploring such mysteries as the story of the Dean Correl murders and the children who are said to still haunt the alleyways of Houston Heights. Guides weave tales of ghostly possessions and evil voodoo dolls peppered with real-life testimonies from local residents.
Runners embarking on the Honky Tonk Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K won't need headphones to hear twangy country tunes. That’s because the hilly Wisconsin Dells course features live bands and DJs along the route to keep participants energized as they race toward the finish line. The party-like atmosphere doesn’t end with the race, as a full-blown celebration complete with food, beer, and line dancing awaits runners and their family and friends. Aside from age-group awards for the top three males and females in each race, finish-line gifts include a Honky Tonk cowboy hat and goodie bag for all participants, a finisher-medal buckle for marathoners and half marathoners, and an ice bath for those who decided to pogo stick the entire 26.2 miles. The Honky Tonk marathon and half-marathon course is USA Track & Field certified and is also a Boston Marathon qualifier.
Though the native Texan and native Australian who founded Southern Spears Surf grew up oceans apart, their love of surfing the very waters that once separated them now unites them. Both have traveled the world, from Costa Rica and Fiji to Indonesia, in pursuit of the perfect wave.
At Southern Spears Surf—“spear” is Australian slang for surfboard—they cater to fellow surfing devotees with a generous selection of short and long boards. To kit-out surfers, they sell surf-inspired clothing for guys and girls, as well as gear like wetsuits and wax to keep boards slip-free while eliminating the body hair that naturally grows from them.
Functioning as a non-profit with a mission to promote the preservation of nearby coastal marshes and endangered marine environments, Artist Boat aims to raise awareness through art and science. The team, made up of biologists and artists?all of whom are ACA certified kayak instructors?lead groups on paddles through Galveston Bay, choosing destinations with natural significance. Outings are suited to either beginner or intermediate paddlers, and all gear is provided, so kayakers only need bring along sun-block, outdoor-appropriate clothing, and portable air conditioning units.