In the programs at Drama Kids International, youngsters learn more than how to fake-cry. Since 1999, the drama company has defined "drama" loosely, focusing more on the general goal of helping kids tap into their imaginations. The team does just that with their after-school programs and summer camps, which teach kids ages 3-18 to feel at ease on stage, whether they're starring in a comedy or making a speech. Some programs touch on behind-the-scenes skills, too, from stage managing to writing plays better than Hamlet 2: Shark Hamlet.
The stars of XBox, Wii, and even indie games come alive through the power of displays?and more than a few fan-made costumes?at SGC. SGC boasts that while its name used to stand for ScrewAttack Gaming Convention, now it just means "the best party in gaming!" The three-day event convention and festival sprawls throughout an 80,000 square-foot space inside the downtown Sheraton Hotel. One of its biggest attractions couldn't happen without the fans: unlike the average court proceeding, a whimsical cosplay contest enables attendees to show off their costumes and slip into character as heroes, villains, or morally ambiguous Tetris blocks.
Throughout the weekend, the convention thrills guests with a dealer room showcasing up to 80 vendors, a game room filled with consoles and arcade cabinets from nearly every generation, and a hall for tabletop gaming. Much of the action also happens in the main auditorium, which can accommodate up to 1,500 audience members. Here, celebrities and industry leaders?past guests have included Adam Sessler and The Angry Video Game Nerd?give panel discussions, and live video-game-themed bands play shows that are then streamed to the internet and directly onto their parents' cell phones.
Athletic & Performing Arts Center is a one-stop shop for kids' fun and athletics. It was born when two of Houston's long-running kids' gymnastics and dance programs joined forces. Now under one name, the instructors lead a variety gymnastics classes from Teeter Toddler classes intended for tots 16 months-35 months old, to an assortment of tumbling classes for kids over 6 in a range of skill levels. Available dance classes include styles such as ballet, jazz, tap, and hip-hop. They also host open-play sessions, in which kids can blow off steam after a long day at the lemonade stand.
Jerit Pogue, the owner of the newly unified APAC, says that he and his fellow trainers and teachers love seeing the glow of accomplishment on the kids they train, whether they just walked off stage or mastered a new trick in practice. "We have kids who cry everyday because they don't want to leave," he says.
Handicap Accessible: No
Staff Size: 25–50
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Gymnastics and dance classes
Pro Tip: Come prepared for kids to have fun and learn.
Sugar Land Dive Center’s store boasts scuba gear from brands such as Atomic, Oceanic and Sea Life, but their signature product is an intangible: a sense of confidence underwater. The PADI five-star dive center’s courses impart just that. After classroom-based instruction, the center’s open water instructors teach divers to breathe underwater and handle their complex gear by practicing in a pool. The program then culminates in a series of real open water dives, which result in open water certification more useful than its earlier incarnation, certification to open water that’s in an aluminum can.
Sugar Land Dive Center also teaches more specialized courses that can transform open water-certified divers into future rescue divers and PADI instructors. For a fusion of dive practice and vacation, students can also travel the world on international scuba trips, which whisk participants to locales such as Cozumel and Fiji.
A day spent with the Texas Beer Bus crew not only results in plenty of beer tastings, but in bragging rights, too. That's because the bus?s resident beer expert walks guests through the proper steps for smelling, sipping, and bathing in each beer style, whether at a local bar before the trip or at any of the stops on it. The air-conditioned bus takes the group to brewpubs and breweries, such as Fort Bend Brewing Co. in addition to other craft breweries. Everyone gets brew samples, such as light lagers or imperial stouts, but visits also grant everyone behind-the-scenes peeks at the brewing process. The bus, meanwhile, keeps everyone entertained with plenty of snacks and home-brewed beer.
Though Diego Cantina's over-the-top decor welcomes diners inside, its authentic Mexican cuisine crafted from fresh ingredients urges them to stay. Alejandrina Garza and her three children opened Diego's Cantina in an attempt to bring their Mexican heritage to Sugar Land. Described in Living magazine as a "little piece of Tampico, Mexico [the Garza family] left behind," the restaurant impresses visitors with its oversized replicas of Mayan hieroglyphics and paintings. Bathed in soft lighting emanating from chandeliers and tabletop candles, diners eat traditional dishes fueled by family recipes while sipping on beverages served from a blue, glowing tequila bar.