It's a common misconception that the city of Houston is named after the Houston Rockets basketball team. The truth is far stranger. The city is actually named in honor of Sam Houston, a key player in Texas's bid for statehood. The Lone Star State as we know it today would not have been possible if Houston hadn't led the Texas Revolution and subsequently assumed office as the Republic of Texas's first and third president.
Houston—both the city and the man—is the focus of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. Located on 15 acres of the leader's own estate, the sprawling museum lets visitors learn about Houston's life and accomplishments via artifacts, manuscripts, and even buildings he frequented. Houston's hunting lodge along with the Steamboat House have been moved to the museum grounds from their original locations, and a replica of his kitchen was hand-built with period tools on the same spot as the original. In the rotunda building, visitors can examine personal effects and articles of clothing to get a feel for what Houston was like as a person. Though the museum is open six days a week year-round, the summer months are perhaps the best time to visit, as the museum offers free tours twice daily with paid admission.
At each of its 31 area locations, the YMCA of Greater Houston pursues a mission to bring health, wellness, and personal growth to communities. Kids leap into activities ranging from swim lessons and youth sports to a teen Youth & Government program that stirs up confidence and leadership abilities in students, preparing them for mudslinging student-council campaigns.
Zumba, ballroom dance, and Les Mills group exercise classes shake up adult workout routines, as complimentary childcare frees up parents to pursue fitness goals. Meanwhile, adult sport leagues such as basketball and racquetball result in friendly competition and hyper-literate team names inspired by obscure philosophers.
Bo Poole's family farm is a working farm—complete with harvests of sweet corn, eggplant, and purple-hull peas—but it is also a family destination for autumnal fun. The farm's country store also allows visitors to stock up on honey harvested onsite, pumpkin-cake mixes, and corncobs that may be taken home and popped or planted in hopes of sprouting a popcorn bush. Along with developing P-6 Farms' yearly harvest, Bo develops the public's agricultural know-how with an annual fall festival filled with family-friendly activities. Tractor-drawn hayrides give passengers a first-hand look at farm life, and the 8-acre corn maze allows them to get up close and personal with America's most celebrated crop as they navigate twists and turns in search of the exit. Other autumnal amusements include a life-size human spider, target-shooting with a kid-friendly water canon, and a pumpkin patch.
Award-winning ice sculptor T. Jay Maclaskey and his wife, Carol, open their doors to the public yearly, inviting carloads of families to attend their ranch and the festival known as The Ice Cutter's Christmas. They take kids on jingle bell hayrides across the 40 rolling acres to see sights such as a 109-year-old barn, known as the Fire and Ice Hall, bedecked in lights and light sculptures of holiday scenes in the woods. Inside, their extensive freezers house a glittering collection of ice sculptures created by the owner, and visitors can watch as he carves a brand new one before their eyes. Storytellers spin holiday tales and visitors sing Christmas carols as mini horses, goats, and Ziggy the llama jostle to be petted and fed. Finally, staffers put a button on each evening with a big chilly showdown known as the Great Texas Snowball Battle.
Held each year as winter's cold gives way to spring's new beginnings, the Dream Weddings Bridal Show helps brides-to-be plan the wedding they've envisioned. Each show features an army of vendors from across the spectrum of wedding production, all ready to team up with soon-to-be-weds and get down to details. In one large space, attendees can network with dance instructors for some pre-wedding waltz polishing, check out the handiwork of local photographers, and compare the prices and selection of several different cake artists. While visitors listen to DJ music selections and scrutinize the penmanship of invitations vendors, a fashion show for both men and women showcases the latest in wedding dresses and formal attire.
Most people who look at a hose think of watering plants or maybe putting out fires, but Franky Zapata thinks of flying. Inspired, he designed the Flyboard, an over-water aerial device capable of launching its rider up to 45 feet in the air with jets of pure water that gush from a large, high-tech hose strapped to a buoyant board. For added control, each water-propulsion craft comes equipped with handheld nozzles that can control 10% of the thrust.
Now, South Texas Flyboard gives folks the chance to experience thrilling bird’s-eye views of Lake Conroe. After a brief instructional lesson, customers can strap into the board’s pre-attached boots and take to the skies during an adrenaline-fueled ride.