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.
Weekend cruises along the lake. The occasional night fishing trip. While many people would like to own a boat for those reasons, the expenses of maintaining and storing a boat year-round can be daunting. Carefree Boat Rental eliminates the tedious bits of boat ownership by lending its well-maintained fleet to members by the hour. Inspected weekly by a dock staff using a 50-point checklist, each boat is also equipped with US Coast Guard-required safety equipment such as flares, approved flotation devices, and an emergency stash of Cheetos. The crew also takes care of regular maintenance, such as oil changes, hull cleaning, and annual bottom painting.
The Village Golf Club showcases challenging twists and turns on three distinct nine-hole courses that can be played separately or paired interchangeably for an 18-hole round. Throughout the entire 27-hole complex, ill-struck shots may stray into the sinister clutches of mature trees and ponds that haunt the fairways. The two less difficult nine-hole layouts—Winged Foot and Thunderbird—demand accurate pitches, chips, and putts onto the surface of recently renovated putting surfaces. The Rolling Hills course—the most challenging of the tee-to-green triad—demands a brave tee shot on its 157-yard par 3 third hole, which features a breathtaking island green.
Golf balls rain onto the 300-yard landing zone of the onsite driving range, where golfers can prop balls up on all-natural grass tees or steer clear of territorial earthworms by warming up on artificial mats. After a day spent hunting pars, the Village Restaurant sates appetites with a menu of classic sandwiches, soups, and salads.
Though their 27 holes share rolling fairways and the shade of oaks, magnolias, dogwoods, and azaleas, River Plantation Country Club’s three courses all boast their own challenges, which lie ready to shape well-rounded golfers. The nine-hole courses, named Augusta, Biloxi, and Charleston, all feature their fair share of tricky shots and holes flanked by streams, dotted with trees, or blocked by sample-size manhole covers. Players can further hone their skills on a 50-slot driving range, a putting green, and a short-game playing field complete with a faux sand bunker and chipping green. After practice or gameplay, golfers can stop into the River Plantation Grille to top off human or lifelike-android energy reserves with burgers, wraps, quesadillas, and deli sandwiches.
Racing Humans events pit earthlings against 5 kilometers of treacherous terrain riddled with hills, hurdles, and enough mud to make a bathtub look into early retirement. During spectator-friendly adventures, racers are challenged with a strenuous course, but must conquer a series of obstacles as well, including crawling under barbed wire, swimming across lakes, and high stepping over stacks of logs. Course officials keep feet moving along the route, and afterward, an awards ceremony recognizes the day's fastest competitors and best costumes. Racing Humans also hosts 1-mile events for youngsters aged 7–14, during which kids surmount obstacles without help from their parents or answers from the back of the teacher’s book.