Perched on picturesque Galveston Island, Moody Gardens possesses a storied history that complements its scenic surroundings. Its horticultural and animal-therapy programs—which began in the mid-1980s—pair visitors living with physical and emotional disabilities with horses and multihued flora, helping them learn coping skills and build confidence. 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.
To a ship at sea, a lighthouse signals a safe passage. But the beacon at The Kemah Lighthouse Maze isn't so reliable. A miniature lighthouse topped with a winking mermaid marks the entrance to a winding labyrinth, but once you're deep inside the tangle of corridors, simply following the light will inevitably result in a face full of wall. Instead, explorers must rely on their innate sense of direction, their wits, and their talking companion bird to navigate. After you've made your way to the other side of the maze, you can kick back in the park next door for a well-earned picnic.
Jump!Zone is an indoor play center packed with moonwalks, bouncers, and giant slides for children ages 2 to 12. Allow youngsters to pay overdue respects to the life-size prehistoric T-rex at the North Little Rock location, or unleash their limbs to zoom down one of three circus city super slides in Conway. Large playsets and interactive games also provide loads of hands-on bounceless entertainment. Ultra youngsters looking to book the perfect destination playdate can check out toddler area, while miniature humans who prefer on-screen entertainment can dominate in the Conway location arcade, leaving their adult counterparts free to use the WiFi or recite the periodic table of elements backward in peace. The colorful entertainment extends to tongues, which are entitled to two small slushees from the cafe area that fuel children with the amount of sugars necessary for hours of continuous bouncing.
Tiny legs scamper across Lone Star Bounce Town's 9,000-square-foot floor, bounding from one cushy inflatable to the next and pausing before a gallery of kid-friendly toys and games. Disney-inspired bounce houses populate the open space, including new plush slides and domiciles that pay homage to the bubbly heroes of Toy Story 3, Winnie the Pooh, and Dante's Inferno. Tykes hone their hand-eye coordination by shooting hoops on the inflatable basketball court, cracking plastic balls off baseball tees, or threading straws into juice boxes in the Lone Star Cafe. A special subsection designed for toddlers, Lone Star's Tiny Town, features scaled-down playhouses, toy cars, and colorful, bouncy balls.
The clatter of foosball and air-hockey tables makes a steady drumbeat, over which drifts the sounds of an arcade—the happy digital babble of a modem dreaming. Ten leather couches with a full view of the children accommodate parents as they surf free WiFi and enjoy coffee from the café.
The Pearland Town Center Mall morphs into a communitywide celebration of food, arts, and entertainment during Pear Fair 2012. Kicking off the festivities at noon, a summer fashion show sends models strutting down the catwalk sporting warm-weather wares. At 2 p.m., Pearland Idol finalists attempt to win over the hearts of ears by belting out tunes, and at 6 p.m., Modulation Band seizes the spotlight with a lively mix of jazz and blues as audience members try to capture their favorite notes in empty soda bottles. An eclectic spread of refreshments keeps toes tappin' throughout the festival, specifically from inside the Flavors of Pearland food garden, where tasty treats from more than 40 vendors dance across tongues and reduce conversations to a chorus of "yum”s.
Since 1947, the Crosby Fair and Rodeo has kept the traditions of Texas alive with big BBQ cook-offs, bull riding, and a livestock auctions. What began as the "Crosby Roping Club" has come a long way, with professional cowboys strutting their stuff during the calf-roping competition, bull riding, and the cowboy hat flying competition. At the BBQ cook-off, participants compete against each other to determine who makes the best pork ribs, brisket, and margaritas, all while nightly entertainment lights up the grounds with the sounds of live music.