Three years after founding Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in 1997, Louise Hopkins Underwood’s operation finally found a permanent home in the city's vacated Fire Department Administration Building. These days, her vision for a thriving contemporary-arts community has grown into a four-block campus with nine buildings spread across 64,000 square feet. The LHUCA team repurposed those structures—warehouses and former municipal buildings among them—into arts spaces that include an exhibition hall and four galleries whose nearly 5,000 square feet display local, national, and international artists. The renovated Icehouse accommodates rehearsals and performances of dance, music, and performance art, and the 159-seat Firehouse Theatre's 5.1-surround-sound mix brings films to life more effectively than hiring Dr. Frankenstein as a projectionist. Along with showcasing the work of prominent figures, the center's teachers nurture up-and-coming artists with classes in disciplines such as oil painting, bagpiping, and creative writing.
Dave's Need 4 Speed revs entertainment engines with a trio of attractions that send adrenaline juices coursing through thrill seekers of all ages. Laser-tag combatants equipped with light-blasting carbines sprint, crawl, and conga dance through a pirate-ship-themed battleground where glowing barrels and wooden bridges conceal camouflaged warriors and deflect misfires back into the darkness. The illuminated fairways of a cosmic mini-golf course unfurl amid radiating urban backdrops, challenging putters to sink holes in one beneath the shadows of the Statue of Liberty and other American landmarks. Guests who share Dave's disdain for sluggish steering can hop into a go-kart and whip around one of the center's age-appropriate tracks, which foster high-speed excitement with a fresh slathering of melted butter prior to each race.
In 1973, Jimmy and Katie Dean signed the papers to purchase Joyland Amusement Park, which had fallen into neglect after first opening in the 1940s. They thoroughly revamped the 13 attractions the park had then, and Katie still helps manage the more than 30 kiddie, thrill, family, and water rides that send guests rolling, spinning, and splashing today. From the Skyride's gondolas that sail high overhead, families take in scenic vistas of an antique carousel, the speedy Galaxi coaster, and a log flume powered by Old Faithful’s underachieving brother. Joyland opens its gates from mid-March until early fall, closing in the winter months for rollercoaster-hibernation season.
A swarm of cars and trucks surrounds three massive screens at the Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre, lighting up the open country sky with action, comedy, and science-fiction flicks. Double features of recently released talkies run back-to-back and start at approximately 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., depending on film lengths. Bring along a blind date or curious cartographer to explore the twisting terrain of a free 6-inch hot funnel cake or the concession stand’s menu of ’50s-inspired American fare before cuddling up in the front seat of your private film-viewing room. The drive-in’s playground gives mini movie marauders a place to climb, slide, and polish conspiracy-thriller scripts. Stars & Stripes features films rain or shine, but will reimburse moviegoers with a rain-check ticket if inclement weather impedes sight of the screen.
The maze is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday September 10–November 26. Kids age 4 and younger are free. Guests who redeem the Groupon in September get a free hayride (a $1 value), and guests who redeem it in November get a free hayride to Pumpkin Hallow (a $5 value), teeming with carved, illuminated pumpkins.
Lauded in a review by Frommer’s, Science Spectrum Museum educates youngsters on myriad scientific subjects—from technology to animals to outer space—with more than 250 exhibits and a scholastic slate of visually appealing movies. Teensy scientists and their parental counterparts can soak up cleverly communicated knowledge while learning about the biology of the Brazos River, the science of sports, the elements of flight, and the physics of Einstein's half-court slam dunks during his days playing for the Celtics.