The animal kingdom encompasses species from every continent on the planet. But Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari cuts down on the need for excessive travel by bringing an eclectic array of exotic species to the heart of East Texas. The 300-acre preserve houses 36 exotic and endangered species in open areas similar to their native habitats. This allows visitors to see these majestic creatures firsthand while driving along the miles of roads that weave throughout the preserve's hills and savannahs. Over the course of the self-guided tour, visitors will have the opportunity to spot animals such as an alligator, Canadian wood bison, Arabian camel, red kangaroo, zebra, and holographic dodo, all from the safety of their vehicle. In addition to providing one-of-a-kind wildlife photo ops, the preserve also allows groups to feed some of the animals by dropping food pellets onto the ground.
Oil Bowl Lanes opens its 32 lanes of rolling glory to pin pushers every day of the week. A one-hour lane rental pits quartets of players against one another to see who can garner the highest score based on pins felled and the secret 11th frame, which is judged on the overall style of post-strike moonwalks. Eight rental shoes lend their aid to earthbound extremities, and a full pitcher of soda bubbles with between-frame refreshment or postgame head-dunk opportunities. Spheres rumble down Oil Bowl’s alleys between retro-futuristic murals and cheery checkered floors.
Longview Museum of Fine Arts seeks to expose the local community to art through its collection of more than 400 works including paintings, etchings, photographs, collages, and sculptures. The permanent collection primarily focuses on works from regional artists, and the museum's galleries also host traveling or temporary exhibits six times per year. Outside, visitors can tour a sculpture garden with rotating featured pieces.
The halls of the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse are decked in bows of sarcasm as David Sedaris’s sardonic diatribe The Santaland Diaries fills mature audiences with Yuletide cheer and apropos humbug. Adapted from Sedaris’s popular irreverent essay, the play features actor Luke Thomas Eddy embodying the foul mouth and uncomfortable shoes of Crumpet the Elf during a scintillating one-hour, one-man performance. Tearing at a famous department store’s holiday façade like a grizzly bear rudely woken up from hibernation, Crumpet reveals the sordid lives of Santa’s little helpers as they endure the side effects of the holidays. Chock-full of one-liner chestnuts and hilarious humiliation, the show ensures audiences howl with empathy as the embittered elf rants against baffled tourists, entitled parents, and the anti-elves known as children. Like standing under sulfuric mistletoe, The Santaland Diaries gives the season both a heartfelt kiss and a swift kick in the chimney.
Hands-on exploration of science, mathematics, and space travel awaits within more than 290 exhibits at Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science center. The 92,000-square-foot nonprofit museum is divided into nine galleries, where visitors can play 3D versions of tic-tac-toe, try on a spacesuit, and even pretend-land a space shuttle inside a simulator. Roaming the galleries, meanwhile, Sci-Port's science-savvy demonstrators invite guests to help them with activities such as dissecting sharks or dissecting all the plot holes in Jaws.
The museum also hosts myriad events throughout the year, from science-of-mixology sessions for adults to famous-scientist "birthday parties" where kids can swap scientist-themed trading cards. Even more scientific enlightenment can be found in Sci-Port's IMAX Dome Theatre and Sawyer Space Dome Planetarium, which show films on subjects such as the human body and the sun, respectively.
Gators and Friends Alligator Park and Exotic Zoo invites all ages to watch gators wrestle each other in the water and chomp down their meals. The zoo was established in 2006 to raise awareness about the habits and survival techniques of wild animals, giving visitors a better understanding of all creatures, from alligators to pet hamsters to the turtles who fight crime from the sewers. The facility doesn't just contain reptiles, either; it also keeps kangaroos, capybaras, goats, and a Scottish cow.