To keep the spirit of its musical roots ever near, House of Blues Houston keeps a metal box of mud from the Delta Mississippi beneath its stage and proudly displays the traditional crazy quilt. As the only venue in the revered chain to be built vertically rather than free floating, House of Blues Houston stands as a pillar of entertainment in the Houston Pavilions complex. The hot spot’s Bronze Peacock Room commemorates Houston's rich history and the blues clubs where Lightnin' Hopkins and Big Mama Thornton held sway, and features an enormous hand-painted mural depicting other local legends such as Albert Collins and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.
Myrtle Beach is situated on South Carolina's Atlantic coast, making the area a popular destination for surfers, fishers, and kayakers. Along the shore, the city's wooden boardwalk stretches for more than a mile and buzzes with carnival games and amusement-park rides. The SkyWheel ferris wheel boasts glass-floored gondolas and more than a million LED lights. Just 10 miles south of Myrtle Beach, the tiny fishing village of Murrells Inlet provides a tranquil contrast to the boardwalk's hustle and bustle. At Brookgreen Gardens, more than 1,400 original sculptures play freeze tag amid sprawling floral gardens and massive, moss-covered oak trees.
Creamy frozen yogurt, fresh-fruit mix-ins, and healthy toppings such as almonds, granola, and shredded coconut make Yogen Früz a source of unlimited fresh flavors. Yogurt artists mix customers’ custom creations—such as piña colada mixed with smooth-blended pineapple yogurt, or apple pie sprinkled with graham-cracker crumbs—before their very eyes. Along with such quasi-decadent options, the company’s 1,300 worldwide outposts offer low-fat varieties, nonfat probiotic yogurts, and fresh-fruit sorbets. Every mix is low in fat, a good source of vitamins and fiber, and one of the only known sources of the essential nutrient frostiness.
In seven locations around the Charleston area, King Street Grille rolls out upscale pub fare and a few dozen flat-screen televisions. Full of contemporary versions of traditional bar favorites, the menu unfolds to reveal mac ‘n’ cheese egg rolls, nine types of grilled, hand-formed burgers, and plates weighed down with comforting entrees, such as pork chops and shepherd's pie. The bar stocks more than 100 beers and its own line of liquor to wash down meals or offer as gifts to the thirsty actors who reenact big games inside the TV. Throughout the week, the eatery pairs good food with good times by transforming its space into a venue for trivia nights, billiards, and live music.
Myrtle Beach stretches for more than 60 miles along South Carolina's coast. In 2010, the resort city broke ground on a $6.5 million project to build an old-style boardwalk. Anchored by the 20-story SkyWheel Ferris wheel, the raised, wooden boardwalk links sidewalk cafés, carnival rides, and eclectic boutiques throughout Myrtle Beach's bustling downtown. Outside the city's epicenter and a 35-minute drive from the hotel, the historical fishing village of Murrell's Inlet draws kayakers to its scenic backwaters. A sculpture garden, zoo, and scores of moss-draped oaks stretch across 9,000 picturesque acres at the nearby Brookgreen Gardens.
Sophie's deli artists pile fresh, local ingredients into savory sandwiches that are accompanied by a copious catalog of coffee drinks and sweets. Sandwich sculptors occupy restless hands with hot paninis, such as the chicken florentine stuffed with in-house sliced and grilled chicken, provolone, and sautéed spinach on toasty sourdough ($7.99). Nonpressed sandwiches allow strata of proteins and trimmings to stand taller and wrinklier, counting among their ranks the J.M.M., freighting a 1/4-pound bundle of roast beef, horseradish aioli, and roasted peppers into mouth inlets ($6.99). Beat post-lunch snoozing fits with coffee drinks ranging from a basic house brew of the day ($1.55–$1.85) to more exotic potions such as a toffee nut latte ($3.35–$4.35) or love-inducing mocha. For a meal-ending burst of sweetness, Sophie's trucks ice cream from nearby Wilmington, arriving in 16 summery flavors, including georgia peach and cappuccino crunch, along with several fat-free options ($2.99/scoop).