George Ranch Historical Park, only half an hour southwest of Houston, is more than a representation of Texas history?it?s the hundred-year story of a ranching family who lived their lives on the park?s very soil. The attractions tell their story, beginning with the Jones Stock Farm?a cattle operation circa 1830?where interpreters demonstrate old-fashioned skills amidst a traditional dog-trot log cabin. The Ryon Prairie Home unveils an 1860s image of a Texas Ranch home in the golden age of the cattle drive, and the Davis Mansion contains artifacts from Victorian-era Texas enjoyed by the wealthiest citizens of the 1890s. The final site, the George Ranch Complex, demonstrates ranching life as it happened in the 1930s, including barn structures and daily cattle demonstrations. Guides show off each building and era with historic tours, demonstrations, and living history exhibits such as a working blacksmith shop.
The park?s directors breathe life back into this history with interactive events, as well. They also schedule an array of yearly events such as military reenactments, and holiday-themed history lessons.
Stomping Grounds Playland is many things at once. Part play center, coffee bar, and restaurant, its target demographic spans generations, all of whom should find plenty to do within its 7,000 square-foot facility or 2,000 square-foot playscape. A play structure delights kids with obstacles and colorful tunnels, and an expanded toddler area keeps the youngest visitors occupied. To fuel this fun, the onsite Brewster's Caf? serves up kid favorites such as hot dogs and mac and cheese.
However, the caf? has even more options for adults?not to mention a dining area with free WiFi. Baristas pour cappuccino, organic chai tea, and specialty espresso drinks such as white-chocolate mochas. These caffeinated treats complement an array of signature sandwiches and salads. Stomping Grounds Playland also caters to parents with comprehensive party packages; party planners take care of everything, including food, activities, and all the paperwork required to receive a birthday wish.
The Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center conceals a chilly oasis for winter-sports fans to practice and have fun all year long, whether it's the day after Christmas or a steamy 100-degree afternoon in July. Between its two rinks, the center hosts staff-supervised public-skating sessions nearly every day in addition to a wide range of youth and adult hockey events—including practices for the former AHL champion Houston Aeros. Inside Rink A, a spacious seating area and café invites visitors to break from their icy escapades and reenergize with a snack. Also away from the ice, the onsite pro shop sharpens blades and repairs skates so clients can carve their way across rinks and the halls of imposing ice castles.
If it weren’t for the railroad, there would be no Rosenberg. In 1880 the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Company extended their tracks across those of another railway, creating a junction that they named after the railway’s president, Henry von Rosenberg. All that remains of this junction’s original depot, from which the town of Rosenberg grew, is the signal tower, which is now the centerpiece of Rosenberg Railroad Museum’s collection of historic railcars and other railway paraphernalia.
Representing the full spectrum of passenger railcars, the collection includes a caboose—the living quarters of a train conductor—and a Canadian government business car, which in the 1920s had been appointed to transport dignitaries and prime ministers in comfort. At the museum’s education center, an HO-gauge model train gives visitors a macro view of a rail network, and, up in the signal tower, an interlocking machine lets visitors play at train traffic control, using the same switches the towerman flipped back in 1903 to make sure only one train was routed through a junction at a time and no trains were routed down the tracks that just led straight off the edge of the world.
Not too many people get to make a career out of their childhood dreams. Needville Horseback Riding's head instructor Jacqueline, however, is one person who can say she did. After riding and showing as a little girl, she decided to pursue horsemanship further in college and into adulthood, earning herself a certification from the American Riding Instructors Association and the right to fulfill her equestrian dream each day.
Today, she empowers others to pursue similar dreams by conducting horseback riding lessons in the disciplines of hunter, jumper, and dressage for riders of all ages. Lessons take place year-round rain or shine, and can be tailored to each rider regardless of whether their goals include competing in shows, riding for pleasure, or taking over the carpool lane with horse traffic. Jacqueline also welcomes casual horseback riders to participate in equine action through birthday parties and youth camps.
At the dine-in movie theater Star Cinema Grill, concession stands are obsolete. By pressing a button, customers signal a server and are able to order restaurant-style without disrupting their viewing experience or screaming at an usher for a lobster bib. From angus sliders to ice-cream floats, Star Cinema Grill's menu appeases all ages with its gourmet-pub cuisine served amidst the glow of screenings and first-run film releases.