Hosted across the city from NASA’s Mission Control Center, Space City Con invites fans from Houston and beyond to meet their idols from sci-fi and fantasy movies, films, and print media. Celebrities from beloved franchises drop by to dole out autographs and photo opportunities, in addition to with comic-, anime-, and literature-industry artists and writers. The convention halls rattle with sound of polyhedral dice during ongoing tabletop gaming events, along with the bellows of LARPing elves as they fall from a perfectly executed lightning-bolt spell. Visitors can pay homage to their heroes at fan-film screenings and the yearly Masquerade costume, in which they can show off fandom-inspired cosplay get-ups or purely coincidental Stormtrooper armor.
Memorial City Mall’s chirping cash registers and department-store scanners give way to the scraping of blades against ice inside Ice Skate USA. There, a full-sized rink large enough to host official IHL and NHL games reinvigorates bodies worn from shopping by imparting the freedom and fun of uninhibited speed during open-skate sessions. The rink also keeps a squad of instructors on hand who host hockey academies to sharpen everything from basic skating skills to puck control to discerning between team mascots and roving packs of wolves. Additionally, Ice Skate USA also works to expand the community’s appreciation for ice-bound culture during scheduled events such as The Nutcracker on Ice, with try-outs for the production encouraged for all students, and open to skaters of any skill and age.
At Soundbox Studios, the human body is the preferred artistic medium. Owners and brothers Andrew and Duy Nguyen, along with Calvin Eata, have created an encouraging space that supports the Houston dance community. Skilled instructors oversee hip-hop classes for all levels, teaching basic moves and rhythm patterns that students will later modify and make their own as they progress through the curriculum. The Soundbox also sports their own sharply dressed crop of performance teams, including The Lady Rascals, Riot Squad, and Lunchbox, a preadolescent crew capable of breakdancing their ABCs.
Aromas of grilled Black Angus burgers waft through All Stars Family Grill, where play spaces for toddlers to 12-year-olds are as much of an attraction as the hearty American fare. Entrees, sandwiches, and kid-size meals appear at the pickup counter with complimentary soft-serve ice cream, which incentivizes alfresco dining at picnic benches on the large, concrete patios. A pair of playgrounds, one designed for toddlers and the other for ages 5–12, entertains kids with slides, tunnels, and an accountant offering tax advice. Inside, wooden tables sprawl out under a checkerboard ceiling, which also decorates three private rooms ready to party with 50-inch plasma high-definition TVs and AV equipment. An arcade buzzes with games including Madden and Target Terror, and flat-screen TVs sprinkled throughout the restaurant display sports or breaking news on cartoon cancellations.
Pieces by local artists, yoga demonstrations looping on a flat-screen TV, and comfy furniture all line the sun-soaked lobby at Bikram Yoga Sugar Land. The waiting area exudes the same soothing vibes students find inside the studio, where teachers lead 90-minute yoga sessions. Each class consists of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, which pupils of all ages and body types enact in a room heated between 105 and 107 degrees. The heat helps bodies stretch during the intensive cardiovascular workout, which burns calories, melts away stress, and increases flexibility.
If that sounds overwhelming, don't fret––the studio hosts beginner's classes several times a day, and supplies helpful info for first timers. Bikram Yoga Sugar Land even offers courses for kids, special-needs children, and babysitting for moms. Once class lets out, students can enjoy one of the studio's relaxing spa treatments, which range from massage therapy to organic facials.
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.