True to its eponymous mascot, Armadilla Lanes has burrowed itself into the entertainment scenes of both Houston and Pasadena. Both facilities buzz throughout the week with organized league play, which invites bowlers of all ages to rack up strikes and spares and compete in themed competitions. Outside of league play, the alleys also indulge casual competitors with standard pick-up games, special music nights featuring live DJs, and with optional bumpers outfitted on every lane. And for truly casual guests, each alley’s full-service snack bar dishes out burgers, pizzas, and nachos, all of which give fingers a break from having to hold a ball or point with conviction at unblinking pins.
At Skate World, visitors glide atop one of the largest known pieces of Americana: the roller rink. Friends zoom past one another in competition as families take leisurely paths around the edges. During glow parties, neon glow sticks light up the room. Both Skate World locations come with the classic fixings, including skate rental, DJs, pizza, and ice cream?all of which are available in birthday-party and group packages. Private parties can rent out the entire rink by the hour, ensuring that no one disrupts their games or unconventional Civil War reenactments. At the Pasadena rink, a Lazer Runner Battle Station allows for intense rounds of laser tag.
Jutting above the street, the modernist lines of Rafael Moneo's Audrey Jones Beck Building echo the eclectic collection found within. Under sky openings that let in natural light and the bitter gazes of pigeons who can’t seem to get their work shown, visitors meander through galleries that span the breadth of human artistry, from ancient sculpture to modern painting. Noteworthy works from the more than 64,000 pieces include Pablo Picasso's colorful cubist Two Women in Front of a Window, Edgar Degas's achingly expressionistic Woman Drying Herself, and an untitled sketch by Jackson Pollock that shows his wild, abstract genius evolving toward his celebrated drip paintings. A treasure trove of cultural artifacts from Africa, Asia, and the Americas expands the museum’s scope and transports visitors back in time as they gaze on a palpably pensive ceramic ballplayer from Mexico's Classic Veracruz culture or a life-size royal head forged from copper for a Nigerian royal court.
**Groupon Celebrates Pride Month** Over the last 50 years, the gay-rights movement in America has overcome tremendous obstacles to become a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity. Even as it has grown, the movement—like Groupon—is local at heart, and we applaud the commitment to real change that improves everyday lives. At Groupon, we are happy to add our voices to those celebrating PRIDE, their achievements as a social movement and a continued march to equality for the LGBT community. Plus, we love a chance to dig that rainbow wig out of storage. This month—and throughout the year—we salute our merchants and customers who support PRIDE and all efforts that promote dignity, respect, and equal opportunity. We're highlighting these merchants' deals with a special badge to show Groupon's pride in working with people who share our values.
With the sound of fast-approaching engines roaring in your ear, you jam your foot down even harder on the gas pedal and narrow your eyes at the upcoming left-hand turn, determined not to let up even for an instant. If you do, there’s a good chance that your new view will consist of your competition gloating triumphantly while they zip past you on the track. You may only be driving a GT-5 Sodikart, and not a tricked-out racecar, but you absolutely refuse to let any of the other adult or—gulp—junior drivers beat you.
Track 21 lets speed-demons careen around one of three indoor go-kart tracks at speeds of up to 40 mph as they try to edge past other karts, competing with fellow birthday partiers or coworkers to reach the finish line before it decides to become a finish wall. In case competition gets too fierce, the karts are surrounded by heavy nylon bumpers and rubber blocks designed to absorb impact from all sides.
Friendly rivalries continue on foot inside Area 21, a two-story laser-tag battleground beset with fog, obstacles, and space-age scenery. Sharpshooters zap each other's targets in pursuit of a grander mission, such as capturing the opposing base or stealing the enemy's supply of light, before matches end and scores are tallied on a stats sheet. Glowing decor also illuminates a jungle-themed nine-hole mini-golf course, where gorilla and lion statues bask in the black lights. Track 21’s arcade demands timing and button-smashing dexterity from gamers, and a track-side casino sets up rounds of blackjack, poker, and craps.
While many children learn by performing hands-on tasks, school systems have yet to figure out how to incorporate gardens, imagination workshops, and towering aqueduct mazes into their budgets. With 90,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits, the Children's Museum of Houston sparks creativity by allowing kids to explore 14 learning stations. Named one of the 12 best children's museums in the country according to Forbes.com, ranked No. 1 among the 10 best children's museums in the nation by Parents magazine, and voted Best Museum 2012 and 2013 by the Houston A-List Poll; Children's Museum of Houston encourages children to explore their curious nature with a variety of interactive exhibits. Exhibits include the interactive EcoStation, a solar-powered outdoor utopia with activities such as stream creation and leaf rubbing that inspire kids to think about environmental responsibility. At the Invention Convention workshop, kids can explore engineering possibilities with building blocks, propellers, and even basic robotics. The sprawling cityscape of Kidtropolis invites children to participate in a simulated economy. The experience requires them to earn paychecks, budget money on pretend debit cards, vote for political candidates, and learn how to obsessively check milk expiration dates at the onsite grocery store.
As daylight hours wane and temperatures drop, Discovery Green transforms Kinder Lake’s model-boat basin into a 7,200-square-foot open-air ice rink, beckoning visitors and locals alike to embrace the winter season. The cheerful sounds of Christmas carols, upbeat world music, and swing tunes emanate from the sound system as skaters gracefully glide past the site's colorful glass railings and mural-bedecked kiosks. In a separate children's area beside the main rink, toddlers and their parents can play on their own section of ice while safely avoiding faster-paced skating traffic. Special events also lend their own festive air to the attraction, where guests can watch live jazz bands or skate alongside Santa Claus.
To keep the ice at a constant and chilly 22 degrees, the rink conceals more than 17 miles of cooling pipes beneath its friction-defying surface. Recycled water from Kinder Lake helps create a cool, even skating surface, and the entire attraction siphons its power from renewable energy sources instead of coal buttons stolen from snowmen. Additionally, an onsite snack shop keeps bellies warm and cheeks ruddy with cups of coffee and hot cocoa, as well as hearty snacks including roasted peanuts, cookies, and belgian waffles.