Seven days a week, the Houston Museum of Natural Science cultivates knowledge with interactive exhibits that shuttle minds into such far-flung realms as tropical rainforests and outer space. Permanent exhibits house everything from the skeletons of brachiosauruses in the recently expanded Morian Hall of Paleontology to artifacts from ancient Egypt and the Americas. Housed inside three stories of glass, the museum's butterfly habitat teems with more than 1,500 winged wonders from around the globe, which frolic around a 50-foot waterfall, and flutter through exotic plants. Visitors can also gaze skyward in the Burke Baker Planetarium, which casts more than 10 daily shows with curve-mirror projection technology. Eyes marvel at the planetarium's 30'x18' full-dome digital theater, capable of transporting families to the aurora borealis in the Arctic Circle or to the nougat-flavored center of a black hole.
What began as a small studio with five enthusiastic dance students has transformed into a full-fledged company that's educated thousands and won multiple awards along the way—including a Certificate of Congressional Recognition. Today, Strictly Street Salsa has a whole team of instructors that has danced its way across the likes of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Spain, and Rome and is ready to introduce students to new cultures through the art of dance. The studio offers classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced dancers in both salsa and tango and hosts dance workshops that blend Latin dance with various cultural elements, including African movement, gypsy music, and good old-fashioned American screaming.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
When one thinks of an ice rink, the next thought is not typically of freshly baked bread, cured meats, and roasted beets with apples and blue cheese. Jambone's Grill Pub might just change that. Adjacent to the rink at the Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center, Jambone's menu of upscale pub food provides welcome respite for ice skaters. Chefs press fresh ground beef or tarragon-turkey burgers stuffed with a choice of cheese between challah buns or surround grilled chicken, salami, and provolone with slices of ciabatta. Jambone's servers pour Wayne Gretzky Estates wine or other libations from the full-service bar on the spacious patio before diners dash back to the rink to watch it not melt.
Though women clad in bikini tops roam the area, the people munching on half-pound burgers and fish tacos aren't lounging on the beach. Rather they're seated within Beach Babe Sports Bar and Grill's sea of wood tables, where servers in swimsuits and shorts bring them boneless wings slathered in seven sauces as football games and UFC matches beam from more than 40 LCD television screens. Or they may be perched on the high-backed chairs that surround the oval-shaped bar. It's here that bartenders fill glasses with beer from more than 15 taps and mix cocktails from a stock of liquor sizable enough to get Paul Bunyan to go ox tipping.
In the programs at Drama Kids International, youngsters learn more than how to fake-cry. Since 1999, the drama company has defined "drama" loosely, focusing more on the general goal of helping kids tap into their imaginations. The team does just that with their after-school programs and summer camps, which teach kids ages 3-18 to feel at ease on stage, whether they're starring in a comedy or making a speech. Some programs touch on behind-the-scenes skills, too, from stage managing to writing plays better than Hamlet 2: Shark Hamlet.