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. Ranked No. 1 among the 10 best children's museums in the nation by Parents magazine, named one of the 12 best children's museums in the country by Forbes.com and one of the 10 best by USA TODAY, and voted Best Museum in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 by the Houston A-List Poll, the museum has accrued a lot of praise. The Huffington Post has also given a nod to the Children's Museum of Houston, which 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.
Albert Friedrich poured the first foamer at The Buckhorn Saloon in 1881. Early in his bartending days, Friedrich began accepting horns and antlers in exchange for whiskey and beer, leading to a unique collection now exhibited in The Buckhorn Museum. The historic tavern claims that Teddy Roosevelt once recruited Rough Riders from among its patrons, and it is also rumored as the place where Pancho Villa plotted the Mexican Revolution. An original handcrafted marble-and-cherry-wood back bar and other historic furnishings still reside in the saloon, where guests now swig locally brewed beers and challenge each other to taser duels. Visitors come face to face with the taxidermal heads and other artifacts from more than 520 species, including a 1,056-pound black marlin and a prehistoric irish-elk skull and antlers. The museum also lays claims to a preserved whitetail deer and the rattlesnake rattle artwork of Friedrich’s wife, which guests can show to their own pet snakes as a cautionary example of what happens to misbehaving reptiles.
Adjacent to The Buckhorn Museum, The Texas Ranger Museum houses Texas Ranger paraphernalia such as sawed-off shotguns, badges, and photographs. At Ranger Town, young whippersnappers delight in glimpses of life during turn-of-the-century San Antonio, as depicted by a re-created jail, smith, and telegraph office, as well as the Bonnie and Clyde exhibit, where a '34 Ford V8 Deluxe sits anxiously awaiting its next adventure. On their way out, visitors can drop in at a museum gift shop that traces its own origins to 1920, when it was a curios store.
Steak and Seafood | Chicago-Style Chophouse Atmosphere | Freshly Baked Popover Starters
While You're Waiting
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Select a predinner drink from the dizzying selection of draft beers at Flying Saucer (14999 Montfort Drive).
After: Head down the street to Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar (4980 Beltline Road) for a night of dancing to the ivory-tickling tunes of A-list pianists.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Kenny’s Burger Joint (1377 Legacy Drive, Suite 120, Frisco, TX), where the owners of Kenny's Wood Fired Grill shift the spotlight to handcrafted burgers.
The percussive sounds of water drums and rattling gourds echo across limestone bluffs and the grassy banks of a meandering creek. A cedar-post fence creaks in the breeze. An elegant Victorian farmhouse towers over livestock corrals. Pioneer Farms' themed history sites sprawl across 90 wooded acres, immersing visitors of all ages in exhibits and living demonstrations of Texas history. The grounds also serve as a haven for historic 1800s buildings, many of which were transplanted from their original plots throughout the state and reconstructed with rubber cement.
Offering a snapshot of central Texas's Native American population, an authentic Tonkawa encampment dating back to 1841 welcomes guests to visit tepees and dance to tribal music under a centuries-old oak tree. An 1873 Texian farm, which includes a log-and-board cabin on its original site, provides livestock care and tractor-throwing demonstrations, and the restored rural village of Sprinkle Corner introduces visitors to carpenters, blacksmiths, a general store, and a 19th-century stagecoach house from which more than 12 horse-drawn wagons convey passengers across the farm throughout the day. Wild animals raise their heads above lush grasses near Walnut Creek, and the Scarborough Barn allows children to meet their favorite farm animals. Visitors can further connect to history and nature through the farm's many programs and classes, including workshops focused on traditional blacksmithing, cooking in the buildings' original kitchens, and basic photo red-eye correction using squid ink.
Owners Maarten and Hanna Vanderstoel created Van Grow Studio of the Arts to promote creative thinking and problem solving in children through artistic crafts. Boasting degrees in fine arts and studio arts, respectively, Maarten and Hanna teach most of the classes and prepare the curricula for all of the studio's camps. TCU graduate Alma Worrell manages the open studio and paint-your-own-pottery rooms, which are also accessible to adults. Van Grow's upbeat instructors nurture creativity and confidence across three age groups, offering classes, parties, and workshops to pique a wide range of interests. Courses foster each student's individual vision, rather than a mastery of technique, and help to develop motor skills, self-esteem, and the ability to sculpt gummy-bear replicas of Rodin's The Thinker.
Author and radio host Ken Hudnall leads groups on an informative trek through El Paso's famed, and oftentimes spooky, past during the Downtown History and Mystery Tour. Each traipse through time begins at the Camino Real Hotel, where ominous tales of a distressed bride and the lingering presence of Pancho Villa cast a spectral tone upon the outing's onset. Winding through city streets, Ken and crew stop at the Cortez Building, the Plaza Hotel, and the very first Hilton Hotel, which has hosted several celebrity weddings. As night falls and shadows begin to dance and pants unsuspecting patrons, a stop at the Mills Building—constructed on the site of a hotel that burned to the ground—rounds out the tour's itinerary.