Zoo in The Woodlands

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Sculpted onto 55 acres of sprawling plains, including 6 acres dedicated solely to paintball, Oil Ranch entertains visiting families with farm activities, play areas, miniature golf, and paintball areas. The working ranch's friendly staff curates a barnyard full of animals, allowing guests to run their hands through a sheep's soft wool or learn how to milk a chicken. The cheery red-and-blue engine of the OIL Express train chugs around Lake Buenas Noches with passengers in tow, while a green John Deere tractor carts around the hayride wagon. Other activities include a summertime swimming pool, catch-and-release fishing in Lake Buenas Noches, mini golf, and a maze.

Also nestled within the ranch's grounds is a full paintball facility, where varied fields pit groups against each other in friendly clashes of chromaticity. On each field, competitors dive behind mobile cover such as large wooden spools, barrels, and crates, enacting countless tactical situations. All participants must sign waivers don masks, and really, really promise to not stare into the barrels of their own markers before entering the field.

23501 Macedonia Road
Hockley,
TX
US

In the shade of rust-red barns and tall trees, groups of llamas, goats, and ponies trot around wooden-fenced corrals, nabbing bites of feed from youngsters? extended palms. This idyllic scene is one of many that abound at 7 Acre Wood. An old-fashioned Western fort houses a jail cell for interrogating suspicious-looking cartons of milk. Nearby, tots soar on the playground?s zipline or weave through the mini-golf course. The property also hosts 7 Acre Wood's Concessions, where families can get snacks.

4401 N. Frazier St.
Conroe,
TX
US

Designed by award-winning architect Gunnar Birkerts, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's stainless steel building safeguards a multitude of work designed to intellectual engage viewers and invoke complex reactions. The museum's two galleries, the Brown Foundation Gallery and the Zilkha Gallery, collectively host 8?10 free exhibitions every year.

The Brown Foundation spotlights work by internationally renowned artists and pieces organized around themes; past exhibits include a Kiki Smith survey and a showcase of performance art by black artists. The Zilkha, meanwhile, hosts the museum's Perspective Series, which gathers the work of emerging artists. The museum's Teen Council curates a biyearly edition of Perspectives, unveiling work by young, Houston-area artists that mine for deeper feelings than the normal teenage angst toward parents, teachers, and singing animatronic bears. The Teen Council also contributes to the museum's numerous programs, which include lectures and discussions for each show, as well as Musiqa concerts based on each Brown Foundation Gallery exhibition.

5216 Montrose Blvd.
Houston,
TX
US

At the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, you might spy budding photographers snapping shots of herons in the wetlands. Situated on the western edge of Memorial Park, the 155-acre nature preserve acts as a sanctuary from the busy city that surrounds it. Visitors can walk along 5 miles of trails, which wind past forest, meadows, wetlands, and ponds.

The nature advocates at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center hope the arboretum serves not only as refuge from the urban bustle, but also as a constantly changing outdoor classroom. In the Discovery Room, for instance, interactive exhibits help young explorers learn about the arboretum?s diverse ecosystems. Classes and workshops range from home composting to breaking into the birdhouse-real-estate market. The arboretum also offers nature camps for kids, as well as other special events year-round.

4501 Woodway Dr
Houston,
TX
US

Pecos showcases three distinct pieces. With a specially commissioned score from Matthew Pierce, Stanton Welch's whimsical Pecos Bill is a folkloric romance between an idealized Texas cowboy and Sluefoot Sue, a perfectly matched sassy tomboy. Ballo della Regina is a bel-canto-esque set of variations created by Balanchine and set to music that was once cut from Verdi's Don Carlos. Enjoy brilliantly crafted movements and perfectly timed humor choreographed by dance superstar Mark Morris in Sandpaper Ballet, a performance that gleams amid green and white costumes designed by Isaac Mizrahi.

601 Preston Street
Houston,
TX
US

Karen Mones's passion for fitness began at a young age, exercising to Jane Fonda videos with her mother. She went on to play softball, earn her bachelor's in exercise and sports science, and obtain six instructor certifications in everything from yoga to strength training. She founded Houston Adventure Boot Camp to share her knowledge and passion for fitness with as many people as possible.

She and her trainers create different regimens each day, taking advantage of the city's natural spaces and natural forces to enhance their workouts. They challenge gravity by having students lift their own bodyweight or free weights. Students plow through the heaviest friction the air can throw at them in sprints, and they hold up under constant pressure from the sun to nap in the middle of a field.

Hermann Park
Houston,
TX
US