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.
For eight weekends in the fall, a troupe of performing fairies, knights, royal personas, and jugging fools set up camp on the 55-acre grounds of the Texas Renaissance Faire. For 38 years, the Festival has re-created the 16th century’s appealing combination of simplicity and grandeur with more than 200 daily performances of live music, acrobatic comedies, and jousting. Actors portraying different levels of society—such as the English court and the pirates—roam the lolling landscape in character while performing comedic and informative bits including “Sound and Fury,” a Shakespearean vaudeville. At noon the Grande Marche parade catapults performers from the Globe Stage for a stroll throughout the park as they advertise their acts in a high-toned procession.
On a less precise schedule, craftsmen concoct tangible marvels with skills of glassblowing and blacksmithing, while food purveyors wander the beaten paths or call from their booths, selling fare that ranges from sugar-coated nuts to roasted turkey legs. At close of day, fireworks light the sky to celebrate the festival's victory over time.
Mysterious fires. An old bank vault that can’t be destroyed. A deceased opera singer who refuses to draw the curtain on the living world. These are the stories that Houston Ghost Tour’s seasoned phantom chasers impart to mortals as they guide them to local nooks and crannies where spectral squatters may dwell. Guests on the Houston tour tiptoe through the ghostly grounds of Rice University and explore Hermann Park, where the songs from Miller Outdoor Theatre and animalistic shrieks from the Houston Zoo converge to form an eerie soundtrack for sleuthing. Travelers drink in local history during the Old Town Spring adventure, which teems with tales of Civil War battles, high-stakes gambling bets, and brothels filled with the ghosts of bats forever tangled up in lingerie. Along the way, guests can also glimpse the bullet holes of a bank robbed by Bonnie and Clyde. The Tomball tour explores a paranormal train depot and a cemetery that, like an igloo made of dry ice, is said to have vanished into thin air.
After a brief training session, the expert guides of Segway-authorized SegCity Houston herd up to eight gliders perched effortlessly atop Segway I2s. All mechanical roadsters are designed to handle the rocky off-road terrains of the Trail Blazin' tour, which weaves through forest trails dappled with sunlight. The Adventure Trail tour grants riders a behind-the-scenes peek at Burroughs Park as they whir past trees, humming wildlife, and a sparkling lake. Tours safely run rain or shine, only halting for exceptionally icy or stormy weather or passing herds of lake monsters.
Retreat Hill just opened in August of 2009, and it has already made a name for itself among discerning vinophiles and high-end local restaurants. One of Retreat Hill's recent podium-makers is the ruby-red cabriolo, which is a plum-and-violet-boasting blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah that won a silver medal at the 2010 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The off-dry Riesling is another award-winner, concluding sip symphonies with a crisp, confident finish. Because the winery's prided juices are concocted from Texas- and United States–grown grapes, they let locals quench their thirsts for their native land far more sophisticatedly than sticking crazy straws in beehives and praying for accompanying chamomile. Call to schedule your visit.
Lead by 18-year veteran Juan Vendrell, the riding school at Woodlands Equestrian Club focuses on producing quality riders with superior horsemanship skills. During lessons, riders learn the principles of dressage, a method of training that engages both the horse and the rider to build cross-species relations and ready both parties for organized competition. Students will focus on English hunt seat riding, as well as aspects of horse care to ensure they can ride skillfully and responsibly, even if students only long to ride alongside their favorite fast-moving locomotive.