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AROUND TOWN

Bayou Place.
This trendy downtown entertainment complex includes the Verizon Wireless Theater, the Angelika Film Center and several restaurants under one roof. Corner of Smith and Texas Ave.; (713) 227-0957.

Bolivar Peninsula Ferry.
Take the free 20-minute ferry ride from Galveston to the Bolivar Peninsula. Visit the Bolivar Lighthouse, beaches, shops and attractions. Contact the Bolivar Peninsula Chamber of Commerce: (409) 684-5940; (800) 386-7863.

George Observatory.
The hour’s drive south to Brazos Bend State Park is worth the effort to check out the heavens on the gigantic 36-inch research telescope, but be sure to call for reservations. Smaller telescopes are available at any time. 21901 FM 762, Needville; (409) 553-3400; (281) 242-3055.

Miller Outdoor Theatre.
This famous open-air theater, with covered seating for 1,580 and a grassy hill for hundreds more, features live music, dance and theater and hosts numerous special events. The season runs March-Nov., and performances are free. 100 Concert Dr.; (713) 520-3290; (713) 284-8354.

Moody Gardens.
Galveston’s renowned attraction offers the Aquarium Pyramid, the Rainforest Pyramid, a stunning IMAX Theater and the Palm Beach Water Park. One Hope Blvd., Galveston; (800) 582-4673.

Port of Houston.
The port offers a free 90-minute boat tour around the port and ship channel. Embarking from the Sam Houston Pavilion, enjoy views of international cargo vessels and operations at the Turning Basin Terminal. The tour is free; however, reservations are required in advance. Port security requires photo IDs for passengers 18 and older. 7300 Clinton Dr. Gate 8; (713) 670-2416.

Reliant Park.
The famed Astrodome, the world’s first indoor stadium, known as “the eighth wonder of the world” 40 years ago, now shares its space with Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans NFL team, Reliant Center and Arena, which hosts conferences, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and other events. Daily tours. Inside Loop 610, between Kirby and Fannin St.; (713) 799-9500.

Space Center Houston.
For out-of-this-world fun, see actual spacecraft, including Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules; watch astronauts train for upcoming shuttle missions; touch a moon rock or walk in space through space simulators. 1601 NASA Rd. 1; (281) 244-2100.

Traders Village.
A 60-acre flea market with must-haves from more than 800 dealers as well as food stands and two special event venues. 7979 N. Eldridge Rd., off Hwy. 290; (281) 890-5500.

The Tunnel System.
Rainy weather’s perfect for a trip through downtown’s subterranean tunnel system that connects 55 office buildings with numerous shops and services. Discover Houston conducts private walking tours of this awe-inspiring maze. (713) 222-9255.


NATURAL ENCOUNTERS

Armand Bayou Nature Center.
This 2,500-acre preserve in Clear Lake features hiking trails, plants and animals and educational materials on Texas forest, marsh and prairie. 8500 Bay Area Blvd., Pasadena; (281) 474-2551.

Downtown Aquarium
The Downtown Aquarium is a spectacular entertainment, dining and meeting complex located in downtown Houston. Dine on a variety of seafood specialties at the Aquarium Restaurant as you are seated around a 150,000-gallon centerpiece aquarium. Enjoy many of our fabulous attractions including the Aquarium Adventure Exhibit with 500,000 gallons of underwater tanks and more than 400 species of marine life and mammals including white tigers. Take a ride on Shark Voyage, where guests travel by train through the center of a shark tank. Enjoy the variety of amusements such as a Ferris wheel, carousel and many midway games. 410 Bagby St. at Memorial, Houston, Texas 77002, (713) 223-FISH

Hermann Park.
Celebrating 90 years and the winner of numerous awards, this stately park covers 388 acres near the Museum District and includes a miniature train ride, the zoo, themed gardens, an 18-hole golf course and an outdoor amphitheatre. Main St. at Outer Belt Dr., 2155 N. MacGregor Dr.; (713) 526-0077.

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.
Winding green trails, featuring plants native to the area, cover more than 150 acres. Guided tours, self-guided tours and wilderness education programs are available. 4501 Woodway Dr.; (713) 681-8433.

Houston Audubon Society.
This large and active chapter of the National Audubon Society has its bird sanctuary system headquartered at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. 440 Wilchester Blvd.; (713) 932-1639.

Houston Garden Center.
Nestled within the green beauty of Hermann Park, the center’s lovely grounds include a sculpture garden, fragrant rose and bulb gardens and seasonal flower shows. 1500 Hermann Dr.; (713) 529-3960.

Houston Zoo.
An exciting educational and popular conservation resource, the zoo is set in a 55-acre lush, tropical landscape, and is home to more than 4,500 exotic animals. Special areas include the children’s zoo, reptile house, tropical bird aviary, primate world and a komodo dragon display. Hermann Park, 1513 N. MacGregor Dr.; (713) 523-5888; (713) 533-6500.

Memorial Park.
Houston’s largest recreational area covers about 1,450 acres of coastal woodland just inside Loop 610. It includes wooded trails for joggers, walkers and cyclists, an 18-hole public golf course, facilities for tennis, softball, swimming, track, croquet, volleyball and inline skating as well as a lighted running course. Memorial Drive from Loop 610 to Wescott; (713) 845-1000.

Mercer Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.
A nationally recognized public garden, this natural haven in the northern part of the city has more than 250 acres of East Texas piney woods showcasing the region’s largest collection of native and cultivated plants in two special areas. The Botanic Gardens, with more than 20 acres of developed gardens, include herb, ginger, fern, daylily, tropical, bamboo and endangered species collections, color displays and extensive walking trails. The arboretum includes an outdoor classroom, picnic area, a barbecue pavilion and three miles of trails that wind through woodlands. 22306 Aldine-Westfield Rd., north of FM 1960; (281) 443-8731.

Nature Discovery Center.
Housed in a restored 1920s home and nestled in Russ Pitman Park, this rural retreat offers ecological exhibits, science discovery, rambles and other fun activities. 7112 Newcastle, inside Loop 610, Bellaire; (713) 667-6550.


SPORTS

Alkek Velodrome.
Track cyclists are familiar with this Olympic-worthy venue, but special sessions are also open to skaters, as long as they wear the proper safety equipment. 19008 Saums Rd.; (281) 578-0693.

Gulf Greyhound Park.
Just south of the city is the world’s largest greyhound racing operation, with pari-mutuel wagering every day. It’s also the site of the Horizon Clubhouse, allegedly the largest restaurant in Texas. Exit 15, I-45 S., (800) 275-2946.

Houston Aeros.
The American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros call Toyota Center home from October-April. The Aeros have won two championships since 1999 and are always one of the top teams in the AHL. See tomorrow’s National Hockey League stars, today! Toyota Center, 11510 Polk St.; (713) 974-7825.

Houston Astros.
The 2005 National Champions thrilled the nation in its first run for the World Series in the club’s history. The never-say-die Astros and their fans are pumping up the downtown renaissance. Union Station at Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford, Suite 400; (713) 627-8767.

Houston Comets.
Entering its ninth season, Houston’s first Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team rocks the court. Toyota Center, 11510 Polk St., (713) 627-9622.

Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. (Feb.-Mar.)
This huge rodeo, with more than a million spectators, only invites the best cowboys and cowgirls in the sport to compete at this celebration of all things western. Calf scrambles, chuck wagon races, bareback bronco riding, barrel racing, bull riding, steer wrestling, team roping, educational displays, restaurants and shopping as well as major musical entertainers are part of the show, while livestock auctions and a Texas-sized carnival complete the festivities. Reliant Park, 8701 Kirby; (713) 791-9000; (832) 667-1000.

Houston Rockets.
In Houston, basketball is known as Rocketball. These NBA Champions wow their devoted fans with far-out moves on the court. Toyota Center, 11510 Polk St.; (713) 627-3865.

Houston Texans.
The newest NFL franchise plays in Reliant Stadium, a 69,000-seat, retractable roof football facility to the roar of fans. One Reliant Park; (713) 336-7700; (832) 667-2000.

Sam Houston Race Park.
Live thoroughbred and quarter horse races, October through April and simulcast wagering every day, except Christmas. 7575 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. W., between Hwy. 290 and I-45; (281) 807-8700.


PLAYING AROUND

Adventure Bay.
Twelve acres of wet and wild fun in far west Houston, Adventure Bay guarantees a splashingly good time. 13602 Beechnut; (281) 530-5979.

Kemah Boardwalk.
Just 20 miles from downtown Houston, this fun-filled development on the Kemah channel to Galveston Bay is a great family destination. Kemah features a nostalgic amusement park, complete with a 65-foot Ferris wheel, miniature train, carousel and other rides, with many seafood eateries and other fine restaurants to round off your trip. #1 Kemah Waterfront Bradford and Second St., Kemah; (877) AT-KEMAH; (281) 334-9880.

Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark.
This new 15-acre park offers aquatic adventures. The Wasserfest area is a “convertible waterpark” with closeable sections for year-round fun. Water coasters, tube chutes, water slides, kiddie playgrounds, rapids, wave pool, the Boogie Bahn surf ride, and “Transportainment” river system give you a full day’s fun. 2026 Lockeed St., Galveston; (409) 770-WAVE.

SplashTown Waterpark.
Get ready for wet fun less than half an hour from downtown. With rides called Tornado, Zoom Flumes and Wild Wave Pool, who wouldn’t have fun? Restaurants, shops and rides for all ages. 21300 N. I-45; (281) 355-3300.


OFF-BEAT FUN

Beer Can House.
This funky, folk art landmark is a private residence covered with beer cans and pull-tabs. During the day, drive by at 222 Malone St.; (713) 926-6368.

Orange Show.
A monumental tribute to oranges, this found-objects folk art experience is no mere museum. 24021 Munger, (713) 926-6368.

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