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SUMMER FUN HOUSTON

In Houston Chronicle

Looking for something to do that is new and outdoors? The greater Houston area has something for the whole family.

1. Bayou Wildlife Park 5050 FM 517 in Alvin. 80 acres of exotic animals with an educational train ride. There are about 400 animals. It is open year round from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Cost is $8.95 for adults.

2. George Ranch Historical Park 10125 FM 762 in Richmond. 23,000 acres of a working ranch. You will experience more than 100 years of Texas history through sights, smells sounds and taste. It is open everyday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. $9 for adults and $8 for seniors. Closed all holidays.

3. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center 4501 Woodway, four miles from downtown. This 155-acre nature sanctuary is a refuge for local wildlife. There are five miles of trails which you can explore the plant and wildlife in forest, meadow and wetland habitats. There is also a Discovery room that features 15-foot model of tree aquariums, interactive touch screen exhibits and microscopes with video display monitors. Free tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m. Sundays give visitors free presentations about a variety of nature topics.

4. Moody Gardens One Hope Blvd. Galveston. Has a 10 story Rainforest Pyramid that shows off its tropical environment. Is also is the largest home to bat exhibit in the southwest. Rate and hours can be gotten by calling 800-582-4673

5. Oil Ranch 1 Oil Ranch Rd. in Hockley. This 100-acre working cattle ranch change to a guest ranch about 25 years ago. It features wide range of activities, including pony rides, hay rides, milking cows, train rides and petting zoo. Call for time and rates 281-859-1616

6. Sea Center Texas 300 Medical Dr. in Lake Jackson. This marine fish hatchery and aquarium is located on 75 acres. The hours are 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday through Fridays, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free.

7. Downtown Aquarium off of I-45 downtown. The exhibit features a world tour of sea and amphibious life, including stingrays, turtles, alligators set in swamplands of Louisiana, a coral reef and a special shark voyage. The shark voyage features sand tiger sharks, pacific black tip sharks, Australian zebra sharks, whiptail ray sharks and many more. For directions, parking and admission and price call 713-223-3474.

8. Armand Bayou Nature Center 8500 Bay Area Blvd. In Pasadena. The largest urban wildlife and wilderness preserves in the U.S. The center offers a woodland-pond area, a bird blind, walking trails, pontoon boat tours and canoe trips. Reservations are required for boat tours and canoe trips. Admission $3 adults $1 seniors 60 and over.

9. Texas State Zoo and Texas State Aquarium One in Victoria and one in Corpus Christi. In Victoria, the Texas State Zoo is rapidly becoming one of the top attractions in the area. All the animals are native to Texas.

In Corpus Christi 2710 N. Shore Blvd on Corpus Christi Beach the aquarium is open 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The cost $10.95 for seniors. There is a $3 parking fee.

10. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center 3 miles west of Glen Rose on CR 8008 northwest of Houston. The animals with the exception of the carnivores, rhinos and a few others are free to roam this 1,500 acres. Starting in June there will be a Sunset Safari, which includes dinner, dessert and guided wildlife tour for $75. To register call 254-897-2960 Ext. 0 they offer more things to do to get more info. email cherylj@fossilrim.org

11. Kemah Boardwalk 877 at Kemah I-45 South from Houston exit NASA Rd. 1. Escape to the waterfront beauty of the Kemah Boardwalk and experience a wide variety of restaurants, shopping and amusements. Life entertainment, stingray reef and more. Call 281-334-9880 or Kemah Boardwalk

12. Bubble Tea located downtown in Houston. This is tea's answer to Starbucks. Tropica Tea and Coffee Bar is serving bubble tea. Tapioca is a starch known for its use in pudding. The tapioca balls mixed in the teas changes the texture rather than the taste. For those who like the feel of tiny balls rolling around inside the mouth. They add to the tea for a little zing. Jellies are bigger balls than tapioca; you can suck it up through a straw. It is like a dessert. This full-blown drinking establishment offers free wireless Internet, people can come and stay as long as they want and sample their products. They serve real fruit and high quality products. Smoothies, more than 30 gourmet teas, and sandwiches. T-Spot Tea Bar in Rice Village serves the bubble teas, as well as smoothies, strawberry being the top one, Cream teas hot or cold and the most popular is Taro, a root like sweet potato. They steam cream the cream for hot tea. Try a tapioca cream tea.

13. Houston Museum of Natural Science welcomes The Lord of the Rings at 12:01 a.m. June 4. For tickets and info. HMNSor call 713-639-4629. Located One Herman Circle Dr. in the Museum District.

14. Museum of Fine Arts open for learning every Sunday. Sunday is family day. Choose from a variety of drop-in art activities each month. Monthly family day programs are held at Bayou bend Collections & Gardens, 1 Westcott St. through May. Call 713-639-7330 or view MGAH

15. Summer with the Houston Symphony offers a variety of performances. June 1 to June 30 the Houston Symphony is under directions of American Conducting Fellow Damon Gupton. Admission is free. Call 713-238-1477 or visit Houston Symphony

Perry Homes' Symphony Summer Nights in Miller Outdoor Theatre in Herman Park will be preformed June 17, 18, 24, 25 and July 4. Free to public.

Lord of the Rings Symphony July 8-9 7:30 p.m. Tickets call 713-224-7575

Summer Chills is time for Alley Theatre's ExxonMobil Summer Chills series of murder mysteries. A variety of these as well as dates to choose from. Visit Alley Theatre or call 713-228-8421. Tickets go on sale starting May9.

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