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We Know What You Should Do This Summer

Your guide to beaches, water parks, day trips, festivals and more

Explore the science behind your favorite movies with "Mad Science, Movie Magic" where you can play a starring role in films such as Legally Blonde, Agent Cody Banks, Rocky and The Pink Panther, running June 21 to August 7.

And during the summertime, Moody Gardens offers its own beach experience with its popular summer attraction, Palm Beach, complete with freshwater lagoons, waterfalls, white sand and lush landscaping. New this year is the Splash Pad at Palm Beach, an automated aquatic water feature. Guests can splash beneath interactive dump buckets, spray arches and fountains.

Gulf Greyhound Park
La Marque, 409-986-9500, www.gulfgreyhound.com

Gulf Greyhound Park is doggone good fun. The world's largest greyhound racing operation, Gulf Greyhound Park features world-class greyhound racing and wagering.

Houston Raceway Park
2525 FM 565 South, Baytown, 281-383-RACE, www.houstonraceway.com

See street races, sport compacts, junior drags and all the regular stuff throughout the summer.

Houston Shakespeare Festival
Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Drive, 713-284-8350, www.class.uh.edu/theatre/ Performance/hsf.htm

Now celebrating its 30th season, this festival has grown into one of Houston's major summer events, attracting more than 475,000 people. This year's festival, organized by the University of Houston's School of Theatre, presents Hamlet (July 30 and August 3, 5, 11 and 13) and As You Like It (July 29 and August 4, 6, 10 and 12).

Houston Zoo's Natural Encounters
1513 North MacGregor, 713-533-6500, www.houstonzoo.org

This one-of-a-kind concept in zoo exhibits brings zoo guests nose to nose with meerkats, tamarins, vampire bats and more. And it's a party all summer long with the popular Animal Birthday Celebrations. Omega the Sea Lion will blow out the cake's candles on June 4, and Liberty the Bald Eagle celebrates his birthday on July 9.

Invention Convention
Children's Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz, 713-522-1138, www.cmhouston.org

Step inside an inventor's workshop with Invention Convention, an imaginative exhibition at the Children's Museum of Houston. Invention Convention allows children to use creativity and imagination to solve problems and identify challenges.

Kemah
Galveston Bay, www.kemahboardwalk.com

Kemah features a waterfront boardwalk with themed restaurants, the Boardwalk Inn hotel, amusement rides, dancing fountains, midway games and retail shops. Rock the Dock takes place every Thursday night on the Boardwalk, with live music and plenty of great food and fun. Visit the Kemah Boardwalk on Friday nights in August for Pictures in the Plaza, an outdoor family movie night shown on a gigantic screen.

NASA/Johnson Space Center
1601 NASA Parkway

281-244-2100, www.nasa.gov

Take a journey through space. On view until September 4, "That's So Weird" is an experience developed exclusively for Space Center Houston where nothing is quite as it seems. From a gruesome greenhouse to a roomful of monsters to a creepy cave, this exhibition is sure to thrill with plenty of sinister surprises.

Sam Houston Race Park
7575 N. Sam Houston Pkwy., 281-807-8771, www.shrp.com

Be part of the excitement at Sam Houston Race Park, Houston#185s first pari-mutuel racetrack showcasing Thoroughbred and quarter-horse racing.

San Jacinto Museum of History
One Monument Circle, La Porte, 281-479-2421 www.sanjacinto-museum.org

View authentic Texas originals at the San Jacinto Museum of History. This exhibition, created at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, contains one-of-a-kind artifacts from legendary encounters in Texas history, as well as symbolic remnants of a turbulent past. Artifacts include Davy Crockett's 1819 fiddle, Sam Houston's signature red sash that he wore during the Battle of San Jacinto, and an 1830s bowie knife collected from the battlefield at San Jacinto. Through August 1.

Six Flags AstroWorld
610 South Loop at Kirby, 713-799-1234, www.sixflags.com

A ticket to Six Flags AstroWorld, with its 33 thrilling rides and 100 acres of action-packed fun, also includes access to Six Flags WaterWorld's water slides. New for 2005, Six Flags AstroWorld will open each morning with a live, interactive performance at the front gate, where one lucky child will be chosen from the crowd to be the star of the show. Returning this summer are the dramatic performances of Circo Magnifico, where world-class acrobats will dazzle park guests with impossible feats of strength and agility.

Six Flags Splashtown
I-45 North at Louetta, 281-355-3300, www.sixflags.com

Prepare to brave the ultimate storm with Tornado, Six Flags Splashtown's enormous new thrill ride. The excitement begins atop a 75-foot platform. Daring riders are set in motion in groups of four down a 132-foot slide into an open-ended tunnel, splashing back and forth on 5,000 gallons of swirling water per minute. When riders arrive at the vortex of the Tornado, they swirl through the eye of the storm into the cool water below.

Summer Nature Discovery Camp
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 713-681-8433, www.houstonarboretum.org

Kids ages five to 12 can join HANC naturalists in a series of summer science classes that investigate inter-relationships in the natural world. Learning is fun in these active, hands-on indoor and outdoor experiences at the 155-acre nature sanctuary. Mail registration form to 4501 Woodway Drive. $80 for members; $125 for nonmembers.

Traders Village
7979 Eldridge Rd., 281-890-5500

For live music and shopping among more than 800 vendors, visit Traders Village. The Free Market Concert Series would make for a fun family outing.

Woodlands Water Taxi
www.visitthewoodlands.com

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