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We Know What You Should Do This Summer

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

In a lot of places, summer is a time to throw open your doors and run outside to play play play the days away. That's not always the case in Houston, as the oppressive heat drives some folks into the air-conditioned comfort of their homes, and maybe to a bar or a Wal-Mart or something.

This summer, however, we're hoping that you'll brave the heat and get some activities in your life: beaches, family-friendly events, arts and culture and, of course, fun. Look no further than Houston. Here are some places to get you started.

June 4 - 20th Annual Heights 5K Fun Run & Walk
Heights Blvd. at 18th St., 713-861-4002, www.houstonheights.org

Runners will start at 7:30 a.m. with walkers just behind at 7:35 a.m. The new Kids 1K will begin around 8:30 a.m. The course starts at Heights and 18th, heads southbound, turns around at Fifth Street, and heads northbound on Heights until participants reach Marmion Park. Celebrate your victory at the post-race party, with breakfast tacos, bagels, fruit and water. Be sure to stick around for some great door prizes. Visit Web site to register, or pick up forms at various Heights locations.

June 5 - Ten Star All Star Basketball Camp
Texas A&M University at Commerce, 704-373-0873, www.tenstarcamp.com

Final applications are now being accepted for the Ten Star All Star Summer Basketball Camp, which runs to June 9. Boys and girls ages ten to 19 are eligible to apply. The camp is invitation-only; players from all 50 states and 11 foreign countries attended the 2003 camp. Past participants include Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan.

June 8 - On the Run Triathlon Training Program
2427 Bay Area Blvd., Clear Lake, 281-480-5388, www.ontheruntx.com

This program is for the beginner athlete who wants to get into triathlons or the new triathlete who wants to improve his or her performance. Sign up by today and begin your training on June 11. This 12-week program is designed to prepare an athlete to complete a middle-distance triathlon, with the goal race being the Cinco Ranch Tri in August. All programs include specific training geared to swimming, biking and running, along with a bike-fit, running-gait analysis and seminars. $125.

June 11 - Texas State Championship Adventure Race Series
Jack Brooks Park, 512-863-3715, www.terrafirmapromo.com

This event is for two-person teams in the coed, male, coed masters and female divisions. Both coed masters team members must be more than 40 years old. Events include a two- to three-mile trail run, a seven- to 15- mile mountain bike ride, a 30- to 40-minute canoe and mystery events. $120 per team for each race site, two weeks in advance. $65 per person after early entry date. 9 a.m.

June 12 - Tejas Triathlon, 2005 USAT National Sprint Course Championship
Pecan Park, Hwy. 99 at Hwy. 90 in Sugar Land, 281-291-7006, www.out-loud.org

The sixth annual Tejas Triathlon will host up to 800 triathletes for an awesome sprint-distance race with a half-mile swim, 13-mile flat-and-fast bike and a shaded three-mile run. $60 to $100.

June 12 - Orange Show Eyeopener Tour
www.orangeshow.org

Join the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art or go along on their Eyeopener Tour, called "Shopping Below the Radar - Places You Won't Find in the Yellow Pages." Join local artists for a tour of the city's most unique shopping areas. The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art has become Houston's hub of folk art activity.

June 19 - Juneteenth Freedom Festival
Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Dr., 713-284-8350

The Juneteenth Freedom Festival commemorates the day Texas slaves learned of President Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The event includes blues, gospel and jazz performers, as well as groups who raise awareness of African-American heritage.

June 25 - Houston Pride Parade
Westheimer from Woodhead to Whitney,

713-529-6979, www.pridehouston.org

Houston continues to celebrate diversity during the Houston Pride Parade, presented by the Houston gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. As America's original nighttime Pride Parade and the largest annual GLBT event in the Southwest, it holds a unique place in the hearts of Houstonians and visitors from around the country. 8:45 p.m.

June 26 - Buffalo Bayou Canoe Trip
to Rainbow Lodge, www.buffalobayou.org/canoetours.html See Houston from a whole new angle with bayou canoe tours. Buffalo Bayou Partnership is offering waterway getaways. You can paddle down Buffalo Bayou to the charming Rainbow Lodge, where lunch will be provided.

July 4 - Chevy's Freedom Over Texas
Eleanor Tinsley Park, 713-247-3500, www.houstonspecialevents.org

This is Houston's official July Fourth celebration at Eleanor Tinsley Park. This annual event features live entertainment, food booths and fireworks. Four music stages include pop, country, salsa, jazz and R&B shows, as well as performances by Clint Black and LeAnn Rimes. For kids, there will be inflatables, rides and games in Fiesta's All American Kids Zone. And at 9:25 p.m. the fireworks display will come alive to choreographed music.

July 4 - Run Wild 5K
Uptown Park Plaza, 832-457-5254, www.runwildsports.com

Hosted by the Runner's High Club, this is a great race to start off your holiday. Proceeds benefit Special Olympics Texas. The official starter is Lisa Foronda from Channel 11. Run through a beautiful tree-lined neighborhood and then attend Houston's best post-race party with a live band, food, drinks and prize drawings. 7:30 a.m.

July 11-15, July 18-22 - DayJams
John Paul II Catholic School, 1400 Parkway Plaza Dr., 800-295-5956, www.dayjams.com

DayJams is a rock music day camp for beginners and experienced players ages nine to 15 (July 11,15). Kids get to join a rock band, make new friends, write and perform an original song, record a CD, and design a poster, T-shirt and CD cover for their new band. You'll even make a music video and participate in outdoor activities. No experience necessary. One week for $525 per student. Another session happens July 18,22.

July 17 - Jeff and Brede's Intergalactic Triathlon
Peckham Pool, 5597 Gardenia Lane in Katy, 713-516-8427, www.houstonracing.com

This sprint-distance triathlon includes a 300-meter pool swim, a 12-mile flat-and-fast bike and three-mile flat run. This is a great race for first-time triathletes. There will be a post-race party at the race site with Saint Arnold beer. Race is limited to the first 400 entrants.

July 23 - Twilight Wilderness Tour
Buffalo Bayou, www.buffalobayou.org/ canoetours.html

Canoe the bayou and experience the greenbelt's unique flora, fauna and geology. In the past, lucky canoeists have glimpsed two-foot turtles and graceful herons while listening to the music of dozens of birds.

July 27-August 7 - Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus,
Reliant Stadium, 1 Reliant Park, 832-667-1400, www.ticketmaster.com The Greatest Show on Earth, the Ringling

Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, comes back to Houston this summer with a brand-new show. Master clown Bello and his hilarious antics will have you rolling in the aisles, along with Asian elephants, acrobats, Arabian horses and more.

July 30 - The Quest Urban Adventure Race
512-863-3715, www.terrafirmapromo.com

Teams will paddle, run, bike and possibly even crawl above, below and around the city of Houston. Choose from two courses: Quest or Quest Extreme. Activities include scootering, mountain biking, running/trekking and other urban adventures. The event starts on the field at Minute Maid Park just prior to an Astros game.

August 4 - On the Run Triathlon Training Program
2427 Bay Area Blvd. in Clear Lake, 281-480-5388, www.ontheruntx.com

This program is for the beginner athlete who wants to get into triathlons or the new triathlete who wants to improve his or her performance. Sign up today and begin your training on August 6. This 12-week program is designed to prepare athletes for the Ironstar Tri on October 22. All programs include specific training geared to swimming, biking and running, along with a bike fit, running-gait analysis and seminars. $125.

August 7 - Kemah's 37th Annual Blessing of the Fleet
Kemah Boardwalk,

www.kemah.net/blessing/view1.html

Shrimp fisherman know how dangerous it can be to fish for a living. The custom of blessing the shrimp boats started in Kemah in 1968. The Christian "blessing" tradition dates back to 325 AD.

August 26-28 - RE/MAX Ballunar Liftoff Festival
NASA/Johnson Space Center, 1601 NASA Parkway, 281-244-2100, www.ballunarfestival.com

More than 100 hot-air balloons will take to the sky around Johnson Space Center. Balloons of all shapes and sizes compete in events and exhibitions all weekend, in addition to the skydiving, hang gliding and model rocket demonstrations.

ONGOING

"Baseball As America,"
Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300, www.mfah.org

One of the highly anticipated exhibitions on view at the MFAH this summer is "Baseball As America." This exhibit showcases 500 of the sport's most precious artifacts, ranging from historic uniforms to musical recordings and films, revealing how baseball serves as both a medium and a record for the evolution of America. Through August 14.

Bayou Wildlife Park
5050 FM 517, Alvin, 281-337-6376, www.alvintexas.org

A variety of exotic creatures in natural settings roam freely through prairies and woods, and guided tram rides allow visitors to meet and feed animals.

The Gulf Coast, Galveston
Longing for the coast this summer? The beaches of Galveston are just a short drive from downtown Houston. Visitors to Houston can take a day trip to the coast or choose from a variety of hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.

More than 2,500 of Houston's most creative and competitive architects and designers pack up their buckets and shovels each year to participate in the annual American Institute of Architects Sandcastle Competition, June 4 on East Beach of Galveston Island. Enthusiastic participants from more than 75 teams build extravagant sand sculptures and castles utilizing wit, imagination and their finest sand-sculpting skills.

Art lovers unite for a stroll through galleries, antiques shops, designer clothing stores and many of the exclusive boutiques located in the heart of the beautifully restored Historic Downtown Strand District during Galveston Artwalks. Organized by the Galveston Arts Center, these monthly events are free and take place on June 4, July 16 and August 27.

And while in Galveston, you have to stop by...

Moody Gardens
Galveston, 800-582-4673, www.moodygardens.org

On Dino Island-The Ride, join the Earth Science Team on a thrill-packed exploration of Alpha Island, a formerly uncharted land mass formed by an undersea volcano. Discover volcanic canyons, rivers of lava and, thundering across this primeval landscape, the unexpected presence of living, breathing dinosaurs. If you can't get enough of dinosaurs, make sure to visit the "Dinosaurs Alive" exhibit, which runs from June 11 through August 7 and features 21 robotic dinosaurs with everything from an Allosaurus to a full-size Tyrannosaurus rex.

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

Visitors can board air-conditioned water taxis that cruise along a meandering 1.25-mile waterway through The Woodlands. They dock at several spots along the way, including nearby shops, restaurants and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Yale Street Art and Flower Market
210 West 21st St., 713-802-1213, www.yalestreetmarket.com

Local artists display and sell original works here. Enjoy arts, crafts and live music. First Saturday of each month. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.

GOLF COURSES
Hermann Park Golf Course, 2155 N. MacGregor, 713-526-0077 Bear Creek Golf World, 16001 Clay Rd., 281-859-8188 Brock Park Golf Course, 8201 John Ralston Rd., 713-458-1350 Clear Creek Golf Course, 3902 Fellows Rd., 713-738-8000 Glenbrook Golf Course, 8205 North Bayou, 713-649-8089 Houston Oaks Golf Club, 22602 Hegar Rd., Hockley, 800-865-4657 Melrose Golf Course, 401 East Canino Rd., 713-847-1214 Memorial Park Golf Course, 6001 Memorial Loop Dr., 713-862-4033 Sharpstown Golf Course, 6600 Harbor Town, 713-988-2099 Wortham Golf Course, 7000 Capital, 713-921-3227

PARKS

Bay Area Park
7500 Bay Area Blvd., 281-326-6539

Bay Area Park has top-notch baseball and soccer fields, tennis courts, a playground and a dock on Taylor Lake. The Bay Area Hike and Bike Trail runs next to the park.

Brazos Bend State Park
21901 FM 762, Needville, 979-553-5101

Brazos Bend is home to a wide variety of plants and birds, but it's the alligators that'll really catch your eye. They're everywhere.

Buffalo Bayou Park
This park spans from downtown Houston to Shepherd Drive along Allen Parkway, offering paved hike-and-bike trails with crazy sculptures and a disc golf course. It's also one of the best spots for summer festivals in the city.

Cullen Park
19008 Saums Rd.

Cullen Park has miles of trails for walking, jogging, cycling and skating. And a bunch of busy soccer fields.

Hermann Park
6201-A Golf Course Drive, www.hermannpark.org

The city's oldest park is home to Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, a golf course and more.

Memorial Park
6501 Memorial Dr., 713-845-1000

This is perhaps the best place to bicycle in the city. Its mountain biking and fitness trails will kick your tail. Or jog, swim, play tennis, baseball or softball.

Sam Houston Park
110 Bagby, 713-655-1912

Check out Sam Houston Park's collection of intriguing historical buildings from Houston's past.

Sesquicentennial Park
400 Texas, 713-250-3623

This park is commemorating Houston's 150th birthday with unique architectural sculptures, amazing fountains and lush gardens along Buffalo Bayou.

White Oak Bayou Park
Houston Avenue Bridge at White Oak

This park features ten miles of paved trails, with sweeping views of downtown.

Contact the Houston Parks and Recreation Department at 713-845-1000 or www.houstonparks.org.

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