Best of Houston

The Rest of the Best: The 10 Best Places to Just Go and Think in Houston

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10. Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (5555 Hermann Park Dr): It's the price of the museum that ranks the Gem Hall so low on the list, but on the basis of pure soul-soothing calm alone it would land near the top. The pitch black exhibit lit only with the best of nature's rocks and metals is one of the calmest places in the whole city. What compares to examining the product of thousands, even millions of years of pressure and slow creation as a teacher of patience? Nothing says, "It all turns out beautiful in the end" like a diamond.

9. St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital Train Exhibit (6720 Bertner Ave): If the work of nature isn't your cup of tea, then the children's wing at St. Luke's sports an absolutely mindblowing model train exhibit that also allows you to push the buttons to control the trains. There is just something about model trains that is good for the soul. Maybe it's the connection to Mr. Rogers. Maybe it's just seeing something some whimsically engineered. The motion of the engines and the inventive model background is pure mechanical Zen.

8. Houston Galleria Family Lounge (5085 Westheimer Rd): In addition to sporting a very nice playground for kids, just off the hall there is a perfect spot with comfy chairs and a first-rate aquarium that is great for a ramped-up children's cool down and a bit of parental mental vacation. You can still hear the sounds of all the good times being had just outside, but between the artwork from the MD Anderson Children's Art Project and the softly shifting colored walls the sound adds rather than detracts from the tranquil atmosphere.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner