Terry Hershey Park

Way out west amid the tract developments, strip malls and freeways of Houston's upper-middle-class suburbia is this hidden sliver of primordial bayou land, where you can wind back the geologic clock to the Cenozoic Era. On a typical hike or bike trip through the park's 12 miles of Buffalo Bayou-hugging trails, you'll see startled turtles sliding down sandy banks and water snakes lazing through slowly flowing, surprisingly pristine waters; you'll also hear the occasional splash as the bayou ripples when a hungry garfish surfaces to chomp an unlucky bug. The 500 acres of lush undergrowth are interspersed with occasional clearings; in one, you'll find a sundial where your own shadow will tell you the time. Even that primitive mode of timekeeping seems positively high-tech after an hour or two deep in the jungles of the park.

Messina Hof Winery & Resort

Messina Hof Winery, just two hours away, makes for the perfect all-in-one weekend getaway. The Villa Bed and Breakfast has ten luxurious, antique-filled rooms. There are plenty of extras to make your stay special — champagne breakfasts, in-room massages, beds strewn with rose petals and, of course, all the wine you can drink. The Villa is just a short walk away from the Vintage House restaurant, which serves up European classics with a Texas twang, while the Wine Bar offers more than 50 wines, including the award-winning Paulo Collector series, by vineyard owner Paul Bonarrigo. Messina Hof has a full schedule of special events, from vintner dinners (as many as six courses served with a dozen wines) to cooking parties with the chef, moonlit harvests to concerts in the vineyard. If you'd rather just relax, there are plenty of low-key options: stroll the vineyard or sit on your balcony and watch the sun set over the pond.

Fonde Recreation Center

"To play here," reads the plaque on the gym wall, "your game has got to be established, your desire must be proven, and your love for the game had better be pure." Anyone is welcome on the court during free play, but this is the place that serious ballers — including local NBA players during the off-season — flock for serious pickup. Next to the plaque on the wall, the gym even has its own, exclusive Hall of Fame, with tributes to some NBA journeymen who spent decades starring on the well-kept court. The place has a time-warp classic feel of the kind that might inspire a player to throw a bounce pass, or a mean, off-the-ball screen.

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