Donovan Park

Sited at the intersection of two of Houston's foremost bicycle routes (Heights Boulevard and the MKT Trail), Donovan Park is an ideal destination for two-wheeled family adventures. As a private park, this little gem is not affiliated with any cash-strapped City of Houston or Harris County entity, and so Donovan Park's amusements seem better-maintained than most. (The park is maintained by private citizens.) In addition to the usual contraptions (slide, swings, zipline), Donovan Park's castle-like warrens of tunnels and raised tree-house-like attractions offer pre-K tykes some of the best hide-and-seek terrain in town. What's more, parents can rest assured, as the park is adequately fenced. Bonus: There's also a little mound wherein our flatlander kids can enjoy that age-old Houstonian tradition: rolling down any incline they can find.

Yeah, yeah, we know: A late-season collapse meant no playoffs and a mediocre draft pick for the Rockets. So what else is new? The staggering finish made many fans forget that McHale got more out of his lineup than many expected for much of the season. And one of the ways he did it? Not taking whining or no-effort games from his players. He had no hesitation about giving such players time on the bench. That, of course, pissed off Kyle Lowry, who apparently was mad that Goran Dragic filled in ably when Lowry was out with injuries. But we're willing to take our chances watching McHale try to mold a team in his no-BS image.

It's easy to get turned off by a lot of modern yoga studios. There's either too many skinny, sexy, bendy people showing off, or there's the marketing aspect promising you enlightenment and righteousness with just three headstands a week. Big Yoga does neither, though the studio's motto is to "Live Big," meaning it's not all about you, y'know. Classes are held in a heated room with a wall of windows overlooking Buffalo Bayou Park, and no one, teachers or students, takes themselves too seriously. In a typical class, you'll be encouraged to laugh at yourself, sweat your ass off and sigh away the stress of tying your body into knots. On Saturday nights there's a Hot and Heavy class that concludes with adult beverages. On Sundays there's a pay-what-you-can donations class, the proceeds of which go to a different local charity each month.

It might be time to retire this award, because we don't see anyone coming along who's going to top this Astros pair. As has been the case all too frequently lately, listening to Astro games can sometimes seem more like a chore than a joy. But Brown and Deshaies manage to keep things lively — Brown the dry-witted master of play-by-play, and Deshaies the goofier color guy who peppers his oddball observations with some keen insight into what's going on, both on the field and in the players' heads. There's simply no one in the Houston market who's better than these guys, and the Astros should be grateful they've got 'em.

Battleship Texas

Despite the fact that it derives its name from a Native American word meaning "friends," Texas is a pugnacious state, one far more in line with its unofficial "Don't Mess With Texas" motto than any other. And there's nowhere better in the area to revel in that orneriness than at the San Jacinto Battleground, where you can not only see the place where Sam Houston routed Santa Anna's much larger army and changed the fate of North American history in 17 minutes, but also the world's last "Dreadnought" battleship. Commissioned 100 years ago this year, the USS Texas shelled the Nazis at Normandy during the D-Day landings and is one of only six remaining ships to have seen action in the Great War. If you want to board the great craft while it's still afloat, you'd better hurry: The Texas is slated to move to a new dry berth within five years. The history museum at the base of the San Jacinto monument is worth the trip alone, as is the satanically awesome view of the petrochemical refineries from the great cenotaph's top.

Terry Hershey Park

"The Anthills" at Terry Hershey Park are more than nine miles of single dirt track that feature lots of ups and downs, roller-coaster-style (how the trail got its name), with some portions skirting the banks of Buffalo Bayou. It's considered an intermediate trail, though some hills are bigger than others. Since it's a bit farther out, it's often less crowded than Memorial Park, plus there are paved trails nearby in case you get tired or want a change of scenery.

Nick's Place Italian Sports Bar & Pizzeria
David Rozycki

If you like your sports bars crammed full of as many televisions as can fit on the wall, populated by real sports fans and brimming with good bar food and drink, Nick's is your place. This bar on the west side is typical of sports bars in that it's a frenetic ball of sensory overload. But the people are laid-back, the menu is extensive and reasonably priced, and everyone is there to watch sports, as it should be.

Huntsville State Park

Huntsville State Park is only about 90 miles north of downtown, but a world away in terms of the pace of life. Skyscrapers are replaced by towering pines, and the sound of traffic gives way to birds and the rustling of leaves. This fairly small, heavily wooded state park is heaven in the warmer months, thanks to the swimming area at Lake Raven (named after Sam Houston, whose nearby likeness almost resembles a skyscraper) and the tree cover, which gives plenty of shade. The park offers activities such as horseback riding, paddle boating, canoeing and hiking — the trails often play host to Houston-area footraces. Facilities range from primitive to screened shelters with electricity and are offered on a sliding scale, starting at $15, plus the daily entrance fee of $20. That may seem high, but camping at Huntsville State Park also puts you in close proximity to the 130 miles worth of the Lone Star Hiking Trail, Sam Houston National Forest and several other nearby outdoor delights.

The Big Show pairs two of Houston’s most underrated personalities in Matt Jackson and Adam Wexler. The duo has worked together on and off for many years in Houston radio and finally has a permanent home in morning drive time on KBME. Even though The Big Show recently lost Lance Zierlein to the afternoon slot, it continues to be packed with sports, sprinkled with pop culture and downright funny, without the annoying goofiness of most morning shows.

Memorial Park Golf Course

Most Houstonians don't realize that Memorial Park is one of the largest urban parks in America. And one thing it has on many of those other urban retreats is a world-class golf course. Surrounded by huge pine trees despite the drought last year, the course sits just a couple miles from downtown — hard to believe when you're hitting the links here. Its cheap green fees compared to some of the suburban courses around Houston and its bucolic setting make it an ideal spot close to town to get in a round of 18.

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