Located in the cavernous main hall of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, "Shadow Monsters" is a clever and whimsical interactive art exhibit that kids have to see to believe. Using projectors and a vision-recognition program, you can transform your shadow into an ever-shifting monster on one of the three walls. Your limbs and head will sprout eyes, tendrils and teeth as you move, and there are bins available full of props to help you create even more impossible shadow visions. Warning: It can be a bit frightening for little children, but most get into the piece fairly easily once they discover they have complete control over their own nightmare images.

The area behind the 100-year-old cabin that houses Rainbow Lodge is so lush and expansive, it's like the patio to end all patios. There are multilevel decks and bridges that make the most of the abundant natural beauty, including a citrus grove and creek bed. The sophisticated wild game and Gulf Coast fare match the earthy yet elegant setting. When the weather is nice, it's the perfect site for lunch, brunch or dinner.

READERS' CHOICE: Boheme Cafe & Wine Bar

David Rozycki

The Nightingale Room is a small, intimate space with a good sound system that offers patrons the fun experience of choosing a vinyl record from the bar's large collection of around 2,000 discs for the bartender on duty to play for them, or they can bring their own albums to be played as well. On other nights, house music is cranked up to get the good times rolling; Nightingale also presents a unique live-music experience as the bands who visit play upstairs on a loft above the bar that's normally a customer lounge. The bar even has a call elevator to send up its classic cocktails, house drinks, beer and wine.

READERS' CHOICE: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium­

Lynn Lane is a master at photographing performing artists, dancers in particular. No trick shots, mind you. With just their athletic artistry and his creative vision, he's done some of the most stunning dancer portraits we've seen in the city. When he isn't busy shooting around town, he's teaching photography (at the Houston Center for Photography and privately). Understandably his busy schedule keeps him tied up for most of the day. When he does manage to get home, Lane doesn't put his camera down. He has an active — and extremely popular — Facebook series of portraits of his cat, a large and, Lane says, lazy tomcat he calls Worthless.

David Rozycki

The West End has a massive patio that can seat more than 400 people, making it a good spot for after-work get-togethers and parties; the clientele is made up largely of young professionals and business people who work in the Galleria area. The bar food menu is extensive, so you can get burgers, wings, fish and chips, and a whole lot more; there is a Clockwork Orange theme going on here, with images inspired by the film on employees' T-shirts and on menus and signs, but the bar itself looks nothing like the Korova Milk Bar, maybe a little Duke of New York pub, for all you Kubrick fanatics. Join the bar's pub club to become a "droog" and earn points toward free appetizers, West End merchandise and even a trip to a brewery of your choice in Europe, including airfare and hotel.

treadsack.com/johnnysFans mourned The Boom Boom Room when it closed its doors, but the building is now home to a worthy successor. While the bartenders at Johnny's are perfectly capable of coming up with complex cocktails (some of them even compete in local and national competitions), the real appeal here is the no-frills classic cocktail program. Some of the best drinks ever invented have only three or four ingredients, and Johnny's has a list of ten for only $8 each. These include martinis, gimlets, mojitos, mules and old-fashioneds. The space, all done up in greens, creams and oranges, is sparse yet comfortable and an attractive place to relax.

READERS' CHOICE: Anvil Bar & Refuge

For some, it may be nostalgia. For others, perhaps it's a final requiem to a dying icon. Whatever the case, there is no better option for getting your selfie on than in front of the Eighth Wonder of the World. With all due respect to the David Adickes sculpture "We 0x2665 Houston," few things say how much you love this city like a photo of yourself with perhaps its greatest monument. Be sure to hashtag it #SavetheDome for obvious reasons.

Andy Noble and Dionne Sparkman Noble introduced NobleMotion Dance just six years ago at the 2009 Big Range Dance Festival in Houston. In the last season, the company filled Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall for a two-night run — a rarity among local performing arts companies. The company, part of the resident incubator program at the Houston Arts Alliance, mounts three full-length Houston productions and a New York City tour every year. The company's signature quality is innovation. It paired with Musiqa, a contemporary music group, for Tonal Impact, a recent production. The company ended the summer on a high note, producing what may have been the group's most ambitious program — Storm Front: Experience the Elements, an impressive exploration of wind, rain, snow and light.

David Rozycki

Generally speaking, nothing ruins a good dive bar like talking about what a great dive bar it is — because then the people who "just love dive bars" show up in droves — but Alice's Tall Texan has long been the exception to that rule. With its neon signs and cowboy wallpaper, you get clued in to the vibe of the place the second you walk in the door. The jukebox is usually blaring out classic country tunes and you're welcome to help yourself to any of the food people bring in and put on the side table for everyone to enjoy. Alice's serves other things — though you won't find any craft beer on tap around here — but it's always smart to go with a frosty fishbowl goblet of Lone Star for $1.25 or Shiner for $2.50.


It was perhaps the most important 18 minutes in American history, the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto. Texas forces led by Sam Houston faced off with the Santa Anna-led Mexican army and the fate of two nations hung in the balance. Houston's forces won; Texas became an independent nation, eventually joining the United States and Mexico began a long decline in territory and power. Today the San Jacinto Monument marks the spot. Surrounded by the battleground, the Monument is actually a museum/research library/observation deck. Picnic on the battleground, watch Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto, a chronicle of Texas history, tour the exhibition (currently "A Destined Conflict: The U.S. – Mexican War") or ride the elevator up 500 feet and get a 360 degree view of the area from the monument's observation deck.

READERS' CHOICE: Johnson Space Center

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