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Explore this charming community north of the city. Just north of the Greenspoint area and Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport is a small community with a rich history and a number of unique attractions. The town of Spring was developed largely by German immigrants in the 1840s and soon became an agricultural center. In 1871, the International and Great Northern Railroad completed a rail line through Spring and the town expanded rapidly. Today, the railroad is no more, but Spring remains a charming place-whether you want to step back in time or take a ride on the wild side.
Old Town Spring is the traditional core of the city-a destination for those looking for unique shopping and seasonal events. Filled with antique and home goods shops, restaurants and quaint saloons, the multi-block area harkens back to a bygone era. The community's annual Home for the Holidays in December and Texas Crawfish Festival in the spring draw patrons from across the region. Sidewalk seating, porches, patios and winding brick paths wait to be discovered in this quaint town.
Just outside of Old Town Spring, on the I-45 service road, is Splash Town. Houston's only major waterpark offers acres of wet fun, from the relaxing Guadalupe River Adventure to the thrill of Thunder Run and the Texas Freefall waterslides. A massive wave pool, volleyball courts and multiple restaurants round out a full day experience at Splash Town. This is one attraction that offers something for everyone in the family.
Less than a 10-minute drive south of Splash Town on I-45 is one of the region's most distinctive attractions, the National Museum of Funeral History. This is not a macabre place, but rather a state-of-the-art institution that chronicles the history of the funeral and burial process from ancient times to today. See hearses through the decades, a collection of "fantasy" coffins, a history of presidential deaths and a fascinating look at the rituals surrounding the death of a pope and the selection of a new one.
Grab your safari gear and head to TGR Wildlife Park. This unique, 10-acre park features more than 100 animals representing over 25 different species. All of the animals at TGR are raised hands-on, so they are very comfortable with humans. Many species here are also endangered, such as the Bengal tiger and the gibbon. TGR is not open for tours every day, so be sure to check their calendar in advance to plan your visit. During the tour you'll have an opportunity to meet the keepers and interact with the animals. The facility is also available for field trips, private tours and other events.
The 380-acre Pundt Park is a recreational oasis on the east side of town. The park offers access to the scenic Spring Creek, with fishing and canoeing opportunities. There are also two lakes inside the park and multiple trails for riding and walking. Several pavilions and picnic areas along with a dog park round out the offerings. For the truly adventurous, a 7.5-mile-long trail connects Pundt with Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center to the east.
Skate on over to the 10-acre Greenspoint Spring Recreation Area on Kuykendahl and Rankin roads provides not only the largest skatepark in the U.S., but also a specially designed park for special-needs children. Dylan Park is completely wheelchair accessible and offers features for visitors of all abilities. On the other side of the complex is the 72,000-square-foot skate park including a competition-scale Texas bowl featuring a full pipe, a 12-foot vertical ramp, a 10-foot bowl, banked walls and speed hips. In addition, there is a section designed to emulate the street-skating experience and will have ledges, rails, benches, banks, quarter pipes and stair obstacles.
Just around the corner from Splash Town, another new attraction is set to open this fall. With more than 17,000 square feet of climbing space, Inspire Rock Indoor Climbing will be the largest facility of its kind in Texas. Whether you're an experienced climber looking to hone your craft or just a weekend warrior looking for something fun to do with friends, Inspire will offer it all. There will also be a dedicated "bouldering" area and some climbing features up to 46 feet high. Other activities will include strength and core training and yoga.
By AJ Mistretta
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