Palm trees sway in a warm breeze. Flowers bloom on stem and bush. Fish swim. Monkeys swing. Welcome to winter in coastal Texas.

South of Houston, Galveston Island is a land of wonder all about and deep within Nature. The Houston area abounds with science industries and related entertainment possibilities such as Space Center Houston and the Johnson Space Center, but it’s at Moody Gardens that the science of the Earth becomes real, personal, touchable.

Moody Gardens is gift of love

Located on One Hope Boulevard, Moody Gardens was designed to be a place of hope for victims of head injuries and persons with disabilities who hoped for meaningful employment and lifestyles. The project expanded from a barn for horses for therapy riding (hippotherapy) to horticultural therapy and then for public recreation with the addition of a convention center, a white-sand beach, three environment pyramids, and a theater.

The Moody (Family) Foundation has given millions of dollars for restoration and enhancement of the grounds and environment containment pyramids since Hurricane Ike hit in 2008.

Aquarium Pyramid

The graceful movement of the seals and fish gliding through the water of the enormous glass enclosures that flow throughout the glass pyramid is mesmerizing. Visitors are welcome to sit on comfortable benches, take in the quiet, low-light surroundings and let out stress and tension. The glass archway in the 1.5 million gallon aquarium is a passageway to the world of the sea and its elegant inhabitants. Divers feed the sea life, clean the glass walls, and interact with both fish and two-footed visitors.

Rainforest Pyramid

A walk on the wild side of plants and (friendly) animal life is the world that’s growing inside the rainforest at Moody Gardens. Monarch butterflies flutter in a netted passageway. Birds sing and flit in the branches and unconsciously pose on feeding trays. Monkeys play in the trees. (Docents warn not to approach too closely. The monkeys could jump into the arms of provoking guests.) Orchids are everywhere, as are species of many other flowering exotic and tropical plants. The multi-level complex rises from the forest floor to The Clouds and an exhibit of handicrafts.

Discovery Pyramid

In keeping with the science theme of the nearby NASA space centers, the first exhibit was one of space exploration. Changing exhibits focus on human interaction with the natural world and the human as a species, with explorations of health and wellness matters. The Ridefilm Theater offers a seat-of-the-pants motion adventure.

Beyond the pyramids

A serpentine walkway along the waterway leads from the pyramids and visitors' center with its wonderful restaurant, through a lush garden, to the beach and waterpark, and eventually to the lovely coral-rose hotel. When the weather is right for swimming, a family could happily spend days in this lush garden that grows hope with education and entertainment for a better, enlightened world.

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