Rockin R River Rides/Facebook

And just like that…summer vacation is almost over. Which means the time is right to schedule that girls’ trip gal pals are always talking about. Luckily, there are many fun places to squeeze in a quick getaway within a few hours of Houston, even if it's just an "escape from reality" while floating on a river everyone knows and loves.

These five spots feature great pool scenes (or a river float for the more adventurous), expansive spas, delicious dining, and most importantly, sanctuaries to simply unwind. It's a mix of laid-back locales and luxurious lodgings (but hey, you're splitting the bill). Some are brand new, some are tried-and-true favorites with new reasons to visit, and all are within about a five-hour drive.

So text your besties, pack a swimsuit, and get ready to hit the road.

The Guadalupe River, Gruene
It’s a bucket-list activity for Texan, but a whole different experience when it's just the girls. Away from rowdy guys on the river, gal-groups can bond (and solve the problems of the world) during a leisurely inner-tube float down the crisp and cool Guadalupe - insulated tumblers in hand. Then end the day in the tiny town of Gruene, where groups can gather to listen to live music at Texas’ oldest dance hall, sip margaritas at a riverfront restaurant, shop boutiques, or relax in a boutique day spa. There are countless hotels, camp grounds, and short-term rentals for an overnight stay.

How to float the river:Rockin’ R doesn't get much closer, located on the banks of the Guadalupe in the heart of Gruene. For decades, they've outfitted tubers for river floats and provided shuttle service back from the end point. New is Rockin’ R’s expansive Gruene Light Bar, where live music and cocktails are available all summer long. El Arroyo (the Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant known for its hilarious marquee signs) also has a food truck on-site for pre- or post-float grub. Don’t forget to wear water shoes, and note that cans, glass, or anything disposable is not allowed on the water.

Other Gruene must-do’s: Have sangria or a longneck bottle at the iconic Gruene Hall while listening to live music. Stroll through locally owned shops for cute clothes, décor, and souvenirs. Or schedule a spa treatment at Gruene Day Spa, but note treatments should be booked at least two to three weeks out.

Where to eat dinner: No visit to Gruene is complete without dinner at Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar. There’s typically a wait for a table, especially on the weekends. But that means you get to listen to live acoustic music on the lawn with a salt-rimmed margarita until your name is written on the chalk board, indicating your table is ready. Pro tip: chips and fresh salsa (which is also sold to-go by the mason jar) are available at the indoor-outdoor bar while you wait.

Rates: Tube rental with shuttle service at Rockin’ R starts at $25.

Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin
The popular Austin-area resort is worth a another look this summer, as it has launched a new signature wine, beer, and spirits tasting event. An adults-only infinity pool, 13,000-square-foot spa and sanctuary, and enchanting views of more than 4,000 countryside acres add to the allure.

If your girl group likes adult beverages: Don’t miss Hill Country Sip & Savor, the resort's new festival-style tasting event that features beverages from local breweries, distilleries, and wineries native to the Texas country along with food and live music. The festival launched on Memorial Day weekend and there are two dates left: Saturday, August 5 and Saturday, September 2. Rates start at $459 per night and include overnight accommodations, three drink sampling tickets and one food ticket per adult, two beach towels and one tote bag per room, and one bottle of sunscreen.

Other gal pal activities: Lounge at the adults-only infinity pool and order an Elderflower Spritz from the bar, or go to the spa. The latter has its own private rooftop pool with plenty of tranquil lounge chairs and plush outdoor seating away from the crowd. There are also four golf courses on-site for ladies who love a good tee time.

Where to eat dinner: Make reservations for Blind Salamander, the resort’s upscale seafood restaurant led by chef Francisco Baca. Indulge in steamed mussels with miso butter, glazed redfish with clams and cornbread, or jumbo shrimp with blood orange cocktail sauce.

Rates: Rates start at $399 per night.

girls in swimsuits women bikinis guadalupe river

Rockin R River Rides/Facebook

Grab the squad and kick back on the Guadalupe River.

The Adolphus, Dallas

Dallas has many sleek new hotels, but nothing quite like this historic luxury hotel that feels as though you're steeping back in time. Opened in 1912 by Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch, the high-rise draws a new generation of guests seeking an extravagant escape.

If your friends are fancy: Make reservations for afternoon tea in The French Room, an iconic experience in a sophisticated, storied space that's fit for royalty (fun fact: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed at the Adolphus in 1991). The marble floor, the gilded chairs, the glass chandeliers – all exude elegance. Tea service includes three courses with the option of adding champagne and caviar. Reservations are available Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am-2:45 pm. (Note that The French Room has still not fully reopened post-pandemic, but they do have a new executive chef in the kitchen.)

If you’re having a hot girl summer: Show off that smoking swimsuit at The Adolphus’ rooftop pool, where a live DJ plays music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon. Rent a cabana and get a bottle of Minuty sparkling rose on ice to share. If finding zen is the goal for the getaway, make plans for Black Swan Yoga on the pool deck Saturday, August 19 at 9:30 am.

Where to eat dinner: Feeling high-end? Head to The French Room Bar, where foie gras torchon, escargot en croute, East Coast oysters on the half shell, and rack of lamb round out a very upscale French menu of culinary delights. (The absolute best savory, slightly spicy popcorn comes with cocktail service at the bar.) For something much more casual, go downstairs to the Rodeo Bar, where burgers, nachos, barbecue, and even a fully loaded foot-long chili dog combine for a completely different dining experience. Wash it all down with a frozen whiskey sour.

Rates:Rates start about $298 per night.

Omni PGA Resort, Frisco

Don’t let the “PGA” in the name fool you. Guests of the sprawling resort north of Dallas, which just opened in May, don’t have to be golf fans to enjoy the many luxe amenities offered: multiple pools with bar service, a full-service spa, shopping, live music, and 13 dine-and-drink destinations.

If your gal group likes to golf: There are two 18-hole courses and a two-acre putting green. But don’t miss The Swing, a 10-hole par three course that’s lit after dark – perfect for avoiding summer’s scorching rays. Texas country music plays on speakers overhead, and there’s a Casamigos tequila truck that serves refreshing ranch waters at the half-way mark, making this short course perhaps the most lively in town.

For the non-golfers: Book a relaxing treatment at Mokara Spa, where there are more than 20 treatment rooms, a sauna, stream room, jacuzzi, private pool, and spa café. Shop The Monument Realty PGA District then have happy hour at The Lounge by TopGolf. Or simply kick back all day at the adults-only rooftop infinity pool with a Coco Berry Mojito in-hand from the Bluestem Bar.

Where to eat dinner: Make reservations for Trick Rider, the resort’s signature fine-dining restaurant for steak and seafood dishes. Grab a pre-dinner martini at the horseshoe-shaped bar and say “hello” to Cinnamon, the restaurant’s spectacular 1,500-pound, quarter horse-shaped chandelier.

Rates: Rates start at $359 per night.

Photo courtesy of Galveston Island Visitors & Convention Bureau

2 nearby Gulf Coast cities beckon among most affordable beachfront destinations in U.S.

toes in the sand

Few things are as relaxing as waking up to the sound of waves crashing onto the beach, or watching the stunning views of the sunrise from the comfort of an oceanfront room.

If a trip down to the coast is in the air, there's good news for Texas travelers: Port Aransas and Galveston have some of the least expensive beachfront accommodations in the country, according to a new study by travel experts Upgraded Points.

The two popular coastal towns ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, on a list of the 10 Beach Towns Where You'll Spend the Least on an Ocean View.

To come up with their lists of least and most expensive, researchers crunched the numbers to find the cost of beachfront vacations in 75 prominent coastal cities around the United States. They used data from Airbnb, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living, and ranked the destinations from the most to least expensive.

For beach-goers looking for the ultimate deal on a ocean-view rental in Port Aransas, hotel prices are only $135 per night, while the average nightly rate for a beachfront Airbnb is $450, the study found. These three-digit price tags are significantly cheaper than the most expensive beach town on the list - Montauk, New York - whose average nightly beachfront Airbnb price comes out to a whopping $1,205.

In Galveston, researchers found, the average waterfront hotel rates are more expensive than Port Aransas' at $233 a night, but are still much cheaper than Montauk's average hotel rate of $639 a night. Oceanfront Airbnbs in Oleander City have an average nightly cost at about $355, which is $850 cheaper per night than Montauk.

"[W]ith the current state of inflation leaving more than half of Americans uncertain about affording a vacation this year, it’s essential to find affordable beach towns that offer an enjoyable getaway without breaking the bank," the report's author said.

The average cost of a weeklong stay in Port Aransas and Galveston are extremely similar: $2,048 and $2,058, respetively. In comparison to the national average accommodation cost, which rings up at about $3,353 for a week, vacationing in either Texas coastal town is about 40 percent more affordable.

The top 10 least expensive beach towns in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Cedar Key, Florida
  • No. 2 – Ocean Springs, Mississippi
  • No. 3 – Ocean Shores, Washington
  • No. 4 – Port Aransas, Texas
  • No. 5 – Galveston, Texas
  • No. 6 – Ocean City, Maryland
  • No. 7 – Pawleys Island, South Carolina
  • No. 8 – San Juan Island, Washington
  • No. 9 – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • No. 10 – Bar Harbor, Maine

Joining Montauk on the other end of the affordability spectrum with the most expensive accommodations across America's most popular beach towns are New York's South Hampton (No. 2) and East Hampton (No. 3). Average weeklong stays in either city will set vacationers back by $6,391 and $6,178, respectively. Rounding out the top five most expensive beach towns are Malibu, California (No. 4) and Folly Beach, South Carolina (No. 5).

The full report can be found on upgradedpoints.com.

Photo courtesy of Goldee's BBQ

Where to find the most iconic — and best — meals in all of Texas

Hit the Road

Texans don't need much of a reason to hit the open road. Our state is brimming with natural beauty and charming small towns, but nothing motivates us to fill up the tank like a bonanza of regional foods.

There are renowned Texas flavors to be found throughout the entire state, from small towns like Round Top to the far west end in El Paso. And with meals ranging from Tex-Mex and barbecue to Frito Pie and kolaches, the Lone Star State is known for some of the most iconic foods in America.

When you hit the open road to explore (and taste) it all, know that a Hilton Hotel is nearby for a good night's rest. Whether you're traveling with family, friends, or as a couple, the right room is waiting with a warm welcome.

Hope you're hungry, because here is but a small slice of some of the best.

Goldee's BBQ, Fort Worth
Few barbecue joints in Texas can make a name without serving the holy trinity of brisket, sausage, and ribs. Still, the young chefs and pitmasters at this Fort Worth stop one-up the competition with unexpected sides like chicken rice and collard greens and crowd-pleasers like fish and chips.

Chicken Fried Steak
Babe's Chicken Dinner House, Carrollton
All Texans take their chicken fried steak with some degree of seriousness. We dare say this eatery — which originated in Carrollton and has locations all over North Texas — takes it the most seriously of all, with plenty of family-style sides to round out the table.

La Cocina, McAllen
Former oil worker Evin Garcia combines tradition and innovation at this McAllen haunt. Enjoy everything from birria tacos dipped in a luscious consommé to an octopus version served with traditional al pastor fixings like onion, cilantro, and grilled pineapple.

Elotes Fanny, Austin + North Texas
With locations in Austin, Fort Worth, and Garland, this snack shop mini-chain knows everything about corn. Get it by the cob or in a cup, and make sure to douse it in the fiery homemade Atomic Salsa.

Fried Chicken
Dolli's Diner, Nacogdoches
This diner does just about everything right, but the crowning jewel of the menu is undoubtedly the chicken fried chicken. It's served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and fresh veggies for color and is best enjoyed with funnel cake fries for dessert.

Frito Pie
RD's Burger, Cibolo
This casual stop does its namesake dish with aplomb, but found pure magic in its Frito Pie. It's served with no muss or fuss and occasionally on the insanely delicious burger.

Slovacek’s, West
When it comes to kolaches, any bakery in West will serve the real deal. Relative newcomer Slovacek's gets the vote for its dozens of fruit flavors and creative klobasnek (the meaty cousin of kolaches) filled with boudin, pepperoni, or kraut.

Royer's Round Top Cafe, Round Top
No trip to Round Top's famous antique fair is complete without a stop at this darling cafe. "Pie Man" Bud Royer makes every visit sweet with pies like buttermilk, pecan, and the multi-fruit Troy's Junk Berry.

L & J Cafe, El Paso
This El Paso tradition is by a graveyard, sure, but don't let that deter you from enjoying its queso. The miraculous concoction made with roasted green chile, tomatoes, and onions is served with just-fried tostadas.

Leal's Tamale Factory, Lubbock
A Lubbock classic, this mainstay doesn't go for newfangled tamale flavors like sweet potato. Order pork, chicken, or cheese and rediscover the fundamentals.

Viet-Cajun crawfish boils
Crawfish & Noodles, Houston
Who knows what James Beard-nominated chef Trong Nguyen puts in his secret sauce. What we do know is that it's one of the most intensely flavorful experiences in all of Houston.

Texas knows no bounds when it comes to to where you can go (and eat). No matter where your next foodie adventure takes you, a Hilton hotel is waiting for you.

With over 550 Hilton hotels spanning across the state of Texas, the possibilities to earn more while exploring the Lone Star State are endless.

Photo courtesy of The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa

Houston's prestigious presidential palace tops Travel + Leisure's highly coveted favorite Texas resort list

hail to the chief ... hotel

The iconic Houstonian Hotel, Club, and Spa has just landed at the top spot of the 2023 edition of Travel and Leisure's highly coveted list of readers' favorite Texas resorts. The hotel's ranking is the latest accolade to get added to Houston's ever-growing catalog of top-tier lodging recommendations.

As the only Houston-area hotel to make the cut, The Houstonian boasted the highest score out of all five resorts with a grand total of 91.38 points. Travel and Leisure readers lauded the exceptional guest service, the grand 27-acre campus, and the lavish and famed Trellis Spa, a local and Texas favorite for its no-detail-spared pampering and lush pools and amenities.

One part hotel and resort, one part mini city, the hotel thrives with myriad members and guests who pack the palace its top-tier exercise and wellness offerings, family-oriented membership, and elite, if-you-know-you-know status.

"The [Houstonian] claims the ultimate combination of city life with resort amenities, with a 185,000-square-foot health center and amenities galore right on the edge of lush Memorial Park, located mere minutes from downtown Houston," the report's author says.

Years-long, multi-phase renovations at the hotel were finally completed in September 2022, which added several new luxurious facilities. A few of the new offerings include two modern cycling studios and poolside restaurant The Kitchen at the Houstonian Club.

Shrewdly hidden in a veritable forest amid the bustle of the 610 Loop and Post Oak area, the hotel has enjoyed a 40-year reputation as one of the highest-status stays in Texas. President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush famously made their home there — the former president ("41," as he's lovingly known here) once brandished his drivers license to an interviewer revealing the hotel's address.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush, who, like her husband, displayed signature humility and grace to the hotel employees, somewhat shyly shared her chocolate cookie recipe with the staff when asked. Soon, the cookies would become a signature holiday treat for all visitors of the hotel. As CultureMap was first to report, when Barbara Bush passed away in 2018, the hotel shared her recipe with the public, a literally and figuratively sweet love letter to Houston and the world — and tribute to the unforgettable first lady.

For a truly Houston experience the new “Bush Suite” (so named in tribute to President and Mrs. Bush) offers adjoining rooms, luxe accommodations, photos and memorabilia from George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and a view of one of President Bush's views: the pool. One especially poignant photo in the suite depicts then-President Bush calling President-Elect Bill Clinton to concede the 1992 presidential election.

Indeed, so intertwined are the Bushes with the hotel that generations of Bush children — including media darling Jenna Bush Hager — have been seen strolling the property in true second-home fashion.

Not surprisingly for a grand beacon of old-school, old-guard Houston prestige, The Houstonian has seen countless international dignitaries and celebrities as visitors or residents who enjoy the regal, refined aesthetic.

"This 27-acre urban oasis earns major kudos from T+L respondents of every type," the report says. "In typical Texan fashion, more really is more at the Houstonian — but quality never comes second."

The Houstonian holds on to its No. 1 spot for the second year in a row, after previously ranking No. 4 in the 2021 report. The hotel was also awarded an honorable mention in Texas Monthly's list of of best hotels earlier this year.

Elsewhere in Texas, the remaining resorts on Travel and Leisure's report are all Central Texas getaways in Austin and San Antonio.

The full list of Travel and Leisure's best resorts in 2023 are:

  • No. 1 – The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa
  • No. 2 – La Cantera Resort and Spa in San Antonio
  • No. 3 – Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection in Austin
  • No. 4 – Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin
  • No. 5 – Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio
Winners in T+L's report are decided by more than 165,000 readers who completed their World's Best Awards survey in 2023. Each resort hotel was critiqued based on their rooms and facilities, their location, guest service, food, and overall value.
More information about the resorts can be found on travelandleisure.com.

The Trellis Spa is the signature pampering space at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa.

The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
Photo courtesy of The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
The Trellis Spa is the signature pampering space at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa.

CultureMap editor Steven Devadanam contributed to this article.

Photo courtesy of Margaritaville South Padre Island

Texas' first beachfront Margaritaville Resort drifts onto South Padre Island

Wasting away again in padre

Houston Parrotheads have a new coastal destination for frozen concoctions and cheeseburgers in paradise: Margaritaville has debuted its first-ever Texas beachfront resort on South Padre Island.

Opened June 12, it's the second Margaritaville Resort in Texas. The first, in landlocked Lake Conroe north of Houston, opened with much fanfare in covid-y 2020. There's also a Camp Margaritaville RV resort in the Galveston area.

Now, fans of the brand in Houston can head to Padre via a quick flight or a six-hour road trip to a Buffett paradise.

Margaritaville South Padre Island

Photo courtesy of Margaritaville South Padre Island

Waste away on balconies with Gulf views.

According to a release, the family-friendly Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island is located just off the causeway in SPI, and offers all-ocean view rooms, several eateries, a spa, direct access to the beach, and the largest beachfront hotel pool on the island.

“We are thrilled to bring Margaritaville to the South Texas coast, allowing locals, guests, and visitors alike to experience a one-of-a-kind oasis,” says Rone Middler, the resort's general manager, in the release. “An easy drive or plane trip from the major metro areas of Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston and convenient access to Mexico, Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island provides the perfect getaway for guests of all ages looking for fun, relaxation, and adventure.”

Highline Hospitality Partners invested more than $30 million to transform the old Pearl Hotel South Padre into the new, bright turquoise Margaritaville Resort.

Highlights include:

  • 200 guestrooms and 50 beachfront condos with one-, two-, or three-bedroom configurations featuring rainfall shower, plush bedding, 55-inch TVs, mini fridges, St. Somewhere bath and body products, and more.
  • three restaurants and bars: LandShark Bar & Grill, with indoor and outdoor patio seating overlooking the Gulf of Mexico; the Salty Rim Bar & Grill, a swim-up bar mixing signature cocktails and bar noshes; and Joe Merchant‘s Coffee & Provisions, a grab-and-go spot for coffee and quick bites.
  • the largest hotel beachside pool on SPI, heated and surrounded by private cabanas and a separate kids' zone.
  • Hammock Row, featuring hammocks that swing and sway in the Gulf breezes under sky-high palm trees.
  • Sapphire Spa, with a menu of luxe treatments, a full hair and makeup salon, and fully equipped fitness center.

The resort concierge desk can arrange numerous beachside adventures, they say, from windsurfing and parasailing to offshore fishing and dolphin watching. Onsite beach chairs and umbrella rentals are available, and live musical entertainment is offered nightly.

They'll also host destination-meetings, special events, weddings, and more in their 8,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor event space.

And, in a fun South Padre twist, space enthusiasts can witness thrilling views of Space X activity on nearby Boca Chica Beach, without even leaving the hotel.

The resort is opening with a number of special packages that throw in fun extras like dining credits, cabana rentals, and more. According to the website, rates start around $275 per night.

Courtesy photo

How to score tickets to this sold-out Independence Day celebration


If you've been meaning to go check out the new Omni PGA Frisco Resort, now's the perfect time.

That's because booking a night (or several) at the hotel is the only way you're going to get into Fireworks on the Fairway on July 1, which is also the official grand opening of the Monument Realty PGA District.

And this hot ticket guarantees more than just fireworks — there's live music, food, face painting, carnival games, and so much more.

Groove to the music
The Emerald City Band, Limelight, one of DFW's hottest party bands, will be performing throughout the evening. We dare you not to get up and dance along.

Chow down
Dine at one of the PGA Frisco restaurants — take your pick from Ice House, Lounge by Topgolf, Ryder Cup Grille, and more — or grab a bite from one of the local food trucks parked onsite. Cap off your meal with a sweet treat from Margaret's Cones & Cups.

Something to note: Ice House, Lounge by Topgolf, and Margaret's Cones & Cups will be serving a limited menu. The PGA District will also be closing at 3 pm to start setting up for the event, but then everything will reopen at 6 pm. Ryder Cup Grille will operate under normal hours and serve a full menu.

For the fam
Kids of all ages can try their luck and win prizes at the carnival games, and then get their faces painted with patriotic colors.

The big finish
Prior to the traditional fireworks show, you can "ooh" and "aah" at the high-tech, modern drone display.

What to bring (and what not to)
Pack a comfy blanket to stretch out on, but lawn chairs and pets are not allowed. Other things to leave at home? Your private golf cart and outside food and beverages.

Book your stay
A (free) ticket is required for entry to Fireworks on the Fairway, but those sold out almost as soon as they became available.

Luckily, there is also an Omni PGA Fireworks on the Fairway package, which includes:

  • Access per registered guest to the event
  • Welcome gift per registered child, including a Fun Pass for games and activities at the event
  • VIP seating area for the drone and fireworks show
  • Complimentary self-parking

This special deal is only available if booked by June 20, 2023, so reserve now for a Fourth of July you won't soon forget.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Beyoncé brings dazzling Renaissance Tour to big screens with new concert film

big-screen bey

“The goal for this tour was to create a place where everyone is free ...and no one is judged.”

So declares Queen Bey in a just-released trailer for RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ, a new documentary and concert film coming to major movie theaters on Friday, December 1 across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The new film chronicles Houston-born Beyoncé's journey from concept to performance as she treks across the globe in her worldwide, 56-performance, 39-city Renaissance tour.

Houstonians are still buzzing from the two-day H-Town homecoming (read our review here) that near-capacity crowds pack NRG Stadium for the often breathtaking, three-hour shows that featured a cameo by fellow Houston-born superstar Megan Thee Stallion.

Tickets for the concert film — a joint production between Parkwood Entertainment and AMC Entertainment — are on sale now at amctheatres.com and Fandango.com. Fans can also find tickets at Cinemark, Regal, Cinepolis and Cineplex, all of which will screen the movie. Tickets will also be available at numerous movie theatre circuits in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico later this week, according to an announcement. Admission for all standard showtimes will start at $22, plus tax.

RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ is a must for any Beyhive member — as well as those who want to reminisce attending the epic shows, or those who missed her tour stops. The big-screen treatment is fitting: short of seeing the shows live, there is no better way to take in the Renaissance tour's dazzling effects, lasers, and pyrotechnics, mind-bending visuals on huge screens, unforgettable costumes (A.I.!), Megan's surprise, and of course, Queen Bey riding through the air atop a glittering Reneigh, her trusty, mirrorball, shimmering steed.

Fans can look forward to multiple showtimes daily on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, for a minimum of four weeks, according to press materials.RENAISSANCE will also be available in IMAX (the ideal viewing) at AMC and Dolby Cinema at AMC, and other branded premium large format screens.

Kicking off atthe opening show in Stockholm, Sweden and documenting each stop to the grand finale in Kansas City, Missouri, the film captures rarely seen, behind-the-scenes moments of a Beyoncé tirelessly working and preparing and sharing tender moments with her children and family.

Meant to further articulate her “everyone is free/no one is judged” mantra, scenes will depict the more than 2.7 million fans from around the world who dressed in silver and shiny outfits, took part in her Joy Parade, and nailed the Mute Challenge at each show.

Call us biased, but we can't wait for the up-close Megan scenes and backstage action before and after she shocked NRG Stadium — and all of Beyoncé's Houston moments as the queen returned to the kingdom where it all started.


Find RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ tickets at at amctheatres.com and Fandango.com.

J.J. Watt, wife Kealia, and his family and friends ring it in at Ben Berg's swanky supper club

turned up for watt

Houston celebrated J.J. Watt’s triumphant homecoming this past weekend, as No. 99 was fittingly inducted into the Houston Texans Ring of Honor during the team’s 30-6 win Sunday, October 1 over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Watt donned the Texans red jacket during halftime, officially joining the late Houston Texans founder/owner/CEO Robert “Bob” McNair and NFL Hall of Fame nominee (and Watt’s former teammate) Andre Johnson.

“It feels like you’re at a family reunion and it feels like I’m back with all my family in a place that feels like home and I’m just loving it,” Watt told the packed NRG Stadium. “The fans have been great, the McNairs have been great, the whole organization has been really, really great and I'm just thankful to have my whole family here. My wife and my son are here, my parents are here, my brothers are here. It’s my mom’s birthday so it all kind of culminates into a great day today.”

Texans Chairman and CEO Cal McNair placed the jacket on Watt’s mountainous shoulders as Johnson, Watt’s family, and nearly 90 former Texans players cheered him on for his induction. Adding to the memorable day, Watt’s brother T.J., currently on track to be 2023’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year at very least, served as the Steelers opposite our Justin James as coin toss team captain.

The Watts and crew ring it in

While Houston showed up and out for Watt, where did No. 99 celebrate? He and his family and friends opted for Ben Berg’s famed, swanky speakeasy supper club, Turner’s.

The Berg connection comes from Watt’s retirement announcement dinner last year, where he and some close friends and teammates celebrated at B&B Butchers. “So the Texans reached out to us and asked if we could do a dinner at Turner’s for J.J. and his family,” Berg explains to CultureMap.

Watt posted photos on Instagram with his lovely wife Kealia sitting in his lap, he and his brothers Derek and T.J., mom Connie and dad John, and their close friends at Turner’s, which Berg closed for the private celebration.

“It’s a big honor,” Berg notes. “You know, when you create these spaces, the goal is to be a memorable part of people’s lives. And so the fact that we were chosen for him to celebrate with his family, loved ones, and his closest friends — for such a huge accomplishment and huge honor — was a big responsibility.”

What’s J.J. eating?

For the big bash, Berg and company crafted a special — and beefy — steak-stacked menu, with special treats for Connie, who was celebrating her birthday — and her son’s big day. While Berg and the staff didn’t create specific themed items — like, say, the Onion Rings of Honor that Trill Burgers fried up for the weekend — “we made sure we brought over some of his favorite dishes from B&B,” says Berg.

Those dishes included the A5 Japanese Wagyu Katsu Sando, the always popular Carpet Bagger on the Half Shell, Chef Tommy’s Bacon slabs (served with blue cheese and truffle-infused honey), and more of No. 99’s favorites. Other items included buttermilk fried quail, Maine lobster gnocchi, and a feast of sides like mac and cheese casserole. Sweet finishes included a signature triple chocolate layer cake, a walnut caramel tart, and the Berry Butter Cake from B&B.

Though we’d have imagined tearing up a Porterhouse or massive ribeye, Berg reports that Watt ordered the Wagyu Filet Rossini (decadently dressed up with foie gras and spinach truffle jus) and the IYKYK classic Turner’s Wedge salad.

Speaking of orders, partiers ordered up some song requests from Turner’s resident vocalist and pianist Thomas Cokinos, who’s always on fire at the supper club, but really turned up for Watt. No. 99, an ol’ softie, requested Beatles classic “Here Comes the Sun” for Kealia (also writing “I love you” on the ticket — well played, J.J.), while others opted for tracks by country stars Zack Brown and Morgan Wallen.

Derek Watt requested Lil’ John’s “Get Low” with a shout out to his two brothers, leaving us disappointed that nobody asked for “99 Problems” in honor of J.J. (Next time, gents).

Ryan Reynolds + J.J. = goals

J.J. Watt Turner's Houston songs family friendsHey J.J., something you wanna share with the rest of us? Photo by Thomas Cokinos

Our favorite shout out? One “Ryan Reynolds” requested the bro singalong classic “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers. Watt fans will recall that he buddied up with the handsome Canadian actor and soccer fan and backer when he and Kealia announced their investment in UK football side Burnley FC. (Kealia also seems to be a big fan of Reynolds, as we reported in May).

Berg made sure to let Watt and Co. enjoy themselves until late, but also made sure to stop by and greet his VIP guests. “I wanted to say hello and thank you; it was really an intimate affair for him, his family, his brothers, and really close friends,” says Berg.

“J.J. is just a super nice guy and just super down to earth,” Berg adds. “And, you know, he’s really big.”

J.J. Watt Kealia Watt Turner's Houston

J.J. Watt/Instagram

Hometown hero J.J. Watt and his wife Kealia pose at the Turner's party.

Familiar farmers market face goes wild with new dinner series at mystery Montrose venue

run wild

Houstonians will once again be able to enjoy Jane Wild’s food in air conditioned comfort. Best known for her time at Tomball’s Jane and John Dough bakery and The Dunlavy on Allen Parkway, the chef is launching a new dinner series to showcase her perspective on farm to table fare.

Titled Jane’s Dine Inn, the bi-monthly dinner series will supplement the sweet and savory baked goods Wild sells at farmers markets across the Houston. The intimate, five-course meals will be served to only 22 diners per night. Unlike outdoor markets, serving diners in a more traditional, restaurant-style setting allows Wild to serve a wider variety of dishes that meant to be eaten hot.

“Jane’s Dine Inn is a space for me to share another side of my story with food,” Wild said in a statement. “Where art has a narrative that celebrates the seasons. A place where I can honor localism in all its forms. To nurture the regeneration of connections, with each other and the land around us.”

It begins this Saturday, October 7 with a meal titled “Texas Autumn.” Wild’s menu includes pumpkin and tomato soup, apples and celery salad, roasted pork with peaches, and a persimmon shortcake.

Meals will take place at a local venue in Montrose that will only be revealed to ticket holders. They begin with pre-dinner snacks. From there, diners take their seats at communal tables ($190 per person or a complete group of six for $1,000) or at a kitchen table with a better view of the action ($225 per person). Each meal will mix both individually plated and family-style dishes. Add wine or non-alcoholic pairings for $60 per person.

Wild plans to hold similar dinners on October 21, November 4 and 18, and December 2 and 16. A monthly brunch pop-up will be announced in the future.