Photo courtesy of John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Scienc

The Health Museum's inaugural Fall Festival will feature music, games, food trucks, art, educational fun, and prizes Activities include fall-themed selfie stations, a picture-perfect pumpkin patch, a family-friendly corn maze, games for the whole family, a scavenger hunt, and prizes.

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Houston SPCA wins BBB's top honor for a nonprofit

A Round of Applause

The Houston SPCA has been awarded the ultimate honor for a nonprofit: the Pinnacle Award, presented by the Better Business Bureau.

The animal welfare organization, which is supported entirely by donations, received the trophy during the BBB Awards of Excellence luncheon on November 2.

Each year, this luncheon recognizes local businesses and nonprofits for their achievements and commitment to quality in the workplace, as well as service excellence to the community.

“As the leading animal welfare organization in the region that has served our community for nearly 100 years, we are so honored to receive this distinguished recognition,” says Patti Mercer, president and CEO of Houston SPCA.

For 100 years, the BBB has set measurable standards for organizations and businesses using two primary factors: integrity and performance. This includes respect, ethics, intent, and working toward a diverse, inclusive, and equitable marketplace.

The Houston SPCA is not affiliated with any other animal welfare organization, locally or nationally.

Its mission is to promote commitment to and respect for all animals and free them from suffering, abuse, and exploitation.

They achieve this through a number of programs and services such as adoptions, the Animal Rescue Ambulance, foster care, animal cruelty investigations, programs for kids and community outreach, the Wildlife Center of Texas, and disaster relief, rescue, and recovery.

To learn more about the Houston SPCA, donate, or browse adoptable animals, visit www.HoustonSPCA.org.

Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

The Houston SPCA has served the community for nearly 100 years.

Kate Upton's hilarious 'salute' reminds fans why she and Justin Verlander are 100-percent ready for New York

don't mess with kate

News erupted on a relatively quiet Monday, December 5 that Houston Astros superstar ace and Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander inked a deal with the New York Mets.

According to the New York Post, Verlander, a free agent, agreed to a two-year, $86 million deal with the Mets, with a vesting, third-year option for $35 million. While that's huge news in the world of pro baseball, Verlander's superstar model wife Kate Upton has been also trending on Twitter.

No surprise there, as cover girl and fashion influencer Upton boasts more than 6 million followers on Instagram alone and one of the most followed models on the globe. But it's not a cover shot or sizzling bikini pic making the rounds, but rather, a video of the supermodel shooting the bird to Philadelphia Phillies fans.

Upton, an oft-smiling mom and wife, had no problem backing down from Philly Fan with a double-barreled, middle finger salute. While the audio is hard to decipher, we're guessing Upton didn't edit her smack talk in the dubious City of Brotherly Love.

Plenty of local talk (if one is interested in that sort of thing) points to the Mets being the team for "real" NYC baseball fans, while Yankees fans are said to be band-wagoning, late to games, and full of corporate partners. It's also good optics that Verlander didn't bolt for the team that the Astros dispatched in a four-game sweep on the way to their second World Series title.

Houston fans will no doubt miss Upton, who wed Verlander, gave birth to darling daughter Genevieve, and essentially broke the internet when she donned a retro Astros jacket — making it an instant sellout — all while here in the Bayou City. As transplants from there regularly point out, Houston is notoriously friendlier than the Big Apple.

But, something tells Upton, who has proven that she's not afraid to go publicly potty-mouthed in defense of JV, will have zero problem handling any mouthy NYC fans.

Kate Upton tweet Twitter Upton clearly gives zero when defending her man.Kate Upton/Twitter

Your weekend staycay is looking merry and bright at Avenida Houston's City Lights

Happy Holidays

It’s Christmas time at Avenida Houston, and you can make a whole weekend of merry memories at this 97,000-square-foot downtown playground, which has transformed into the destination of the season.

Photo courtesy of VisitHouston.com

Check out the concert series on the Plaza.

With staycay-worthy specials at Avenida’s two hotels, along with eight distinct holiday villages to explore at City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic, there’s almost too much to see and do.

Make sure these activities are on your short list.

Start the day with Santa
Forget cookies — Santa Claus is getting in choosing breakfast at Hilton Americas-Houston’s 1600 Bar + Grille every Saturday and Sunday morning in December.

The restaurant does the most important meal of the day right, plus there’s more sweetness in store with a life-size chocolate display and tons of festive holiday décor.

Hear the sounds of the season
Press pause on the Christmas music standards and listen to a different sound this season with the concert series on the Plaza that’s running through December 18.

The lineup includes local and regional artists including French jazz quintet Swing Rendezvous, the Charlie Brown Jazz Trio, dance and R&B from Lois & Charlie, pop artist Sugar Joiko, and more.

While you’re on the Plaza, don’t miss Deck The Trees, an overachieving window display at the George R. Brown Convention Center featuring 30 brilliantly decked and dazzling designs.

Solstice, skate, and see
You can glide right into the holidays at Discovery Green’s bustling Holiday Ice Village, where the open-air ice-skating rink has scheduled fun, music-themed skate nights with DJs and party vibes. Or just watch the pros take the ice during special performance times.

In addition to the ice capades, see a holiday movie under the lights every Thursday — and don’t miss the park’s newest art installation, Solstice.

It’s making its own magic with an interactive, ever-changing color and soundscape scene that’s created by frames, mirrors, LED arches, and a central sun. For an extra-meta moment, there’s a special sound bath happening at Solstice on the day of the actual winter solstice: December 21.

Hit the pool for sparkle and snow
It’s nothing short of a winter wonderland at Texas Winter Lights, the Marriott Marquis Houston’s one-of-a-kind poolside tradition.

The Texas-shaped “lazy river” is heated all season long — and you can float under the lights with holiday drink in-hand. There are more than 30 festive bevvies to choose from, not to mention countless photo opps like a light-up stallion, graffiti wall, adult playground, and illuminated grove. Naturally, there’s a nightly snowfall, too.

Reserve your staycay
Expand that lit enchantment with the Marriott’s Texas Winter Lights room package, which gets you a complimentary room-with-a-view upgrade and an all-access-pass for up to four people to the Winter Lights experience. Of course, you can also expect holiday-themed dining menus and more festive activities on the property.

You can also book the 'Tis the Season Hotel Package at the Hilton Americas, which includes their daily breakfast buffet, complimentary ice skating at Discovery Green next-door, and fresh cookies when you arrive.

See all the ways you can indulge in sugar and spice and City Lights at AvenidaHouston.com.