Houston Interactive Aquarium and Animal Preserve

Houston Interactive Aquarium and Zoo with Mandy Seymour and Best Rated Reviews

We recently enjoyed a day to remember at the Houston Interactive Aquarium and Animal Preserve. We interacted with stingrays, starfish, sloths, lemurs and baby lemurs, snakes, toucans, and even an Instagram-famous capybara. We also met and fed an ostrich, anteater, otters, and emu. We fed a giraffe an entire branch of leaves! We even got a quick manicure from doctor fish!

If you are looking for a hands-on, highly-memorable experience, we recommend Houston Interactive Aquarium and Animal Preserve.

We visited with animal expert Brandon G., who is very knowledgable and well-loved by the animals. We appreciated his care and concern for animals and their preservation.

In addition to these adventures, my daughter got to ride a horse, pet a komodo-dragon-like reptile, and meet a mermaid!

Visit their website to find out more at

Here are some photos from our visit to the Houston Interactive Aquarium and Animal Preserve:

Houston Interactive Aquarium and Zoo with Mandy Seymour and Best Rated Reviews

We are grateful for the special time we enjoyed with these amazing animals.

We also give photo credit to Brandon G. for taking our photo with the capybara, birds, sloth and lemurs! Thank you for caring about animals and helping us to have memorable experiences with them!

We highly recommend a visit to the Houston Interactive Aquarium and Animal Preserve!


Best Rated Reviews

Best Rated Reviews features the “best of the best” in travel, leisure and related products.  Our primary audience is high-end luxury travelers who are looking for optimal travel and leisure experiences. Our travelers want to know, “What is the best lodging, attraction, or product for my money?”  We help them bypass the massive overload of online reviews and give them targeted recommendations from a source they know and trust based on our five-star standard at Best Rated.

The need for authentic, genuine, quality reviews is ever-increasing in today’s online marketplace where indiscriminate reviews abound that are not based on any clear standard related to the guest’s targeted travel and leisure values or preferences.  We cater to a growing travel and leisure clientele who do not have time or wherewithal to sift through endless online reviews to find what they want and need.  Instead, they are looking for a straight and efficient way to find the “best of the best” in travel, leisure and related products.  

“Best of The Best”

At Best Rated Reviews, we focus on the “best of the best” in travel, leisure and related products.  Our recommendations consist of good, better and best.  We recommend products  and services which meet our Five-Star Standard with a rating of good (3 stars), better (4 stars), or best (5 stars).  We focus on this standard exclusively because no one who is truly serious about travel ever sets out to make travel or leisure plans and says, “I just want to have a mediocre experience”.  Instead, they look for superlative, quality, memorable, highly-enjoyable experiences, places and products.  In short, they desire “the best of the best”.  

Our Five-Star Standard

Our five-star standard evaluates the following when we are making a recommendation:

  1. High quality – Lodging/acomodation evaluations: Does this lodging/acomoodation provide a high-quality experience for a luxury or experienced traveler?  Does it offer a delicious breakfast or fare made from fresh ingredients? Product evaluations: Is this product well-made?  Is it made of quality material?  Is it made to last?  Will it hold up for the purposes for which it was designed?
  2. Practicality – Lodging/accommodations: Is the lodging practical and conveniently located in relation to activities the guest intends to experience geographically?  Product: Is the product practically designed to meet the need for its intended use?  Is it well-thought out?  Is this product useful?  Is it well-designed to meet the traveler’s need or desire?
  3. Memorability — Lodging/accommodations: Is this accommodation memorable?  Does it stand out from its competitors?  Does it offer the guest or user a memorable experience when staying?    Products: Is this product memorable?  Does it stand out from its competitors?  Does it offer the user a memorable experience?  Events: Is this event memorable?  Does it stand out from its competitors?  Will a person be glad they spent their hard-earned money on it?
  4. Customer Service – Lodging/accommodations: Does this place offer good customer service?  Does this lodging have good hospitality?  If you encounter a problem, is the staff polite and professional in resolving it?  Do they take pride in their customer service?  Is staff genuinely engaged with travelers, making them feel glad they have visited?  Products: Does this company offer good customer service?  If something goes wrong with the product, does this company’s staff act efficiently, effectively and professionally to resolve it?
  5. Overall Satisfaction – Does this place or product offer lingering travel and leisure satisfaction?  Do you feel fulfilled by it when you think back to your experience?  Would you recommend it to others who share in high-quality travel and leisure values?

We are your online source for the “best of the best!” In travel, leisure and related products.  Experience the 5-star difference in recommendations! Visit us at

Best of The Best: The South

Mandy Seymour and Sarah Seymour visit Louisiana on a Southern Girls journey.

Momma-Daughter Road Trip + Travels During Covid-19

If you are looking for a “best of the best” getaway this summer or fall,  we have a recommendation for you.  In July 2020, we traveled from Houston, TX to New Orleans, LA and surrounding areas for an extended weekend getaway.  Many of our readers have been asking us where can they travel during Covid-19?  New Orleans and surrounding areas are currently open for business, travel and leisure.  We will share the details of our trip and our recommendations below.  But in summary, New Orleans and surrounding areas were highly Covid-compliant.  Each place we visited was clean, sanitary, and welcoming.  

This time around, we traveled as a Mama-Daughter duo.  On our roadtrip, we enjoyed the perfect balance of urban, nature, lively, and rejuvenating activities.  One of the best parts of traveling right now?  No lines.  No crowds.  And personally attentive service.

Alligator sighting with McGees Swamp Tours in Henderson, LA

Day 1

On day 1, we drove from Houston, TX to Henderson, LA and Lafayette, LA.  We spent 3 days and 2 nights in Cajun country enjoying the tranquility of nature and local attractions.  The first day, we visited the Atchafalaya Basin.  We went on a local swamp tour in Henderson, TX with McGees Swamp Tours

Our guide, Captain Skip, is one of the area’s most renouned experts on all things Cajun and all things swamp.  We highly recommend him!  During our swamp tour, we took a swampboat into the dense swamplands.  Captain Skip called out, “C’mon!” to the gators.  They knew the sound of his voice and that he was bringing them something delicious.  So one by one, they appeared and took turns coming over to the boat for a morsel of meat.  McGees also has airboat tours which are a high speed thrillride on the swamps.  But this Mama-Daughter duo wanted a more serene and engaging nature experience so we chose to go on the swamp boat tour. 

After our morning swamp tour, we visited Pat’s Fishermans Wharf for lunch.  We sat outside and enjoyed feeding French bread to one of their local alligators who heartily enjoyed eating it!  We ordered the seafood platter to sample  an array of Cajun seafood fare.  The seafood cakes were our favorite.
Bayou Cabins in Breaux Bridge, LA

We spent the night at Bayou Cabins in Breaux Bridge, LA.  The stay in the cabins was a memorable experience.  The cabins were built in the 1800s.  Each cabin has a rustic-yet-renovated feel.  Bayou Cabins owners,  Lisa and Rocky Sonnier, offer quintessential Cajun hospitality.  Rocky calls everyone child, a term of endearment in Cajun country.  He said, “Hey, Child. Come see this cabin build in the 1800s.”  The oldest cabin on the property was built in 1848 using cypress wood from the swamps and walls from mud and moss from the Bayou Teche.  A stay at Bayou Cabins comes replete with an authentic Cajun breakfast the next morning.  As we spoke with the owners, we learned that many people have come to the cabins to have a Covid-19 getaway while also being able to comply with social distancing.  We highly recommend a stay at Bayou Cabins.  

Editors note: We were expecting the cabins to be located in a remote area on the Bayou, but it is important to know they are located directly off of a locally traveled road so when you sit on your porch you will hear cars passing by.  As one editor commented, when they were built, they were located in a respite of nature!  The road was built later.  Staying in the Bayou Cabins is a truly unique and memorable experience.  We highly recommend them.

Breaux Bridge, LA

That evening, we decided to enjoy a dinner picnic on Breaux Bridge at sunset.  We bought sandwiches from a local sandwich shop and pastries from a local bakery.  When we travel, we bring our own plates and silverware in case we need it.  I first learned about “travel picnics” from Rick Steves.  He does the same so that he can enjoy a quick meal in a beautiful outdoor setting in case he’s limited for time to dine in a restaurant or just wants to make the most of the local scenery.  We bring plates, napkins, silverware and a mini ice chest with additional fresh fruit, milk, cheese and water for our journey.  During the time we visited, few restaurants were open in Beaux Bridge.  So we were glad to have packed our travel picnic wares.

DAY 2: Lafayette, LA + Jefferson Island, LA

We spent the next day in Lafayette, LA and Jefferson Island, LA.  When we arrived to Lafayette, we visited the Visitors Center.  We are glad we did!  The hospitality team gave us a friendly welcome and helpful information regarding what to do in the area.  The two most important pieces of advice we received: When you drive from Lafayette, LA to New Orleans, LA, take I-90 instead of I-10.  It will add 25 more minutes to the journey.  But it will reduce the risk of encountering traffic in Baton Rouge and other heavy congestion caused by lane closures, bridge closure detours, and other challenging circumstances along I-10. The travel advisors also recommended a visit to Jefferson Island’s Rip Van Winkle Gardens.  We took his advice and they are a beautiful respite for a Mama-Daughter outing.  

Rip Van Winkle Gardens in Jefferson Island, LA

We visited the Rip Van Winkle Gardens in Jefferson Island, LA in the late morning.  We enjoyed a scrumptious lunch at their local café.  We had a delicious seafood pasta and white chocolate bread pudding with white chocolate sauce.  

The gardens are home to 35 beautiful peacocks.  We looked for them during our stroll through the gardens.  On the day we were there, we found many of them perched in the oak tree across from the restaurant and others were roaming in a field.  We fed them some French bread and kettle corn we had bought at a local grocery store and bakery in Henderson, LA.  The peacocks were very friendly and loved it.

Mouton Plantation in Lafayette, LA

We stayed the night at Mouton Plantation.  Mouton Plantation is a historic plantation and currently-operating B and B in Lafayette, LA.  It’s host, Ravi, gave us a warm welcome and was very hospitable.  We greatly enjoyed our stay at Mouton Plantation.  The B and B serves a gourmet breakfast on fine china.  This plantation is open during Covid-19.  Mouton Plantation caters to international guests as well.  It is the number 1 Bed and Breakfast chosen by Europeans when visiting the area.  Mouton Plantation is a memorable and historic place to stay.  We highly recommend it.

Editors Note: During our stay in Lafayette, LA, we also visited the local Zoo and Vermilionville, a living history museum.  At this time, neither of these attractions met our “best of the best” good, better or best standard.  The living history museum received a “fair” rating and the zoo received a “poor rating” so we cannot recommend them as a “must see”.  The living history museum contains snippets of informative exhibits but many of the buildings were inaccessible during the working village tour.  Perhaps the place would have seemed more lively and enjoyable if they piped Cajun music throughout the village.  It was evident the town had put in a lot of effort to make a substantive effort to memorialize Acadian history.  It just needs some zest or more people to help it become more of a “living” history museum at this time.

Zoo of Acadiana

The Zoo of Acadiana received a “poor” rating.  We rated it “poor” because the animals were housed in squalid conditions, and they either had unclean drinking water or showed signs of hunger and thirst by licking their lips repeatedly.  Many of the animals seemed lonely, depressed, or just plain sad.  One notable attribute about the zoo is that it was in a natural setting.  More on the Zoo of Acadiana here.
Mandy Seymour and Sarah Seymour visit Louisiana on a Southern Girls journey.


On day 3, we traveled to New Orleans.  We traveled there via I-90 to bypass the I-10 traffic.  It was a relaxing drive replete with scenic Louisiana countryside consisting primarily of swampland and rice fields.  

Higgins Hotel in New Orleans, LA

We stayed 4 days, 3 nights in New Orleans, LA at the Higgins Hotel.  The Higgins Hotel is a part of the Curio Collection Hotels by Hilton.  The Higgins Hotel has stayed open and operational during the entire time of Covid.  They have carefully and conscientiously complied with all Covid standards for cleanliness and personal sanitation.

Higgins Hotel  has a rooftop restaurant and bar, Rosies on the Roof, which overlooks the city of New Orleans and serves local specialties. The hotel also has to-go options from Provisions, its local café which serves sandwiches, pastries and coffee.  

Rosies On The Roof at the Higgins Hotel New Orleans, LA

Most of New Orleans’ main attractions are within walking distance of the hotel.  The hotel also offers a package which includes free parking. Nearby restaurants are located within 5 to 15 minutes walking distance. You can walk to the French Quarter or Rivercenter Shopping area in 20 minutes.  Otherwise, parking is $8/hr. on average.  We reason, why spend money on parking when you could spend it on shopping, attractions, or dining instead? 

Cafe Du Monde Beignets

Our first day in New Orleans, we explored the French Quarter.  We took the trolley for $1.50/each way, cash only.  It dropped us off at Canal and Bourbon Street.  We walked from Canal Street to Royal Street and over to Café Du Monde.  Since it’s Covid time, Café Du Monde is open but only serves beignet and drinks in to-go containers.  We brought our own plates and I bought a souvenir coffee mug to enjoy my coffee au lait to the fullest.  During our time in New Orleans, we did a taste-test comparison between Café Du Monde and Café Beignet.  The beignets at Café Du Monde are truly superior to all other beignets.  They have a delicate and fresh flavor with no greasy aftertaste.


Sunday Jazz Brunch on the Natchez Steamboat in New Orleans, LA


Our second day in New Orleans, we enjoyed brunch on the Steamboat Natchez on the Mississippi River. During Covid, the waitstaff serves a sampling of the entire brunch smorgasboard.  We especially recommend the chicken and sausage gumbo and the bananas foster.  We visited Brennan’s and had Bananas Foster there as well. Brennan’s invented Bananas Foster. That evening, we enjoyed dinner at Tommy’s Cuisine, an Italian restaurant with Cajun flare.    The steamed mussels are succulent.  We highly recommend them. 

Brennan’s Bananas Foster

 After our Steamboat cruise and brunch, we explored the French Quarter.  In July 2020, most of the New Orleans walking tours were not in operation.  But we enjoyed exploring the city on our own.  Due to low crowds, we had ample opportunities to take photos to our heart’s content. In other words, during this low-volume travel season, it’s a great time for selfies and other travel photography in iconic places.  New Orleans has some of the best architecture and backdrops for memorable photos.  And wildlife cooperates, too!

WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA

DAY 5 

On our third day in New Orleans, we visited the WWII Museum.  The WWII Museum is located directly across the street from Higgins Hotel.  In fact, the museum and hotel are related to each other.  The Higgins Hotel is named after Andrew Higgins, the man who designed the Higgins Boat, a wooden vessel with a ramp which was credited with helping the U.S. to win WWII in Normandy, France.  These boats allowed the military to get the military into shallow water and unload on the beach of Normandy.  The soldiers then stormed the beach, climbed the cliffs, and overtook the enemy in order to win the war.  The movie The Longest Day depicts the D-day victory at Normandy.  The WWII Museum features an outstanding documentary film in 4-D which depicts the origin and reality of the war through heightened visuals, sound and motion.  

A stay at Hotel Higgins transports guests into the glories of victory.  WWII photos depicting the victory of liberation have been placed throughout the hotel as a tribute to this historic event and its impact on American values and freedoms.  

Staying at Hotel Higgins is more than a good night’s rest in a clean, comfortable hotel.  It’s an experience – meaningful, memorable and anchoring.  It anchors travelers in the depths of contribution New Orleans made to the WWII victory and also allows us to enjoy the pleasures of our everyday life in the here and now because of that freedom and democracy.

On our last day, we went shopping at the Riverwalk Outlet.  It was the perfect end to our Mama-Daughter travels.  We purchased clothing, handbags, and accessories in preparation for our next adventure and the coming season.  

Regarding travel during Covid, those who travel during this time experience more personalized hospitality, engagement with locals and their goods and services, and attentive detail to cleanliness which travelers always enjoy! Also, the Higgins Hotel took some of the best precautions we’ve seen regarding Covid-19 and guests.

We thoroughly enjoyed our Southern Girls road trip to the “Best of the Best: The South”. We highly recommend traveling to New Orleans, LA and surrounding areas both now and anytime. You’ll be glad you did!

Recommended Links:

Swamp Tour and Alligator Watching  with McGees Swamp Tours in Henderson, LA

Bayou Cabins

Mouton Plantation

Jefferson Island’s Rip Van Winkle Gardens

Beignets at Café Du Monde

Steamboat Natchez Brunch and Cruise

Stay at Higgins Hotel

WWII Museum

City View and dining at Rosies on The Roof in Hotel Higgins

Rivercenter Outlet Shopping

The Marriage of Figaro by Houston Grand Opera

By Mandy Seymour, Best Rated Reviews

The Marriage of Figaro presented by the Houston Grand Opera is an experience to behold!  We tremendously enjoyed an evening of world-class opera set to a Sevillan 18th century background with the unique addition of a 60s timeframe, costumes and dancing.  It was creative, compelling and not to be missed!

The Marriage of Figaro is a dynamic love story which incorporates drama, comedy, and stellar character depictions from some of Opera’s finest at Houston Grand Opera.  Nahuel Di Pierro plays Figaro.   Elena Villain plays Susanna.  Each role is masterfully performed.  

The premise involves an uprising of servants against their master.  For this reason, the play was initially banned in many countries when it was first written because it outraged the aristocracy.  This opera was composed in 1786 by magnificent Mozart.  His opera is based an original play by Beaumarchais.  

For information on The Marriage of Figaro and the rest of the season line-up from Houston Grand Opera, visit

Rating: 5 stars! “Best of the best!”

Day With A Llama at Figment Ranch

By: Mandy Seymour and Sarah Seymour

A Day with a Llama at Figment Ranch is the BEST DAY EVER!  Ruby Herron and Robin Turell make dreams come true for llamas and llama-lovers alike at Figment Ranch. My daughter Sarah Seymour and I visited their beautiful ranch for A Day with A Llama. It was a day to remember!

Sarah loves llamas. They are one of her most favorite animals. She was in llama heaven on our day at Figment Ranch. 

During the Day with a Llama, we walked llamas, fed llamas, and hugged llamas. We also interacted with several adorable alpacas. We fed them, petted them, and enjoyed learning about them. 

We were joined by one of Figment Ranch’s most sensational members of the family: Strutter the Turkey. We found him to be just as endearing as the llamas in his own way! He is a majestic and friendly turkey who followed us around the farm everywhere we went. He let us pet him. And he even waited for us outside the gift shop!  Strutter has walked brides down the aisle and likes to dance at parties and receptions. 

Figment Ranch is also home to giddy goats, dapper ducks, and terrific tortoises. 

The animals are very well-loved and cared for. For the ranch’s owners, their rescue, care and preservation is a labor of love. They care deeply about the precious lives of all their animals.  All proceeds received help to feed and care for their amazing animals so they can keep spreading llama love for years to come. 

Figment Ranch is a woman-owned and operated business.  Beautiful handicrafts, blankets and rugs are available in the gift shop.  Proceeds support llama care and conservation in Texas and Peru.

Figment Ranch is available for llama tours, events, and overnight stays. Learn more at

See video of our day with a llama here.

Rating: 5 Stars!  “Best of the best!”

Glamping in Garner State Park

By: Mandy Seymour and Sarah Seymour, Best Rated Reviews

Garner State Park by Mandy Seymour, Best Rated Reviews

Are you ready to go Glamping in Garner?  Garner State Park has some of Texas’ most beautiful, clear-water rivers in the Hill Country.  It offers the perfect refreshment for anyone looking to spend a few days getting away from it all in the Texas Hill Country.  

If you are going to visit Garner State Park, why go camping when you could go glamping?  Glamping is camping with glamour and style.  To enjoy the park to the fullest glamping-style, you will need a sturdy yet breezy tent, reliable river shoes, and a colorful hammock.  You will also need some ambiance lighting and colorful dishware and/or tablecloths.

When you Glamp, you can bring your tent and your comfy bedding, too.  We had a tent and we also rented a screen shelter for the occasion.  Then we glamped it up.  Bring your favorite sheets and blankets, a spare set of Christmas lights, and anything else cozy you want to include.

Sarah Seymour sleeping in Trailmade Tent from REI, Best Rated Reviews

First, we set up our tent, the Trailmade Tent 1 from REI.  This tent is lightweight, versatile and made especially for backpacking.  But we like to bring it with us anywhere we go just in case we need it.  It has dual screens which create comfortable airflow when you are sleeping under the stars. Its lightweight design is portable and efficient.  The tent is extremely well-engineered for ease of use.  You can set it up and take it down in a matter of minutes.  It’s one of our favorites to bring along for travel anywhere, anytime!

REI Trailmade Tent

Find the Trailmade Tent here.

When glamping, it’s also important to bring along bedding that is suitable for the weather.  In the Texas Hill Country, we have found that a lightweight, soft fleece blanket can always come in handy for sleeping, reading, resting and naptime!  (Did we say naptime?  Vacation naps are the best!). One of our top favorites is blankets by Natural Life.  .  

Ready for Glamping! Here’s our clamping set up. You can find a cozy throw by Natural Life here.

After we got everything situated, we had a great time exploring the crystal clear waters of the Frio River.

We photographed the serene waters to our heart’s content!

Our Chacos were the perfect glamping footwear to help us accomplish the mission.  They were vibrant, stylish and practical for river trekking.

As we watched the sunset, the river was so peaceful.  When you are Glamping, it’s important to take in the still moments and bask in the beauty around you.

Serenity was ours in this beautiful place.  Rest and rejuvenation in nature was just what we needed!

My favorite personal moment of our Glamping experience came just after the sun set.  Suddenly the sky turned pink and purple and reflected magnificently on the glassy water.

Sunset in Garner State Park by Mandy Seymour

I was so glad I captured the moment and enjoyed it fully as the beauty and serenity enveloped me.  These are the beautiful moments Glamping is made of.  

Hammock Time!

We brought along one of our favorite hammocks – handmade straight from the market in Galapagos!

Camping with Chacos!  Chacos are the ultimate river shoe in Texas! If you are looking for a shoe that will allow you to traverse rivers and the hill country in Texas, we recommend Chacos. Sarah is wearing Chacos Women’s Z/Cloud Sandals. They are sturdy, well-made, and versatile. They also dry easily and clean up nicely even if you encounter mud or dirt. They keep her feet happy and stylish! Learn more about Chacos Women’s Z/Cloud Sandals here.

That evening, we enjoyed gathering with other campers for the nighty dance.  Each Summer night in Garner, people dance the night away.

They even have an old-fashioned Jukebox!

Late at night, Sarah and I traversed a valley riverbed to go Stargazing in the early morning (from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.). Sarah captured these magical moments of her experience with the Texas night sky.  

Here is her photo of the night sky!  

Milky Way in the Texas Hill Country by Sarah Seymour, Best Rated Reviews

She even captured the Milky Way that night!

She said as she was getting the angles adjusted, she heard rustling in the distance.  She shone her flashlight across the river and saw 16 sets of eyes peering at her – raccoons and wild boar!  Apparently they team up at night to raid campers’ ice chests.  (See the next photo – the warning!). She gingerly finished up her photos and left without incident.  But she said it was a quite daunting surprise to see all those eyes!

Below, Sarah is standing next to the swine sign! (Read the sign. It warns about feral hogs raiding your ice chest. It’s for real!)

That night, we returned to our Glamping and enjoyed a good night’s rest.

The goal, no matter what, is to get a good to great night’s rest.  We did!

Here’s to another Mama Daughter adventure!  Adventure awaits!

Sarah Seymour and Mandy Seymour

Mandy Seymour and Sarah Seymour – Mandy Seymour and Sarah Seymour are a mama-daughter travel duo who traverse the world to find and share the “best of the best” in travel, leisure and related products.  

Mandy Seymour

Mandy Seymour is the Managing Editor of Best Rated Reviews.  Mandy is an award-winning travel writer, photojournalist and author who has traveled the world in search of the “best of the best” and strives to help people know the deeper fulfillment of a life well-lived personally and professionally.  She received the William N. Garrison award for the impact she makes on others in her daily life and work.

Sarah Seymour

Sarah Seymour is a photojournalist with Best Rated Reviews.  She is a photographer and award-winning writer who has a keen eye for Instagram-worthy shots and is a powerful storyteller with a strong ability to convey the essence and enjoyability of places and products through writing and photography.  Sarah won the Scholastic Gold Key writing award for short stories in 2023.  

The Lasker Inn – Galveston, TX

The Lasker Inn, Galveston, TX

If you are looking for an iconic and memorable venue in Galveston for a Bed and Breakfast or event, we highly recommend The Lasker Inn.  

This beautiful and stately home was built in 1870.  It was later converted to a Home for Homeless Children after the Break 1900 Storm.  After Hurricane Ike, Richard and Linda Denson purchased and renovated the home to make it Galveston’s premiere wedding venue and bed and breakfast.

Guests are treated to luxurious accommodations.  Lasker Inn’s in-house chef prepares gourmet breakfasts for overnight guests.  The Lasker Inn takes care of all needs for weddings and wedding parties offering an all-inclusive experience which is known on The Island as “The Lasker Experience”.

The Lasker Inn can host up to 250 guests for a wedding and accommodate up to 18 guests in the Bed and Breakfast.

Richard is a consummate  host who will help guests feel at home and make sure they have the most memorable and enjoyable experience possible at The Lasker Inn and on Galveston Island.

During our stay, we enjoyed delicious restaurants in the area, relaxed at the beach, and had superb quality time!

Rating: 5 Stars!  “Best of the best!”  We highly recommend it!

Hammock Happiness

“Hammock Happiness is the feeling you get when you find a great hammock and it becomes your R & R go-to place.” – Mandy Seymour

If you are looking for a “best of the best” way to enjoy your Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring in Texas, buy a hammock.  We have discovered the joy of what we affectionately call Hammock Happiness.  Hammock Happiness is the feeling you get when you find a great hammock and it becomes your R & R go-to place.  You rest in it.  You relax in it.  You rejuvenate in it.  In short, when you find a hammock that’s right for you, you live your best life in it!

We have discovered that hammocks that are made with a breathable fabric can nicely accommodate Texas’ hot weather and also acclimate to the other seasons as well.  

Here are some ways we found hammock happiness and you can too!

Enjoying much-needed R&R!

Do you ever wish you had a place you could go all to yourself to “get away from it all”?  Where you could relax and rejuvenate in the solace of nature?  If you have a hammock, you can relax and rejuvenate anytime – at home or when traveling!

Watching The Sunset!

A hammock is a great place to enjoy the sunset – anywhere, anytime, any season!

Enjoying together time with loved ones!

Spending time with your dog!

Our dog Beaux loves to spend relaxing quality time with us wherever we are – at home or traveling.  Pets love hammocks.  They love to snuggle with you in a hammock.  When we are at home, we snuggle with our dog, our bunny and even baby chicks in our hammocks!

And glamping!

Here are some breathable hammocks we recommend.  We have thoroughly tested the following brands and they meet our five-star standards and received a 5-star “Best of The Best” rating:

Best of The Best: Hang Loose Hammocks – These colorful hammocks are made in Maui and are built to last.  They are breathable, fray-resistant and stretchably comfortable to your body type.  They are made with 100% authentic Ecuadorian textile fabric.  They hold up nicely in inclement weather as well. 

Find Hang Loose Hammocks here

If you are looking for a second, option for your budget, we recommend Made By Nativos.  They carry  hammocks which are well-made, breathable and flexible.  They will hold up in various weather conditions.  

Find Made By Nativos Hammocks here

Everyone in our family enjoys Hammock Happiness! 

Beaux The Boykin love Hammock Happiness!

Goldie Girl loves hammock happiness!

And even the turkeys, Stagecoach and Tejas!  Hammock Happiness makes everyone happy because we are spending time outside together which is what we love most in our family!

The best part of having a hammock for any occasion is the memories you make and the people you share it with! Even when it’s your little sister! Family fun is for everyone! Especially when you have a great hammock!

Yours for the best! – Mandy and Sarah

Mandy Seymour and Sarah Seymour are a mama-daughter travel duo who traverse the world to find and share the “best of the best” in travel, leisure and related products.  

Mandy Seymour

Mandy Seymour is the Managing Editor of Best Rated Reviews.  Mandy is an award-winning travel writer, photojournalist and author who has traveled the world in search of the “best of the best” and strives to help people know the deeper fulfillment of a life well-lived personally and professionally.  She received the William N. Garrison award for the impact she makes on others in her daily life and work.

Sarah Seymour

Sarah Seymour is a photojournalist with Best Rated Reviews.  She is a photographer and award-winning writer who has a keen eye for Instagram-worthy shots and is a powerful storyteller with a strong ability to convey the essence and enjoyability of places and products through writing and photography.  Sarah won the Scholastic Gold Key writing award for short stories in 2023.  

Roleo Hand and Arm Massager

Do you ever have forearm soreness and fatigue from typing too much?  We live in a digital age and spend more time on our electronic devices than ever in the history of humankind.  We are writers and journalists.  We experience arm fatigue on a regular basis.  

We wondered if there was a product out there that could help.  To our delight, we found one: Roleo.

Roleo is a therapeutic arm massager.  It’s a verticals square shaped device with two rollers.  You slide your arm in between the rollers and it gives them a great massage.  You can use it to massage your hand, wrist and forearm.  It works great!  And it provides so much relief!  

It is providing relief for writers, administrative assistants, physical therapists, masseuses, and others who use their hands and arms regularly in the work they do.  

It’s portable, easy to use, and non-electronic.  It fits nicely in a cabinet or drawer, so you just take it out when you need it.  

We highly recommend it.  There’s no other massager like it.  It gets the job done much better than the electronic hand massagers we’ve tried.  


Rating: 5 stars!  Best of the best!

Best of The Best: Galveston, TX

Galveston, TX – Mandy Seymour, Best Rated Reviews

If you are looking for a memorable summer vacation, we recommend a visit to Galveston, TX. Located 1 1/2 hours away from Houston, TX, there are many enjoyable places to stay, visit and enjoy R & R.

For a memorable hotel stay, we recommend The Lasker Inn. The Lasker Inn is an elegant, private and upscale venue for intimate and unforgettable vacations stays. The Inn’s gourmet chef serves a scrumptious, hearty breakfast.

The Lasker Inn is also one of Galveston’s premiere wedding venues. The Laster Inn provides wedding guests with “The Laster Inn Experience,” an all-inclusive package which includes every detail for wedding and reception planning and caters to even the most particular guests. Proprietor Richard Conner is the consummate host. He takes great pride in making arrangements for his guests so they may have the most enjoyable stay and event possible. Find out more at

Several delicious restaurants are located just a 10 minute’s drive away from the inn. We enjoyed dining at Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar. The establishment serves scrumptious gumbo and hot-and-fresh beignets. One of the islands most formal restaurants is Rudy and Paco. An ice cream shop, coffee shop and specialty shops are located within walking distance of these Galveston Nightlife eateries.

Galveston, TX

When visiting the beach in Galveston, beaches are usually packed densely with tourists June through early September. From mid-September through May, the beaches are quieter and less packed.

When you visit in the summer, we recommend also making plans to visit in December (during Dickens on The Strand) and in February (during Galveston Mardi Gras).

Galveston, TX Nightlife – Best Rated Reviews