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Making the Most of 24 Hours in Houston

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Houston is the nation’s fourth largest city, so planning a quick trip can be a challenge. After bidding for a hotel on Priceline, I started looking at maps and travel guides, in an attempt to maximize our time. Here’s how we ended up spending our quick stay in Houston:

Saturday Afternoon:

About an hour outside of San Antonio, we stopped at Buc-cee’s. It’s a gas station and convenience store, but on a grand scale. That old expression “Everything is bigger in Texas” certainly applies to this place. I swear, I’ve never seen a ladies room with that many stalls in my life! (If you want to stop at Buc-cee’s, you won’t have trouble finding it…just start looking for the beaver billboards.)


When we arrived in Houston, we immediately drove to the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum, which I have been eager to see. (Yeah, I know…from Buc-cee’s to Byzantine frescoes. We are all about the high and low culture!) The Fresco Chapel ended up being a very quick stop. Admission is free. The frescos are all located in one room, so you can spend as much or as little time there as you wish. Photography (even without a flash) is not allowed, so I don’t have any pictures of the frescoes to share, but I assure you they are beautiful. (If you visit with kids, you might want to check-out my post Five Tips for Taking a Toddler to an Art Museum). After looking at the frescoes, we spent a few minutes in the chapel’s outdoor courtyard before hopping back in the car.

Next, we headed to the Museum District where we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Cockrell Butterfly Center. Located inside the Museum of Natural Science, the butterfly center was one of the highlights of the trip. Sure, it was humid as heck in the glass enclosure, but it was worth it to get a close-up look at the beautiful butterflies. E. was a little hesitant at first, especially when the butterflies flew close to her face, but eventually she tried to get the butterflies to land on her finger.

Butterfly, Cockrell Butterfly Center, Houston

Saturday Evening:

For dinner, we went the ultra-touristy route and headed down to Kemah Boardwalk. A combination of overpriced restaurants and carnival rides, Kemah Boardwalk isn’t for those who want to find the “real” coastal Texas. However, it IS fun. After eating dinner at RED (we love hibachi places!), we walked along the boardwalk, hopped on the merry-go-round, and took a ride on the ferris wheel. While the ride tickets aren’t cheap, a trip to the boardwalk is certainly less expensive than an amusement park. Sometimes it’s difficult to find evening activities when you’re travelling with a child, but this is a great option for families.

Kemah Boardwalk, Houston

Sunday Morning:

We enjoyed some coffee (or chocolate milk, in E.’s case) with our feet dangling in the hotel pool. Then we drove downtown to The Grove, a restaurant located right next to Houston’s Discovery Green. Before getting back in the car to head home, we explored the city park and let E. run through one of the water features. If I lived in Houston, I think I’d be at Discovery Green all the time. Water features for kids, a pleasant playground, and lots of open space make this park a must-visit if you are staying downtown.

Discovery Green, Houston

Sunday Afternoon:

After a little playtime, we headed back to San Antonio. We made another stop at Buc-cee’s, and before long we were back home.

When it comes to family travel, I think Houston is underrated. We enjoyed our visit, but we only scratched the surface.

10 responses »

  1. Thanks for sharing your weekend itinerary. We are thinking about a trip to Houston this summer to visit a friend and this will come in handy.

    • I think you’d really like Houston! I’ve heard great things about the Houston Zoo, but we didn’t have time for it on this trip. I’ll be curious to see what activities you choose.

  2. Looks like you had a great trip.. and you are right, you DID only scratch the surface. There is tons to do in Houston!!
    But you did find a great treasure.. we LOVE Discovery Green for random fun and lots of free shows and activities, too. :)

    • I was really impressed by Discovery Green, and I was happy to see so many people enjoying a Sunday afternoon outdoors. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Looks like so much fun!

  4. Haha! We were just there this weekend too. Took the kids to the MNS and the butterfly center. We went to NASA then Kemah. We had a great time. But I still do not miss living there. Oh, and I like the SA zoo better ;) Glad you enjoyed your trip!

  5. Pingback: Finding More Fun: Family Travel Links, June 2011 | Travels with Children by minnemom

  6. Oh yes, the Houston Zoo is *wonderful* – I’ve visited many zoos in many cities and Houston is one of the least crowded with a lovely collection. It’s not the greatest in the summer but even then there are many indoor exhibits. The other big thing to do in Houston is the Children’s Museum, which was just named the #1 Children’s Museum in the country by Parents Magazine! It is really an astonishing place. I moved to Houston last August and I took my kids at least once a month (which is a lot considering we live across town). Good thinking on visiting DG – it was our first outing after moving here. We have to go back to the sprinklers now that it’s hot again.

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