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:
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.
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.
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.
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.