Travel, When in

Weekend Trip: Houston, TX

Houston, Texas

*Note: This trip was taken pre-pandemic.

“Space City” or Houston is the largest metropolis in Texas and is the anchor of the mega-region known as the Texas Triangle. For all you history buffs, Houston was named after General Sam Houston who had one Texas independence from Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto. With lots of rich history and culture, Houston offers a ton of things to see and do from the Space Center to art and music to sports. On our trip, we definitely had some places in mind that we had to see but there is still plenty to do when we go back.

Houston Zoo

If you couldn’t tell, we are big fans of the zoo. We visit a zoo in each city we travel to and Houston was no exception. The world famous Houston Zoo houses over 6,000 animals from 900 species and sits on 55-acres of land. Its the second most visited zoo in the United States and now we know why! You’ll definitely need a map to navigate this zoo as there are 12 exhibits to explore from the African forest to The World of Primates to The Bug House. Our favorite exhibits were the African Forest with the rhinos, giraffes and zebras and the McNair Asian Elephant exhibit. Plan a full day for these adventures as there are plenty of animals to see.

NASA Space Center

The NASA Space Center was by far our favorite place to visit while in Houston. We as a family have always loved learning about space, astronauts and rocket ships so the space center was a must see. The pictures don’t do it justice but the rocket ships are HUGE! We felt like little ants when standing next to them. With lots of exhibits like Rocket Park, Mission to Mars and Independence plaza you definitely won’t be bored. Plus, once your inside there are LOTS of children’s activities such as Space Center Theater, A Stellar Science Show and lunch with an astronaut. If your not afraid of heights, you can up and inside the Independence replica that sits on top of the NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft. It’s not for the faint of heart but we loved it and the views!!

Downtown Aquarium – An Underwater Adventure

The Houston aquarium is a beautiful site to see with lots of exhibits, activities and restaurants. From the Texas Bayou to Shipwreck to the Stingray, these are just some of the exhibits featured at the aquarium-we suggest you get a day pass and visit them all. There are 300 aquatic species from all over the world and get the opportunity to touch and feel a stingray, our son’s favorite part! Once you’ve completed your tour inside, head outside for games and amusement rides. Carnival style games, Diving Bell Ferris Wheel where you can see almost the whole city, shark voyage some of the things offered outside the aquarium. Some people come just to visit the amusement park-its that fun! And remember to bring your appetite; the Aquarium restaurant offers a variety of specialties and delicacies.

But that’s not ALL the things you can do in Houston, TX. We have some honorable mentions that we think you should check out during your trip:

  • Houston Museum of Natural Science
  • Kemah Boardwalk
  • The Museum of Fine Arts
  • Hermann Park
  • Discovery Green
  • Teo Chew Temple
  • Vietnam War Memorial

Surviving Chaos

We had a great time in Houston and although we did a lot, there is definitely more to explore. Here are our surviving chaos trips so that your trip will go swimming well!

  • Sunscreen: Be sure to put on plenty of sunscreen while your visiting the zoo. Some exhibits have shade and some don’t. Also be prepared for the Texas heat and Houston humidity.
  • Walking Shoes: There is a lot of walking in the at the zoo and the aquarium so where comfortable shoes.
  • Backpack: By the time you tour the zoo and aquarium, you will quite a few new souvenirs! Keep a backpack handy for all your goodies, snacks and water while you are site seeing- you’ll need something to carry all your stuff!
  • CityPass: To save money (and time) and buy a Houston CityPass. With CityPass you make 1 simple purchase for 5 different attractions that must be redeemed within 9 days. You can visit the attractions in any order and you’ll save 47%! Who doesn’t love saving money!

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Travel, When in

Weekend Trip: Kingsland, TX

Located an hour and half from Austin, Kingsland, TX is famously known as the place the The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was filmed. Yes, the infamous house from the film is located here; now a restaurant it’s a frequent tourist attraction. You’ll pass “the slab” or the clear section of the Llano River as it crosses over granite slabs and boulders, on your way to the Texas Chain Saw house. But Kingsland has so much MORE to offer than famous movie spots and rocks! Our trip took us off the normal beaten path and into new and fun adventures.

Packsaddle Mountain

During out trip, we decided to stay at an AirBnB rental property with a semi-private beach. One of the best choices we made! Not only is it social distancing safe because it just us in the house but you also get your own beach! The house and beach were on Lake LBJ and had plenty of activities: kayaks, a boat dock, wake boards, Sonos music system on canopy at the beach and so much more. Plus, there was a spot for a bonfire so our first night we stayed warm by the fire and viewed all the stars. Our kids had a great time building sand castles each day of our trip; each day the castles got bigger and better. One even has a moat around it! The house had great views of pack saddle mountain and the surround area. Named after its shape, Packsaddle mountain is a great place to hike and is of interest to both geologists and historians. It’s the location of the Packsaddle mountain fight, the last major Native American battle area and is believed to have been mined for gold before the Texas Revolution. If you choose to hike the mountain, there is a historical marker at the location of the battle.

Boat Day

On day 2 of our trip we took advantage of the boat dock and rented a pontoon boat for the day. This by far one of our favorite things to do when we’re on the water. The rental company literally boats to your location, drops off the boat for you and then picks it up at the end of the day. Easy peasy – I highly recommend it! Here you can see why we love renting a boat and plenty of reasons why you should too! My husband is usually the captain but I did drive the boat more this time around. We explored the whole lake and even stopped at Wakepoint LBJ; a place to fill you boat with gas and your belly with food. We had delicious barbecue from Uncle Arnold’s BBQ for lunch and then it was back on the boat. One of my favorite sights were all the lake houses – these houses were phenomenal! They all had their own boat docks but some houses added additional features: slides, fountains, double patios, boats houses and so much more. Here’s to keeping our fingers crossed that we can get a like house like the ones we saw!!

Longhorn Cavern State Park

On our last day, we took a socially distanced tour of Longhorn Cavern State Park. If your into rocks, caves and history this is the place to be. Longhorn Cavern is a beautiful limestone cave that has been used for many things: concerts, speakeasy, outlaw hideaway, church services and more. We took the walking cavern tour but they also offer the wild cave tour where you get to crawl on your hands and knees through the many crawl spaces. The tour took about 90 minutes and there was lots to see; from the bats to the crystals to Indian arrowheads left behind. Once your done with the tour, you can tour the park which has plenty of “parkitecture”, benches for family lunches, hike trails like Backbone Ridge and the CCC Observation Tower.

But that’s not ALL the things you can do in Kingsland, TX. We have some honorable mentions that we think you should check out during your trip:

  • Falkenstein Castle
  • Llano Slab
  • Lake LBJ
  • PackSaddle Mountain Hike Trail
  • Inks Lake State Park

Surviving Chaos

We had a great time in Kingsland and had plenty of adventures. Here are some of my surviving chaos tips so your trip will go splendidly!

  • Sunscreen: Be sure to put on plenty of sunscreen while and the beach, on the boat and wherever you decide to go. Bring 2 bottles…you’ll need it.
  • Light Jackets: The temperature is significantly cooler at the lake’s edge so you’ll want a jacket especially if you do a bonfire at night. The mornings can be quite cool as well when you sit on the patio and drink your coffee. Also, the cavern is cooler, between 60-65, so the jacket will come in handy.
  • Walking Shoes: There is a lot of walking in the cavern so where comfortable shoes.
  • Life Jackets: Either bring your own or check if your rental property includes them. All kids under 18 have to wear one and its good have when your kayaking.

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