Some of the main concerns when visiting a large city are traffic and parking. Houston definitely has it’s share of both. We decided to stay in an RV park on the east side of the city in a small town called Anahuac. It was a decent place, but most of the sites were rented on a monthly basis and we typically only stay in a place three or four days on average. It was a little farther from the city than we had anticipated, but things usually tend to work out as they should and we were comfortable there for a few days.
We spent a full day in the city the day after we arrived. Our adventures took us into the museum district. Yes, Houston is so large it has an entire district dedicated to museums. While other things are located in this area of the city as well it does have tons of museums. It would probably take an entire week to really get to see all of them, so we chose two of them that seemed very family friendly and educational.
First up was the Health Museum. It worked out nicely as it was within walking distance of Hermann Park, a large 460-acre park right in the museum district, and we were able to park there all day for free! A museum based entirely on health and how the body works was a new one for us, and I had been looking forward to seeing what it was all about. The museum itself was not large, but had some hands on exhibits that the kids enjoyed. One of their favorites was a face generating computer that allowed them to pick different facial features to try to recreate their own face. They probably could have done that all day. Something else they found amusing was a bicycle that showed a skeleton riding through a window, it moved the pedals in sync with their movements. The exhibit I found most interesting was of pictures depicting the foods an average family eats in different parts of the world. It was kind of sad to see how little fruits and vegetables Americans eat especially compared to some other countries from around the world. It was fun, but the kids were looking forward to our next destination.
Next up was the Children’s Museum of Houston which also worked out great as it was right across the street from the Health Museum. Children’s museums are great places to learn while having fun. They all have something new for us to experience while often having similar exhibits to build on what we have already learned. This museum was huge. We spent hours exploring it and wished we had more time because we were not able to see it all. In the middle of it all there was a floor to ceiling climbing structure made of large discs surrounded by netting that was awesome. Their was an entire section made up like a little town, called Kidtropolis, where my daughter became mayor! They could also work in the store, post office, police station, and many other locations throughout the town, to earn a paycheck that they could then cash in at the ATM. It was cool to watch them play in a real world setting. They painted pictures, designed rockets and Lego cars, and used their imaginations! There were so many neat things here to do and we enjoyed doing them together as a family.
It was such a busy day and we were all getting hungry. I had scouted out a cafe called Barnaby’s within walking distance of the museums so we decided to try it out. The walk was nice since it hadn’t rained since earlier that day. There were several patrons in the restaurant when we arrived which is usually a good sign. We were happy to find out they had a kids menu too. The kids quickly decided what they wanted and got right to coloring. It took Chris and I a little longer to decide as everything sounded good. After we finally decided and ordered the food came pretty quick. It was delicious! Always great to get good food when in a new city.
History is something we always like to include on our adventures when we can, and Texas has so much in this regard that it’s not hard to find. The San Jacinto monument, located just south east of Houston, is the tallest in the country. It was a sight to see. Inside the monument is a wonderful museum with many artifacts, art, and of course history on the major battle that took place there. We enjoyed walking through and looking at all the old pieces of history. This is a state historic site and is free to visit the monument as well as the museum.
The Battleship Texas is also kept nearby in the bay (not free, but totally worth it). Is there a better way to learn about life in the navy during WWI than to explore a ship from that time period? The kids loved being able to sit in the gun turrets and move the guns up and down as well as side to side. We were able to see where they slept, ate, got their hair cut and went to the bathroom. It was fun, and the kids all admitted they were not going to be joining the navy any time soon after seeing what it had been like. The view of the monument from the ship was amazing. It was such a beautiful day to be outside getting to experience some of our countries amazing history.
Every place we visit seems to have so many things we would like to do. There is just not enough time to get to see it all. Being a family we are always keeping our budget in mind when choosing our activities. We are often able to find free or inexpensive things to do where ever we go. For us being members of the ASTC program has really paid off as we have visited so many museums across the country for free. Many states have parks and historical sites that are also free like the San Jacinto monument and museum. Free parking can also be difficult to find in a big city, but we have found that often parks or, if you are willing to walk, nearby neighborhoods are good places to try. It sometimes takes some looking into to find these great places, but almost always worth the effort.
Here are some links and more pictures of these awesome places we were able to see while in the Houston area:
The Health Museum
The Children’s Museum of Houston
San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
Battleship Texas State Historic Site
And my favorite shot is this one of Miles and Journey in front of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
ASTC Travel Passport Program