In 2013, what started as a quick impromptu get-away to spoil James in his last days as an only child, has turned into a yearly post-holiday excursion to Houston.
Each year, we come back with a ‘lesson learned’. Telling a 5-year-old that he’s going to spend a few nights in a hotel...you might as well tell him he’s going to Disney World. Hotels have beds to jump on and elevator buttons to push. Instead of taking a nap, James excitedly stayed up the entire drive...and we arrived with a cranky kid. So our lesson learned this time around...next year we’re going to tell him that we’re going to the grocery store.
The Houston Children’s Museum is awesome, and can easily burn up a half day. There’s something for every age group. Toddlers can spend a lot of time in the second floor playroom. Older kids will want to roam the metropolis, the science section, and the outdoor water works playground. There’s also a cool paper airplane / rocket-building room where Dads can pretend to help their kids, but we’re really doing it for us.
NASA - Johnson Space Center
For younger kids there’s an Angry Birds themed area that’s pretty entertaining. The replica of Space Shuttle Endeavor sits on top of a real 747 that you can walk around in, and of course there’s a Saturn V. Outside of those, I’d say most of the exhibits are probably more meaningful to older kids and adults. For example, I walked James over to the suit Pete Conrad wore on the moon. He just kinda shrugged and flew his toy space shuttle around the room. Maybe I’m just a nerd because I was fascinated that this was an actual suit worn on the moon.
And regarding the replica space shuttle, Houstonians were a little peeved
The Aquarium is a restuarant/aquarium. The food is...ok, but the setting is great. After dinner you can go downstairs and feed the stingrays. There’s also a ferris wheel, carousel, and a few other rides.
We went to Moody Gardens during their festival of lights. It usually runs from the middle of November through the first week of January. There’s more than a million lights, a train ride, ice skating, and an arctic slide. During the day you can visit the rainforest pyramid, and the aquarium. There’s also zip lines and a paddleboat tour. They have a very nice hotel on the grounds, but you have more options just a few minutes away around Galveston Beach. If you do make it to Galveston beach, the Rainforest Cafe is pretty cool for kids.
Natural History Museum
This one isn’t the best option for really young kids. There’s a few exhibits that’ll keep them entertained but for the most part, the Natural History Museum is probably best suited for kids 8 and older. There’s some good films available, check the schedule beforehand to plan around something you’d like to see.
Where to stay
Hotels in Downtown Houston are usually pretty cheap. Embassy Suites
and Club Quarters
(suite) have a bedroom and a separate living room with a sleeper sofa. These are great options if you have young kids that go to bed at 8:00pm. There's a nice park called Discovery Green that is within walking distance of Embassy Suites.