Living in Calgary, it’s no wonder that one might eventually end up in Houston, TX, a sister city that also shares a love of rodeo and oil. The oil part of the equation landed my hubby and I in Texas for a four-year work assignment before we re-embraced the Great White North and moved home. But living somewhere that long means you leave a portion of yourself there – you can take the girl out of Texas and all… I’ve been missing the hustle and bustle of Houston, and so I decided to take a vacation to catch up with old friends. I headed to YYC, jumped on WestJet to IAH, and a quick 4.5 hours later I was back in Texas!
The sun. The heat. The humidity. BOOM. Houston! But small change, I wasn’t travelling alone. I brought my 18-month-old along for the ride! We stayed five days and lapped up every sun-soaked, sweaty minute of it! The biggest hit by far was our exploration of Houston’s famed Museum District while the rest of the world was at work. Here are the 4 Museum District attractions I suggest you hit up with young children in tow!
Houston Zoo: This zoo rocks!
There are seals, lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys, pretty much any animal your child is familiar with lives here. The grounds are well laid out. The walkways are wide and paved. There are multiple places to stop on the grounds to grab food and drink. Plus there are two play zones and one splash park. ALL. WITHIN. THE. ZOO. As well as an entire section termed the “children’s zoo” which caters to younger audiences and includes a petting zoo. We spent 3 hours at the zoo and could EASILY have done more. The only drawback is the parking situation, which is bleak. Arrive early in the day and do not be afraid to park across the street at the golf course. But even saying that: go. Go right now, in fact, make this your first stop!
Houston Museum of Natural Science: I love science and I LOOOVE this museum!
I used to go a lot when we lived in Texas and was totally geeking out to show my boy the palaeontology/anthropology wing. Well, unfortunately, 18 months was too young for him to register the colossal bones as dinosaurs, but he DID love the taxidermied animal wing. This place has four floors of awesomeness and an adjacent butterfly house. There are also I-max movies and a planetarium for older kids. You could visit this museum for hours each week and not see it all. Only have a small amount of time and not a lot of moolah? Check out the gift shop, which is housed in its own wing, and contains interesting Christmas gift ideas. It’s free of charge to enter.
The Children’s Museum of Houston: This one is the obvious choice for families visiting Houston.
It’s an incredible Children’s Museum. They have a large kid city where your child can dress up and work as pretty much anything. There is a toddler floor with lots of fun stuff to play with. There’s also an outside area with huge water tables and boats and a splash zone. This one is best for families with children older than five but on a screaming hot day with 100% humidity, the toddler floor offered lots of opportunities for discovery.
Hermann Park and McGovern Centennial Garden: This 445-acre park, located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, was a must hit for my little family.
The hot summer weather made us excited to get out and explore each day, and we found the rolling grounds to be the perfect diversion away from the mainly inside attractions of the museum district. There’s a ride on train, paddle boats to rent, and ducks to feed. The grounds have walk ways, wading fountains and segregated garden zones to explore. We wound up spending the most time in the newest garden “McGovern Centennial Garden” which has a cool walking hill that spirals around a waterfall feature and has meditation stones at the top. All of the flowers and paths were great fun to investigate in the morning hours. They are maintained beautifully and bring a sense of calm to the busy core.
There you have it! Some toddler sized fun for a trip to Houston. The city is actually amazingly well equipped for children, and there is no shortage of activities to take on. But, the Museum District is not to be missed. You children will learn through play, your day will be exciting and you’ll come away with a whole new appreciation for art and history in Texas!
By Kaeleigh MacDonald
Kaeleigh MacDonald runs the popular infertility blog Unpregnant Chicken where she writes her musings on the wild world that is “trying to conceive”. She holds a B.Ed. in Educational Psychology as well as an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology although nowadays she spends most of her time entertaining her toddler and exploring Calgary.