Roberts Elementary Spark Park – Visiting Houston’s Parks, One Week at a Time

Roberts Spark Park Stepping Stones
Address:  6000 Greenbriar Dr, Houston, TX 77030
Appropriate Age: Any Age
Cost: Free

Roberts Elementary has a giant, fenced in playground that is open to the public when school is not in session.  There is a basketball court, bike riding loop, frisbee golf course, several shaded play structures and a funny little octagon that resembles an indoor soccer field.

Roberts Spark Park Playground
The Spark Park Program develops school parks into neighborhood parks as a way to increase green space in Houston.  Roberts Elementary opens the gates for the community during the summer, after school hours and on the weekends.

Roberts Spark Park Swings
The park is right on busy Greenbriar, but is surrounded by a tall fence and there is no risk of kids running out.  Street parking is available around the back of the school, on School Street.  Be sure to check the signs because much of the neighborhood, which is full of picture-perfect houses by Rice University and the Medical Center, has permit parking only.

Roberts Spark Park Basketbal Court
We visited on a Sunday afternoon and there were several families riding bikes, playing ball and swinging.  It seemed like a lot of the kids went to Roberts Elementary, but they were very welcoming and invited my kids to play ball.

Roberts Spark Park Ball Octigon
There is a little octagon with turf carpet and short walls where the kids played a mini version of indoor soccer.  When I first saw this “play pen” I had no idea what it was for, but the kids figured it out quickly and the ball game was tons of fun with 3-4 players on each team.

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Super Saturdays in September, Buy One Get One Free Admission to Downtown Aquarium

Fish at Downtown Aquarium
Super Saturdays are back at the Downtown Aquarium in September! You can print a coupon to get Buy-One-Get-One-Free Admission on Saturdays in the month of September! Print a coupon for every 4 people in your group… and print a few extra for friends you meet in line.

GET the COUPON HERE!



You don’t have to be a die-hard sports fan to absolutely love games at Minute Maid Park…

Astros Game
There is no better afternoon than one spent at Minute Maid Park.  My kids, who never once showed an interest in baseball, now beg to go to the Astros games.

And why not?  Who doesn’t love to drive through the skyscrapers, walk on the busy city streets, show their very own tickets at the gate, watch baseball in the air conditioning, eat ballpark food and play at the stadium playground?

Tickets to the games are reasonable, the stadium is not too packed and the roof keeps everyone cool in the Houston summer.

Astros games have proven to be a great way to fall in love with baseball.  It’s easy for me, because nearby street parking is always available and the stadium is not a complete madhouse.  It’s fun for the kids because of the beautiful, covered stadium, with a train that heads down the tracks with homeruns and a giant playground.

Go for one game, or get season tickets.  The best part about season tickets is that you can pick which ever section you want (even the cheap seats that we get!) and when you pick them out, you can ask Gordon for a personal VIP tour of the stadium… including the exclusive diamond club, dugout and field!

To learn more, contact Gordon Bowen, Houston Astros.  713.259.8788,  gbowen@astros.com



BMX: A Sport for the Whole Family. If your kids can walk, they can race.

Brendan BMX
If your children can walk, they can race BMX with the entire family.  This information comes from Houston dad, Daryl!

First, the best thing about BMX is you get to participate and have fun from day one.

We currently have two tracks in the Houston area Pearland BMX and Katy BMX.

To get started you need a BMX style bike (and it can be used, cheap, or expensive). The track does have a few loaners but you have to get there when they open.

Bikes are sized to the rider. From micro mini up to Pro XXL.  Kids can even start on strider/balance bikes and move up from there.

For safety a helmet ( full face recommended) , long pants (jeans or other sports pants) and long sleeve shirt is required. (Short sleeves are okay with elbow pads.)

New riders are giving a one day pass for free, after that you have to become a member of USA BMX (best done at local track so they get credit).

Tracks usually have a practice night for $5-7 and a race night including practice for $10-12.

The best thing to do is come out to a race and watch and talk to people and ask any questions you have. You will find people there are very friendly and happy to help get you started.

Any other questions don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!



Sleep in a caboose, Sit on the Roof, Jump in the Lake… The Antlers in Kingsland

The Antlers Caboose View
How about a weekend away where you can sleep in a real train caboose?

This is Juliette. My husband, my 7-year-old and I usually review kid-friendly restaurants in Houston but we are branching out today. We spent a few days on a family vacation at The Antlers in Kingsland, west of Austin just north of Marble Falls.

It is right along LBJ lake and the best thing is you can sleep in a caboose! Oh yeah, it is as special to adults as to kids! We booked the yellow one and our son loved it.

The Antlers Caboose
On the drive there, all he wanted was to go sleep in the caboose! The hotel includes a collection of homes on a few acres of woods. It dates back to 1901 where it was a railroad resort.

We had reserved a real caboose on real train tracks and it is attached to two others. Inside, it is surprisingly comfortable and spacious. There is a love seat, a bunk bed ( fitted with Thomas the Train sleeping bags) a well-equipped kitchen (including a dishwasher!), a queen size bed and a cupola, a little nook with 2 seats!

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Houstonia Magazine: BigKidSmallCity’s Top Small Park Picks!

Houstonia Magazine Parks
Grab the August edition of Houstonia Magazine to see BigKidSmallCity’s picks for some of Houston’s best small parks!  You’ll see Wilson Wonderground, Fire Truck Park, Donovan Park, Bellaire Town Square and more!

 



You Made Summer 2014 Awesome… Thanks for the BigKidSmallCity Meet Ups!

We’ve had a great summer exploring Houston with you.  The kids met Houston’s finest firemen, spun in the Mayor’s chair, crafted crowns, masks and bracelets, fed camels with their bare hands, shared their lunch with giant tortoises, had exotic birds in their hair and had a 800 pound, 12 foot alligator hiss until they left him alone.  See the pictures below!

These Meet-Ups have been a great way to explore Houston with our kids so we’re going to keep them going through the school year.  All events are uniquely Houston and small in scale.  If you want to be notified as they are scheduled, sign up HERE!  They generally fill too quick to be advertised on social media, so sign up to see the opportunity first.

Our BigKidSmallCity Summer, in pictures:

We toured 4 fire station tours.
 

Fire Station Tour6
 

Trying on Fire Gear at Fire Station 16
 

And spun in the Houston Mayor’s Chair. (Really, this is her chair.)
 

City Hall Mayor's Chair6
 

Joe at City Hall
 

And we met Pippi Longstocking.
Pippi of Pippi at Main Street Theater
 

And had Bayou Wildlife Park ostriches come in the car window. And zebras eat from our hands.
 

Osterich Eating
 

Zebra at Bayou Wildlife Park
 

And we had a super fancy tea party with The Scone Artist.
 

The Scone Artist Tea Party
 

The Scone Artist Scones
 

And we fed gentle, and not so gentle, giants at The Crocodile Encounter.
 

Crocodile Encounter Feeding Tortoises1
 

Crocodile Encounter Feeding1
 

And we had the most unexpected fun at… a furniture store. We took horse and buggy rides, held birds, played with monkeys, made crafts, ate pizza and played like crazy at Gallery Furniture.
Gallery Furniture Bird on Heads
 

Gallery Furniture Horse Ride
 

Gallery Furniture Bouncing
 

Gallery Furniture Monkey
 

Thank you for making Summer 2014 one to remember!!



Do you have any tips for exploring Downtown Houston with kids? You asked us!

Downtown Clouds
I was checking out your tips about seeing the JP Morgan Chase Building, riding METROrail and going through the tunnels. Do you have tips for exploring Downtown with kids?

I love Downtown! I would park over next to Natachees on Main Street in midtown. There is a public lot next door that is pretty cheap… around $4 for the entire day.  Natachees has a big sandbox and you could also eat there before or after your trip.

Walk to the METRORail stop right across from the parking lot. You want the Northbound train (far side of tracks from Natachees). Only people over 5 years old need tickets. Buy a ticket ($1.25) from the machine with cash or credit and jump on when it comes. (It’s the honor system… I’ve never had my ticket checked.)

When you go north to Downtown, Discovery Green is to the right and City Hall, the red button and JP Morgan Chase Tower are to the left.

I’d jump off at the Preston Street Station. Go left a few blocks to the red button and chase tower. You can also access the tunnels under the Chase building. For these, I’d just wonder around and come to street level if you get lost!

Be sure to go on a work day so the building and tunnels are open. It will also be a bit busier downtown and will be more fun.

Market Square Park is close by too at Milam and Preston. Next to this is the big “Houston is Inspired” mural.

Have a great time and enjoy your trip!



Beyond the Beltway: Crocodile Encounter

Crocodile Encounter Tortoise
Address: 23231 CR 48, Angleton, TX 77515

You may have seen the Crocodile Encounter review that I did last year. Well, the place is so great that we decided to go back again this year and we even made it a BigKidSmallCity meet up!  We saw crocodiles and alligators and fed the tortoises.

Crocodile Encounter
The first part of our tour started out a little bit slow and scary. Our tour guide Jade marched right in to the first enclosure with the largest alligator (12 feet long and 800 pounds!) with a bucket full of raw chicken. She hit the water with a piece of chicken a few times, but the alligator refused to come out.

After that she went near its burrow and tried again. Even though we couldn’t see him, we sure heard him! A loud (and frightening!) hissing sound came repeatedly from that direction but that didn’t stop Jade.

She tried a few more times but the gator just wasn’t hungry and wanted to be left alone. She promised we’d get to see lots of other alligators and took us to the next stop on our tour. On our way there we did get a good view of the alligator’s head sticking out of his burrow and it was huge!

Crocodile Encounter Feeding Tortoises1
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Los Cucos – Our Search for Houston’s Best Restaurants for Kids

Location: 5535 Memorial Dr, Houston 77007
Age Appropriate: All ages!
Price: $-$$

Hi, I’m Juliette! My husband, my 7-year-old and I love going out to eat and we are sharing our restaurant finds with you.

I am so glad I got to go to a few meet-ups this summer with BKSC and meet some of you! It was very nice to get your feedback.

Los Cucos
With school starting again, we have a nice restaurant if you want to take a night off from cooking: Los Cucos on Memorial Drive. They have several locations around town but we always go to this one since we can walk there!

It is in a small shopping center and they have the corner spot where they created a nice outdoor patio. The inside of the restaurant is casual with one big dining room, an open kitchen and bar to the left and a few booths for 2 along the right wall.

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