I’d like to write more… but I’m heading over to take my survey now!
When school let’s out in the afternoon, we often find ourselves with time for an hour long adventure before heading home for homework, dinner and bed. It’s not enough time to see the entire city, but it is enough time for some serious fun. And, the destinations are often less crowded than they are on the weekends.
Here is the BigKidSmallCity top 7 after school adventure spots in Houston.
1. Houston Museum of Natural Science – This museum has a lot to offer. One day you can visit the Cockrell Butterfly Center, the next you can go to the Planetarium or Giant Screen Theater. And that still doesn’t cover the permanent exhibits or special exhibits. The Energy Hall is full of interactive exhibits, the new Paleontology Hall is unlike any other and the giant mural in the stairway is of a clausal squid and a whale, just like a scene in Wild Kratts. Get a membership so you can explore the Houston Museum of Natural Science, one hour at a time.
2. Houston Fire Museum - Open Tuesday through Saturday until 4:00, you will have just enough time to have fun after school. There is a great play room with the cab of a real firetruck, a fireman’s pole, fire hoses and much more. Head over right after school, let the kids wear the fireman gear and play until closing time. Stop by the gift shop to buy all your kid sized Houston Fire Department gear, including shirts and caps. If you don’t feel like cooking dinner, stop by Pho Sai Gon or one of the many Vietnamese restaurants near the Fire Museum.
3. Downtown Houston – The best part about Downtown Houston on a weekday is that you can go to the observation deck on top of the JP Morgan Chase Tower and see the city from 60 floors up and then walk through the miles of tunnels under Downtown Houston. Always open is the Big Bubble on Buffalo Bayou and it is one of the most unique things to see in Houston. Be sure to find it and have some fun. Rub shoulders with the business men and women working downtown and explore something out of the ordinary after school.
4. Children’s Museum of Houston - Much like the Houston Museum of Natural Science, you could spend days at this museum. Avoid the weekend crowds and visit after school. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday of each week. One day you can play in the water at FlowWorks, the next you can visit the little city of Kidtropolis, the next you can climb the rock wall at at Power Play, and the next you can build in the Building Zone. Get the membership so you can explore this big museum one hour at a time!
5. Local Park - There are a lot of parks in the city of Houston. Look through this 12 page list of city parks, find one near you, and enjoy some free afternoon fun. For a list of city parks, go HERE. Or just head to our favorite Hermann Park or Discovery Green. For something a little out of the ordinary, visit the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park or the Listening Vessels in Discovery Green.
6. Houston Zoo – Like the museums on the list, visiting the zoo on a weekday afternoon lets you avoid the crowds. Stop by after school cruise from the sea lions to elephants to monkeys to giraffes to the Children’s Zoo without bumping strollers. Find the piranhas and let the kids crawl through the glass aquarium tunnel. Find the chimpanzees and sit right next to them, with only the width of the glass separating you. Find the petting zoo and let the kids go wild. And so much more. Get the membership so you have the luxury of exploring the zoo one afternoon at a time.
7. Houston Fire Station – Get yourself a box of cookies and head over to your local fire station. Walk right in and ring the bell. If the firemen are around, they will come down to greet you. Give them a big thank you with your cookies and likely you will get a personal tour of the trucks. You little ones may even get to “drive”! This is certainly an afternoon well spent!
BigKidSmallCity LOVES Main Street Theater. We have been to every youth performance since Pinkalicious and are counting down the days to summer camp and the opening of Charlotte’s Web and Alice in Wonderland.
Now is the time to get discounted season tickets for next year. With the Blind Trust Subscription, you select the number of shows you want to see next season and trust that they will be good. Each untitled show has a recommended age range, so you won’t be stuck taking a 3 year old to a middle school type of show.
We know the season will be great, so we’ve purchased our tickets for the 2013 – 2014 Theater for Youth Season, at the 2012-2013 price. To learn more, go here.
From Main Street Theater’s website:
What is a Blind Trust subscription? Simply put, you place your trust in us that we will give you a great season next year, and we give you great extra benefits!
Blind Trust Benefits include:
- Subscribe at this year’s rates BEFORE they go up.
- Priority seating when the full season is announced.
- Purchase additional “guest” tickets with your seating request.
- Be the first to purchase tickets for next summer’s Season Extra!
NOTE ABOUT THE SCHEDULE
For those who are planning on a 3 or 4 show package, you will be able to select from all 5 productions regardless of what age group you plan to buy for at this time. You will also be able to increase your subscription package should you find more titles are suitable for your family’s enjoyment.
Please note that the season is being selected with the listed age groups in mind, but the schedule may be rearranged as will best fit in our schedule.
We will be announcing our season shortly after Miss Nelson is Missing closes. This form MUST be returned by Friday, April 12th to qualify for the Blind Trust Rate!
Magic School Bus: The Climate Challenge – One Day Only, March 18, 2013 at 7:00pm – Main Street Theater
The Magic School Bus Live! The Climate Challenge
Monday, March 18 at 7pm
All tickets: $8 (General Admission)
MST – Chelsea Market
Who says you can’t go out to dinner with a table full of kids? Our motto is, if the restaurant offers highchairs, then your kids belong there. And you can ignore any stares and rude comments you get from irritable patrons.
1. Mission Burritos – This fresh fast food restaurant serves up burritos, bowls, salads and more. They have a kids menu and a playground at the West Alabama location. The playground is enclosed and surrounded by tables for mom and dad. The kids can play and the parents can eat real food. Even better, from 3:00-6:00pm, there is Happy Hour for the parents and beer and margaritas start at 99¢.
2. Natachees - Located on Main Street in the funky Mid Main area, this restaurant boasts live bands, a big sandbox and a great view of the passing METRORail train. The kid meals are served in the old style metal lunch boxes you used as a kid. Mom and dad can enjoy dinner around the picnic tables while the kids run and play.
3. Breakfast Klub – There is a long line to get in, but you and your kids will be treated like family at this restaurant. On the 1st Saturday of the month, kids can bounce in the moon walks while you wait to get in to the Breakfast Klub. Once inside, you order at the counter and find your seat. With all the hub bub, no one cares if your kids make a little noise. More than this, the owner will probably come and welcome you before your waffles, chicken wings, grits and catfish are delivered to your table.
4. Pinewood Cafe – Location, location, location. This restaurant has got it. Located in Hermann Park, next to the zoo, train and pedal boats, this is the perfect place for families. Order their famous grilled cheese, sit on the patio or take a picnic to the lake.
5. Bombay Pizza – It’s not the obvious choice for a family favorite, with its fusion of Italian and Indian food, but don’t underestimate the lure of trains. Bombay Pizza is located on Main Street in Downtown, right at the Main Street Square METRORail station. You can sit outside on the patio, watch the trains go by, eat pizza and then walk the 5 blocks to Discovery Green.
Still don’t feel like messing up a restaurant? Check out the topic Picnic Spots HERE!
Due to popular demand, this week during Spring Break, Main Street Theater has added performances tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday at 9:30am for Miss Nelson is Missing! Tickets are available online or by calling 713-524-6706.
We saw this last weekend and LOVED it!
So you had big plans to visit the park and to explore Houston’s great outdoors… but it starts to pour. The kids won’t settle for staying home, so what should you do? Here are the top 7 picks for things to do when it’s raining in Houston.
1. Cockrell Butterfly Center - Head inside the Houston Museum of Natural Science and to the rain forest. Climb the stairs, gape at the giant waterfall and identify the hundreds of butterflies darting around your head. Learn about insects in the education center or play games in the play area. A trip to the Cockrell Butterfly Center lets you get “outdoors” without getting caught in the rain.
2. Houston Museum of Natural Science – Technically, the Houston Museum of Natural Science already got a mention with the Cockrell Butterfly Center, but it gets another spot on the list because there is just so much to do here. Besides visiting the butterflies, you can watch an IMAX movie, visit the planetarium or explore the exhibits. The huge new Paleontology Hall is a must see, the Chemistry Hall often has demonstrations and the Energy Hall has movies and interactive exhibits.
3. Downtown Tunnels & JP Morgan Chase Tower Observation Deck - If it’s a week day during working hours, go explore the miles of tunnels under Downtown Houston. Take METRORail to the Main Street Square Station. Walk a block south to where the tracks cross the fountain. You can duck inside the 1000 Main Street building (with UBS listed on the sign) and access the tunnels. Stop at any of the shops or restaurants and find the maps posted on the wall. Weave your way to the JP Morgan Chase Tower. From the lobby, you can take the elevator to the 60th floor observation deck. The best part is that the tunnels and tower are open to the public for free!
4. Ride METRORail End to End - I know some kids that love trains. If it’s raining outside, make a day of riding one. Park at Hermann Park, for free for 3 hours, and run over to the Hermann Park METRORail Station. Buy a ticket for $1.25 for everyone over 5 years old and jump on board the north bound train. Take the train to the end of the line at the University of Houston Downtown. Here you will jump off and board the southbound train. You can take it back to Hermann Park or keep going south towards Reliant. Feel free to bring a stroller onboard or to let the kids sit on the seats. If you get the one behind the driver, you can feel like you are driving the train.
5. Houston Fire Museum - One of the best Houston play places is inside the Houston Fire Museum. Currently housed in the old Fire Station 7, the back of the Houston Fire Museum has a kids room with fireman uniforms, real cab of a firetruck, fireman pole and more. Kids can slide down the pole, put on their gear, jump in the truck, listen to the scanner, turn on the lights, drive to the fire and put it out. There are also books, games and videos all on fire safety. This is a fantastic place to spend a rainy day.
6. Children’s Museum of Houston – I don’t think there is a “Top Picks” list for Houston that does not include the Children’s Museum. The award winning museum has a tot spot for the littlest ones and lots of interactive exhibits for the big ones. You can build, drive, shop, draw, problem solve, get wet, stay dry, climb, slide, play and just about anything else you want. This is the perfect place to get rid of all that extra energy. Just be ready for the crowds because everyone loves this museum.
7. Splash in the Puddles – If it’s not lighting and it’s not raining too hard, go outside. You’ll probably have the Houston Zoo, Hermann Park and Discovery Green to yourself. Pack some extra close and go splash in some puddles.
Need more details on each of these? Just leave a comment!
Address: 4617 Montrose Blvd, Houston, Texas 77006
Appropriate Age: Children 3 and older
Miss Nelson is Missing! is open at Main Street Theater’s Chelsea Market location from March 2 through April 6, 2013. The show is open to schools during the week and to the public on weekends and during spring break. And you need to go!
Miss Nelson is Missing! is based on the book of the same name. As the story goes, Miss Nelson’s students are constantly misbehaving and she is desperate to turn their behavior around. One day she disappears and is replaced by the mean Miss Swamp. The kids are desperate to find Miss Nelson. They hire a detective and actually study so they can not be forced to repeat the year with Miss Swamp.
This fun story comes to life at Main Street Theater. The 1 hour show, with a 15 minute intermission, is perfect for kids as young as 3 years old. All the seats are close to the stage and the kids feel like they are close to the action. We sat in the front row, on the side, and had the actors within a few feet of us.
My kids, ages 5 and 3, love Main Street Theater. They fell in love at Pinkalicious and have been to every show since. My kids will not sit through a movie but they beg to attend the youth theater shows. They dance in their seats and are wide eyed when the set is flipped around for the next scene. They have also come to recognize the actors. When the nerdy Raymond (Nick Thomas) walked across the stage, Joe whispered to me, “That’s Pinkalicious’s brother.”.
After the show, the actors sit outside and greet the children, pose for pictures and sign autographs. We buy the $3 poster to have signed and hang in the kid’s room. We like to visit the funny Chioke Coreathers and smile until he recognizes his biggest fans.
On the way home, Brooke declared that Lavita (Brittny Bush) and Kimberly (Lauren Dolk) where her favorites. I’m guessing it was Lavita’s attitude and Kimberly’s curly hair that Brooke liked best. Joe liked the funny Detective McSmogg (Alan Hall) and the terrible student George (Mark Robbins). Also in the show was Morris (Chioke Coreathers), Miss Nelson/Viola Swamp (Katie Harrison), the queasy nerd Phoebe (Jessica Knapp) and the angry nerd Raymond (Nick Thomas).
Be sure to See Miss Nelson is Missing! before it’s over on April 6. Also check out their summer camps for kids 4 and older. We had a great experience last year. But that’s no surprise; it’s Main Street Theater!
Who needs a mechanical bull when you can ride a t-rex instead? Just in time for rodeo, the Houston Museum of Natural Science has moved in this fabulous creature near the ticket counter in the Grand Hall.
For $5, kids can ride this creature for 60 seconds. Kids must be over 3 years old and under 5 feet tall and under 130 pounds. General admission is not needed to ride.
The t-rex wiggles and growls rather than bucking off the kids.
Although this is perfect for rodeo time in Houston, the trex is here to stay. If you miss him in March, you can visit him all year long.
The Listening Vessels in Downtown’s Discovery Green may be one of the coolest things in Houston. These 2 limestone sculptures have concave interiors that focus sound waves. You can sit in 1 vessel and be heard in the 2nd vessel that is 70 feet away.
These Listening Vessels are tucked away in the Wortham Foundation Gardens in Discovery Green. If you are at the playground or the stage, you may not even know they are there. If you walk over towards the Hilton, you will find these waiting to amaze you.
The BigKidSmallCity crew set out to find these on a Saturday afternoon. We took METRORail to the Main Street Square Station and walked the 5 blocks east(ish) to Discovery Green. The park was so crowded that we completely bypassed the playground and lawn. To our surprise, when we got to the secluded garden on the south side of the park, we had it all to ourselves. Not too many people venture here, but they should.
The kids sat on the little seats in the vessels and amused themselves for quite a long time. You can really speak in a normal voice on 1 side and be heard clearly 70 feet away. This unexpected part of Discovery Green made our day.