Play when School is Out… The School at St. George Place Spark Park

Dragon at St George Spark Park
Address: 5430 Hidalgo St Houston, TX 77056

The Spark Park Program develops school parks into neighborhood parks as a way to increase green space in Houston… and the gates to the The School at St. George Place Spark Park open after school activities end and throughout weekends, holidays, and summer months for everyone to enjoy.  And it has a dragon!

School at St George Place Spark Park Playground
This school is within walking distance of the Galleria Mall, but is surrounded by a residential neighborhood.  Parking could be an issue… but at not-peak times, there is some free street parking and the school’s parking lot (when school is not in session).

School at St George Parce Spark Park Dragon Playground
The park is fully fenced-in, with a view of the William’s Tower, and has several play areas.  There is a ball field, a short dirt track, a play structure by the entrance… and several more around the building.

It is in the back of the building where we found the giant dragon for climbing!

St George Spark Park Table in Shade
The park is mostly sun, but has a few shady spots and some picnic tables.

Next time you are near the Galleria or visiting Water Wall Park… and it’s not during school hours… stop at St. George Spark Park to play!

School at St George Place Spark Park Trail
 

School at St George Place Spark Park View of Galleria
 

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Give Away: More Tickets to the Children’s Museum of Houston!

It’s back to school time!  Let’s get the fall season started right with another give away!

Childrens Museum of Houston Rock Wall
To win a family 4 pack of tickets to the Children’s Museum, sign up below!  We will pick winners on Monday, August 29, 2016.

Update: Congratulations to Zuolin!

Contest Ends: August 29, 2016 at 9:00am.
Official Rules:  http://wp.me/P2efXF-9Ye



Super Saturdays at the Downtown Aquarium – Buy One Get One Free Admission for September 2016

Downtown from the Aquarium
All summer long, the Downtown Aquarium has had Two for Tuesdays with Buy One Get One Free Admission.  Now they will have Super Saturdays in September! Just print out the coupon and get half-price access to everything at the Aquarium… the rides, the aquarium and the sting ray tank!  (In the past, you have been able to use multiple coupons and also pull it up on your phone.)

Here’s the trick…. Super Saturday is on the Downtown Aquarium calendar, but you need a new coupon every month.  Usually it is in on the bottom of the homepage in one of the rectangles (and shows up on the first of the month).  

Update: The coupon is NOW up… but it is not good over Labor Day Weekend.  You can use it starting September 10.  Find the September coupon HERE!

 



The Palm Tree Park… Field Elementary Spark Park!

Field Elementary Spark Park Playground
Address: 703 E 17th St, Houston, TX 77008

“Spark Park!” my kids yelled as we drove through the Heights. When we see a Houston school, we look close for the “Spark Park” sign so we can stop and play on the playground.

Houston Spark Park Sign at Field Elementary
The Spark Park Program develops school parks into neighborhood parks as a way to increase green space in Houston. Field Elementary Spark Park gates open after school activities end and throughout weekends, holidays, and summer months for everyone to enjoy.

Field Spark Park Small Play Structure
We found free parking on the street (and probably could have parked in the lot). We ran around the fence and in to find the palm tree playground.

This school playground is in a nice neighborhood.  It has some worn-out spots… but the kids did not mind.  They played at the equipment, quickly found the fitness playground and did the monkey bars and then found the shade under the pavilion (by the basketball court).

Field Spark Park Fit Park
Most of the equipment is in full sun, so we did not stay too long… but it was a fun spot to play on our drive through the Heights!  Plus, it’s just 1.5 miles from the very very cool Travis Spark Park!

Field Spark Park Basketball Court
 

Field Spark Park Damage on Equipment
 

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Kids Rule at Discovery Green! Toddler Tuesdays, September 6-October 25, 2016, 10:30am

Toddler Tuesdays is at Discovery Green September 6 through October 25, 2016.  Every Tuesday at 10:30am, parents and kids enjoy a free story time and activities with their favorite characters.

Discovery Green Toddler Tuesday VIP
If your little kids want to rule the park, this is what you need to know:

1.  Every Tuesday from September 6 through October 25, 2016, be at Discovery Green at 10:30am. The themes, character visits and activities change each week!

2.  Want to be a VIP?  Each week, two families will win VIP Meet-and-Greet Access (for the entire Fall 2016 Season!), Discovery Green shirt and special gifts!  You must enter to win the VIP prize for each Toddler Tuesday.  Just click the links below!

3.  Want to update your home library?

Each week at Discovery Green, we have a book swap.  Bring a lightly used book and swap it for a new one!

4.  Need a lunch spot for after Toddler Tuesday?

Check out these kid friendly restaurants within walking distance of the downtown park, HERE.



Things to do in Galveston, with kids!

I moved to Houston from San Diego, where I lived right at Ocean Beach.  Each day I would walk along the water, go for a run, grab lunch from the local cafe or just sit and watch the people.

Now I’m in Houston, where some people love to not love Galveston beaches… but I really do like having it so close.  It’s a sunny and sandy getaway that is only about 45 minutes from downtown!

Whether we are looking for a beach, museum, park or restaurant, the small Galveston Island has them… and they are easy to get to!  Below are the places we’ve visited with kids (and not just a laundry list of things to do).  If you can personally recommend another spot… let us know and we’ll add it!

Scroll to the bottom for the map.

Galveston Island State Park Path
Beaches:

  • East Beach: Not far from the Seawall is East Beach on the tip of the island. It has a pavilion, playground, restrooms, showers, concessions… and alcohol is permitted and it is known for the festivals and live concerts.
  • Stewart Beach: Located right after I45 turns into Broadway… and where Broadway meets the Seawall, the beach is very easy to find. This beach has a pavilion, concessions, restrooms, showers, playground, volleyball courts and more. No alcohol is allowed on this family beach.
  • Seawall Beach: This busy beach is what you see when you drive by the hotels and restaraunts.  Street parking is metered but beach access is free.
  • West Beach: Before moving to Texas, I had never seen cars on the beach… and that first time a friend told me to drive on the sand, I thought she was insane. But now I think that cars on the beach are not beautiful, but it sure is easy.  Just drive on to the packed sand, back up to the water and have everything you need without hauling bags and chairs and coolers and kids.  And West Beach is free!
  • Galveston Island State Park: The cool thing about Galveston Island State Park is that there are not many people, showers, changing rooms, a nature center, miles of trails, camp sites, places for kayaking and more.
  • Jamaica Beach:  Like West Beach, this little section of beach has drive-on-the-beach access. The public beach is the area of sand from the vegetation line to the water’s edge.

 

Galveston Railroad Museum Trains
Museums:

  • Galveston Railroad Museum: Trains! The museum is quite big with the old depot, lots and lots of restored trains, a model train building, concessions and more.
  • Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum: The Ocean Star Museum is housed in a retired jackup drilling rig. There are three floors of models and interactive displays that show the history of offshore oil and gas. There are movies, scale models, actual drill bits, vehicles and more. There is also a third floor skywalk to the drill floor of the rig!
  • Lone Star Flight Museum: Located right next to Moody Gardens is the airplane hanger full of beautifully restored planes!

There is also the Children’s Museum… but we have not been!

 

Schreiber Flagship Park Galveston Playground
Parks (and Amusement Parks):

  • Moody Gardens: Visit the pyramids, 4D movies, small water park, ropes course or holiday events at Moody Gardens.
  • Seawolf Park: Located on the water, with an amazing playground, a Navy submarine and destroyer escort, is Seawolf Park!
  • Flagship Park: Tthis is an AMAZING Space City park.
  • Menard Park: When you are on the beach, you may not notice it because there is a rec center building on the street. Just behind this there is a splashpad, skate park, dog park and playground.

There is also Schlitterbahn… but we have not been!

 

Shrimp N Stuff Galveston Downtown
Restaurants:

  • Shrimp N Stuff: This is a family friendly restaurant with several locations in Galveston. It is a nice place that is kid friendly and has many options (in addition to shrimp!) that are under $10.
  • Board Game Island:   Just half a block off the popular Strand is a restaurant full of board games!
  • Fish Tales:   This restaurant is on the Galveston Seawall, directly across from Pleasure Pier. It’s a Landry’s restaurant (like Rainforest Cafe) and given the location, you can probably guest that it gets a lot of tourists. And since we’re tourists when we go to Galveston, we felt right at home.
  • LA Kings Confectionery:  Go back in time to this old candy story… and catch the taffy as it’s made and thrown out to the crowd!
  • Cafe Michael Burger:  Cafe Michael Burger is on the west side of Galveston off the Seawall and it is right across the street from the ocean but you still have a great view… and the burgers are good!

The Cajun Greek is highly recommended… but we have not been!

 

JoeFerry
More to Do:

  • Galveston Island Port Bolivar Ferry:  Drive right on to this free ferry!  The only catch is the wait times… so check the website to know the latest times before you go.
  • Tree Sculpture Tour:   Hurricane Ike uprooted thousands of trees in Galveston and destroyed much of the tree canopy.  Artists then turned many of these trees into whimsical art around the island.  Take a tour!

 



A really big & really good place to play… Clear Lake Park and Splashpad!

Clear Lake Park Sign
Address: 5001 E NASA Pkwy, Seabrook, TX 77586

Right on the water, on two sides of the road, is a really really good park in Clear Lake.  It’s Clear Lake Park!

This big park has playgrounds, pavilions, restrooms, a boat launch and fishing pier.  The north side has ball fields, the Bay Area Museum, and a little ninja approved playground.  The south side has an Almo-like pavilion, some brand new equipment and a splashpad.

Bay Area Museum Clear Lake Park
We visited on a weekend and went to the north side first.  Here we found a few families enjoying the park, fitness playground and the really good playground!

The equipment is in great condition and my kids, the American Ninja Warrior fans, tell me it’s ninja approved.  There are some very cool monkey bars, bridges and climbing walls that are challenging for the kids.  Little kids can also play on the smaller toddler playground.

Clear Lake Park Playground
The breeze off the lake made playing enjoyable and we did ninja obstacles for quite some time.

We drove by the museum (but did not go in) and also read that there is an ancient Indian burial ground believed to be ancestors to the Akokisa Indians somewhere nearby in the park (but did not go).

Clear Lake Park Big Play Structure
There is a busy road in between the two sides of the park, so we packed up the car and drove over… and the south side was the wild side!

Clear Lake Park Toddler Playground
A lot of people were enjoying this side of the park.  Picnics, parties, families… there were people (and Pokeman players) everywhere!

Here we found some amazing playgrounds under construction.  And I mean amazing.

Clear Lake Park Pavilion
There giant play areas with “access for all” with ramps, a dragon, boat and more.  This playground is also right on the water, so the cool breeze really helps to cool off the kids.

I read that there is also a splashpad… but we did not walk far enough!  I saw it after we left… and I really hate missing splashpads!  (If you go, tell us about the splashpad!)

Next time you are near Clear Lake, take the kids to this really really good park!

Clear Lake Park Boat Playground
 

Clear Lake Park Playground Under Construction
 

Clear Lake Park Fishing Pier
 

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NOW FULL: Reserve Your Spot for a Back to School Party at Gallery Furniture! August 16, 2016 (North Freeway) and August 19, 2016 (Grand Parkway)!

Update: The events are NOW FULL!!

Help us celebrate summer and prepare for a great school year with TWO Back-to-School Parties at Gallery Furniture!

One party will be on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at the 6006 North Fwy, Houston, TX 77076 and the other will be Friday, August 19, 2016 at 7227 West Grand Parkway South, Richmond, TX 77407! Both are 11:00am-1:00pm.

Gallery Furniture Playplace
At North Freeway on August 16, kids will get to see the monkeys and exotic birds, make crafts, race down the giant slides, jump on mattresses and eat as much lunch as their parents allow!

At Grand Parkway on August 19, kids will get to see the serval (wild cat) and birds, make crafts, watch sharks swim, jump on mattresses and eat as much pizza and ice cream as their parents allow!  Jessica, with Happy Family, will be there with treats and crafts, Elizabeth with have Cheeky Days crafts, and Tamara, with KatyMomsBlog.com, will be there to welcome everyone!

And both are FREE to those that get a spot!

If you want to join us on August 16 and/or August 19, you must:

1. Fill out the form below.  (For August 16, sign up and then join us… we have spots available and you do NOT need to wait for confirmation!)
2. Be one of the first 100 to respond at each location. Emails are sent within 24 hours and come directly from Jill.  (We will close when they are full… so we have crafts and food for everyone!)
3. Understand that the animals will only come out to meet the kids if they are in good moods. If they are too overwhelmed, they will stay in their cages/rooms!  Kids will be able to see them no matter what.
4. Understand that food is prepared onsite and cooked as fast as possible for all the guest. (At Grand Parkway, this is gourmet pizza from Brick and Mortar!) Please do not complain about the free lunches… it reflects badly on me as your host.
5. If you get a spot, bring your kids to Gallery Furniture! (Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at the 6006 North Fwy, Houston, TX 77076 and Friday, August 19, 2016 at 7227 West Grand Parkway South, Richmond, TX 77407) The events are FREE.  (For August 16, sign up and then join us… we have spots available and you do NOT need to wait for confirmation!)
6. Make every effort to attend. Since spaces are limited and we want as many kids to get a chance as possible. If you need to cancel, email me at Jill @ BigKidSmallCity.com.



Blue skies, clear water, exciting water slides, dolphins, sharks, pools… Paradise Island in the Bahamas!

Want a taste of Paradise? Then come with us to Paradise Island in the Bahamas!

Last winter, I made the mistake (or not!) to show my son a commercial video for the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island. It shows blue sky, clear water, exciting water slides, dolphins, sharks, pools… and he was sold! He just loved it so much that it was all he could talk about so I started looking into it for a summer vacation.

Paradise Island Clear Water
Along the way, I tried to sell him other destinations maybe closer to Texas and every time he asked the same questions: Can you swim with dolphins? Can you take a water slide in a shark tank? Can you snorkel in crystal clear water? Invariably, I had to say no to one of these questions and so we always went back to Atlantis!

Paradise Island Bahamas in the Water with Fish
The Atlantis resort is only 3 hours away by plane but you will feel like a world away. It is huge and absolutely beautiful, lush, clean and with views of turquoise water everywhere. They offer different hotel towers ranging from moderate to luxury. I will mention the prices in a little bit but first let’s focus on the dreamy paradisiac part!!

When we first arrived, we felt like we were never going to find our way around but no matter what wrong way we took we were sure to find some great aquariums or pools! Aquaventure is their water park that is open from 10am until 7pm and it has 8 water slides, a lazy river and a rapids river. The Leap of Faith slide is the craziest of all and we enjoyed watching people screaming and proud to have done it! My husband did it twice and I knew that there was no way I would slide almost vertically into a tunnel in a shark aquarium!

Paradise Island Shark
They have fairly strict rules for the rides so your child has to be 48 inches minimum. For the little ones, they have small slides and 3 fun kids’ pools with games and structures. Then you have the Paradise Lagoon with sand and clear water so you can see colorful fish swim around you. My son absolutely loved this! He wore a life jacket (free and found everywhere throughout the resort) so he could wander around the lagoon with my husband while I sat on a beach chair in the water surrounded by white or yellow fish. You can buy fish food but they let us feed them bread crusts or crackers. It was amazing to hand feed the fish. It was the first time for me and our son to do that and it was as incredible as I thought.

Paradise Island Bahamas Feet in Sand with Fish in Clear Water
And then, if that is not enough, they have 3 beaches with white sand and clear water. One had strong waves and was quickly deep, one had medium size waves and our favorite one was completely calm and had a slow slope where you could watch the fish. As a matter of fact, we also saw a sea turtle there! The resort was crowded but the beach was mostly quiet and we almost felt like the only ones there as you can see on the picture!

Paradise Island Atlantis Resort
Once you are done with the water fun, walk around the resort and discover all their aquariums. The Dig is an underground adventure which takes you into the world of Atlantis. The Predator lagoon takes you through caves-like aquariums and a tunnel where sharks swim over you. They have so many fish, so many ponds, so many aquariums that it is sure to keep you entertained. They went all out with the details and it is really beautiful to walk through the resort. Dolphin Cay is another lagoon with dolphins and you can book your interactions with them.  (The dolphins were rescued from the New Orleans Aquarium when Katrina hit.) My husband and son did the shallow-water interaction and loved their dolphin who was so friendly and fun. It was their best moment and most unforgettable one.

Paradise Island Bahamas Palm Trees
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Creekwood Park and Pool in The Woodlands!

Creekwood Park The Woodlands Playground Slide
Address: S Panther Creek Dr, The Woodlands, TX 77381

We’re continuing to explore The Woodlands… and have found another good park and pool! It’s Creekwood Park and Pool!

This park has free parking, lots of trees, play structures, basketball courts, tennis courts, ball fields, bike/skateboard ramps, picnic tables, restrooms and a pool!

Creekwook Park The Woodlands Playground
On a hot weekday morning, we had the playground to ourselves.  It’s surrounded by trees… but is still in the sun.  (I bet this cool equipment gets busier in better weather!)

There is a small play structure, a big play structure… and both look new, have bright colors and have lots of slides and things to do.

Right next to the playground are the restrooms, pavilion and picnic tables.

Creekwood Park The Woodlands Pavilion
Around the corner are the bike/skateboard ramps and courts… and in between is another great pool!

Creekwood Park The Woodlands Skateboard Ramps
The Woodlands Pools are open to residents and non-residents… and you just need to pay the admission fee.  At the time of this post, it is $6 per person for all pools, except for the big Rob Fleming Pool.

Now, apparently my kids have been to “tooooooo many” pools this week, because they just could not do one more.  (Sounds like a very serious problem, huh?)  So I just looked in longingly at the puma rock slide, baby pool, big pool, slides and diving boards.

Creekwood Park Pool The Woodlands
This pool was a lot less crowded than Rob Fleming… but I did not take too many pictures because families were swimming.  I did not want to be the lady with a camera… taking pictures of kids from outside the fence.  (I should tell me kids my problems are bigger than theirs.)

All kidding aside, this is another great park and pool.  If you go to the pool, tell me how great it was!

Find more Houston parks:



A "Houston Parents Magazine" Resource - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - For Things to Do for Fall 2016: CLICK HERE
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