Tips for visiting Space Center Houston with kids!

Are you planning to visit Space Center Houston? Houston mom, Ashley, just took her kids and has tips for strollers, lunch and exploring this giant place!

Depending on who you ask in my family (husband, Patton 4 and Crosby 2), the best part of our mini staycation is a toss up! First we spent a whole day on the Kemah Boardwalk, riding rides and eating too much food.

We stayed the night at the Kemah Boardwalk Inn which was a nice hotel within walking distance of everything you could want to do on the Boardwalk.

The next day we went to NASA and it was truly awe inspiring!

The Space Center entrance fee is by far one of the more expensive things we paid for during our mini staycation. Luckily our sons were both free (because 4 and under are free).

My husband and I had not been to NASA in over 8 years. At first we thought it was going to be a bust until my son Patton lead the way. We walked (or should I say ran) through most of the exhibit areas until he saw the virtual reality simulators. So after promising he could ride after lunch, he finally slowed down and allowed everyone else to enjoy the surroundings.

We had an overly expensive lunch in the food court because outside food is not allowed. If it had not been raining off and on all day we could have picnicked at the tables located by the front entrance. We did however bring in water bottles with no issue.

There wasn’t really anything specific that I would say stood out as extraordinary because it was all pretty interesting. We rode the blue tram tour and saw the historic mission control and the Saturn V rocket. My husband said that if you haven’t seen the Saturn V it is a must! The tram ride was a long (a little over an hour) for an overly tired 4 and 2 year old but they hung in there.

A few pointers:

  • Arrive at opening so you can see everything!
  • There are lockers outside the building but there is no stroller storage or anything like that. So if you ride the tram you can either park the stroller unattended or you can bring it to your car. I harness my 2yr old on my back instead of messing with a stroller.
  • No outside food is allowed (but we did bring in bottle water).  You can picnic outside.
  • You can buy either size drink cups and they are free refills but if you buy the souvenir cup it can be used every time you go to NASA.
  • Make sure you plan ahead and schedule the tram tour you want. If you do a walk on, your wait could be an hour or more.
  • If you want to skip the gift shop like we did, pre-purchase space themed books and toys to be given during the trip. We bought Patton a rocket backpack, dye-cast space shuttle, and 2 books. Crosby got a lego Duplo rocket set. They were so happy with what they already had that they never even thought to ask for anything from the gift shop.
  • Our favorite spots were the old displays with the moon rock samples, the astronaut suits, and the lunar lander display.  It caught our 4 year old’s imagination!

It was a very long day that seemed to end in a rush to see everything. Next time we will come at opening instead of 11:30am when we arrived.

At first glance it seems very overwhelming, but as you travel to each area you find there are a lot of little things going on. There are displays, videos and a few odd and end activities in each area.

I know our children are younger than the target audience but my husband and I were disappointed in the corporate sponsorship of the angry birds area with tablets. It took away from the reason we were there… SPACE EXPLORATION!

Next time we will be sure to look for the old displays with the moon rock samples, the astronaut suits, and the lunar lander display. This was the one area that really caught Patton’s imagination! It didn’t have all the bells and whistles and electronics of some of the other areas, so it left more room for discussion and reflection. You would be surprised how much a 4yr old can retain about a topic when his interest is peeked!

With all the interference from technology (cellphones and tablets), NASA was surprisingly a great place to unplug, unwind, and enjoy traveling to a different world. We will definitely go again!


Tour Navy Ships, Fish & Play at Seawolf Park on Pelican Island/Galveston

Address: 100 Seawolf Pkwy, Galveston, TX 77551
Cost: $6/car, plus admission to tour the ships or fish

I don’t know which is better… touring the Navy ships or playing at the awesome playground at Seawolf Park.    One of our favorite things to do on Galveston day trips is stopping by this Pelican Island Park.

Seawolf Park has popular fishing piers, picnic spots, the Undersea Warfare Center and the great playground.  From Broadway Street in Galveston, there is a long, nearly deserted, road that takes you from the busy beaches to this park.

When you pull up, there is a booth to pay for parking and admission to the ships.  (You can get the current rates HERE.)  On one side of the parking lot are the ships… and on the other is the playground.

And what a playground!

There are lots of climbing structures that let you start on one edge and climb your way to the other, without touching the ground.  My little ninja warriors tell me it is top notch.

The playground is right by the fishing piers and the water… and is also in full sun… so once we are hot we head to the ships for some shade and air conditioning.

The WWII submarine, the USS Cavalla, and one of only three destroyer escorts in the world, the USS Stewart are on dry land and open for your to tour.  (Parts of these old ships are also air conditioned.)

Restroom trucks (with water) are by the ships and port-a-potties are everywhere else in the park… so probably you want to go to see the ships!

Next time you are in Galveston, check out this out-of-the-way park. It was not too far from the busy beaches… but a really great addition to our Galveston day trip!

For more things to do in Galveston, with kids, go HERE!

 

 

Find more Houston Parks:


Discount Code for the Harlem Globetrotters at NRG or Berry Center, July 8-9, 2017!

The Harlem Globetrotters are playing NRG Arena on July 8 and Berry Center on July 9, 2017… and I have a discount code!! (And I just found discounted tickets on affiliate Goldstar HERE and HERE!)

The games are:
NRG Arena (Houston)
Sat., July 8, 2017 @ 2pm
Sat., July 8, 2017 @ 7pm

Berry Center (Northwest Houston/Cypress)
Sun., July 9, 2017 @ 3pm

SAVE $7 with Code: COURT! Find tickets HERE.  Or try these discounted tickets on affiliate Goldstar HERE and HERE!


Nature Connects at the Houston Zoo… Open Now through September 4, 2017

Have you seen the Lego bricks at the Houston Zoo?  At Nature Connects, you can see giant animals made from more than 770,000 LEGO bricks!

Members can enter Nature Connects for $3.95 per person (includes unlimited Texas Direct Auto Wildlife Carousel & Nature Connects All-Day Pass).  Others can purchase a special ticket at the front gate:

Adult $19.95 – Includes Zoo admission, all-day Nature Connects entry, and a conservation bracelet
Child $19.95 – Includes Zoo admission, all-day Nature Connects entry, a conservation bracelet, and unlimited Texas Direct Auto Wildlife Carousel rides

 

My kids are big Lego fans, so they really liked to see the sculptures and read about the number or bricks and hours it took to build.  As we walked through we saw the Hummingbird, Dodo Bird, Snow Leopard, Chameleon, Rhinoceros, Whooping Crane, Coral Reef, Polar Bear, Monarch Butterfly, Sea Turtle, Wildebeest and Zebra.

See our pictures below!

 

 

 

 


Easy Houston Day Trip or Staycation… Visiting the Kemah Boardwalk with Kids!

Are you heading to Kemah for some waterside family fun?  If you are like me, you’d rather get advice from another parent than from advertising pamphlets…  So when Houston mom Ashley came back from her little roadtrip, we asked her to tell us about it!

In her own words, here are Ashley’s tips for visiting Kemah, with kids!

My family (husband and 2 sons, Patton 4 and Crosby 2) went to Kemah on Sunday and stayed at the Kemah Boardwalk Inn.  We bought a Groupon for 2 all day ride passes and a $50 meal card to any Landry’s.  ($172 = 4 all day ride passes + $100 meal card). Let me tell you, it was AMAZING!)  Be watching Groupon for when it pops back up!

It was a mellow rainy off and on kind of day. We requested early check in with not problem. So instead of checking in at 4pm, we checked in at 11am! (Being nice goes a long way!)

We had lunch at the Cadillac Grill. The food was good, the staff was okay. But let’s face it, you only eat outside on a patio for the view, not the service.

After a brief nap in the hotel, we rode rides until around 4pm. The carousel and the train were the only things I brought Crosby (2) on but they do have a small ferries wheel as well. My husband and Patton (4) rode almost all the rides he was tall enough to ride (over 48″).

We had dinner at the Aquarium Restaurant with a great view of the tank and by a window so we could see the rain and the waves. The food was great and our server was very accommodating and attentive. Patton decided he didn’t want to pet the stingrays because rides were more important.

So round two of the rides included more train and carousel rides for Crosby and myself, and more of everything else for Patton and my husband. We ended the night at the ice cream shop located a few doors down from the hotel entrance. We sat outside on the patio and listened to the band finish up for the night.

On a side note of extra goodness in Kemah…..There was an attendant sweeping by the ferris wheel while Crosby and I watched my husband and older son Patton ride. The attendant saw Crosby was interested in the broom, so the man said hello. I apologized and explained that Crosby is autistic and nonverbal and probably wouldn’t acknowledge him.

The man smiled, said that was okay, and went along with his business. I looked up to watch the ferris wheel again and when I looked back down, the man was on his knees talking to Crosby. They played and made sounds at each other while giggling. It was a wonderful feeling to have a stranger take the time to not only acknowledge Crosby, but to go out of his way and play with him.

We woke up Monday morning and walked next door to the little restaurant and had a wonderful breakfast, loaded the car, and set off for our next adventure, NASA!

We spent more money than we do on a typical day, but but it was our one night staycation splurge… And pretty small splurge for a vacation. We are already planning our next trip to Kemah in the fall after school gets back in session!


Give Away: Family Plus Membership to the Children’s Museum of Houston!

The Children’s Museum of Houston’s “Sci-Fi Summer” will take you to infinity and beyond!

Now through Labor Day weekend, take off on an out-of-this world adventure where imagination and reality collide. Come to the Children’s Museum of Houston to explore the endless possibilities of time, space and mind-boggling discoveries where there are no limits to where you’re going, even if it means doing it all over again.

AND you could visit all year for FREE with our Children’s Museum Family Plus Membership Give Away!  Just register to win below!

The Family Plus Membership includes free admission for up to six individuals living in the same household ages 1 and older. Plus..

  • Members’ First Friday – No reserved school groups the first Friday of the month.
  • FREE admission to more than 300 participating ASTC (Travel Passport Program institutions nationwide).
  • Your membership will also be honored at the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center.

Get the membership details HERE!

Update:  Congratulations to Patricia V and Olivia G!

Contest Ends: June 27, 2017
Official Rules: http://www.bigkidsmallcity.com/official-contest-rules-141/


Discount Code for the Harlem Globetrotters at NRG or Berry Center, July 8-9, 2017!

The Harlem Globetrotters are playing NRG Arena on July 8 and Berry Center on July 9, 2017… and I have a discount code!!

The games are:
NRG Arena (Houston)
Sat., July 8, 2017 @ 2pm
Sat., July 8, 2017 @ 7pm

Berry Center (Northwest Houston/Cypress)
Sun., July 9, 2017 @ 3pm

SAVE $7 with Code: COURT! Find tickets HERE.


Give Away: Family Four Pack to Sugar Land Skeeters Game!

Who wants to go see the Sugar Land Skeeters?  Games are family friendly and Constellation Field even has a playland and splashpad… plus tickets start at just $9!

Not only that, but one family will get to go for free!  To win four tickets to any game this season, register below.

Update:  Congratulations to Caleb R!

Contest Ends: June 20, 2017
Official Rules: http://www.bigkidsmallcity.com/official-contest-rules-140/


Give Away: Tickets to Garbage Island 3.0!

Garbage Island 3.0 is the only original live sketch comedy show in Houston for children ages 2 –6 years old (with lots of laughs for Mom and Dad, too!)… and I have tickets to give away!

July 8 – 29
10:30 am, Saturdays
Rec Room, 100 Jackson Street, Houston, Texas 77002
$10 per ticket, includes drink (mimosa, coffee, juice box)
Get all the details HERE.

If you want to win 4 tickets to any available show, register below!

Update:  Congratulations to Georgia C!

Contest Ends: June 23, 2017
Official Rules: http://www.bigkidsmallcity.com/official-contest-rules-139/


ALL the Kids Agree: Dolphin Tours in Galveston are Great!

My kids don’t always agree. In fact, they probably disagree on what to do for fun more than they agree… but we found something that everyone liked to do!

 

After seeing a segment on Houston Life, we decided to head down to Galveston for the Bay  Watch Dolphin Tour!

This 45 minute tour heads out from Galveston’s Pier 21 and is for all ages. Adults are $10, kids are $5 and babies are free.

We rolled up, parked in the paid lot ($4/hour), bought our tickets and were on the boat a few minutes later. (The boat leaves on the hour, every hour.)

It wasn’t long until we were in the bay and dolphins were swimming by our boat! I don’t know what it is like every day, but we saw a lot of them close to us!

On this boat, you could sit on the front, inside in the middle or on the back. On the front you are in full sun and cannot stand up. In the middle, you are sheltered and can probably hear the tour guide clearly and in the back, where we sat, there was some shade, a great view of the dolphins and a lot of noise. It was hard to hear the tour guide… but I think we got the best look at the dolphins!

I also noticed other tours that were all outdoor shaded seating. These were slightly more expensive ($12 and $8… but some had kids under 5 were free… so do the math for your family and decide which is best).

All of the tours see the same bay, the dolphins and get to learn more about the places you see along the shore.

For us, it was a great hour of dolphin watch and EVERYONE was pleased with the trip!


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