Super Secret Downtown Houston Adventure

Whenever someone in our family has a birthday, we hit the streets of  Houston for a scavenger hunt adventure. Last week was Grandpa Papa’s birthday, so Joe got to planning his super-secret birthday adventure. He would not tell Papa what was on the schedule, just to meet at our house on Saturday morning. Each time Joe would talk about it, he’d have to cover his mouth with his arm, and pretend to cough, because he didn’t want to give away any details with his smile.

The reason this is especially funny is because the adventure he planned was essentially the same as the one we had for cousin Jake last January!  It wasn’t really a super-secret adventure, but it was certainly enough fun to repeat for a second time.

We drew up a list of things we had to do on our adventure. It included:

  • High five the birthday boy.
  • Perform your favorite song.
  • Find a big sandbox.
  • Ride a train.
  • Find a wall of water.
  • Find a real shark.
  • Go below a stingray tank.
  • Ride on an animal.
  • Sing happy birthday while upside down.
  • Tickle the birthday boy.
  • Take a picture of a sky scraper.
  • Kiss your mom.
  • Find a cookie cake.
  • Get home before the Husker’s game.

When Papa and our cousins arrived at our house, we started down the list. The high fives and tickles were easy. Our cousin the cheerleader performed her favorite cheer. Joe and Brooke danced and sang “Call Me Maybe”.


Next we piled in the minivan and parked near Natachee’s. We paid for a day of parking ($3 on weekends) and headed to the Natachee’s to check “Find a big sandbox” off our list.

After the kids played and ate lunch, we walked across the street to the HCC/Ensemble METRORail Station. I bough tickets for those of us over 5 ($1.25 each) and we jumped on the next northbound train. On ride, we checked off “Ride a train”.

We jumped off at the Preston Station and walked two blocks south(ish) and about five blocks west(ish) to the Downtown Aquarium. Check out the Downtown map HERE.

After walking through the Theater District, we crossed over Buffalo Bayou. Here we stopped to “take a picture of a sky scraper” and “take a picture of a bayou”.  The Downtown Aquarium also has a huge “Wall of Water” that we saw from the bridge.

At the Aquarium, we used our Buy-One-Get-One-Free coupons so each person could walk through the Aquarium and ride all the rides for  $8.00 each. The coupons are frequently available on the Downtown Aquarium WEBSITE.

Inside the Aquarium, there is a place to pet stingrays and sharks. There is also a place to crawl under a sting ray tank, so we checked that off the list.

Outside the Aquarium, there is a Shark Voyage train ride that takes visitors through a tunnel surrounded by sharks. As the sharks swam over our heads, we checked off that item. While we had waited for the train to pick us up, we had flipped over and sang “Happy Birthday while upside down”, giving us another check mark.

Next we jumped on the carousel and rode on dolphins, sea horses and sharks and checked “ride on an animal” off the list.

We then walked back to METRORail and back to our car. At home, the kids found the cookie cake and sang to Papa.   Just before Papa left so he could “get home before the Husker’s game”, I pointed out that somehow, someone had added “kiss your mom” to the list. I had *no idea* how it got there, but my kids all had to kiss me.

The kiss sealed the deal for me.  It was an awesome Super-Secret Downtown Adventure.  James’s first birthday is on Wednesday… I wonder where in Houston his adventure will take us!


  1. Sounds like lots of fun. Thanks for sharing!

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