Last spring when the school schedule was posted for the next two years on the district website, I started researching the best places to go during each of the school breaks. I like to plan ahead and I love to think about where in the country is the best place to visit during that time of year. Last year we spent Columbus Day weekend in Michigan visiting family after flying into Chicago!
This year I was determined to take my kids back to Niagara Falls for the long weekend. Since they are old enough to appreciate it more, I thought early fall would be a great time to see it! I also knew I wanted them to see the Falls from the Canadian side on our next trip back. I figured if we were lucky we might get to throw in a trip to see my sister in upstate NY too.
Even without the ability to travel to Canada this time around, we considered asking B’s mom how she felt about us flying somewhere. But with the kids in school and wanting to avoid any of them having to miss school if they get exposed to any crazy germs, we decided once again to stick a little closer to home. As hard as it was to accept, we decided to pick somewhere we could drive to since it was only a long weekend.
We debated between Oklahoma, the Texas Hill Country and the Houston Space Center for several weeks until finally E and I asked the kids last Monday to take a vote. Apparently they have been watching space videos at school this past week and they all unanimously voted for the Space Center. B had been there before, but it was still his first choice. He reflected that he was older and could appreciate it more now then the last time. And while I had been to the Kennedy Space Center, I had not visited the Houston one and thought it would definitely be worth a visit!
We looked into Airbnb’s for this trip, but after pricing them and watching Hurricane Delta heading towards the coastline, we decided we had better book hotel rooms that were refundable. Luckily when we checked Thursday, it looked like the hurricane was not going to hit Houston with much more than rain, so we did not have to change our plans.
I have mentioned before that we have several museum memberships that have reciprocity and the Science and Technology Centers membership includes the Houston Space Center. This meant that the only cost for this trip would be lodging and food. So we reserved our timed tickets and after a half day of school on Friday made the short (several hour) trek to Houston to check into our hotel.
We planned to arrive at the Space Center mid-morning on Saturday so after hot breakfast at the hotel we set out. One of the perks of membership is that you get to bypass the line at most museums and science centers so we skirted past dozens of people hoping for tickets to head right in when we arrived.
We avoided the simulators (tight spaces overdosed on cleaning supplies) and let the kids explore the exhibits.
They enjoyed listening to how the astronauts eat, sleep and use the bathroom in space and figuring out how much they would weigh on other planets. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the tram to see the Johnson Space Center and the Apollo Mission Control Center.
After a day of exploring at the Space Center, we ate at an amazing Ramen restaurant and headed back to the hotel for popcorn and a movie night.
On Sunday morning, we once again had a leisurely start to the day, not meeting up with B and E until 10am. We decided to head to Galveston to see the beach and the gulf first. It was definitely a hot morning, so we didn’t beach walk. Instead, we just spent a few minutes taking in the view!
Afterwards, we decided to head for Kemah Boardwalk to see the Aquarium and have lunch. The kids got excited about eating beside the 200 different species of fish. None of them remembered eating at the Aquarium Restaurant in Nashville during our years living in Tennessee, so it was very entertaining.
After lunch we walked the boardwalk. We let the kids each pick a ride to ride. The boys decided to head for the wooden roller coaster while the girls and I took a leisurely train ride. By the time we finished, everyone was ready to head to the car.
We decided to drive into downtown Houston to see the Water Wall (which was off) and to grab dinner at a restaurant that I remembered from when we stayed in Houston a few years ago. We had a fantastic dinner at BellaGreen and I learned that they even have a location in Dallas now! We will definitely be heading there soon!
We ended the day with popcorn and another movie night before heading back to our rooms to get a good night’s rest!
Monday morning we made the trek back to Fort Worth after a hot hotel breakfast made just for us (no really, we were late and they were done, but they made us fresh waffles anyways… haha). The kids learned some history about Sam Houston on the ride. And I used the time in the car to catch up on grading graduate school papers. We made it home in time for a late afternoon lunch and a walk through the neighborhood with friends to mentally prepare for another week of school!
While I highly recommend the Houston Space Center, I don’t know if Houston really needed a full weekend. Since our goal was to have a relaxing, low stress weekend after six very full weeks of working, it was exactly what we needed. But if we make a trip back to see the lights at the Space Center this fall, we might not stay for as long as we did this trip!