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I am so excited to have another guest post today from Davi at Homegrown Simplicity! I want to share so many great travel tips with you all, but I can’t visit everywhere! I wish… So Davi is sharing with us her best secrets to exploring her hometown of Houston with a toddler!
4 Stress-Free Ways to Explore Houston with a Toddler
Staycation is the theme of my family’s summer. Baby #2 will be joining this world, so a newborn and toddler really limits our travel. A value I hold dearly is experiences- both for myself and my family. Travel is an important aspect of our lives because those moments we experience together create memories. Although we won’t be exploring other countries and states, we will explore our own hometown- Houston, Texas. Luckily, our city has so much to offer as one of the most diverse cities in the US.
A few tried and true favorites will be our destination this summer. We tend to choose outdoor activities for family time and Houston boasts quite a few outdoor destinations. I’m hoping quality time with my daughter will help the transition to becoming a “big sister”. My favorite toddler-friendly activities around the city are:
Hermann Park is one of my favorite places to visit with my toddler. Our ideal day includes a picnic around Lake Plaza, where we feed the ducks and watch the paddle boats (I’m not yet ready to venture into a paddle boat with my toddler, so we watch for now!). The huge oak trees shade the picnic tables, but there is also a cafe around the lake where you can grab lunch with a view.
A train runs all through the park and admission is only $2. This is my daughter’s favorite activity and she loves waving at people as we pass by. At one point in the ride, the train goes through a colorful tunnel with murals painted by a local artist. The train makes several stops along the park, so you can hop on and off at different attractions.
We still haven’t explored all 445 acres and attractions, so the park will keep us entertained with new discoveries this summer!
The Houston Zoo is technically part of Hermann Park, but it deserves its own recognition. We have a membership, so we visit about once a month. The first stop is always the aquarium. “Fish” are my daughter’s favorite animal right now and she loves watching all the fish in the tanks. The sea lions are next and sometimes we arrive just in time to catch a show. Near the bird exhibits, chickens roam free (I’d love to learn why there are random chickens at the zoo). The chickens impress my toddler more than the exotic, tropical birds! A picnic lunch breaks up the day and for the adults, the zoo sells local craft beer.
Dressed as a cowgirl last fall for Halloween- watching the chickens.
A petting zoo is located inside the Children’s Zoo. The goats terrify my daughter (nightmare level fear), but there are also cows inside stables that kids can “pet”. A huge splash pad is a great way to cool off in the summer and we don’t leave the Children’s Zoo without a ride on the carousel. Nearby, the kids can feed the giraffes, similar to the Naples Zoo.
A quick drive south of Houston is Galveston Island. Driving over the bridge between the mainland and the island prompts the windows to be rolled down to welcome the saltwater air. Galveston offers so many activities for families and is a destination within itself. However, as “locals” we tend to stay away from the “touristy” spots and keep it simple. We park right along the sea wall and walk down to the beach to claim our spot for the morning/afternoon. My toddler stays entertained playing in the sand, watching dogs jog with their owners down the beach, and mesmerized by the kites that other kids bring.
Snacks, juice, and people watching on Galveston beach.
A free ride on the Bolivar ferry is a great way to kill an hour and my toddler loves the trip. The ferry transports drivers to the nearby Bolivar Peninsula, but we usually park our car and ride as foot passengers. The front viewing deck is a great place to see dolphins swimming in the water. Once we reach the peninsula, we stay on the ferry and ride it back to Galveston.
Discovery Green is an urban park in the heart of downtown Houston. One of the most popular attractions is the Gateway Fountains, a huge splash pad for the kids. A shaded playground is nearby, and in the spring the park offers Toddler Tuesdays- free cultural programs once a week for toddlers. Discovery Parks hosts many festivals and music events. Nearby food trucks make for a delicious, quick lunch. The food trucks are a great way to sample the cities culinary choices (the food is my favorite part about living in Houston- recently named as the next global food mecca.
Have you ever traveled to Houston? Visited Houston with a toddler? What is your favorite memory from your trip?
Davi is a wife and a stay at home mom to a toddler aged daughter “E” (with another daughter due any day now). In between diaper changes and trips to the playground, she writes over at Homegrown Simplicity about simple living and minimalism with a family. She is passionate about helping mothers craft more intentional days for themselves and their families. In her free time you can find her hiking, watching Netflix, and enjoying time in the backyard with her family.