Houston with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

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Houston with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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You may have finicky kids at hand, but there's plenty to see and do when you head to Houston with your tweens for that perfect family vacation day.

Morning

Wake up early to load up on a hearty Texas-sized breakfast the kids will love at The Breakfast Klub 3711 Travis Street; 713-528-8561 in Midtown Houston. Even if you do arrive late and have to wait in line outside, it's not uncommon for the gracious hosts to greet you with a mug of coffee. Your tweens will love the unique (and surprisingly tasty) combination of wings and waffles. Another local favorite is their catfish and grits. The Breakfast Klub is a hip place in Houston to have a fun, relaxed breakfast with your tweens.

Located just 30 minutes from downtown Houston is the George Ranch Historical Park 10215 FM 762, Richmond, TX; 281-343-0218, a 23,000-acre working ranch settled in 1824. The park is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9AM-5PM. The perfect time to visit is before the sweltering Texas heat sets in. The ranch provides an authentic glimpse of Texas history, where the legends and legacies of those who shaped the area come to life. Within the working ranch is a 480-acre living history site, offering hands-on experience and interactive tales of folklore, sure to be a hit on any Houston family vacation.

The oldest interactive exhibit at George Ranch is the 1830s Jones Stock Farm, home to one of the earliest families to settle in the area. Here you will see a replica of the Jones family's original cabin, farm buildings, barn and smokehouse. Your tweens can even work with the oxen team as they harvest and glean the fields of seasonal crops or help rustle the wide range of livestock living on the ranch. The kids will never complain about doing the dishes again! On Saturdays, the 1830s Jones Stock Farm offers a delicious Texas-style barbecue, complete with biscuits, sides and delectable desserts like peach or blackberry cobbler and apple pudding.

Also at the George Ranch is 1890s Davis House, a 19th century home that showcases Victorian Texas. Complete your tour of the Ranch by learning about sharecropping and blacksmithing. George Ranch today continues as a working ranch, and your tweens will certainly gain tremendous appreciation for the hardworking attitude of these early settlers and hopefully bring some of that attitude back following your family travel to Houston.

Afternoon

48,317 restaurants boast about having the "Best BBQ in Texas," but The Swinging Door restaurant 3818 FM359, Richmond, TX; 281-342-4758 is a legitimate title contender. Its rustic, rural location near the George Ranch Historical Park adds to its authenticity. The family run, traditional Texas barbecue restaurant has been in these parts since 1973. Your tweens will have tasty memories of Houston thanks to Texas delicacies like beef brisket, pork ribs, chicken, sausage, and turkey breast. All are slow-smoked over Pecan embers and served with homemade cole slaw, baked beans and all the fixins. The Swinging Door is open Wed-Thu and Sun from 11AM-9PM and Fri-Sat from 11AM-10PM.

After a hearty barbecue lunch, head toward the southern perimeter of Houston, leaving the history behind and blasting into the future at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

On July 20, 1969, the first words astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered after landing on the moon were "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Houston continues to play an exciting role in space exploration, and the Johnson Space Center, 1601 NASA Parkway; 281-244-2100 will be one of the best family vacation stops you make in Houston. Located in the Clear Lake area of Houston, there are a wide variety of things to do at the Center. Start with the tram tour, which provides a nice overview, allowing you to see a behind-the-scenes peek of the historic Mission Control Center. Remember, this is a tour of a working facility, so you might get a chance to see astronauts training for upcoming missions. A visit to Mission Status Center provides a live update on current space flights and astronaut training activities. No vacation to Houston with tweens is complete without seeing the IMAX movie of a mock space launch, complete with rocket boosters and billowing exhaust, seen only at the Johnson Space Center. Adults and children over 11 are $19.95 at the gate, but you can save $5 on admission with advance tickets on the website.

Just a few minutes from the Johnson Space Center is the Kemah Boardwalk 215 Kipp Avenue, Kemah, TX; 877-285-3624 a 35-acre complex full of family-friendly rides and attractions. From its prime location overlooking the bay, the Kemah Boardwalk offers an intimate, nostalgic mix of rides such as a 36-foot carousel, a 65-foot Ferris wheel and other heart-stopping, dizzying rides. For the faint of heart, an arcade offers a wide variety of fun games. Also at the Boardwalk are a number of popular theme restaurants, including Joe's Crab Shack, Saltgrass Steakhouse and Landry's Seafood House.

Evening

The Aquarium Restaurant 11 Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, TX; 281-334-9010 is sure to be a memorable dining experience on your family vacation to Houston. Upon entering the first floor of the Aquarium Restaurant, you are confronted by a 50,000-gallon tank filled with colorful coral, sharks, stingrays and over 100 species of tropical fish. A staircase winds around the aquarium, propelling diners to the restaurant which is on the second floor. In full view of diners, divers make feedings twice a day inside the tank. Just try not to be intimidated by thousands of fish eyes staring at you as you enjoy your crabcakes. The Aquarium is open Sun-Thu 11AM-9:30PM, Fri 11AM-10 PM, and Sat 11AM-11PM.


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