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Tucked away in the 20-acre Sam Houston Park downtown, you will find an impressive bit of Texas history. Visit the Heritage Society Museum & Tour, which features historical records, then take the outdoor tour of noble buildings restored to their original glory. Pathways lead to an assortment of prestigious homes in Greek and Victorian styles. The 1868 Victorian-style Pilot House also happens to be the site of the city's first indoor kitchen. All the homes on the tour are unique in structure and furnishings. There is also a quaint church built in 1891 by German farmers.
You will find a lot to do with the family at this park. Kids and adults can play a round of miniature golf or enjoy a simple picnic. A fishing lake is nearby, and no park would be complete without several playgrounds to romp on. A ride on the caboose at the old Katy Railroad depot is a great way to end a fun day out.
Houston will be forever grateful for George Hermann's generous gift of land in the early 1900s. The park spans over 445 acres (180 hectares) and is one of Houston's oldest public parks. People from all walks of life gather here for various events throughout the year. A monstrous statue of Sam Houston welcomes you to the park. Those seeking an educational outing for themselves or the kids will find many options inside the park. The Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, Burke Baker Planetarium and an IMAX theater are all popular attractions. Lighter family entertainment is available in the form of pedal boats, train rides and other activities.
Memorial Park is a popular Houston attraction complete with a beautiful three-mile playground. There are walking paths, picnic sites, baseball fields, pine trees, gardens and ponds. Appreciate nature's beauty and make the most of the sunny weather. The locals love to jog here, but you can also rent a bike and hit the trail. There is also a public golf course with a clubhouse and restaurant, a tennis club, and a workout facility nestled on the grounds.
What was once a weedy parking lot is now a 12-acre space with playgrounds, dog runs, bike paths and more. Discovery Green hosts all kinds of fun activities for families, couples, groups of friends, and the solitary traveler. Complete with an amphitheater, children's theater and open 'sky gazing' areas, Discovery Green invites you to see, touch, hear, taste and explore your way through the park. For the more technologically inclined, the park is a Wi-Fi hot spot, perfect for study sessions.
Buffalo Bayou Park is a lush 160-acre park (64 hectares), where everyone can come to soothe the senses. Eleanor Tinsley Park, located within the park is host to many of Houston's festivals and a variety of activities. Experience a canoe trip, or a walk with a loved one through the beauty of this park. The park also has a play area for children, a dog park, sculptures and fountains throughout and also includes bike trails.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers a wide variety of exhibits that are worthy of a full day's outing. The three-level live butterfly exhibit will fascinate visitors of any age, as will the dinosaur exhibit in the Morian Hall of Paleontology. The Wiess Energy Hall and the Hall of Gems and Minerals are also worth a visit. If you need a break, enjoy an IMAX film or sit in on one of Burke Baker Planetarium shows.
Situated in the lovely Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo is home to more than 6,000 animals and over 900 species. Experience a true wildlife adventure as you check out the lions, Komodo dragons, flamingos, tigers, gorillas, bears, and bats, just to name a few! There is a wonderful Natural Encounter area where you can get up close and personal with otters and meerkats; and be sure to take a spin on the Wildlife Carousel, featuring hand-carved and decorated animals that showcase many endangered species of the world. If watching the animals eat makes you hungry yourself, there are two outdoor concession stands and one indoor dining area. Get ready to spend a day with the animals as you learn more about the beauty and wonder of the natural world.
Treat yourself to a day out of the city by visiting this park and nature refuge. About 10 miles southeast of Hobby Airport is a wonderful 2500-acre nature and wildlife preserve that offers a lot to visitors. Take your family on self-guided trails through the wooded bayou, or opt for a guided tour if it makes you more comfortable. Besides enjoying the simplest pleasures of the Texas flatlands and coastline, parents and children will also enjoy the wild game exhibits and the demonstration farm. Picnic facilities are available.
The Children's Museum of Houston opened in 1984 and is devoted to teaching through interactive play. Galleries here cover subjects like history, culture, fine and performing arts, technology, science and geography. Adults are welcome to take a break in the Teacher and Family Resource Center where extra teaching materials are available to boost those creative juices. Lots of fun, educational toys are available in the gift shop and snacks are available to satisfy your hunger.
The Cockrell Butterfly Center, housed in The Houston Museum of Natural Science, promises an experience like no other. An impressive array of over 1,500 butterflies from across the world call the tropical conservatory their home. The three-leveled glass enclosure is an enchanting rainforest, punctuated with fascinating flora and an alluring waterfall. Marvel at exotic species of the arthropod, Blue Morpho, Atlas Moth, Red Peacock, Owl Butterfly and Longwing, to name a few. Housing some of the largest and rarest specimens, the vibrant assortment paints a picture of paradise.
Just four miles east of downtown, you will find one of the nation's top seaports. A tour of the port offers an opportunity to view ocean freighters, ships and barges as they maneuver up and down the 50-mile channel that leads to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The port opened in 1914 with President Woodrow Wilson throwing the switch and firing the cannon. You will learn about this history and much more by taking the free 90-minute boat tour aboard the 90-passenger Sam Houston. Points of interest will include ships, geese and pollution control facilities. You are welcome to ask questions during the tour. The Port Authority holds a wealth of information. Before leaving, be sure and take one last look at the turning basin from the observation deck. It is a sight to behold. The tour is free, but reservations are required. All adults are required to have photo ID, and oversized bags or purses are not allowed. Please check the website for the tour schedule.