Summer-Perfect Getaways

June 1, 2007 by  
Filed under Edit

27 quick escapes

1. Visit a wetland
At Armand Bayou, people of all ages can reconnect with nature by exploring three major ecosystems: forest, prairie and wetlands. Visitors can see how plant and animals contribute to human’s existence. Hike on nature trails, view animal displays, or ride a canoe or electric pontoon boat to see land that is not visible in the city. 8500 Bay Area Blvd., Pasadena, (281) 474-2551

2. Old McDonald had a farm
Real farmers offer an educational exhibit for children to see and experience the joys of farm life at Blue Barn Fun Farm. The farm is a 30-acre facility that houses different farm animals and activities, mules and donkeys, and the opportunity to milk a cow. A day of festivities ends with a tractor-drawn hayride. Reservations are required for admittance; $7 per person or $6 per person for groups of 20 or more. FM 1458, (281) 375-6669

3. We all scream for ice cream
Everyone is invited to help Blue Bell Factory celebrate its 100th anniversary by spending “A Day in the Country” July 19-21. At the event, children can meet and take pictures of the legendary Jersey cows from Blue Bell commercials. Games and exhibits will be on-hand to help ring in the celebration, along with 45 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream. Washington County Fairgrounds in Brenham, www.bluebell.com

4. Make a splash
Rent a boat or wave runner and cruise the shores of Clear Lake. Or go high in the sky on a parasailing ride. For all-day fun, take the children on a deep-sea fishing trip in the Gulf and catch something for dinner. Watercrafts and sunshine are a great summertime combination. Clear Lake Boat Rentals, (281) 334-4585

5. A day at the beach
Bolivar Peninsula offers many activities for a fun-filled day by the water. With 27 miles of sandy beaches to swim, sun bathe, or play in the sand, Crystal Beach is an ideal summer getaway. For the avid fisherman, Rollover Fish Pass is a popular spot. 1750 Hwy. 87, Crystal Beach, (409) 684-5940

6. Wet and wild
Play at the water playground at Burnett Bayland Park and Community Center. The playground has a multi-colored, rubber surface with a spray feature that includes three colorful arches and two water cannons. Adults can enjoy the hike and bike trails or run on the nearby asphalt trail/track. 6200 Chimney Rock Road, (713) 668-4516

7. Crazy maze
Trek through a three-mile corn field maze. Every year, Dr. Dewberry of Dewberry Farm designs a new pattern on his eight-acre corn field that represents an event in Houston. The maze is broken in two phases to allow rest, refreshments or an early escape. This adventure is one you won’t forget. 7705 FM 362, Brookshire, (281) 934-3276

8. Sacred ground
Forbidden Gardens is an outdoor museum replicating China’s most historic scenes. Guided tours offer a brief history lesson on third century BC, and terra-cotta pieces replicate the first Emperor’s 6,000-man army. The tour also showcases the famous Forbidden City in Beijing, which served as palaces for nearly 500 years of Imperial rule. 23500 Franz Road, Katy, (281) 347-8000

9. Gone with the wind
The Galveston Historical Foundation offers an opportunity to journey back in time to experience the grandeur and elegance of sacred landmarks, spectacular mansions and craftsman-style bungalows. Throughout the summer, tours are offered to view historic homes on Galveston Island. 502 20th Street, Galveston, (409) 765-7834

10. Dance the night away
Garner State Park is more than a park. Here, families can enjoy bike tours, pedal boats, kayaks, putt-putt golf courses and nature trails. If the daily activities aren’t enough, then dance under the stars at the Garner Pavilion every night of the summer to the songs of Texas favorites. The party begins when the sun sets and ends at 11 p.m. This tradition started 50 years ago and will continue for 50 more. Concan, (512) 389-8900

11. Spice up your life
With more then 88 varieties of regional mixes, specialty mixes and custom blends, the Gourmet Chili Pepper and Salsa Festival kicks fun up a notch. Guest chefs demonstrate how to cook with peppers; live music ranging from Cajun to oldies is provided. Vendors galore will be on hand July 28. Wildseed Farms, Fredericksburg, www.hotsauceblog.com

12. Gallop away
If you want to experience something unique, then go horseback riding on the beach. Enjoy a ride on West Beach for approximately 30 minutes with trained guides from Gulf Stream Stables who assist novice riders. At $25 per person, this activity will please the cowboy at heart. Eight Mile Road and West Beach, Galveston, (409) 744-1004

13. Take a gamble
Leave the kids at home and take a ride to L’Auberge du Lac Hotel &Casino in Lake Charles, La. As one of the largest single-level, riverboat casinos in the world, it offers 1,600 slot machines and 60 game tables, along with a Jack Daniel’s Bar &Grill. The establishment also has a golf course, spa and resort, heated pool with a side-bar, and luxurious amenities. The casino is sure to excite everyone’s kid at heart. 777 Ave. L’Auberge, Lake Charles, (866) 580-7444

14. Camp under the stars
Teach the kids how to catch largemouth bass, white crappie, catfish or bluegill on Lake Houston. Hike on trails, bird watch and camp for the weekend. The nearly 5,000-acre forest, 30 miles north of Houston, is a short-distance getaway. 22031 Baptist Encampment Road, New Caney, (281) 354-6881

15. Enter a cave
Experience the beauty of natural formations in an underground cave. Longhorn Cavern was formed thousands of years ago by water that dissolved limestone bedrock. From unique rock creations to fossils, Longhorn Cavern is a rare experience that once housed Comanche Indians. 6 miles west of U.S. Hwy 281, Burnet, (877) 441-CAVE

16. Palm Beach
Soft, white sand and crystal-clear fresh-water lagoons make one wonder if they are in Texas or Florida. Frolic in the waters of Palm Beach at Moody Gardens in Galveston, and cool off from the summer heat. Enjoy a game of volleyball, take a relaxing dip or relish the pristine water; whatever the activity, the whole family can have fun. One Hope Blvd., Galveston, (800) 582-4673

17. Fresh blueberries
Pick fresh, pesticide-free blueberries and eat them on the spot at Moorhead’s Blueberry Farm. Twenty acres filled with more than 20 different varieties of blueberries are a sight to see in the state of Texas. Moorehead’s is the first commercially operated blueberry farm in the state since the mid-1970s. Children and adults of all ages are allowed and encouraged to participate in blueberry picking. 19531 Moorhead Road, Conroe, (281) 572-1265

18. Antique shop
Just 30 minutes north of Houston is Spring’s hidden jewel. Old Town Spring has 150 shops with merchandise from all over the world. With small-town charm and a rich history, this area offers antiques, collectibles, home décor, crafts and clothes. Take pleasure in a day of shopping, and then stop by a local restaurant for some home cooking. Spring, (800) Old-Town

19. Battlegrounds
Stand on the deck of a retired battleship and experience history up close at the San Jacinto Museum of History. The museum offers a wealth of knowledge on Texas history and the battle of San Jacinto. Visit exhibits and learn how these men of honor fought their way to victory. One Monument Circle, La Porte, (281) 479-2421

20. Dip into fun
If you are from Texas, you probably have heard of Schlitterbahn, German for slippery road. The new Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark covers approximately 15 acres with food kiosks, retail stores, changing rooms with showers, and more than 20 water attractions. A new feature not offered at other locations is Wasserfest, the world’s first “convertible waterpark” with closeable sections for indoor/ outdoor, year-round fun. 2026 Lockhead St., Galveston, (409) 770-9283

21. Just hang out
Get out of town and see what all the hype is about. Voted by locals as the “National Party of Texas,” Schulenburg Festival offers fun for the entire family. With countless activities and heaping amounts of food, enjoy a day of too much to do Aug. 3-5. Wolters Park, Schulenburg, www.schulenburgfestival.org

22. A sandy event
Spend the day playing in the sand, or watch over-achieving architects sink their hands in it. Texas architects gather at Galveston’s East Beach each June for the largest and most competitive AIA Sandcastle Contest in the nation. Held since 1986, the competition attracts contestants who have eight hours to complete their work of art, using no tools or materials other than local water and sand. Galveston, (713) 520-0155

23. Houston, we have a problem
Lay back and watch the skyline fill with breathtaking, massive hot air balloons. The annual Baluner Fest is hosted by Space Center Houston and RE/MAX. The competition provides evening balloon glows, skydiving exhibitions, concession booths and excitement. 1601 Nasa Pkwy., (281) 244-2100

24. Eat, drink and watch a flick
Sit back, relax and watch a new release as you bite into a juicy burger. Star Cinema Grill allows you to do just that at its dinner/ theatre. An enticing menu is provided, along with a full bar. Waitstaff is on-hand to offer top-notch service during a movie and provide food and drinks until the credits roll. 1020 W Nasa Road, Webster, (281) 557-9300

25. Blue in the face
There isn’t anything like a Texas-sized Blueberry Festival. Fresh blueberries, homemade blueberry pancakes, blueberry cobbler and blueberry ice cream can be purchased and anyone left out will be blue with envy. Live musical entertainment provided while kids and adults enjoy their blueberry feast. Nacogdoches, (888) OLDEST TOWN

26. Finger-licking good
What was once a meat market is now a local music venue and restaurant. Visit this Kemah, family-owned, barbecue restaurant that was established in 1974. T-Bone Tom’s chicken-fried steaks are some of the best in Texas. If the food isn’t enough to bring you in, T-Bone Tom’s Backyard should do it. They host some of the best and most popular area bands. It is also a kid-friendly place where the whole family can enjoy themselves. 707 Hwy. 146, Kemah, (281) 334-2133

27. The sweet life
A Houston original, The Chocolate Bar isn’t very far, but it is a sure getaway. Visit this decadent chocolate store and you will feel as if you have stepped into chocolate heaven. The shop offers everything your sweet tooth can handle including: chocolate candy, brownies, cakes, pies, mousse and chocolate-covered popcorn. If you’re still not satisfied, try 24 flavors of homemade ice cream. 1835 W Alabama St., (713) 520-8599

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