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Houston, Texas, was to our minds just a stop-off point before going to the west (California) for a one-month trip through the National Parks. We chose Houston because that’s where we were applying for our Chinese visas. If it wasn’t possible there (as we are not nationals and don’t have a permanent residence in the US) we would be able to try again in California – but it was better to try our chances here first.
As we were in Houston, we had to try to enjoy the city as much as possible. To begin with we were kindly offered the Houston City Pass by Visit Houston, the official tourism office in the city. This is a booklet which gave us access to five major attractions in the city for free and huge discounts for many others.
We kept the first day in Houston for doing a bit of work and preparing all the documents for our Chinese visa applications. We had to make sure everything was in order and that we presented everything requested of us, to avoid being refused the visas and wasting time. Thankfully everything went fine and just 3 days later we got our visas for China.
The next day we were set to visit the Children´s Museum of Houston and the Downtown Aquarium, but to be honest the order we chose was a mistake. This wasn’t because the places are not good or worth a visit, but because the Children´s Museum of Houston is too good for kids. After a few hours exploring the museum, Noah would not allow us to leave. 🙂
After all, this trip is for him as well and he had a good point … There are a lot of things to do inside the museum, and toddlers, children, adolescents and even adults can spend an entertaining day there.
There are a lot of sections in the museum with a wide range of activities that test everyone both physically and psychologically. It is also a great place to learn while you play. That means that you will not only read and learn from the descriptions of the objects, but you will also learn in practice the reasons behind everything that is being displayed, such as how a propeller and aerodynamic physics can work together to take a rocket to the sky or even how you can manage your monthly allowance to buy sweets or even groceries at the supermarket. Those are just some examples of how entertaining and educational a day at the Children’s Museum can be.
We had already had a great experience at Kennedy Space Center in Florida a few weeks back, where we got to learn a lot about space missions and NASA’s history. Now, having the opportunity to visit Johnson Space Center in Houston where some of the most important space missions were controlled, we simply couldn’t miss this chance.
Having the opportunity to see the control room where NASA operators heard Jim Lovell say those famous words, “Houston, we have a problem” … That was something.
Johnson Space Center in Houston is a place that I was sure that my family and I would enjoy visiting. There’s a lot to do, so we had to prepare a separate full post about our experience there.
We had no idea that a museum (and particularly one that is not a children’s museum) could keep Noah so focused.
However, as soon as we entered the main hall Noah realized that there was a whole section about dinosaurs. Well, you can guess what our first stop was.
Noah was simply amazed at the exhibit and the display of those gigantic Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Hall of Palaeontology was the place we spent the most time during our visit, and apart from the skeletons of those specimens there’s also a lot of information about palaeontology.
There was much more at the Museum: scientific experiments, diversified exhibitions, animal exhibitions, ancient Egyptian exhibitions, information about space expeditions, etc. We could easily have spent a whole day there. But after a while Noah was already asking to leave (to go to the Children’s Museum 🙂 ), and we had a few other attractions to visit that day.
One of the attractions that unfortunately we couldn’t visit due to a lack of time was Houston Zoo. The Zoo was really recommended during our visit, but we will leave it for our next stay.
This Aquarium is unique and very entertaining. Once you enter it you go straight to a shipwreck, a 17th century galleon, and look at aquatic species through the windows, such as octopus, groupers, and a coral reef.
That was just the beginning as there was a lot more to do inside the Aquarium, in places such as:
The Louisiana Swamp for alligators and the Rainforest, to see piranhas, stingrays, rainforest frogs and birds;
The Discovery Rig, to see, among other species, snakes, sea turtles and other fish; the Sunken Temple, with tarantulas and a huge python.
The apex of the visit was the corridor taking visitors to the White Tigers of the Maharaja’s Temple, to spot a beautiful white tiger. There’s even a statue of the animal so we were able to take a picture next to it.
Continuing through the gift shop, we stopped to see the stingrays at Stingray Reef, and even got to touch them! Of course we were warned about how we should approach the animals.
For an extra fee you can take the Huntington Train for a Shark Voyage, where you can see different species of sharks, such as tiger, nurse and black tips. Unfortunately, we didn’t visit this attraction.
The Aquarium also has some amusement attractions for children and adults, like a Carousel and a Ferris Wheel.
It was the end of the day for us and the last attraction we visited during our stay in Houston.
Thank you Visit Houston for offering us the Houston City Pass. We certainly enjoyed the treat.
Next stop, Death Valley and San Diego!
Visit Houston kindly offered us the City Passes to explore the city. As usual all opinions and oodles of pictures remain our own.