Saturday, July 4, 2009

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Geez..sorry sorry sorry..didn't realize it's been this long since I posted......well the end of school came and then getting re-adjusted to both boys being home and then vacation last week....I guess I'm just getting back into the swing of things.

Happy 4th of July everyone! And, yes I was in Texas from last Saturday till Wednesday. Again, lots of reviewing of the places we went and things we saw to help you if you go down there on vacation.

I'm sure you're wondering how insane I am to actually go down to Texas on Vacation in June/July...well my husband planned this trip so I'm not to blame. Although, the 103 degree temps down there really made me wonder if he's nuts or not. So, here's where we went and my recommendations as to yay or nay especially if you've got the kiddies along.

The first two days we stayed in Houston (landed there and stayed till Monday morning). We went straight to the Downtown Houston Aquarium which is run by Landry's (think restaurants, food, etc). This is an aquarium with a few outside rides and games. For $15.99 per person, you get access to all the rides, games and the aquarium. Not a bad deal if you take a gander at the individual prices for the rides ($2.99-$4.99). This is a really nice little aquarium and there are just fish tanks everywhere, from the main aquarium to the restaurants. It's not a big aquarium but alot of fish I haven't seen before. Very nice set up. There's a "touch tank" room where you can pet sting rays and horseshoe crabs. Also, they have White Bengal Tigers there and you can get right up to the glass to see them. Gorgeous tigers and really cool to be face to face with them. The restaurant was a bit pricey but that's what you have to deal with. There's a huge huge tank in the middle of the restaurant with all kinds of fish, from the teeny tiny to the HUGE. You also can take a train ride into the shark tank area which is short but neat. All in all, a decent thing to do if you have the time. For us, it killed time till we could check in to our hotel.

Sunday we did way too much, especially in the heat. First we went to San Jacinto State Park (where Santa Anna signed his surrender) and that's ok but not real exciting for the kids. It costs $2 per adult to get in the park and kids are free. It costs more if you want to go into the monument, but we didn't..just took it's picture. Also in the park is the Battleship Texas (built in the early 1920s I think). Costs $10 per adult and kids are free (you have to go into the park and yes pay the first fee before you can pay the Battleship fee). My older son and my husband really enjoyed the battleship. My little one was hot and not really interested. So, great for older kids (8 and up). The ship has been kept in remarkable shape and there are lots of knooks and crannies to check out and find aboard.

From there we went to the Johnson Space Center. I ordered our tickets online and saved $3 per ticket. Under 4 are free. For us the total was $48.75. You just print out your tickets when they are emailed to you and walla all done. The kids loved the Space Center. There is PLENTY of things for them to do and explore. I liked it but thought it would've been bigger and the main area was just overcrowded, not with people but with stuff. You also get the Tram Tour which takes you around the main NASA area. YOu get to see their training facility (where they have mock ups of the shuttle and the international space station) as well as Rocket Park where the Saturn V rocket is held (they built a huge "warehouse" to hold it as the elements were taking their toll on the rocket). If you have kids then I highly recommend the Space Center, both of my kids enjoyed it alot. I also recommend that you save the money and buy your tickets online.

For dinner, we went over to Kemah Boardwalk and had dinner at The Flying Dutchman. Dinner was great but Kemah is just a HUGE tourist trap and in my opinion a waste of money. They've got rides which cost an arm and a leg to go on, boardwalk games (just a few and dull) and plenty of restaurants. They also have a video arcade which was the biggest rip off got 2 tokens per one dollar and most of the games cost 2 or more tokens. RIP OFF. If you just gotta go to Kemah, just go for the eating and leave. Parking is $6 in the lots. Plus the rides cost a fortune. We just did the train ride since the boys love trains. Other than that, even they didn't seem to thrilled with Kemah.

Monday we left Houston for San Antonio..but before arriving there we had to go to the Schlitterbahn waterpark. My husband was all excited about it, he had seen it on the Travel channels top 10 waterparks. Needless to say, we were not impressed by it at all. Now, I've been to plenty of different water parks from the ones in Disney to Water Country USA in Williamburg to the old Action Park in north Jersey. Schlitterbahn is split into 2 parks, the Original Schlitterbahn and the newer Schlitterbahn East. YOu have to take a bus to get from one to the other. We started off in the original park which uses untreated water from the Comal river (untreated???). If you have a little one, you need to stop in guest services and pick up a life vest and a netted tube (so they don't fall thru) for them to use. Then you've got to get your locker. Then you've got to get yourself some Splash Cash (basically waterproof wrist bands with lil tags with dollar values). Then you've got to go down to the tube pickup and grab a tube to carry all through the dam park. Yes, in the original park you need to get a tube and carry it everywhere. The rides were great (I got on 2) but the lines are long long long. The park layout is all screwed up. You gotta go down to the end of a line which snakes back up to the entrance. It's just not an easy park to get around and find things. They did not plan the layout real well. Disney will make a park around the land to make it flow....I'm still trying to figure out how Schlitterbahn worked it all out. The kiddie pool areas were actually the best part in my opinion. They were unique and set up great. The kids really both enjoyed the kiddie areas. And, I highly recommend water shoes. Not for the water but to keep your feet from getting third degree burns from the sidewalks. Not alot of shade in this waterpark (others I have been to have had tons of shade trees over the sidewalls to keep them cool). They don't have shoe cubbies at the rides either so your screwed. My feet were burnt. The only one of us who didn't get burnt feet was Connor since he was easily carried. By the time we got over to the East side of the park, I was sick and tired of it already. I just hung out in the kid's pool on that side and didn't move. I know this waterpark is a BIG deal down there in Texas (we went to the one in New Braunfels) but this waterpark is not up to par with the likes of Water Country USA and Disney.

I'll continue this tomorrow with our 2 days in San Antonio and our stop at the Shiner Bock Brewery....just like Texas..this post is getting too BIG.

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