Local Getaways/Day Trips in Houston, TX
Get back to nature at the Shangri La Botanical Gardens. Located on 252 acres in Orange, the lush gardens are home to more then 300 plant species. The adjoining Nature Center features hands-on exhibits, a laboratory, and outdoor classrooms in the cypress swamp. There is also a exhibit hall, children's garden, exhibition greenhouses and many other things to do and see. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and $4 for kids. Toddlers and babies (age 3 and under) are free. Don't miss out on their tours. The Outpost Tour ($5 extra) consists of a short walk to the Nature Discovery Center where you'll then take a quick ride on Adams Bayou to one of the outposts in the swamp.
You don't have to spend a bundle on airfare and hotel, take a staycation right here in Houston. Houston is home to a number of amazing tourist attractions, but as residents, sometimes we overlook them. One of the best is Downtown Aquarium Houston. This 500,000-gallon aquarium features more than 200 species of marine life. It's not your ordinary city aquarium; the six-acre entertainment and dining complex features a restaurant, upscale bar, shopping, amusement rides, carnival-style games and much more. Our favorite attraction: Shark Voyage. Take a train ride through the center of the 200,000-gallon shark tank and get up close and personal with an array of different shark species. Also, don't miss the white tigers! Admission to the Aquarium Adventure Exhibit is $9.25 for adults and rides are extra. The best deal is a all-day adventure pass that includes the aquarium plus the unlimited access to all rides.
Just a short drive southwest of Houston, you'll find 23,000-acre George Ranch. Here, you can learn about the history of the great state of Texas through this popular living history exhibit that tracks four generations of one family over one hundred years. The 480-acre historical park features historic buildings and homes from the 1800s and costumed presenters that tell tales and legends. Individual and group tours are available. The facilities are open Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 a.m to 5:00 a.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. For a special treat, take your trip to George Ranch on Saturday, where you can supplement your tour with one of their historic lunches.
You don't have to leave the city to have an extraordinary time in Houston. Head to Space Center Houston, where you can learn all about the history (and the future) of the space program. Space Center Houston has a number of amazing exhibits, attractions, hands-on activities and special events. However, for the perfect day trip, you can't beat the Level 9 Tour. This 4-5 hour tour takes you behind the scenes of NASA where you'll see the new Mission Control Center, the Neutral Buoyancy Lab and so much more. Tours begin Monday through Friday at 11:45 am, plus there's an additional tour on Mondays and Fridays only at 10:45 a.m. You must make advanced reservations at least a day prior because you need security clearance. The Level 9 Tour is priced at $90 and includes admission to Space Center Houston.
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Houston and take a quick day trip to Pleasant Hill Winery. Take a tour of the winery and vineyard, then enjoy tasting some of their amazing wines. The staff at this winery are very friendly, knowledgeable and down-to-earth. They are willing to share their love wine without being pretentious at all. Some weekends, Pleasant Hill Winery even has crushing events where you can stomp grapes (and get purple feet). These events are a whole lot of fun. Check their website to find out about upcoming events.