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The SIMPLIFIED Bucket List… For YOUR Kind of Houston Summer Fun

Here’s the truth… I find bucket lists a little intimidating.  I want to be sure we make the most of our summer break… but I don’t want to feel like we’re failing if we do not get through the entire list.

Each summer the kids and I write down our absolute must-do things… and tackle them right away.  And then we either add more items or make up the fun on-the-go!

So, if you are looking for DOZENS of things to do this summer, go HERE.  The list is big and amazing.

And if you just want a simplified list for YOUR kind of fun, look below!  We have something for the Animal and Nature Lovers, for the Little Heros, for the Train Engineer, Boat Lovers and Pilots, for the Rock Stars and Sports Stars, for the Museum Lovers and Artists, for the Little Foodies, for those with a Quirky Sense of Humor and for those looking for the Coolest Parts of Houston!

If you have ideas to add, let us know!  (And for Houston Summer 2016 Calendar of Events, go HERE!)

Osterich at Bayou Wildlife Park
For the Animal Lover:


Path at Nature Discovery Center
For the Nature Lover:


Fire Station 8 Spraying Fire Hose
For the Hero:


Joe Walk to Hermann Park Train
For the Train Engineer:


1940 Air Terminal Museum Watching AirplanesF
For the Pilot:


Astronaut at Houston Visitor Center
For the Astronaut:

  • Space Center Houston: Visit the home of NASA Mission Control, International Space Station Mission Control and astronaut training!
  • George Observatory: See the stars from Brazos Bend State Park!


Houston Maritime MuseumFor the Boat Lover:


Hermann Park Miller Outdoor Theatre from Centennial Gardens
For the Rock Star/Movie Star:


Minute Maid Park
For the Sports Star:


Houston Museum of Natural Science Kugel Ball and Boys
For the Museum Lover:

  • Beat the Crowds:  Houston has A LOT of museums… and sometimes we want to visit them, but we do not want to deal with the crowds. Lucky for us, Houston has a long list of small museums that are prefect for a quieter day with the kids.
  • Arts & Smarts in Houston: 6 Venues that Teach and Entertain All Ages


Gorilla Art Mural 2119 Washington Ave Sebastien Mr D Boileau
For the Artist:

  • Gorilla Murals:  Find the murals all over Houston.
  • Mini Murals:  Find these little works of art.
  • Museum of Fine Arts:  Go on Thursdays for Free Admission… or check out the many kid friendly events over the summer.



Six Ping Bakery Squid Roll with Bite

For the Little “Foodies”:

  • Top 10 Places to Eat in Houston, with KidsWho says you can’t go out to dinner with a table full of kids?  Our thought is, if the restaurant offers highchairs, then your kids belong there.  And as long as you are watching your kids (and they are not running laps around the table) you can ignore any stares and rude comments you get from irritable patrons.
  • Gluten-Free and Family-Friendly: Parent recommended gluten-free and family-friendly restaurants.
  • Houston’s Best Hole-in-the-WallsWe like a lot of restaurants around Houston but we love when we stumble upon a really good hole-in-the-wall. The kind where only the locals know to go, that might be small or even a little run down but the food is good and the people are great. (And to be clear, we use the not-well-defined term, hole-in-the-wall, as a compliment!)
  • Houston’s Best Burgers: Sometimes I really just want a good two-hand-er, ten-napkin kind of hamburger.  And almost every other day of the week, I would love a good veggie burger (that is not a boring soy-paste patty).  I’m always on the look out for a good burger… but with all the restaurants in Houston, where do I try first?  I asked that BigKidSmallCity community, and this is what YOU told me.
  • Houston’s Best Mexican Restaurants: Houston has no shortage of good Mexican food… but which restaurants are the best for families? I asked the BigKidSmallCity community and this is what YOU told me.
  • Farmers Markets:  Find your own food at one of Houston’s Farmer’s Markets.


River Oaks Pumpkin Park Carraige
For the Park Lovers:


Little Free Library in Houston Heights
For the Reader:


Art Car Museum Houston
For those looking for Quirky Houston:

  • Find the Mysterious Red Button on Buffalo Bayou: Have you seen the mysterious red button on the Preston Street Bridge? A friend told us that their 5 year old’s favorite thing to do in Houston was to, “burp the bayou”, and we just had to know what this meant.
  • Visit the Art Car Museum: This funky museum is small and free.  Stop by with the kids while you are in the Houston Heights!
  • Explore the Orange Show and Smither Park: Experience art so unique you can only find it at a monument celebrating oranges. Visit the Orange Show and then picnic at Smither Park!
  • See the Beer Can House: When you drive up, you think you’re in just any residential neighborhood until you see a shiny silver house with beer can chimes blowing in the wind.
  • Visit the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony: Each night at dusk, watch hundreds of thousands of bats emerge in the middle of the city!


Sabine Street Bridge Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Bridge
For those looking for the Coolest Parts of Houston:

  • Tour Rice University: Pack up your explorers and start uncovering secrets at Rice University! Find goofy carvings, a marble wall that makes a croaking sound, whispering niches, angry dolphins and so much more.
  • Travel to Chinatown: Shops, restaurants and cultural centers.  Driving down Bellaire Boulevard, from 610 to 8, you are transported much further than 7 miles.  Find a restaurant, like House of Bowls, bakery, like Six Ping, a grocery story, like Hong Kong Market or temple like Teo Chew Temple.
  • Play at Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area at Buffalo Bayou Park: Not only does it have a slide, climbing structures, water features and drums build in to the landscape, but this park has an amazing view of the downtown skyline, access to the Buffalo Bayou trails, has free parking, new restrooms at the Water Works building… and a newly uncovered historic cistern. You need to see the pictures HERE!
  • Uncover History at the Sabine Street Cistern: The Cistern was Houston’s first underground drinking water reservoir. This reservoir was decommissioned many many years ago, but has been uncovered and is being improved to be a space for temporary art exhibits. Construction was underway when we visited, but the glimpse we saw was scary and amazing all at the same time. Once it is done, there will also be a periscope to view the exhibit from the top of the Water Works!
  • Shop at Caninos Market & El Bolillo: Visit Canino’s Produce Market and be amazed by the cases of pastries at El Bolillo!
  • Tour the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir:  Drive through an industrial area off the highway, and then through apartment complexes, and then out of no where are bright white pinnacles, topped with flags.  The Mandir is the first traditional Hindu Mandir of its kind in North America and is made from 33,000 pieces of Italian marble and Turkish limestone.
  • Tour the Menil Collection: Walk through 3 free art exhibits, create your own works of art and then play with the art… all at the Menil Collection Campus in Montrose!
  • Wander Through Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens: Once you cross the giant suspension bridge over the bayou, you are on the amazing property of Ima Hogg.  Winding paths, hidden garden rooms and beautiful mansion.
  • Visit the San Jacinto Monument and Battleship Texas: Many years ago I was a Navy wife and spent a lot of time near Navy ships… but each time I see Battleship Texas, I have to stop and wonder where I am and what year it is.  And this one has giant cargo ships passing right by.  Touring the battleship, and the nearby San Jacinto Monument, certainly fits into the Surprising Sights category.
  • Go to the Bethel Church Park: Just west of Downtown is a neighborhood with some houses and lots of townhomes. I’ve driven through many times, but I never realized that the fire damaged Bethel Baptist Church was now the Bethel Church Park!  You need to see the pictures.
  • Walk through Sisters of Charity Park: This park does not have a playground… but it’s the most surprising thing you’ll find in Downtown Houston. Lush gardens, winding paths, tunnels, water and the coolest table you ever saw.
  • Take Pictures at Helen’s Park: This might just be one of Houston’s best kept secrets. Google Maps doesn’t even know about it.  It’s tucked in between the Stella Link YMCA and McGovern Library, right behind Sheltering Arms Senior Services. It’s not marked on the map, but it’s open to the public.


For more to do in Houston and to add to your list, check out the Ultimate Insiders Guide.  For all the Summer 2016 resources you need, go HERE!

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