Stay-cation options abound in Clear Lake, Galveston areas
There's no need to let rising gas prices get in the way of fun this summer.
Consider a staycation and explore the attractions close to home.
The Clear Lake and Galveston areas are packed with destinations ideal for adults and for families looking for a break, from Armand Bayou Nature Center to Galveston harbor tours, from Moody Gardens to the Kemah Boardwalk.
One of the newer attractions in the area is Kemah Ghost Tours, founded by Seabrook resident Lauren Kirby in August 2010.
"I started falling in love with Kemah," Kirby said. "If you move away from the boardwalk, you realize there are a lot of charming houses and businesses there."
Kirby, who has attended ghost tours in other towns, was inspired to launch one in Kemah after hearing about a local haunted house.
Today, she averages 20 to 25 people per weekend tour.
Kirby leads the participants to several homes and businesses, including Kemah's Lighthouse District, where Spanish explorers in the region were greeted centuries ago by the Karankawas, native Americans known for eating their enemies.
"I think what makes my ghost tour unique is we try to focus on a dramatic storytelling approach," Kirby said.
• Location: (Starting point) 603 Bradford Ave. at Sixth Street, Kemah
• Cost: $15 adults, $10 children age 10 and younger
• Hours: 7:30-9 p.m. Saturdays through May; Fridays and Saturdays June through August
• Details: 832-224-8667 or www.kemahghosttours.com
Kemah Boardwalk, 215 Kipp Ave., is packed with restaurants, rides and shops and is home throughout the year to a variety of festivals and shows.
Rides range from the classic Ferris wheel and carousel to a wooden roller coaster and other means of spinning, soaring and dropping.
The Boardwalk Beast is a 70-foot-long, 140 person speedboat that cruises for 25 minutes at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
Now under way at the boardwalk is the free Rock The Dock concert series, which is from 6:30 to 10:15 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 16. Upcoming performers include Ezra Charles & The Texas Blues Band (June 3), Gene's Addiction (June 10) and The Pictures (June 17).
• Details: 281-334-9880 or www.kemahboardwalk.com
Armand Bayou Nature Center, 8500 Bay Area Blvd. in Pasadena, offers a variety of adventures, learning activities and breaks from urban life, said Tom Kartrude, the center's executive director.
"An outdoor facility can really contribute to the care of the community," Kartrude said. "You really can get away from it all."
The nature center features five miles of trails where it's entirely possible for visitors to have a wildlife encounter. The trails lead out into three major center habitats: tall grass prairie, coastal hardwoods and bayou marshes.
The prairie, Kartrude added, provides a unique view of Galveston Bay. Guided trail hikes are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
Additional features include hands-on history programs at the historic Martyn Farm and pontoon boat cruises and guided canoe paddles. Check the center's web site for specific times.
Guests are encouraged to come prepared for a natural setting with proper clothing, shoes, hats, sun protection, insect spray and water.
• Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays with final admissions at 4 p.m.
• Admission: $4 for adults, $2 for children
• Details: 281-474-2551 or www.abnc.org
Those who would like to see dolphins in their natural habitat can step aboard Galveston's Baywatch tour, which is available hourly 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. The 45-minute tour also provides a look at a World War II submarine and destroyer, the Tall Ship Elissa, drilling rigs, ferry boats and the ship channel.
The tour boat leaves from Gaveston's Pier 22, Harborside Drive at 22nd Street, at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m.
• Cost: $10 adults, $5 children
• Details: www.galveston.com/baywatchtours
Another Galveston Island tour option is the Treasure Isle Tour Train, a 17-mile narrated sightseeing tour through Galveston, including Seawall Boulevard, the remains of Fort Crockett, the Bishop's Palace, Ashton Villa, the Strand Historic District, Rosenberg Library, the Moody Mansion and more sites.
Tours depart the station at 2500 Seawall Blvd. at 9:30 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m. daily through Tuesday, May 31, with a 5 p.m. option available June 1-Aug. 31.
• Cost: $10 adults, $5 children ages 4-12 and free for ages 3 and younger
• Details: www.galveston.com/treasureisletourtrain
Lone Star Flight Museum, 2002 Terminal Drive, Galveston, features more than 40 restored aircraft including World War II fighters, bombers, liaison trainers and executive planes.
• Hours: The museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
• Cost: $8 adults, $5 seniors 65 and older, $5 students ages 5-17 and free for children younger than 5
• Details: www.galveston.com/lonestarflightmuseum
Schlitterbahn Waterpark, 2026 Lockheed Drive in Galveston, features more than 32 water attractions, including uphill water coasters, water slides, a wave pool and whitewater rapids.
The park's summer season will continue through Sept. 18.
• Cost: $27.99 adults, $22.99 children
• Details: www.schlitterbahn.com
The Rainforest Pyramid at Galveston's Moody Gardens, One Hope Blvd., has been undergoing a host of enhancements. In addition to numerous birds, butterflies, lizards and fish, the site is home to free-roaming saki monkeys, two-toed sloths and cotton-top tamarins, along with thousands of species of plants and flowers.
Palm Beach, a Moody Gardens summertime attraction, opens for the season Saturday, May 28. Among the attractions is a wave pool, and a 650-linear-foot "Lazy River" that offers over 60 interactive points at which guests on shore can splash and spray as their friends float by.
Regional artists will take the stage at June 10-Aug. 12 during the Palm Beach Friday Night Concert Series. Each concert is followed by a fireworks show over Offatts Bayou and the Moody Gardens pyramids.
Prices vary by attraction.
Moody Gardens also features multiple theaters, including 3D and 4D options.
In the Ridefilm Theater, guests experience an 18-passenger ride surrounded by a wrap-around screen. The Discovery Museum presents traveling exhibits with an emphasis on science. Currently on display is the children's exhibit, Bones: An Exhibit Inside You.
The Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, which as 800 seats, hosts hour-long cruises in Offatts Bayou. Dinner cruises are available, too. Call 800-582-4673.
Guests can get up close to a penguin during Moody Gardens' Penguin Encounter, which is led by a staff biologist. Penguins pose for pictures and, in some cases, allow guests to pet them.
Moody Gardens will host more than 20 lifelike animatronic dinosaurs at the Dinos Alive!, and exhibit that runs June 4-Aug. 15. Guests will be part of a rescue team sent back in time to search for a missing plane and its crew.
• Details: 800-582-4673 or www.moodygardens
Space Center Houston, 1601 NASA Parkway, is is designed to give guests a look at human adventures in space through permanent and traveling exhibits, attractions, theaters and special events. The center also provides guests with tours of NASA, which includes a look at Mission Control Center.
Memorial Day weekend will kick off Summer Sports Slam, when visitors can step into the world of professional sports.
Games will include Human Foosball, JumpShot Basketball, Virtual Baseball, Basketball and Football; Bazooka Outfielding; Rock Wall; Baseball Pitch, Football Throw and Soccer Kick; and DigiWall, which involves climbing "intelligent" rock formations.
• Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. June, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. July and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. August; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekends
• Cost: $20.95 adults; $16.95 children 4-11, $19.95 seniors
• Details: 281-244-2100 or www.spacecenter.org
Butler Longhorn Museum, 1220 Coryell in League City, features western art and music and historical artifacts, including a sizeable longhorn history collection.
The museum is located in Heritage Park, and guests are encouraged to make some time to visit the park grounds' gazebo and flower gardens.
• Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays
• Details: butlerlonghornmuseumandheritagepark.com
Putt-Putt FunHouse, 806 E. NASA Parkway in Webster, offers two 18-hole putt-putt golf courses, spinning bumper cars, the interactive Ballocity play area, laser tag, a 3D theater, rock climbing, bumper boats, Battle Zone competitive target shooting, the Lazer Frenzy interactive laser game, mini bowling, a game room, a children's play area and the free Interactive E play and learning area.
Prices vary by attraction, but daily specials are available.
• Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
• Details: www.puttputtfunhouse.com
Main Event Entertainment, 1125 Magnolia Ave., Webster, features bowling, laser tag, glow golf, a café, arcade, full service bar and billiards. Prices vary by attraction.
• Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays and Fridays; 11 a.m. midnight Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays; and 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays
• Details: maineventusa.com/locations/locations/Webster
Fun City Sk8 & Play, 1500 N. Texas Ave. in Webster offers skating, parties and roller skating lessons.
Details: 281-332-4211 or www.funcitysk8.com
FantaSea Yacht Charters of League City offers public cruises several times a month, as well as private charters.
The Fourth of July Cruise will include a meal, two drink tickets and a fireworks presentation. This cruise costs $99.95 for adults, $45.95 for children and $94.95 for senior citizens and the military.
The cruise will board 7:30 p.m. from South Shore Harbor.
• Details: 281-538-9600 or www.thebigwhiteboat.com
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