Summer is fast approaching, but not everyone has the time or budget to take a far-away vacation. So here are a few fun activities within a short drive of Katy. Times are approximate, and this list is noncomprehensive.
Typhoon Texas Waterpark
Cool off while floating on a lazy river or hanging at the tidal wave bay at the Typhoon Texas Waterpark. $39.99 (single-day ticket), free (children under 2).
555 Katy Fort Bend Road, Katy
Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land
Navigate asteroid fields at the planetarium or walk through a living butterfly habitat. The natural science museum offers exhibits, such as a moon sculpture detailed by NASA imagery of the moon’s surface. $12 (adults), $9 (child and senior over 62), free (members).
13016 University Blvd., Sugar Land
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Tour a Hindu temple, which is the first of its kind in North America, and its vibrant social, cultural and spiritual activities. All people are welcome to experience the tranquility of the monument built over 16 months using 1.3 million volunteer hours. Free.
1150 Brand Lane, Stafford
George Ranch Historical Park
Journey back in time and learn about local Texas heritage through hands-on activities and special events, such as a blacksmithing sampler class and historic Juneteenth barbecue. $15 (adults), $12 (seniors over 65), $10 (children 4-12), free (age 3 and under).
10215 FM 762, Richmond
Bring the whole family out to enjoy rope mazes, slides and pedal cars at the local farm or pick your own strawberries, blueberries and thornless blackberries while they are in season. $20 (all-day general admission), free (children under 2). Free admission to pick berries only. $5 per pound of strawberries. $10 per pound of blueberries.
510 Chisolm Trail, Wallis
Brazos Bend State Park
Explore 37 miles of trail on foot, bike or horseback at this park, where alligators are often spotted. Guests can fish, picnic and stargaze from the George Observatory, which is open on Saturdays from 3-10 p.m. Campsites are also available to visitors. $7 (per person), free (age 12 and under).
21901 FM 762, Needville
City of Brenham
Drive out for a breath of fresh air in a small city with an abundance of bluebonnet fields, museums that tell the story of old Texas and a local Blue Bell Ice Cream creamery that offers tours to show off how the ice cream is made. The city is home to a large system of historic cisterns, and at Toubin Park visitors can check them out.
Children’s Museum of Houston
Bring the children to a playground for their minds, where they can engage in activities such as ecological studies, an inventor’s workshop and Kidtropolis, a life-size city with a skyline made up of all the systems that keep a city running. The city includes diners, a bank and a newsroom, and children take the roles of city leaders, voters and business owners. Free (members, children under 1), $12 (children and adults over 12), $11 (seniors over 65), $10 (active-duty military personnel).
1500 Binz St., Houston
Old Town Spring
Visit a variety of Victorian-style restaurants and shops, including the German Gift House, which imports handcrafted gift items from Germany and offers German food and beer steins. There are also sites for indoor rock climbing, botanic gardens, an outdoor shooting range and an exotic wildlife park.
403 Main St., Spring
Iceland has its Blue Lagoon, and so does Texas. Behind 30-foot limestone walls and surrounded by pine trees, find a blue-green body of spring water perfect for a swim. Although the public is welcome to enjoy the crystal waters, the Blue Lagoon mainly caters to divers, whether they are experienced or seeking certification. $20 (divers), $22 (nondivers over 10), $5 (children under 10).
649 Pinedale Road, Huntsville
Texas Energy Museum
Learn about Texas’ long history as an oil-producing state in a way that is interesting for children and adults. Robots tell the story of the 1901 Spindletop gusher, and guests can browse the permanent collection for information on the development of petroleum refinery technology and the modern use of chemistry in the oil industry. $5 (adults), $3 (children 6-12, seniors over 65).
600 Main St., Beaumont
Messina Hof Winery
Learn wine techniques, such as sipping, swirling and food pairing as part of a unique wine-tasting experience at this award-winning winery. Wine enthusiasts will also enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the property as well as wine production facilities. There is also a restaurant as well as a bed and breakfast. $18 (public tour), $28 (tour and food and wine pairing) $28+ (Cellar tour and tank tasting).
4545 Old Reliance Road, Bryan
Colonel Paddlewheel Boat
Head out to the Gulf of Mexico for an hourlong cruise on a replica of an 1800s paddlewheel boat. If the weather allows, dinner and private cruises are available for groups over 65 people. $12.95 (adults), $10.95 (children 4-12, seniors over 65 years), free (children 3 and under).
1 Hope Blvd., Galveston
Hit the dance floor at the oldest operating dance hall in Texas, built in 1878. Country singers such as George Strait and Willie Nelson have performed on its stage, and the venue continues to book other famous names. Plan to visit during the third weekend of the month for Gruene Market Days, when over 100 artisans and artists feature handcrafted products. Free live music on most days. General ticketed admission Thu.-Sat. nights. Prices vary depending on the artist.
1281 Gruene Road, New Braunfels
USS Lexington Museum on the Bay
Learn about the role of the naval aircraft in the defense of the U.S. with the many exhibits, including one dedicated to Pearl Harbor at the Lexington Museum or, as it is often referred to, the “Blue Ghost” museum. Guests can tour the 11 decks of the Lexington as well as try flight simulators and virtual battle stations. It also has an escape room and theater. $16.95 (adults), $14.95 (seniors, military), $11.95 (children 4-12).
2914 North Shoreline Blvd., Corpus Christi.
Learn about the history and development of the cavern on a guided walking tour through its mile of developed passages, or spend 2 to 3 hours on a Saturday crawling through the undeveloped lower levels of the cave with a few friends or family. $18 (adults on cavern walking tour), $13 (children 3-12 on cavern walking tour), $55 (wild cave crawling tour for anyone over 8).
6211 Park Road 4 S., Burnet
Creole Nature Trail
Explore the outback of Louisiana through the 180 miles of roadway running through the state. This route has scenic views and crosses several nature reserves. Along the trail, travelers can find birds, alligators and fish and shellfish. It is recommended to start the trip at Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point, a free exhibit with interactive displays to learn about Louisiana’s nature and Cajun roots.
2740 Ruth St., Sulphur, Louisiana