Bayou Wildlife Park
5050 FM 517
Alvin • 281-337-6376
Travelers can experience an African safari at this wildlife preserve located about 25 miles southeast of Houston. A tram ride with experienced wildlife guides covers more than 80 acres of natural habitat, including alligator ponds and three monkey islands. Visitors can see and feed animals and birds from Africa, India, Asia, Australia and North and South America. Pony rides and a petting zoo are also available as well as a souvenir shop.
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (March 1-Aug. 1), 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Tue.-Sun. (Aug. 1-Feb. 28)
Cost: $20 (adults), $10 (children ages 2-11), free (children under 2), group rates available
3122 CR 237
Alvin • 281-331-4395
Run by Nell and Harvey Shimek, the National Display Garden features hundreds of daylilies from breeders all over the country. Located one mile west of Alvin’s city limits, the garden features more than 850 different types of daylilies, hundreds of roses and a wide variety of other flowers.
Cost: Free admission
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
24907 FM 2004
Angleton • 979-922-1037
The 44,000-acre park features salt and freshwater marshes and is home to more than 300 bird species. Salt, Nicks, and Lost lakes are ideal for nature watching and fishing. Visitors can see geese, ducks and sandhill cranes at the lakes, or fish for speckled trout, red drum, flounder and croaker.
Hours: Open from dawn until dusk
Cost: Free admission
Baytown Historical Museum
220 W. Defee St.
Baytown • 281-427-8768
The museum is located in the old Baytown Post Office. The origin of the museum dates back to May 14, 1970, when the city of Baytown formed a historical committee to look into establishing a historical museum. Highlights include artifacts pertaining to local and pioneer history.
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: Free admission
Pirate's Bay Water Park[/caption]
Pirate’s Bay Water Park
5300 East Road
Baytown • 281-422-1150
The city of Baytown kicks off the summer with the start of the park’s 2015 season in May. The park features a series of water tube and body slides and a 671-foot-long lazy river with two large slide towers. It also features “dive-in movies,” beach parties, swim lessons and a surfing machine. The season runs April 25-Aug. 8.
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: Costs vary
Royal Purple Raceway
2525 S. FM 565
Baytown • 281-383-7223
The 500-acre auto racing park features seating for 30,000. The three-story tower building features 23 VIP suites, media center and race control facilities equipped with state-of-the-art timing and scoring equipment. During the summer months there is street racing every Friday. A full calendar is available online.
Times and costs vary by event.
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
4700 Ave. U, Bldg. 216
Galveston • 409-621-5151
This premier diving destination provides divers with the chance to view the northernmost coral reefs in the continental United States. Star and Brain coral, manta rays, hammerhead sharks and loggerhead sea turtles are all on display. Whale sharks can also be seen around July, August and September. This experience is best suited for intermediate or advanced divers.
Trips can be scheduled in advance with a charter operator. A list can be found on the sanctuary website. Costs vary.
One Hope Blvd.
Galveston • 800-582-4673
From the ocean to the rainforest, visitors can learn about wildlife and natural ecosystems while participating in a range of activities. The facility also offers an 18-hole golf course, an IMAX theater and paddle wheel boat rides. The Palm Beach water park is open during the weekends in May and is open daily from June 6-Aug. 23.
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $59.95 (one-day pass), costs vary for individual attractions.
Texas Seaport Museum
2100 Harborside Drive
Galveston • 409-763-1877
Elissa, a historic ship built for commerce in 1877, is docked at this museum where travelers can take a tour. The museum also has an exhibit about shrimping in Galveston and a database of more than 130,000 immigrants who entered the United States through the island.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Cost: $12 (adult), $9 (children ages 6 and up), free (children age 5 and younger).
Huntsville State Park
40 Park Road
Huntsville • 936-295-5644
This heavily wooded park adjoins the Sam Houston National Forest and encloses the 210-acre Lake Raven. The park offers camping, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, swimming and guided horseback trail rides on horses provided by 2E Stables. Canoe and paddle boat rentals are also available.
Hours: Gates open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, except for public hunts
Cost: $5 (adult), free (age 12 and under).
3523 Independence Parkway
La Porte • 281-479-2431
The 1,200-acre property is the historical site of the Battle of San Jacinto. The park is home to the San Jacinto Monument and Battleship Texas. The last of the battleships to participate in World War I and II, Battleship Texas became the first battleship memorial museum in the U.S. in 1948. Visitors can enjoy self-guided tours of the ship and learn about an important piece of Texas history. Guided tours, group rates and student discounts are also available.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Cost: $12 (adult), free (children age 13 and under).
San Jacinto Monument and Battlegrounds
One Monument Circle
La Porte • 281-479-2431
The San Jacinto Monument is dedicated to the heroes of the Battle of San Jacinto and all others who contributed to the independence of Texas. The monument is a 570-foot shaft topped by a 34-foot star symbolizing the Lone Star Republic. The building incorporates a number of innovative engineering features not common during the period of its construction. The American Society of Civil Engineers designated the monument as a State and National Historic Structure. The monument is listed as the tallest stone column memorial structure in the world, 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument.
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily (battleground, monument and museum)
Cost: free admission
Sea Center Texas
300 Medical Drive
Lake Jackson • 979-292-0100
A marine development, aquarium and education center in Lake Jackson, Sea Center can produce 20 million fingerlings annually—primarily red drum and spotted sea trout—for release into Texas coastal waters. In addition to aquariums, displays and a 24-foot touch-tank, the complex also has a saltwater marsh demonstration boardwalk and a freshwater marsh that is ideal for birding.
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. 1-4 p.m.
Cost: Free admission (donations appreciated)
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
103 W. Hwy. 332
Lake Jackson • 979-480-0999
Travelers can embark on self-guided nature trails across the 34 acres of Columbia Bottomland forest in Lake Jackson. This research and education facility coordinates data on migrating and resident avifauna. The GCBO hosts free bird-banding programs from 8 a.m.-noon on the third Saturday of each month to help track bird migratory patterns.
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Cost: Free (donations accepted)
Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort
400 N. Liberty Ave.
New Braunfels • 830-625-2351
Whether going for an extended trip or just the day, the popular water park offers dozens of water rides, activities and attractions for all ages. The park offers season passes as well as group discounts. Private cabana rentals are also available. The park is open on the weekends through May, and certain sections of the park are open during the week in May and the first week of June. The entire park opens June 6.
Times and costs vary.
Washington on the Brazos
Washington • 936-878-2214
The 293-acre state historic site is located on the Brazos River. Visitors are encouraged to begin at the Visitors Center, where Texas Parks and Wildlife staff can help plan the visit. Tour options take patrons to Independence Hall to learn about the founding of the Republic of Texas, Barrington Living History Farm to experience life in early Texas and the Star of the Republic Museum for a historic overview.
Hours: 8 a.m.-sundown (park hours), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Visitor’s Center).
Cost: Costs vary by tour package