Blogger, Writer, Urban Adventurer
It’s official, with the delayed school start, summer just got a bit longer for Houstonians. As we enter month four (or is it five?) of our new COVID normal, it may feel like you have exhausted all there is to do at a safe social distance or maybe you have forgotten what it feels like to leave the house for someplace other than HEB curbside. We’re here to provide some inspiration that all is not lost. Here are 25 different ideas to get you inspired to explore Houston again, safely.
One general note, with all of these activities, keep in mind the current Houston city ordinance requires masks for children aged 10 and up in businesses and public places. (Though if your younger kids can swing it, they are encouraged to mask up, too.) Be sure to check websites before you venture out as some rules, closures and guidelines seem to change regularly.
1. Take in a drive-in movie at Sawyer Yards. With movies like Tangled, Grease and Frozen II, they have a pretty great family line up. You can safely socially distance from your own car with your own snacks, or place an online order for your movie treats with Rooftop Cinema or the nearby Bayou Brewing Co.
2. Try to outwit Locktopia at the newly opened escape room. Locktopia has two kid-friendly games and is recommended for ages nine and up. “Spellcaster” is a magic-themed game where the “wizards in training” must return a powerful relic to its rightful owner. “The Antidote” has a steampunk feel where you are on a mission in a laboratory to save a time-traveling scientist. All of the games are private (meaning only the people you bring with you will be in the room). Plus, they are staggering start times to allow for heavy sanitation between each game.
3. Go on a hike around Houston. While it may be hot, outdoor activities are great for social distancing. We like the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center or Buffalo Bayou Park. If you feel like you have already covered their trails, then check out this site with 50 different trails around the city and to find a new favorite hike.
4. Want to remember what planes look like? The Lone Star Flight Museum is open and has implemented a ton of new social distance policies. The hangars and the building have a lot of space to spread out. Plus, the planes are really cool to see up close. In addition to more cleaning/sanitizing of the museum, all of the interactive screens will be off and hands-on activities closed. There will also be some stickers on the ground throughout the museum and hanger to promote social distancing.
5. Visit with the animals at the Houston Zoo. Online reservations are required in order to limit the number of visitors at a time and they have created a modified path to help promote social distancing throughout the grounds. There’s also a new baby elephant! Nelson was born on May 12, 2020. Also, don’t forget—every Wednesday at 11am, the zoo comes to you with keeper talks.
6. Change up your Instagram grid by mural hunting. Houston has more than 1,000 colorful murals that are begging to be photographed. UP Art Studio has created a Houston Murals Map to help you find even more of them. You are encouraged to snap photos and share them on social media with the #HoustonMuralMap tag and upload your own photos on the site. Also, don’t miss the new Helping Hands Mural by Anat Ronen at Discovery Green. It’s a tribute to our front line healthcare workers!
7. Take a drive-by tour of Houston’s historical homes. The Harris County Historical Society and Houston Life teamed up to provide information on three historic buildings—the Rice Downtown, the Kirby Mansion and Link-Lee Mansion. Read up on the history of these buildings here, then drive to check them out.
8. Plan a day trip to the beach. There are several great beaches nearby (and they aren’t all Galveston). Before you load up, just be sure to check for any possible closures.
9. Pack a picnic for Smither Park. The Orange Show may be closed, but right next door, Smither Park is open! This beautiful urban space filled is with colorful mosaics created by several artists. Take your time exploring all of the pieces and discovering how their imaginations ran wild.
10. Get into geocaching. There are 4,005 geocaches in Houston and what better times than COVID times to try and find some! It is simpler than you think. Download the Geocaching App, create an account and use the app to help navigate you to nearby geocache. Don’t forget to bring your pen and when you locate a new one, leave your mark by signing and dating the log.
11. Go on a family bike ride. Take a ride around your neighborhood or if you are feeling more adventurous, ride along the bayou, Willow Waterhole Greenspace, Memorial Park Conservancy, or Terry Hershey Park.
12. Find a quiet spot in a garden. The grounds of the Rothko Chapel, the Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park, and the MFAH Cullen Sculpture Garden are all open and ready for you to explore. Bring a book or a snack to enjoy some quiet time outside.
13. Nerd out at Houston Museum of Natural Science. The HMNS is operating at 25% capacity to allow for maximum social distancing. Make your reservations online and print tickets at home to skip the lines. While all of the “hands-on” components of the exhibits are closed, there is still plenty to take in, including Stonehenge: Ancient Mysteries and Modern Discoveries, which has been extended through September 7.
14. Yes, the Children’s Museum of Houston is open! CMH is operating with timed entry tickets and at 20% capacity to allow for maximum social distancing with a cap of 100 visitors at any given time. They have also created a one-way Epic Adventure Scavenger Hunt that you can experience with only a few other families. The Children’s Museum of Houston also has tons of virtual programming that is worth checking out.
15. Go back in time at the George Ranch Historical Park. This historical ranch knows a thing or two about surviving through pandemics. They have modified their hours and some of the house tours, but you are still able to learn about ranching life in Houston from the 1830s to 1930s. Most of the grounds of this ranch are outdoors, too, which makes social distancing much easier.
16. Work out in the park. Levy Park has a number of great on-demand classes for home and they are keeping up with some outdoor fitness in the form of HIIT classes, Body Barre, and even Bollywood & Bhangra Dance classes. Just check their calendar for times. While you are looking at the calendar, be sure to check out their diverse online on-demand programming too.
17. Make art at home. Both Mad Potter and AR Workshop are offering DIY supply packs that you can take home to complete. These also make great party packs if you want to pick up supplies for some of your kids’ friends to have a virtual craft playdate or birthday party.
18. See the bats take flight at Waugh Bridge. Austin isn’t the only place to view bats. Houston’s very own colony takes off nightly from the Waugh Bridge near Allen Parkway. You can get all of the tips and tricks for safely viewing them here.
19. Take a day trip to a state park. Houston is surrounded by some pretty incredible state parks. You can get day passes online to check out the alligators at Brazos Bend State Park, swim in the San Marcos River or Oxbow Lake at Palmetto State Park, or hike around Stephen F. Austin State Park.
20. Get all aboard at Hermann Park. Hermann Park itself is open to enjoy and so are the train and pedal boats! The train has limited seating to promote social distancing and the boats are sanitized between uses. Either option is a good way to mix up your day and be mobile.
21. Spend the day at Lake Conroe—it’s just an hour’s drive from Houston. Don’t have a boat? No problem. There are several companies renting out paddleboards, kayaks and boats to help you enjoy a day on the lake.
22. Hopscotch at Mercer Gardens. Mercer Gardens is 400 acres of picturesque gardens and trails in Humble, Texas. They have several kid-friendly areas to help spark your imagination while you admire the efforts of their team of botanists, horticulturists and gardeners.
23. Get some art history at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. MFAH has reopened with timed tickets, temperature checks, and, of course, masks. (Though, take note, they are requiring ages two and up to wear masks). Some of their current exhibits include Soul of a Nation: Art in Black Powerand Radical: Italian Design 1965-1985, The Dennis Freedman Collection. If you’re concerned about the museum holding the attention of your littlest ones, you can prep them with some of the #MFAHatHOME Virtual Experiences on their website.
24. Be a detective at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Detective Days are back at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. When you arrive, tell the ticketing agent that you would like to participate in a detective day and you will be provided with options of hunts to choose from. Once you have made your selection, take your clipboard and begin your search, while also learning about horticulture, art, design, and American history. When you return your completed hunt, you will earn an official detective certificate. This activity is great for kids ages six and up (note: children up to age 18 have free admission to the gardens).
25. Need a break from round the clock parenting? It’s not too late to send the kiddos to summer camp! Virtual options include MFAH, HMNS and Glassell Jr. School. (KidPass has a ton of great online options, too.)