Buzz Baby is a column about life with little ones. Writer Annie McQueen has three children age 4 and under.
By the time June arrives in these parts, there’s pretty much a guaranteed component that comes along with it: heat. When the sweltering, sweaty days set in, it’s hard to stay outside all day with young children, yet they can get bored at home.
Tami Clark, a fan of travel and adventure, has found some not-too-hot summer activities for her four young children. She and husband Justin have 9-year-old Elle, 7-year-old Eden, 5-year-old Ryan and 3-year-old Chelsea.
One favorite summer spot, even though it’s outdoors, is The Houston Zoo. They arrive early before the heat sets in and stick mostly to indoor exhibits with air conditioning like the aquarium, reptile house, bird house and Naturally Wild Swap Shop, where kids can bring items that they found in nature to learn more about. After walking around, they cool off with Dippin’ Dots or find a breeze while riding around the carousel.
They finish the day at the zoo’s splash pad. Tami packs her kids spare clothes in plastic bags, so after the splash pad, they can change into dry clothes for the ride home. She recalled one visit when her kids promised they would be ok riding home wet when they didn’t have dry clothes. “They were totally fine until we walked with wet clothes through the zoo and got into the car.” Tami had to strip them down, and they rode home with barely any clothes on. “I died laughing from my driver’s seat mirror looking at them,” she said.
Tami keeps a small cooler in the back of her car in the summer with ice blocks for snacks, waters for the kids and sparkling water for her.
Last summer, as a different outing, she drove her kids around Houston on a self-guided art-wall crawl. “The children loved the adventure of looking out the window for the next art wall, and I think it gave them an appreciation of alternative forms of creativity and art,” she said. To plan the day, Tami Googled “Houston painted walls” and printed a map. “That’s my favorite memory because it was so out of the ordinary and allowed us to see some fun parts of Houston.”
Other favorite summer spots for the Clark family include indoor church playgrounds (Christ the King Presbyterian Church or Memorial Drive United Methodist Church), the Tot Spot at The Children’s Museum, the McGovern Centennial Gardens and Hermann Park and Discovery Green. “Discovery Green has so many fun activities for toddlers,” she said. “There’s a new baby area with a padded, closed-in play area, a splash pad and playground.”
Here are a few more suggestions from Buzz parents:
Tuesdays at Studio Movie Grille, 822 Town and Country Blvd. Studio Movie Grille offers $5 movies all day on Tuesdays. Then let the kids run around the green at CityCentre or get ice cream at Red Mango.
Fish Gallery, 2909 Fountain View Dr. The retail fish store has a 4,000-gallon tank, four ponds and a rare turtle and hosts a summer reading on Wednesdays in July and August. Call 713-523-3474.
Houston Public Library, houstonlibrary.org. Curl up and read a book or find activities in the kids’ corners. Story times, toddler playtimes and more.
Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle St. Story time, craft and nature walk Wednesdays at 4 p.m.
Memorial City Mall, off I-10 inside Beltway 8. Indoor playground, train, carousel and stores.
Editor’s note: What are your favorite cool summer outings? Email [email protected] or comment under this story.
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