Summer activities for kids
Buzz Baby is a column about life with babies. Writer Annie McQueen is a mother of four children 7 and under.
Houston summer days are here and if you have small children, it can be a challenge to come up with ideas on how to spend the longer (and hotter) days.
Recently, we polled a few Buzz parents to create a “roadmap to a Houston summer day” – which includes ideas of both indoor and outdoor toddler and baby-oriented places.
What to bring:
Before we start on our journey, our parents urged the importance of bringing some necessities, including a lot of chilly water, snacks, extra diapers, wipes, bug spray, a change of clothes, sunscreen, and a towel.
Before the summer heat sets in around 10 a.m., local outdoor parks are a great go-to spot. West University Place has excellent parks with age-appropriate playground equipment. “I like Wier Park (3012 Nottingham) and Colonial Park (4130 Byron) for toddlers,” said a Buzz mom. “A group of fellow mom friends and I bring blankets, snacks, water, and sunscreen and set up for several hours.” She advises waiting until the morning dew has disappeared from the playground equipment and suggests bringing a towel to wipe down any dew that has not dried up.
After a morning visit to a park, it is time to head inside for a snack, water break, and outfit change: into a swimsuit.
The next stop of our Houston summer day will be a splash pad. Splash pads are giant sprinklers that are perfect to cool kids down in the summertime heat. They typically have soft padding/Astroturf, so they go easy on skinned knees and bumps and bruises.
Buzz mom Laura Wheeler says that she tacks on a splash pad visit for her kid after a trip to The Houston Zoo (6200 Hermann Park). “I take my kids to the Kathrine McGovern Water Play Park at The Houston Zoo [included with Zoo admission],” said Laura. “They have changing rooms at the splash pad, so we just bring a swimsuit.” They cool down after going to see the animals and spending several hours at the Zoo.
A few more splash pads that made the list of favorites are Gateway Fountain at Discovery Green (1500 McKinney St.) which is located downtown, next to George R. Brown Convention Center. It has 14-foot soaring jets that make it exciting for children. Ervan Chew Park (Dunlavy Park, 4502 Dunlavy St.), a sweet park surrounded by beautiful oak trees, just north of 59, has a splash pad, a playground, picnic tables, and basketball courts. Jaycee Park Splash Pad (1300 Seamist Dr.) has a splash pad that is off to the side of the playground and includes timed sprays and colorful artwork all around. The park also has a walking trail, basketball and tennis courts, and a playground; and Levy Park Conservancy (3801 Eastside St.) which has a large, interactive splash pad. Water rains down from tall orange towering structures.
If a splash pad is not on the itinerary, be sure to check out other Houston parks and green spaces such as the new, expanded Memorial Park and the nature surrounding the Clay Family Eastern Glades (6501 Memorial Dr.).
Buzz parents Walker and Kristin Agnew have taken their daughter Evelyn Grace, now 7, to Buffalo Bayou Park for years. When Evelyn Grace was younger, their family lived within a mile of the park. “We would take her in the stroller and walk to the Gus S. Wortham Fountain (2902 Allen Parkway),” said Walker. The iconic Houston landmark is located on Allen Parkway, on the south side of the bayou. They would spend summer days picking flowers, collecting sticks, and watching the bikers before Evelyn Grace would get into the fountain in her clothes. Walker says it is extra special to visit the same place year after year, and now bring their son Tripp, 2, to the fountain.
If it is just too hot, or the weather calls for rain, a popular refuge for parents of little ones is the Memorial City Mall. Yes, that is right. The mall.
Parents urge visitors to park near the entrance by the Sun & Ski Sports and walk straight into the area where an indoor, free playground called Frolic’s Castle (303 Memorial City Way) is located. Frolic’s Castle is a perfect spot for toddlers with interactive sound features, including a snoring giant, a bubbling cauldron, a grumpy ogre, a frog prince, and a baby dragon.
Recently, Buzz dad-of-two Sean Cumbie took his daughter Poppy, 4, there for a special day with just the two of them. They spent time at Frolic’s Castle, rode the train inside the mall (which is located near Frolic’s), and the carousel (located in the food court). They ended the mall day with ice cream inside the food court area.
Whether you spend summer days indoors or outdoors, there are plenty of places to make new memories and soak up the extra time together.
Editor’s note: For more on parks in Houston, see Parks Guide: Happenings in Houston’s green spaces by Pooja Salhotra.
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