Blue Star Museums in Houston

Blue Star Museums in Houston
by Carolynn Waites
May 25, 2014

Service Members Receive Free Admission at Select Houston Museums This Summer

On May 21, 2014, the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star Families announced the launch of the fifth year of Blue Star Museums. This outstanding program offers free admission to American service members and their families at over 2,000 museums across the United States. The free admission is available from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2014. Here are the participating museums around Houston, Texas.

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is the only museum dedicated to preserving the legacy and honor of the African-American Soldier. It is open Monday through Saturday. The museum’s address is 3816 Caroline Street, Houston, Texas 77004.

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presents innovative international, national, and regional art. It is open Tuesday through Sunday. The museum is located at 5216 Montrose Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77006.

Dunham Bible Museum
The Dunham Bible Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the Bible through its large collection of rare Bibles, scriptures, and manuscripts. It is open Monday through Saturday. The museum is located at Houston Baptist University, 7502 Fondren Road, Houston, Texas 77074.

Holocaust Museum Houston
The Holocaust Museum Houston educates visitors about the Holocaust, remembering the victims and honoring the legacy of the survivors. It is open Sunday through Saturday. The address of the museum is 5401 Caroline Street, Houston, Texas 77004.

The Menil Collection
The Menil Collection houses, exhibits, and preserves the outstanding art collection of Houston philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil. It is open Wednesday through Saturday. The museum is located at 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, Texas 77006.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston includes two main gallery buildings that house the art collections and exhibitions, the Cullen Sculpture Garden, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, Rienzi, and the Glassell Scholl of Art. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. The museum’s main campus address is 1001 Bissonnet, Houston, Texas 77005.

Alvin Museum Society (Alvin)
The Alvin Museum Society operates the Marguerite Rogers House Museum and the Alvin Historical Museum. Both museums are open Thursdays, Fridays, and the first Saturday of each month. The Marguerite Rogers House Museum is located at 113 East Dumble, Alvin, Texas 77511. The Alvin Historical Museum is located in the former post office at 300 West Sealy, Alvin, Texas 77511.

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum (Galveston)
The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum allows visitors to experience the offshore industry first-hand on an actual retired drilling rig. The museum is open Sunday through Saturday. The museum is located at Pier 19, Harborside Drive, Galveston, Texas 77550.

Sam Houston Memorial Museum (Huntsville)
The Sam Houston Memorial Museum is a center for education and information about Sam Houston and the role he played in Texas history. It is open Tuesday through Sunday. The museum’s address is 1402 19th Street, Huntsville, Texas 77340.

San Jacinto Museum of History (La Porte)
The base of the San Jacinto Monument houses the San Jacinto Museum of History. The museum honors those who fought in the Battle of San Jacinto to win Texas’ independence from Mexico and presents the history of Texas and the Spanish Southwest. The museum is open Sunday through Saturday. The museum is located at One Monument Circle, La Porte, Texas 77571.

Lake Jackson Historical Association (Lake Jackson)
The Lake Jackson Historical Society runs the Lake Jackson Historical Museum. The museum focuses on the history of Lake Jackson with interactive exhibits and high-tech displays. It is open Tuesday through Saturday. The museum’s address is 249 Circle Way, Lake Jackson, Texas 77566.

The Woodlands Children’s Museum (The Woodlands)
The Woodlands Children’s Museum provides creative play experiences and interactive activities for children. It is ideal for children seven years old and under. It is open Tuesday through Sunday. The museum is located at 4775 West Panthercreek Drive #280, The Woodlands, Texas 77381.

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A Dog’s-Eye-View of Popular Dog Parks in Houston

A Dog’s-Eye-View of Popular Dog Parks in Houston
by Carolynn Waites
Mar 22, 2014

One Local Dog’s Opinion of the Best Parks to Go Off-Leash

My name is Rocky and as a dog living in the Houston area, I enjoy a new outdoor adventure every now and then. My mom and dad like to take me to different dog parks around the city. New places offer so many smells to discover. These dog parks are popular with our owners and us doggies. They are easy to get to, have ample parking, and have plenty of amenities for both canine and human. I may not always feel like playing with the other dogs, but I can easily spend all day sniffing every shrub and tree at these parks.

Danny Jackson Family Dog Park is a popular dog park located within the heart of Houston. It is located off Westpark Drive just inside Loop 610. The park is 2.76 acres and features ponds, water fountains, benches, dog wash areas, and walking trails. The park splits into a small dog park and a large dog park. Even though I have the heart and soul of a big dog, at 12 pounds I am usually in the small dog park. Park hours are 7:00am to 10:00pm. The park address is 4828 1/2 Loop Central Drive, Houston, TX 77081.

Millie Bush Dog Park is located inside George Bush Park in west Houston. It is named after George and Barbara Bush’s dog Millie. The park is 8.68 acres and features water fountains, double-gated fencing, benches, walking trails, ponds, and dog showers. There is a separate small dog park fenced within the large dog park. I do not like getting wet, but I know many of my furry friends love splashing around and swimming in the ponds. Hours for the dog park are 7:00am to dusk. The address of the park is 16756 Westheimer Parkway, Houston, TX 77082.

Congressman Bill Archer Park includes one of the largest dog parks in the area. That means I have plenty of land to run free off the leash. The 17-acre dog park includes a separate dog park for small dogs as well as the large dog park. Both dog parks feature a double-gated fence, large swimming ponds, agility courses, dog showers, benches, water fountains and walking trails. Park hours are 7:00am to dusk. The park address is 3201 State Highway 6 North, Houston, TX 77084.

Rocky is a 12-pound chi-weenie dog that lives with his human mom and dad and two annoying cats that he likes to escape. One of his favorite pastimes is going for a car ride. It is even better when a dog park is the destination for that car ride. Rocky has been to dog parks all over the United States, but he calls Houston home and likes to check out the local doggie hangouts whenever he can get a ride in the car to visit them. He asked his mom to help him with this article about his favorite dog parks in Houston. Please remember to follow all the dog park rules and be a good canine citizen.

Favorite Day Spas for Relaxation & Rejuvenation in the Houston Area

Favorite Day Spas for Relaxation & Rejuvenation in the Houston Area
by Carolynn Waites
Apr 9, 2014

Creating an Oasis of Calm in Our Busy World Makes These Day Spas Stand Out

Visiting a day spa for some pampering is an excellent way to reduce stress and rejuvenate your sense of well-being. Stepping out of the world and into the calm and relaxing atmosphere of a day spa does wonders for your psyche. A soothing environment mixed with great customer service will help turn an hour or two of your day into a luxurious break for yourself. Here are four full-service spas dedicated to relaxation in the Houston area that create a wonderful experience that have customers raving.

Dolce Vita Day Spa
Dolce Vita Day Spa uses a holistic approach with its spa treatments, using natural products and essential oils. The luxury begins the moment you walk into the spa with soothing music, falling water, aromatherapy, and beautiful decor. This spa in the River Oaks area is open Tuesday through Sunday and they recommend booking your appointment at least one week in advance. Dolce Vita Day Spa is located at 2503-B S. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX 77019.

Trellis Spa
Trellis Spa is located in The Houstonian Hotel in the Galleria/Uptown area of Houston. The Mediterranean-style spa surrounds a beautiful garden courtyard in a tranquil setting. They are open seven days a week and recommend making appointments at least two weeks in advance. Trellis Spa is located at 111 North Post Oak Lane, Houston, TX 77024.

Bergamos Spa Retreat
Bergamos Spa Resort is located in Friendswood, just south of Houston. It is a destination spa for many in the Houston area. Soothing music and a tranquil setting help you unwind before your treatment begins. They are open seven days a week and recommend booking your visit at least three or four days in advance. Bergamos Spa Retreat is located at 313 E. Edgewood Drive, Friendswood, TX 77546.

The Spa at Cinco Ranch
The Spa at Cinco Ranch is located just west of Houston in Katy. This destination spa is located on one and a half acres and offers beautiful tranquil courtyard views. Their goal is to reduce stress, relax the body, and rejuvenate the soul. The spa is by appointment only and is open Monday through Saturday. The Spa at Cinco Ranch is located at 23050 Westheimer Parkway, Katy, TX 77494.

Escape Into Nature Without Leaving the Metro Area: Houston’s Best Hiking Trails

Escape Into Nature Without Leaving the Metro Area: Houston’s Best Hiking Trails
by Carolynn Waites
Mar 17, 2014

Do you want to escape from the city without leaving the city? Houston has several hiking trails that can take you back to nature without having to leave the metropolitan area. These three popular hiking trails are good for all levels, so anyone can get out on them and lose themselves in nature for an hour or two.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is an oasis within an oasis in the city of Houston. Located within Memorial Park, the nature center has many different trails. The most popular trail with hikers is the Outer Loop trail. This smooth, unpaved two-mile loop encircles the arboretum and gets you away from the more crowded trails in Memorial Park. The southern portion of the trail has a remote feel to it and you can forget that the big city surrounds you. Entrance to the Houston Arboretum is free and the trails are open seven days a week from 7:00am to dusk. Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are kept on a leash at all times. Parking is free, but fills up quickly on weekends. There is additional free parking one-quarter mile away in the Running Lot in Memorial Park.

Armand Bayou Nature Center
Armand Bayou Nature Center is in the Clear Lake Area. The Armand Bayou/Holly Bay trail is a crushed-limestone five-mile long point-to-point trail located within the 2,500-acre nature preserve. Following the trail will take you through this region’s different original ecosystems including wetlands, tall grass prairies, and bottomland forest. Armand Bayou Nature Center is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. Dogs are not allowed anywhere in the Nature Center. Entrance fees are $4.00 for ages 13 to 59 years old. There are discounts for younger children and seniors age 60 and up. Three years old and under get free admission. There is plenty of parking inside the gates.

Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens
Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens is located on the north side of Houston in Humble. Aldine Westfield Road divides the 325-acre park into a west side and east side. Both sides feature crushed gravel loop trails that consist of smaller loops. The trails run alongside Cypress Creek. The trail on the west side of the park is two and a quarter miles if you hike the entire loop. Dogs on a leash are allowed on the trails on the west side of the park. The trail on the east side of the park takes you through the Botanic Gardens. The entire east side loop is one and a half miles long. Dogs are not allowed on the east side of the park. Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens is open seven days a week from 8:00am to dusk during March through October and 8:00am to 5:00pm during November through February. Entrance is free and there is parking available in the park.

Additional Information on these trails and others: AllTrails

No-Kill Animal Shelters in Houston

No-Kill Animal Shelters in Houston
by Carolynn Waites
Mar 15, 2014

Shelter and Rescue Groups That Do Not Euthanize Animals Need Support

There are a number of animal shelters in the Houston area. There are rescue organizations for every type of breed, groups covering different areas of town, and local city and county shelters. No-kill shelters need support from the community to be successful.

Not All Shelters are No-Kill
The shelter names that you are most likely familiar with in the Houston area are large shelters that are popular places for animal adoptions. These shelters do good work and deserve support, but they are not no-kill shelters. According to No Kill Houston, there are five kill shelters in Houston that are killing approximately 80,000 cats and dogs a year.

About No-Kill Shelters
No-kill shelters work to educate the public about spaying and neutering their pets and adopting homeless animals. They do not get the publicity that the larger shelters receive, and they are usually much more reliant on donations from the public and volunteers. They rarely have the resources to seek out financial grants or large-size donations. They have higher veterinary bills, because they will save animals that can be saved and not euthanize every sick animal that comes in their door.

Community Support
Many no-kill shelters and rescue groups do not have a building that you can visit to see their animals. They rely on fosters, people who temporarily keep the animals in their homes until the animal is adopted. The shelters help with the costs of food and veterinary care for these foster pets, and the animals get used to being around humans and other animals. You can see the animals they have up for adoption by checking their websites or visiting local pet stores or veterinary clinics on the weekends. PetSmart and Petco support local homeless pets by providing space to rescue organizations for adoption events on the weekends.

Support Local No-Kill Shelters
Next time you are looking to support a shelter or rescue organization, consider supporting one of the many no-kill shelters in the Houston area. Here are four no-kill rescue groups that are recommended:
Homeless and Orphaned Pets Endeavor (HOPE)
Buster’s Friends
Homeless Pet Placement League
Friends For Life

Houston Area Wildlife Attractions

Houston Area Wildlife Attractions
by Carolynn Waites
Feb 20, 2014

Houston and Its Surrounding Area Is Home to Zoos, Museums, and Parks That Attract Animal Lovers

Houston offers many fun attractions for wildlife lovers and animal lovers to enjoy. These featured attractions are all on the south side Houston, from the museum district near downtown to Galveston Island. They will entertain and educate visitors to the area or locals looking for an interesting and fun way to spend a day.

Houston Zoo
The Houston Zoo, located in Hermann Park in the museum district, offers the largest selection of animals for viewing in the area. There are 6,000 resident animals living at the zoo. The beautifully landscaped zoo and animal habitats represent the natural living environments of the animals. There is a petting zoo in the children’s zoo section allowing interaction with the resident goats.

Cockrell Butterfly Center
The Cockrell Butterfly Center is located at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in the museum district. Hundreds of live butterflies in a lush tropical atmosphere surround visitors. The 50-foot waterfall is also a highlight of this three-story exhibit. Exotic plants are everywhere as the butterflies alight on the plants and other food sources, as well as on the occasional lucky visitor.

Bayou Wildlife Zoo
The Bayou Wildlife Zoo in Alvin is a mix of a wildlife safari and petting zoo, with over 500 different animals. The highlight is the 45-minute tram ride that takes visitors through the park. Purchase a bucket of animal food for the journey to entice many of the animal residents to the open sides of the tram. Feeding is encouraged and some of the bolder animals will eat offered food from hand or even stick their head inside the tram to eat out of a bucket. Save some food, if you can, for the petting zoo after the tram ride.

Brazos Bend State Park
Located in NeedvilleBrazos Bend State Park is a must-visit for close encounters with alligators. An easy hike around Elm Lake will provide many alligator sightings. They are lounging in the water and sunning themselves right on the pathway. Covering around 5000 acres, the park also hosts a large variety of birds and other wildlife. Bring a camera; there are fantastic photo opportunities everywhere.

Moody Gardens
Galveston Island‘s Moody Gardens has two attractions of interest for wildlife lovers: the Rainforest Pyramid and the Aquarium Pyramid. The Rainforest is a 10-story glass pyramid with animals and plants living throughout the tropical habitat. Visitors can walk pathways along the treetops to see monkeys and birds or follow the river at the bottom of the pyramid to see otters, turtles, and more. The Aquarium Pyramid is the only place in the Houston area to see penguins. The 1.5 million-gallon aquarium also features sharks, stingrays, and seals.

Summer Fun at Houston Area Water Parks

Summer Fun at Houston Area Water Parks
by Carolynn Waites
May 15, 2014

Three Water Parks Near Houston Provide Fun and Relief From the Heat

Summer heat is just around the corner in Houston. Visiting a water park with your family is a fantastic way to cool down and have fun at the same time. The three big water parks in the Houston metropolitan area are worth a visit.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark
Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Galveston, Texas, features more than 35 different water features. There are activities for all ages, from toddlers to adults. There are slides and chutes for all thrill levels, pools, rivers, beaches, water coasters, and more. Schlitterbahn has the largest variety of activities of the three water parks. You can reserve a cabana for added relaxation and privacy. You may bring your own food into the park, though you cannot bring alcohol or glass containers. Parking is free and free inner tubes and life jackets are available. The park gets extremely busy during the summer months, so a good suggestion is to go during a weekday or early on a Sunday for the least crowded conditions. The park is open every day beginning May 15, 2014, through September 1, 2014.Tickets and Season Passes are available online and at the gate. Buying your tickets online will save you $3.00 on daily admission.

Wet ‘n’ Wild SplashTown
Wet ‘n’ Wild SplashTown in Spring, Texas, includes more than 15 unique water features. A major renovation, which included some new rides, was just completed. Beginning May 22, 2014, they will be open every day until the last week of August. There are several different thrill rides, slides, chutes, pools, and rivers. There are activities specifically for children as well. Cabanas, lockers, and tubes are available for rental. You may not bring your own food into the park, though you may bring some bottled water. Life jackets are available for complimentary use. Parking is $10.00 per car. Tickets, season passes, parking, and rentals may be purchased online. Buying your tickets online will save you $5.00 on daily admission for adults.

Pirates Bay
The City of Baytown Parks and Recreation Department runs Pirates Bay in Baytown, Texas. The water park features a river, slides, pools, a climbing wall, a surf machine, play areas, and more. Pirates Bay is the most affordable option of the three water parks. New attractions, including a wave pool and a concession stand, were part of an expansion for 2014. There are activities for children as well as adults. Tubes and parking are free. Coolers are welcome, though glass bottles and alcoholic beverages are not allowed. The park opens every day beginning June 7, 2014, and is open on weekends until then. Tickets and season passes are available online.