Being from Texas, there are a ton of places to visit that are within driving distance from Austin. As a kid I loved taking road trips and getting out of my hometown and experiencing the feel and atmosphere of other cities. Recently after visiting Dallas for a Lego convention, I asked my wife, “Where would you like to go, next?” Her reply was, “Houston maybe? Have you ever been to Moody Gardens or The Kemah Boardwalk?” I hadn’t been to either but I had been to the Houston area so I was sort of familiar with the general are of Galveston and where the Kemah Boardwalk was located.
After a few weeks of talking about heading to the Houston area, my wife said she wanted to visit Moody Gardens in Galveston, so we made the drive out to Galveston Island. She told me that she had visited Moody Gardens when she was younger and had been wanting to go back and take our kids along with us. To be honest, I have visited Houston and been to several areas around Houston, but I had never visited Galveston. I was excited about going and as the date approached we started to get ready to go.
The first thing we did was head to the Texas Boot Company and picked up some new boots for the kids. We wanted to wait and wrap them up for Christmas but my oldest wanted to wear his out; how could I say no? The Texas Boot Company had a huge selection of children’s boots, my oldest has some difficulty choosing but he ended getting some boots with longhorns on them and they have a big star on the back side of the boot.
After we got their boots and packed up all of our clothes, we headed out to Galveston! Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island and Pelican Island in Texas. The city is about 45 miles southeast of downtown Houston. The drive from Austin to Houston wasn’t too long, we left at 3:30 pm and ended up in some traffic traveling through Houston. It did take us one hour to travel from Katy to Seabrook, where we were staying for the night. In total we were driving for about 3 and 1/2 hours, mind you we got stuck in some traffic and had to stop and put some gas on a Friday afternoon and if you know how traffic is in these metro areas, you know that traveling on Friday afternoon is going to take a while.
We were staying in Seabrook, Texas, a city located on Galveston Bay at Clear Lake, southeast of Houston near Pasadena and La Porte. While we were eating dinner we had a quite lengthy discussion on why La Porte was named La Porte, someone at the table said that it was settled by French descendents and that is why La Porte sounds French. A few others in our party disagreed and ended up looking online to see why La Porte was named La Porte. We ended up learning quite a bit about La Porte that night but long story short a group of investors wanted to turn that area into a tourist destination. The group of developers and colonizers were from Denver, Colorado, so we assumed the name was not because the founders were French.
After visiting with family and eating some dinner. We got everybody to bed and got ready for Saturday. Saturday morning we all work up at about 7:30 am, you know children hardly ever sleep in! It was actually pretty awesome that they all got up so early because we had some time to take them down to check out the beach in the early morning. It was nice and cool at the beach and the smell of the ocean water was truly awesome.
We took a short drive over to Galveston Island and within no time we were at Moody Gardens. We were there at about 11 am and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. In Texas, we really do not have a harsh winter, so it was a cool 70 degrees out and it was a bit overcast.
What stood out the most is that Moody Gardens has 3 pyramids full of interactive stuff kids and adults can view and participate in. One pyramid has an aquarium, one has a rainforest, and the Discovery Pyramid housed The SpongeBob Subpants Adventure which is a 4D experience for visitors. Each pyramid has something truly unique to offer, my sons loved the Rainforest Pyramid which had so many animals on exhibit and tons of exotic plants and animals.
Moody Gardens is an educational destination with three pyramids, a golf course, and hotel. We didn’t stay the night at the hotel or play a round of golf but both looked equally amazing as the attractions we visited. In addition to all the amenities Moody Gardens has to offer, an exhibit that we were especially excited to visit was the the ICE LAND: Ice Sculputres with SpongeBob SquarePants.
The sculptures were carved out of more than 2 million pounds of ice and is the only holiday ice exhibit on the Gulf Coast. We viewed a video that has some information about the sculptures, a team of 30 internationally acclaimed professional ice carvers from Harbin, China created giant SpongeBob ice sculptures. What was even more awesome was that, in order to keep the ice sculptures intact and make sure they did not melt the area had to be kept at a constant 9 degrees. It was exceptionally cold when we entered but Moody Gardens provided each patron with a parka. We all got outfitted with a parka, got em zipped up, and went into the cold! Both my sons love SpongeBob and were in total awe of all the giant sculptures. The Ice Land Ice Sculptures exhibit is going on now and will be ending on January 10.
Moody Gardens offered so much more that we didn’t get to take advantage of because of the time of year we visited. Also, it was pretty awesome for us since we have 3 kids it was easy to maneuver around because it wasn’t too packed. It is technically Winter, so the splash-pads and zero grad man made lagoons were not open but looked like they were super fun. We are already planning our trip back in the Summer! My advice is if you want to take advantage of all of what Moody Gardens has to offer, visit in the summer when the kids are out of school. If you have a weekend and nothing planned head over to Moody Gardens during its off peak time and check out what it has to offer. We liked that we were able to find parking rather quickly and close by and we were able to maneuver through all the exhibits with easy and could let the boys run around without the fear of them getting lost in the crowd.
We didn’t get to stay to check out the Festival of Lights but running November 14 – January 10, Moody Gardens is hosting its 14th Annual Festival of Lights, with more than 1 million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays and nightly live entertainment. You can also skate around on the area’s only outdoor ice skating rink (bring your own skates or rentals available for $7).
For all the information about Moody Gardens, visit their website www.MoodyGardens.com. Also, if you have a group that wants to attend they offer group rates and discounts, just give them a call at 1-800-582-4673.