How perfectly gorgeous is your spring weather right now? We’re right smack in the middle of a stretch of storybook-beautiful weather in southeast Texas.
It’s actually like this every year. But after a short stretch of annoyingly cool weather (“winter”), you learn to really appreciate the rest of the year. Most of it, anyway.
Growing up in the great state of Texas, we didn’t take many out-of-state vacations. We didn’t have to. Living just north of one the largest metro areas in the US, we had our choice of day trips and weekend outings, from a trip to Austin and the Hill Country, where the wildflowers are plentiful and smoked brisket is king, to a trip to Galveston for a day of fun in the sun at the beach. We had an array of options that had to satisfy two important criteria:
1) It must be fun for the whole family.
2) It must include delicious food.
Today, #2 is really #1. And also leads to #1.
Look any direction in Southeast Texas and you can get just about any food from any culture; our blend of Tex-Mex, which is heavily influenced from the South, fades into influences of Czech and German as you head west. You will see more Cajun influence as you head east, and there’s a plethora of Asian and Asian-fusion cuisines to be found everywhere in the city. But this trip would take us down to the coast, to one of the other perks of being in Southeast Texas: access to some of the freshest seafood anywhere.
A couple of weekends ago, we packed up our little family for a day trip. We were driving down I-10, windows down, dreaming of a lunch of fresh Gulf oysters, the smell of salt and sunscreen on the breeze, with skies clear enough to help banish the lovely shade of “winter white” we’ll sport until June. And then it will fade to “aren’t you a little old for a sunburn?” red.
Just the wind in our hair and … Jingle Bells blaring on the radio (don’t ask), and a gigantic pile of stuff in the back seat.
There’s a direct correlation between how tall a person is and the amount of luggage they require on a trip. At 6’2″, my husband had a wallet and his Baylor ball cap. At 3’2″, our toddler had a stuffed-to-the-gills duffel bag and a soft-sided cooler. Because when she yells “food!” out of the blue and completely (of course) off-schedule, you better be able to quickly produce some yogurt and string cheese.
An hour away sits the Kemah Boardwalk, an entertainment center complete with several restaurants, games, amusement rides and an aquarium. At the boardwalk you can eat ceviche, ride a sky-high ferris wheel and break your “15+ years without a cherry ICEE” streak.
We enjoyed every minute, from lunch at the Flying Dutchman, where we all shared several fresh gulf seafood favorites, to feeding the fish and ducks, to watching sailboats and speedboats drift by as they left the nearby marina, to the double-decker carousel and a “see for miles in every direction” spinning observation tower.
This is where I tell you that I have a small fear of heights. And if you know me, by “small” I mean huge. I white-knuckled my camera until we were back within 10 feet of the ground. This is also where I could tell you about the time I was seven and was so paralyzed with fear that three adults had to pry me from an upper staircase on the Battleship Texas. But I won’t.
I couldn’t find a single souvenir T-Shirt that read: I Rode the Tower at Kemah and Didn’t Die. But for the record, I did. And I didn’t.
We splurged at lunch, sharing an order of baked oysters topped with grilled peppers and crispy bacon, grilled fish topped with an indulgent crab-butter-heavy-cream-more butter-more-cream sauce, and the table favorite: fresh ceviche served on a bed of crunchy coleslaw next to a pile of cool avocado slices, lime wedges and a mountain of tortilla chips.
After a day of fun in the sun, walking the boardwalk, watching the little one go ’round the carousel for the 14th time (unlimited-ride day-passes — get one if you, too, have a carousel-obsessed child), feeding the ducks (but not the birds!), and riding the rollercoaster, we cooled off with the most refreshing, delicious cherry ICEE that has ever been sold. EVER.
It was only 85 degrees out but it was gone in 12 seconds flat.
After a stop off at the small shops for some Boardwalk Fudge (don’t pass on the caramel-turtle!), we headed home, with our partied-out toddler snoring in the backseat and us discussing how delivery pizza for dinner was both one of the most disappointing and the greatest ideas ever.
$100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway
Travel Texas and BlogHer are sponsoring a great giveaway to one lucky reader. Please leave a comment telling me where you’d like to visit in Texas. You can request a free Texas Travel Guide from the TravelTex.com website where you can get lots of great ideas!
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