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Trip Report Houston, Galveston, and Arlington, Texas 2012

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We had a great trip to Texas, July 24-30! Our main reason for heading to Texas was to see Minute Maid Park and the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. We enjoyed a lot of other activities as well. My husband and I (mid-30s) and our four-year-old daughter made the trip.

We flew from Denver to Houston on Frontier the morning of July 24. We rented a car and headed to our hotel, the Crowne Plaza in the medical center area. After lunch, some pool time and a nap, we decided to take the light rail to Minute Maid Park for that night’s Reds-Astros game. Our hotel was only about a mile from the light rail station and the ride downtown took about 20 minutes. The downtown area was very quiet, even close to game time. We purchased tickets and went in the stadium. We enjoyed walking around and looking around the stadium before first pitch. There were many great features, such as the large posters on the lower concourse, lots of red everywhere, a huge kids play area, and large Jumbotron. We thought this was the nicest of the indoor ballparks and enjoyed the game.

Wednesday, July 25
Attractions: Rothko Chapel, Bayou Bend gardens, and Hermann Park.
My daughter loved the train ($3 each) and fountains and I loved the Japanese Garden at Hermann Park! Rothko Chapel, the Manil Collection and Bayou Bend were also worth the trip. My daughter was not old enough for the guided tour at Bayou Bend.

Restaurants: Goode's BBQ (on Kirby) and Pappasitos Cantina for half-priced fajita night! Would recommend both places.

Thursday, July 26
Attractions: Space Center, Discovery Green, and another Astros game
Buy your tickets for the Space Center online before you leave home and save $5 per person! We loved the red tram tour and spent more than 5 hours at the Space Center. Fun for everyone. During the week at the Astros game, they have $10 tickets, which includes a hot dog, chips, and a drink. Tickets are in the upper deck, down the line. Great deal!

Restaurants: Snack at the Space Center cafe, BJs Brewhouse

Friday, July 27
Attractions: Kemah Boardwalk, Galveston
We bought an unlimted ride pass at Kemah for our daughter and some individual tickets for bigger attractions for us, which was a better deal. Very hot day but lots of fun! Also spent a couple hours in the waves at the beach in Galveston.

Restaurants: Saltgrass at the Boardwalk, a Mexican restaurant to the right of the convention center in Galveston (as you face the water).
Both were decent meals, not great.

Saturday, July 28
Attractions: Galveston Ferry, Bishop's Palace (did not do tour), the Strand, LaKing's Confectionary, the beach
Loved the Rocky Road at LaKings! The ferry ride was fun and we saw dolphins!

Restaurants: The Spot in Galveston, Steak and Shake in Arlington
At the Spot we got a table outside, ordered some burgers, and enjoyed the beach atmosphere! Very crowded but worth the wait! Good onion rings.

Sunday, July 29
Attractions: Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Rangers Ballpark
The waterpark was a lot of fun (it was 108 degrees that day) and we found a coupon for everyone to get the children's price ($25). Long lines and crowded...I would recommend at least 5-6 hours there. The ballpark had a great atmosphere and was a sellout. Buy your tickets before you arrive as we could only get standing room only tickets. Also, it was still 100 degrees at first pitch! Do not sit in the sun! We enjoyed the park. The crowd was the best part.

Restaurants: Pei Wei (a chain but we love it!)


Hotels
We stayed our first three nights at the Crowne Plaza in the Texas Medical Center area. The location of this hotel was great. We were near the light rail, which we took downtown and to Minute Maid Park, and close to Hermann Park and other attractions. However, we would not recommend this hotel. The beds were fine and it was clean, but the bathroom was rundown and we had a couple of major problems. First of all, the shower would shut off completely, and then slowly come back on scalding hot. We reported it and after they “fixed” it, it shut off 2-3 times during a shower instead of once. Also, we got dirty towels, and the staff was not very friendly or helpful. They couldn’t answer questions we had about the area , directions, or light rail schedules. In addition, there was a fire drill one morning and we couldn’t access the elevator during the drill as we were headed out. Also, the breakfast we had included in our package was horrible. They wouldn’t replenish food and had a very poor selection. To the hotel’s credit, we did receive a discount when checking out after telling them of our problems, but it was not a good experience and we would not stay there again.

In Galveston, we stayed at the Harbor House near the cruise ship and ferry terminals. This was an older hotel, but functional and the staff was friendly. The hotels for this time were very expensive all over Galveston and I know we overpaid for this hotel. I did not like that they charged $10 for parking, but you could also park at the Galvez and Tremont House near the beach, which was convenient. A continental breakfast was included and again it was small and not a great selection. Some instant oatmeal, bagels, apples, and some sweet rolls were all that was offered. Good location near the Strand. We would recommend it in Galveston.

In Arlington, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn across the street from Six Flags. This was the nicest hotel we stayed at and it was a great location for what we wanted to do in Arlington. Perfect location next to the highway and very close to the Six Flags Over Texas, Hurricane Harbor, and the ballpark. There was a trolley that offers free transportation to Six Flags and the Rangers Ballpark, although the schedule was sporadic. It was a new hotel, clean and comfortable, with friendly staff. The room also had a small fridge and microwave and the hotel had a small swimming pool outside, which our daughter enjoyed. It had a nice hot breakfast, but was about $11/pp and it was not included in our rate. It had a Saltgrass and a Steak and Shake right next door, and several chain restaurants within a couple of miles. Great location to many Arlington favorites and easy access to the highway.

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