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A grandparent's guide to the Lone Star State

Created date

May 31st, 2009

When it comes to summertime fun, it s tough to beat the amenities Texas cities have to offer.

From parks to museums and everything in between, there s no shortage of kid-friendly attractions. And as the door closes on another school year, now is the perfect time to take advantage of activities that will both enrich and entertain the younger set.

For grandparents who may not have visited youth-oriented attractions in a while, there are several new offerings designed for multigenerational enjoyment.

Bayou city at its best

"Houston is a great city for all ages," says Lindsey Brown, director of marketing and public relations for the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. "If you haven t taken your grandkids downtown to see the new Discovery Green, it s a must. There is a great playground, a water fountain for kids to play in, two restaurants The Lake House is more kid-friendly than The Grove and events happening all the time."

Brown also praises the newly renovated Children s Museum of Houston.

"On March 14, the museum introduced a $35 million expansion, which essentially doubled its size," she says. "It s more like an educational theme park than a museum. If you haven t visited lately, you can t miss it."

Another surefire hit with children is the Houston Zoo. The zoo recently acquired a red

panda, Toby, billing him "the cutest animal in the world."

Freedom to spend time on what s important

When Shirley Smith moved to Eagle s Trace the Erickson community in west Houston in March 2008, she was excited to be near four of her grandchildren, ranging in age from 2 to 11.

Now she s enjoying the freedom to spend time with them instead of worrying about chores.

"I come and go as I please, knowing that my apartment is secure," says Smith, who frequently takes "field trips" with her grandchildren to see the local attractions. "I am very blessed to have my grandchildren," she says. "I want to enjoy them as much as I can."

Longtime Dallas resident Dee Saunders moved to Highland Springs the sister community to Eagle s Trace, in Dallas in 2007. With two grandchildren (William, 5, and Christina, 3) living just up the road in Frisco, Saunders takes every opportunity to create special memories with them.

"There s a DART [Dallas Area Rapid Transit] station just a few blocks from Highland Springs," she says. "We catch the train and it takes us over the Trinity River to the Dallas Zoo. My grandkids get the fun of a train ride plus a trip to the zoo!"

They also love the Dallas World Aquarium. "One of our favorite exhibits is the tunnel with sharks and stingrays swimming overhead," says Saunders.

Fun in the big D

Dallas offers a multitude of other attractions, including the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society, located on 66 acres overlooking White Rock Lake.

This year, the Arboretum is featuring 15 storybook playhouses based on well-known children s stories, including Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Thumbelina.

Saunders regularly scans the newspaper for shows she thinks her grandchildren will like.

"Last year, I invited my grandchildren to spend the night at my apartment. The next morning, we had breakfast and went to see a matinee performance at the Dallas Children s Theater of If You Give a Pig a Party, based on the children s book by the same name," says Saunders.

Rated by Time magazine as one of the top five theaters in the nation for children, the Dallas Children s Theater puts on 11 main stage performances annually. The last production of the 2008 2009 season, The Neverending Story, runs from June 19 through July 12. Saunders reports on her trip there with her grandchildren: "It was a wonderful, interactive experience."

Oh, the places to go!

Dallas attractions

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society

www.dallasarboretum.org

214-51...Children s Theater

www.dct.org

214-740-0051

The Dallas World Aquarium

www.dwazoo.com

214-720-2224

www.dallaszoo.com

214-670-5656

<... attractions

Children s Museum of Houston

www.cmhouston.org

713-522-1138

www.discoverygreen.com

713-400-...Zoo

www.houstonzoo.org

713-533-6500

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