Gas prices are soaring, money is tight, but summer is right around the corner. Are you thinking of canceling your summer vacation plans?
Instead, why not take a staycation? A home vacation is a great way to save money and still get the value of a vacation. You’ll get to know your home city in new ways and even lighten some of the stress that seems to accompany annual vacations. Why not take a staycation?
Image Credit: Houston Museum of Natural Science
See Houston with “new” eyes
For Houstonions, that means exploring the city and making new discoveries. Most people don’t look at their own city or town with “new” eyes. Houstonians are no different. They’re steeped in their daily life, rushing from task to task, living in cars and air-conditioned homes. Houstonians tend to be “in” the city more than “out and about” the city. They’re rushing from one point to another, often evading the heat, and missing much of what Houston has to offer. How do I know? Because I was once the same way.
Become a tourist, visit Houston
If you live in Houston, the best way to see the city is to put on your “visitor” glasses. Back in the 80s a friend and I decided we would look at Houston as our summer destination city. So we approached the entire vacation week through that lens. We checked the Chamber of Commerce, combed through the papers, read some guidebooks and talked to friends. We realized that a lot had happened in Houston while we were driving the freeways and working every day. Downtown Houston had grown up. The museums had exploded. It was time to play catch-up with our home town.
How a week exploring Houston became a fun staycation
We each made a list of the places that intrigued us the most. We canvased museums, restaurants, parks, theaters, and more. We listed places others suggested. Then we compared our lists. Anything that showed up on both lists made our final cut. Then we looked at the locations and worked out the logistics for each day. We realized that visiting one of our top spots, the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS), had an added bonus: it’s location. So many other places were within walking distance.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of many Houston must-sees
The Museum of Natural Science was a definite for both of us. That visit turned out to be a splendid day. We hit the Planetarium, wandered underneath massive dinosaur skeletons, and explored all the exhibits. It was quite a place then. Today the museum is among the top 10 most visited museums in the US. I hadn’t been to the Houston Zoo in years so it made the list, too, and it was pretty much across the street from the museum. Another day we included a picnic and spent the afternoon at Bear Creek Park. We took in restaurants we’d heard of but never visited, checked out historical sites and relearned and learned anew interesting tidbits about the city.
To have a successful home vacation, stay in “vacation” mode
What we didn’t do was visit friends, talk to friends, show up where our friends would be. To everyone else, we had left the city. We were on vacation. While we could have stayed at a local hotel to complete the “visitor” experience, we opted to return to our homes at night. We found it easy to maintain our vacation escape without being noticed so it worked for us. Today, I might opt to stay at a hotel just to round things out.
Develop a vacation plan to visit Houston
It is much different today to plan a vacation. The Internet makes everything easier so take full advantage of all that is now available via your fingertips on the keyboard. Check out the Houston’s Visitor’s Center. Houston’s visitor’s center is well worth a visit anyday. They have a ton of information and can help you plan a terrific home vacation. Check out Houston’s Museum District, you may be surprised to see how many museums Houston has and how diversified they are. The theater district has really grown up. You could easily spend a week downtown and still have more to see.
Looking for kid-friendly sites to visit? Houston is full of them. From the Alkek Velodrome to Houston’s premiere Children’s Museum, there is plenty to do with your kids here in the Bayou City.
Today I have strong memories of that Houston home vacation. I remember thinking how surprised I was that I had so much fun. I became a believer in the value of staycations as an alternative to traditional vacations and I became a fan of the city. Houston does have a lot to offer. It is the 4th largest city in the country and it is way more than cowboy hats, boots and horses. Why not give Houston a try this summer?
Look for more about Houston as a staycation
This is the first post in a series about using Houston as a staycation destination city. While the focus will be on Houston and Houston sites, the general ideas can be used with any city or hometown. I hope you’ll sign up to learn more about Houston and check out this blog’s Facebook Fan Page, too, called, of course, Houston Angle. You’ll find interesting links about Houston on the Fan Page while the more in-depth writings about the city will be here.
Come back often. Share what you enjoy or find useful and let me know what you think and what you’d like to explore.
Take a Staycation This Year
Exploring Houston, Texas with Children
The Houston Museum of Natural Science
Houston’s Visitor Center
Houston Museum District
Children’s Musem of Houston