11 {More} Things To Do in Houston, Texas

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park – 2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056

Built in 1983, the Hines Waterwall is a 64-foot-semi-circular fountain that re-circulates 11,000 gallons of water per minute! Yup, you read that right – PER MINUTE! It is really cool and experiencing the rush of the water and just how loud it is is something you just have to check out for yourself. Until 2008 the wall was actually privately owned but it has become such a part of the Uptown community of Houston that the Mayor purchased it and the little over 2.5 acre park area surrounding it. There is a parking garage across the way where the public can park for a small fee.

Eleanor Tinsley Park – 18-3600 Allen Pkwy, Houston, TX 77019

I didn’t realize how large Eleanor Tinsley Park was until I was looking up how to get there. Someone had told me that this was the place to get one of the best skyline views of the city. They were so right and I enjoyed hanging out and getting a look at the city that I have grown to really love. The park is actually just a small section of the Buffalo Bayou Park and features a Volleyball court, a skate park, art installations, performance areas, the Houston Police Officer’s Memorial, a really well-used and love running trail – and is the host of the Art Car Parade and the 4th of July Celebration, “Freedom Over Texas”. Other than a section of Glenwood Cemetary (which I learned is actually a part of Eleanor Tinsely) This spot where I took this picture is one of the best views of the entire skyline.

McGovern Centennial Gardens (Hermann Park) – 1500 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004

The McGovern Centennial Gardens are a portion of Hermann Park in the Museum District of Houston. It houses a really cool Japanese garden, as well as a waterfall, which is quite the popular senior portarait place. They have a sculpture walk that includes the busts of many famous Texans and Houstonians, and they grow many native flowers and herbs here as well. There is lots of seating within the park and shady areas to eat lunch or take a break from the busy city bustle right outside of the gates.

Houston Love Mural

This mural is actually one of six murals that line the 1300 Block of McKinney Blvd, just down from Discovery Green. They are super fun and really colorful! Combine your love of Houston and a love a murals and take a picture with these babies while you’re downtown.

Discovery Green – 1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010

I was so excited to meet up with my fellow Instagram, Houston-loving pal, Spacey Casey in Discovery Green! We got a behind-the-scenes personalized tour of the just over 11 1/2 acre park area outside of the Houston Convention Center. Originally a parking lot, when the area was left to the city the people of Houston were asked what they wanted here, and overwhelming the choice was to create some sort of outside space that could unify the city and bring together all of the best parts of Houston. This of course certainly included food and art. There are so many amazing art installations in the park, a small lake, which becomes an ice skating rink, and outdoor music venue and beautiful walking paths. There are playgrounds and splash pads, all designed with children in mind. They have done an outstanding job of creating a space where people can come an sit in the quiet, eat, play and be active, all right downtown.

Sig’s Lagoon (Record Store) – 3622 Main St ste e, Houston, TX 77002

Straying into the more unusual part of this list, I had to include Sig’s on this list only because it is a really cool spot in Houston. I had to restrain myself and only left with four records, leaving about ten more behind that I wanted. If you’re looking for something I’d be willing to be Sig’s has it. It is one of the neatest record stores I’ve been in and has quite the comprehensive collection. Prices are really on point as well. No gouging going on here as I’ve seen in other stores.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – 1150 Brand Ln, Stafford, TX 77477

This came across my Instagram feed one day and I knew that I had to add to my Houston Bucket List. It is really very neat and the carvings are intricate and gorgeous. It is a peaceful place to visit and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It is a traditional Hindu temple built by a denomination of a branch of Hinduism. The gardens are peaceful and quiet, and it is really great place if you want a calming stroll and just listen to nature around you. It is open all year around to everyone, from all walks of life and faith, but it is a sacred place and visitors should adhere to the rules. For more information about visiting the Temple visit the website here.

The Orange Show/Smither’s Park

It’s not really a saying, but after visiting these two weird Houston spots the saying “Stay Weird Houston” could definitely be a thing. High on my list of things I just didn’t have time for the first time around is The Orange Show and Smither’s Park. The story of the Orange Show is just as strange as the Orange Show itself. It was created by a Houston mail carrier, dedicated to his favorite fruit, the Orange. For almost 30 years Mr. McKissack used recycled materials and every day building materials he came across to create this maze of a building. Its a trip for sure, but has become a beloved quirk of the city. After Mr. McKissack died a foundation was created to preserve the area, which included Houston’s own ZZ Top. The rest is history. The foundation also helps preserve the Beer Can House which I visited last time, as well as the park next door, Smither’s Park, which is equally as strange and cool as The Orange Show. While I visited I even got to see some of preservation and work that goes into maintaining these amazing mosaic art pieces. Check it out next time you’re in town, and especially with the kids!!


Terminal Museum – 8325 Travelair St, Houston, TX 77061

If its vintage in any way you can usually count me in, add a very 1940s, feel and you can absolutely count me in. The Houston Terminal Museum, while not expansive or super fancy, is still a really neat piece of Houston history. But its more than that, its a place to learn a lot about the history of airlines and air travel in general. I learned so much about the different companies and how they started, as well as several that I had never even heard of! And of course the stewardess fashion was top notch! The Terminal, which is located on the Houston Hobby Airport, is the first terminal built in Houston for leisure travel. It was used for flight until the late 50s, and was almost demolished in the 70s. Thankfull it was saved and we have the small, but pretty cool, Terminal Museum.

Terminal Museum 1

8th Wonder Brewery – 2202 Dallas St, Houston, TX 77003

Where can you go to get some good beer, hear some music and see all the things that you think of when you think of Houston Instagram? Why 8th Wonder Brewery! Check out the super cool Beatles statutes that are insanely tall, the We Love Houston sign, and Welcome to Brewston mural. From the name you know it is an actual Brewery and they have year-round brews, as well as special seasonal brews. Come and see what food trucks are on rotation and take a tour of the brewery, or distillery..yup, they also distill their own vodka and gin!

Rice University and Sky Space – Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion, Houston, TX 77005

As a fan of architecture I had to make sure to stop by the beautiful Rice University while I was in town this time. Rice University is a private Research University that opened in 1912, and the beautiful architecture reflect that. It is really beautiful and feels like an old university.  If you go in the evening you can hop on over to the James Turrell Sky Space and view the light show. There is a LED light show, that that takes place and projects through an aperture in the ceiling. It somehow works with the sky’s natural light and occurs during sunrise and sunset. I’m going to be completely honest with you and say that I have absolutely no idea how it does what it does…..or really what exactly it is doing, but it is really neat. Take as seat and relax because it is a very calming time.

If you can believe it, I still haven’t crossed all the things off my Houston list. It’s a long one and I intend to eventually cross them all off. So stay tuned for that! But in the mean time, check out some other Houston posts!

Houston Coffee

Houston Eats

10 Things You Must Do

Visit Houston with CityPass

Continue Reading

Visit Philadelphia: Eight Must See Sites

Philadelphia is like any awesome big city – There is entirely too much to see on one trip! However, as someone who loves to immerse myself in the city life, I was going to give it my very best. It was a whirlwind packed three-ish days and we fit a ton in. First I want to give a shout out to our hotel, the Wyndham Historic District. I would highly recommend staying with them. They are in a great location to Old City, just a couple blocks from a lot of the historic stuff, and then a few more blocks away from downtown and City Hall. The hotel staff was great, the room was amazing and I would stay there again. Alright, time to move on to some of the great sites we saw! As a side note, you MUST have timed tickets for Independence Hall. And while they say that you can obtain tickets on the morning of the day you would like to visit I would STRONGLY recommend that you reserve your tickets ahead of time for $1.

History Lives in Philadelphia {Sites}

National Portrait Gallery Philadelphia {420 Chestnut Street}

I would consider this be a hidden gem here in Philly, only because`several locals that I spoke with had never been. Living in DC we know portrait galleries, and while this one is small, the portraits in it make it worth the trip. The gallery is located in the Second Bank of the United States, which is really cool all by itself. You will find a who’s who of the creation of our country, including signers of the Declaration and Constitution. Many of the portraits are painted by Charles Wilson Peale, one of the most famous portrait painters of the time. Inside you will also find paintings and maps of Philadelphia in its early days, as well as important citizens. The gallery also has several computers in one of the rooms that allow you to look up, and learn in more detail, about the paintings they house.

Old City Hall {corner of 5th and Chestnut St – next to Independence Hall}

Unlike Independence Hall, no tickets are required for Old City Hall. While the building was intended as Philadelphia’s City Hall and seat of local government because Philly was our Nation’s first Capital it often was used for Federal purposes and was the meeting location of the first Supreme Court hearings. It is a really cool building, and if you aren’t able to get tickets into Independence Hall during your visit, this building looks a lot like it. There is a Ranger on site who tells you a little bit about the building and the history of it, as well as answering questions. One of the most interesting things we learned was that there was no special pay or arrangements made for the individuals that participated in the beginning. They came out of the goodness of the hearts from all over to handle cases.

City Hall {1450 JFK Blvd}

Perhaps one of the coolest buildings in Philadelphia is the current City Hall. It is so beautiful and just incredible architecture. I wanted to stare at it all day long. Whether you see it in the daytime or at night (I recommend both though), it is just an incredible example of Empire era architecture. Philly’s City Hall is the largest municipal building in the country. Building began in 1871 and took 30 years to finish. The 548 ft tower is the tallest masonry structure in the world without a steel frame. The first floor is solid granite, with brick structure with marble facade the rest of the way up. There is an absolutely gorgeous courtyard you can walk through during the workweek and Saturdays. There is a guided tour that takes you to an observation deck where you can see the entire city. This is only open however during the work week, so make sure to add that to the list. Attached to the grounds is Dilworth park which has an ice rink in the winter and holds various other community events during the year. Surrounding City Hall are various statutes and memorials marking important events and people to not only our Nation’s history but local history as well.

Christ Church {N. 2nd Street and Market Street} & Christ Church Burial Ground {5th and Arch Street}

Don’t get confused, no these two places aren’t connected to each other physically. Until 1856, Christ Church was actually the tallest building in North America. Its beautiful steeple is quite something. Over 300 years of history have occurred within these walls, and while the church is still an active Episcopal congregation you can tour the church home of many of our Nation’s most famous individuals – Betsey Ross, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and William Penn. One of my favorite parts is the chandelier inside, which is still used even though it was installed in the 1700s! The church also still rings its original bells. Visiting the church is donation only, but there is a small fee to visit the burial grounds down the road. All monies go to help to preserve both landmarks.

Five signers of the Declaration are buried at the Christ Church burial grounds including Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush. It is also the final resting place of many that died during the yellow fever epidemic.

One Liberty Observation Tower {1650 Market Street, 57th Floor}

Since I wasn’t able to get inside City Hall I knew I had to visit One Liberty Tower so that I could really take in the city. You can be sure that on the 57th Floor of a building is going to get you some amazing views. We were not disappointed! One of the cool things that they had were various games set up. This is not a rush in and out type place. You are encouraged to take your time and really take it all in. Play some games, look through the telescopes and interact with the large smart boards that help you identify the buildings and landscape you are looking at. You can also get a guided tour without paying extra. You can buy your tickets online ahead of time, and there is a family four-pack available for purchase online or in person. You can also purchase a day/night pass where you can take in the views twice in one day to really get a full picture of the city. Get more info and purchase tickets for Independence Hall.

Philadelphia Free Library – Parkway Library {19th Street and Benjamin Franklin Blvd}

Architecture is my thing and libraries with beautiful architecture are like my heaven! I was so excited when my friend took me to see this beautiful library in Houston, so I knew I wanted to check out one of the oldest libraries when I finally made it to Philadelphia. This particular building was opened for the Free Public Library in 1911, due to the fact that the library was becoming so popular they just needed the space! The Free Public Library was chartered in 1871. If you also enjoy architecture I would recommend visiting this on your way to the Philadelphia Art Museum or the Rocky Steps. There are library tours during the week, as well as a tour of the Rare Books Department. Visit the Library website for more information and specific times.


Wanamaker Organ {Macy’s City Center 1300 Market Street}

I had heard about the Wanamaker Organ from a friend of mine and he had said that it was something that I should definitely try to put on the list. Old building, cool old organ? Nothing more to say in my opinion. Macy’s City Center is home to the Wanamaker Organ and in and of itself is a remarkable building, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Wanamker Organ, built in 1904 for the World’s Fair, is located in the Grand Court and is one of the world’s largest organs. The experience was an incredible one, and even the kids liked it. Growing up, the church I attended had an organ and I’ve always loved them. It is such a beautiful instrument that I don’t really think gets the appreciation it deserves. Make sure to visit the Organ’s website to get details about the playing times. There is a 45min performance usually twice per day, best viewed from the third floor in my opinion. Enjoy the sound from over 28,000 pipes! It is an incredible experience.

The Rocky Steps {Philadelphia Museum of Art 2600 Benjamin Franklin Blvd}

If you’re a fan of the movie this is a must! Join the hundreds of other people running up the 72 steps and do your best Rocky impression. Make sure to catch the Rocky statue down below and wait in line to snap your picture!


BONUS: Eastern State Penitentiary {2124 Fairmount Ave}

For more on this recommendation visit my post all about Eastern State here. This is an excellent experience for kids and adults!

what would add to your Must-See Philadelphia list?

Continue Reading

Visit Philadelphia ~ Eastern State Penitentiary

Thank you Eastern State for providing with the tickets to experience the museum!

You can see more pictures from our Eastern State visit on the Cammo Style Love facebook page

On our recent trip to Philadelphia, I was able to mark off a huge East-Coast bucket list item for me. Since we’ve moved to this side of the US seven years ago I’ve wanted to make it up to Philly and Eastern State Penitentiary. I know it probably sounds ridiculous to have a Prison on your bucket list, but as a Criminal Psychology major, this is a big deal. Eastern State is studied for many reasons – simply because it is America’s first REAL prison and because it was the beginning of prison reform, or downfall, depending on who you ask or the perspective you have. If you’ve never read about or visited Eastern State I strongly recommend it. Even our kids enjoyed it, and the two older ones stated that this was their favorite thing to do the whole trip. As a mom, that’s a major win!

the history of eastern state penitentiary

Eastern State is the world’s first true penitentiary and was designed with achieving penitence. When people look at the prison through today’s eyes they often see something quite different. Cells designed to cut off prisoners from all human contact and solitary confinement tantamount to torture.  When you take the tour or do any real reading about the subject you may learn something entirely different. If you look at the time before Eastern State Penitentiary you will see disease and filth-ridden non-system where men, women, and children were thrown together in large rooms. The building of ES brought about the end to many disease outbreaks and was designed to create an environment where prisoners could spend time in solitude to really reconcile and be penitent. They were not meant to be locked away forever! The creators of this system really did want to see individuals inside the prison release. Prisoners within ES even right up until it was shut down commented on how ES was different than any other prison they had been in before, remarking that the guards here were kind and friendly towards prisoners, bringing in radio, tv, games and Christmas decorations. I encourage you to read more about the history of Eastern State.

the tour

Expect to spend 2-3 hours at Eastern State. While the initial audio tour isn’t that long (35min) there are many areas of the prison that you can explore. Each off-the-beaten-path portion of the prison (50 additional stops) has an audio companion that you can listen to you if you choose, that are 1-2 minutes each. The audio portion is probably the best audio tour that I have ever taken. It is suitable for children and adults. They give you plenty of time to truly explore without making you feel rushed and give you great detail. There are docents and workers stationed in various locations of the prison that are also able to answer questions if you need. We ended up having an additional question and the docent was able to give a little extra insight which was nice. Grab the map and tour guide to help you locate other locations, as well as Hands on History portions where an expert tour guide is on hand to give more details that you won’t hear on the audio portion. Each experience is only about 5-10 min and is available all throughout the day. There is also one hour-long guided tour and discussion which would be perfect for a group (no additional charge for this! Just show up at the correct time). There are three portions of the tour that have adult content but are not part of the numbered tour, so the kiddos can’t accidentally bump into it.

Chaplain’s Office Murals
Synagogue – built by and for Jewish prisoners
one of the prisoners was an avid bug collector and studier – these were collected by him on prison grounds


special events

September – November come back for America’s #1 Haunted House

First Tuesday of every month hosts The Searchlight Series, discussing crime, justice and the American prison system

Hidden Lives Illuminated – August 15-September 12th Nightly – animated films are projected in the yard made by currently incarcerated artists. Nightly speakers and community involvement.

visit the Eastern State website for more special events throughout the year.

military discount and tour prices

One of the reasons I was excited to highlight this particular Philadelphia adventure is to share the military discount with my readers. For military Eastern State offers a $2.00 off discount for up to 4 people. Military discounts cannot be purchased online, but don’t worry they don’t sell out. The last entrance time 4pm. Just show up present your id at admissions. Youth prices are extended up to age 12 which is awesome! Many places list 12 as the first year for the ‘adult’ pricing. There is a student price which gives you a $4.00 discount with id.

Prisons Today Exhibit 

Continue Reading

How to Survivie Disney (in August) – The Nitty Gritty {Part 2}

Alright, its time to get into the Nitty Gritty of Disney! You’ve got the basics down. 
So now where do you eat, how to see characters and how to make that all happen while trying to enjoy yourself!

1. Best Places to Eat – Disneyland – if you’re looking for ease, lots of seating, good prices and some shade, head on over to The Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country! We ate there for lunch three days in a row. Pack those snacks. Don’t be shy! Disney is really good about that. Bring that cooler in as long as its smaller than 24x15x18! Eat one big meal in the park and snack away the day!! It helps pass the time when you need it and the kids don’t miss out. Just don’t forget to grab yourself some Dole Whip and have a rest in the Tikki Room!!! Another favorite, that was actually a surprise (not that I expected any food to be bad) was Jolly Holiday Bakery and Café. You guys…the grilled cheese and tomato soup was to die for!!! And the desserts…well, Disney is magic.  Want to have a date night or eat out somewhere nice? They aren’t kidding about those reservation dates. Make them!

2. Seeing Characters – Having not been to Disney in over 10 years I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had kept hearing about how they just weren’t seen the wild as much as they used to be. And while that statement in general might be true we saw SO MANY!! And I want to reiterate that there is just something about Disney. Even in lines for characters, walking by with them, people were so nice!! And depending on the needs of your kids, that might be enough. You can frequently find Minnie and Mickey when you walk into the park on the right side on main street. Right in a little alcove past the first 4 or 5 shops (the ones that are really expensive). The Wicked Queen from Snow White hung out near the bathroom right as you were walking to Fantasy Land. Many princesses can be seen down in Snow White’s Grotto (which is one of the most romantic places in the park). Peter Pan, Alice and the Mad Hatter hung out by the tea cups, and Critter Country is a good place to find Winnie the Pooh and his whole gang! If getting guaranteed time with characters is really important Minnie’s Breakfast and Ariel’s Grotto is the place to be!

3. Souvenirs –  One of the biggest things I did to save money was purchase most of the souvenirs BEFORE we went to Disney. I realize that I could have been taking a gamble, but for the most part you can do a pretty good job of avoiding most of the temptations. Watch out for the shop after the Small World Ride and Pirates of the Caribbean. One of the best purchases we made was at the castle, in the little beauty salon. Believe or not that have amazing swords for boys. They are amazing, really sturdy foam swords! Every prince needs a sword!!

4. Regrets – We didn’t do a character meal. I’m totally blaming Mr. Air Force on this one. He convinced me that it wouldn’t be very exciting for the kids, and did the cost equal the benefit. I would absolutely say yes!! Other regret – going towards the back of the park for the parade based on a recommendation. The recommendation came to me for the evening parade. Get to the back of the park where the parade was ending that time. Unfortunately meeting anyone at the back of the park is a nightmare. Either all go together, or stay at the front of the park.

5. Random Thoughts – Daytime parade watching was a breeze, and much easier than I expected. We sat outside of the castle, along the wrought iron fence (on the cleanest street in all the land. We arranged seating about an 45 minutes before the parade began, and then one by one I took the kids over to the castle for souvenir shopping. It worked out perfectly!!! Frozen fast pass, waiting in line to see the characters….totally worth it. Waiting at Pixie Hollow, also completely worth it. We survived without a dining plan. Eating our way through Disney wasn’t a priority. We made it with a hearty breakfast, snacking through the day and eating one large meal in the park. We left the park for a rest time around 2/3 and then went back into the park for all the fun evening stuff. Take your date night during fireworks time. In the summer this is one of the best times to ride the rides. So many people are watching the fireworks. It was so much fun riding Thunder Mountain over and over again, coming up over the bumps and seeing the fireworks explode above you. So cool!!!

Visiting Disneyland can be a crazy place, but it is most definitely crazy fun!! As long as you go into it knowing that you can’t control every experience you have. Going through to see the park through your children’s eyes, and that learning to stand in lines is a rite of passage and makes you a good human. What better place to learn all that stuff then in the happiest place on earth! Have fun!!!!!!!!!

post signature

 Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory

Continue Reading

How to Survive Disney in August – The Basics {Part 1}

Summer is coming fast upon us and with it comes fun family vacations. While traveling to Disneyland or Disneyworld at the height of the tourist season might not be the most ideal of situations, it’s when the most people are at the park. So how did we survive it with three small children? A lot of research, that proved helpful, a little grace, a dose or two of chill pills and a whole lot of fun!! Now, my tips are built around our trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, but many of the tips work for other Disney locations.

1. First things first – Get those tickets! For my military readers, you can’t beat a military discount! The military ticket prices are absolutely amazing, and you can purchase a significant number of them at one time. All that it requires is you, or your spouse with your IDs, to purchase. I purchased ours over the phone and then picked them up. So easy!! One of my favorite parts about these tickets (aside from the price) is the fact that they are park hopper tickets, which usually tack on quite the extra fee.

2. Now that you have your ticketsTOURING PLAN – Get this right now! It’s amazing. Buy the subscription as well. Even if you only go once in the year that you have it, the subscription is worth the price. Honestly I could stop my tips and tricks right here. This website and app lets to schedule your day down to the minute. You can factor in meals (and the meal’s locations), nap times and any other events that might come up during the day. Have rides that are important to you? It factors that in, and calculates the order in which you should obtain your fast passes (Disneyland).

3. Where do you stay? This is a little trickier. There are so man options for to choose from. Stay at a resort hotel, a partner hotel, or neither one. If you belong to a discount club save those rewards up and cash in when you go to Disney! We chose to stay off Disney property. There are some great hotels with military discounts, so make sure to check those out. There are so many surrounding hotels to choose from, many with shuttle systems. Uber and Lyft are amazing in and around Disney and I would highly recommend them. Visit MouseSavers for some excellent tips on staying on and around Disney.

4. You’ve Arrived!! Now what?! Rope drop! Do it! We arrived about 45 minutes before first gate opening. It was just starting to get really busy and the energy was amazing. It’s a lot of waiting around but the kid did amazing. If you have children under 10, get that stroller. Do it! Best money we ever spent. I wanted to bring ours, but my husband was convinced we wouldn’t need it, or that it would be crazy to bring around. Lets just say I was right. The rope drop was the best experience with my kids. People were happy, the music started perfectly welcoming you into the day. I cried…and skipped people!! It gets you into the park early, before its insanely crowded and before it gets really hot. Where should you go first? If you aren’t going to make a beeline for the Materhorn (we never got around to it with the littles), appoint someone your fast pass king or queen and send them off to either the Materhorn or Star Tours. Your first stop in Disneyland should always be Fantasy Land. Those classic rides are where you find the intense lines. Visit Alice in Wonderland, Tea Cups, Peter Pan, Snow White and all that good stuff right out of the gate! This is exactly why you need Touring Plans. Get it and get it now. You can thank me later!

Stay tuned for part two of this Disney series!! This is the Nitty Gritty of it all, more details to follow!!!

 post signature
Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory

Continue Reading