Day Trips From Houston

July 2012

Gas up the car and gear up for some fun.  Adventure awaits you just outside the city. No need to pack your bags – you can do all these trips in just a day.

Conroe Berry Picking

Berry lovers should head north to Conroe for berry picking at Moorhead’s Blueberry Farm. Picking season usually runs from mid-May to mid-July, but call ahead to check crop conditions.  Fill up as many pints as you like because you can freeze some when you get home.

Try using your frozen berries in this wonderful smoothie recipe from the Appel family.

JJ’s Super Smoothie

  • 1 cup All Natural Brown Cow Yogurt – Vanilla (cream top)
  • 1 overflowing cup frozen fruit*
  • 3/4 cup Horizon 1% milk
  • 1 Tbsp. honey (or 2 Tbsp. depending on sweet tooth)

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Yields 2 1/2 cups.
Per 1 cup serving: Calories: 163, Fat: 4.3 grams, Protein: 5.6 grams.
*HEB’s Mixed Fruit Frozen bag – peaches, strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, grapes.

Messina Hof Winery in Bryan

For fun with a different fruit, turn your car in the direction of the Messina Hof Winery in Bryan. Kids are welcome at the Harvest Festival, happening in July and August. They  can participate in grape stomping and the Big Kahuna contest, which rewards the person who finds the most unique and interesting cluster of grapes.

“The grape stomping has always been one of the most popular highlights of Harvest,” says Paul Bonarrigo, winery owner. “It’s a fun way to bring out your ‘inner child’ and get involved in the many activities the winery has to offer during the summer.”

If you are without kids, participate in delicious dinners with wine pairings at the Vintage House Restaurant. For those who really enjoy the wine tasting, you can turn this day trip into an overnight by booking a room at the charming Messina Hof Villas.

Alligators in Beaumont

If you are looking for something a little more exotic, try Gator Country in Beaumont, the premier alligator wildlife park in Texas.  Famous from the CMT show Gator 911, the park has a variety of alligators, crocodiles and snakes, including some small ones you can hold.

“We have a wading pool where kids can get in and wade with small alligators,” comments owner, Gary Saurage. “The gators’ mouths have been safely taped.”

The park offers shows several times a day in the summer and has a café if you get hungry.

“My kids loved it.  It was a unique and educational experience,” says Lori Darnell, mother of three girls.

Winedale and Round Top

For the more literary minded, Winedale offers a Shakespeare summer series put on by the University of Texas at Austin Department of English.  Shows run from July 19 to August 12.   The performances take place in the rustic Winedale Theatre Barn. The barn is open to the outside, but has giant fans and chairs for a comfortable experience.  You can also bring in your own food and drink.

You can’t go to Winedale without stopping at Royers Roundtop Cafe.  The cafe serves up a variety of tempting entrees.  “The grilled rack of lamb with lemon, garlic, basil dipping sauce is to die for,” boasts Bud Royer, who owns the café with his family.

The café is most famous for its pies.  “My favorite is the junkberry pie, made with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches and apple.  It is just delicious,” says Royer, also known as the Bud the Pieman.

Baseball in Sugarland

With just a short drive to Sugarland, you can check out the Sugarland Skeeters Minor League baseball team in their inaugural season. The shining new Constellation Field boasts wonderful amenities for kids including a playground with traditional climbing, swinging, and sliding equipment plus a splash pad to cool off during the game. Kids will also love the fully restored 20-horse antique carousel.

The season is already underway, so get your tickets and cheer on the Skeeters.

It’s just a short ride to some big memories this summer. Fasten your seatbelt and hit the road.

Copyright 2012 Absolutely! Focus Media

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