As the most populated city in Texas, Houston has definitely got something going on. In the southern part of the state, by the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay, Houston has over 2.3 million residents. Founded by John and Augustus Allen in 1837, there is a lot of history here. Visit the museum district around town, which includes the Children’s Museum of Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston, Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Fine Arts, and a few others.
The city also has a lot of natural space from parks to forests and rivers to bayous. In fact, it has four bayous that pass through it, which include Buffalo, White Oak, Brays, and Sims. And with 337 parks, nature lovers have a variety of choices in Houston. Buffalo Bayou Park on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou is a 160-acre urban greenspace with a plethora of activities to enjoy. From boat and bike rentals, playgrounds, trails, a dog park, and even a skate park, there’s plenty of perks for everyone. You can also see 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats flying out of their hiding spots every evening from the Waugh Drive Bridge.
If you enjoy bats, then you’ll really like the Houston Zoo. The exhibits are separated into seven different ecosystems. The African Forest, Children’s Zoo, Texas Wetlands, Cat Country, Bird Exhibit, Wortham World of Primates, and the main one is the Elephants, Fish, Reptiles, and More Exhibit. The kids can even feed and play with the furry critters in the Children’s Zoo area. But don’t plan on staying too long. You have places to go.
Heading east on I-10, Port Arthur is less than two hours away on the eastern coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. Water sports are very popular in this town due to the abundance of water in the area. However, most of the city is on the banks of Sabine Lake, which is a 90,000-acre saltwater lake, seven miles wide and 14 miles long.
You’ll also find the Neches and Sabine Rivers along here, which feed into the lake. The fishing here is well-known as being excellent all year long. Redfish, trout, drum, and many other species are commonly found here. But there is more to do than just fish in these waters. The Port Arthur Yacht Club, Pleasure Island Pier and Marina, and Walter Umphrey State Park are all nearby. Boating, sailing, waterskiing, and other water sports bring visitors from all over as well as the locals who spend time here all year long.
If you want to learn more about the area and its history, check out the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site, the McFaddin-Ward House Historic Museum, or the Stark Museum of Art. The kids will enjoy the Beaumont Children’s Museum and the Fire Museum of Texas where they can meet Smokey Bear. And your trip wouldn’t be complete without seeing some gators. Gator Country Adventure Park has more than 450 of them for you to see. Maybe you can get some selfies with them.
About 125 miles to the east, White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Gueydan, Louisiana is a fabulous place to stop for a couple of hours. The 54,000 acres of freshwater marsh in the park are filled with wildlife including alligators, shorebirds, waterfowl, and deer. You may even see a great kiskadee, which is an endangered species of bird. In fact, there are more than 174 species of birds that have been seen in the park, so bring your binoculars and camera.
Take a walk along the two-mile nature trail where you can see even more flora and fauna. Some of the most common greenery you may see include buttonbush, spikerush, sawgrass, cattail, bull tongue, and maidencane. Many visitors come just to see the flora here that you cannot see anywhere else. You’ll definitely need to take some selfies and family photos.
A lot of the boating, fishing, and hunting done in the park is done by lottery and is not typically accessible to the public, so don’t plan on doing any of these activities in White Lake or the surrounding wetlands. However, there are plenty of other things to keep you and the family busy until it’s time to head to your final destination.
Another two hours up I-10 and you will be at your landing point, Baton Rouge. This well-known city is the capital of Louisiana and popular for its museums, creole food, and fun attractions. But first of all, make sure you have reserved a campsite if you don’t already have a place to camp. The Baton Rouge KOA has over 100 spacious sites that can accommodate rigs up to 75 feet with full hookups. They also have mini-golf, a hot tub, cable TV, Wi-Fi, and a pool.
Once you get checked-in at your camp, head over to the Baton Rouge Zoo where they have over 160 species of wild critters to see. From alligators to zebras and more than 150 in between, you will be in awe at how many different creatures there are at this zoo. You can also ride the train, eat dinner, and let the kids wear themselves out on the playground.
For some more outdoorsy fun, check out the Mississippi Riverfront Park on the banks of the Mississippi River. This river flows through 10 states from Minnesota to Louisiana, and offers up plenty of water activities like boating, paddling, fishing, and even swimming. Don’t forget the sunscreen and watch out for those gators.