Family Adventures in Houston at Brazos Bend State Park

My family loves adventure. Doing new things together, seeing new places together, enjoying nature and culture and overcoming challenges together are all things near and dear to the Hubbell family. I can get my kids to do just about anything as long as I frame it as "going on an adventure", which incidentally is exactly how we faced moving from Pennsylvania to Texas three years ago. That wasn't just an act for my kids either, Mike and I were really exhilarated at the prospect of leaving pretty much everything we knew and loved behind and driving 1500 miles across country to start over.

Little adventures with the kids in our own city are fun too so last weekend we decided participate in the Austin-Lehman Active Family Challenge and brave the extreme heat and check out someplace new to us in Houston, Brazos Bend State Park. I had heard great things about the park and their wildlife and it's only about 45 minutes from us, but it feels like a different world. Brazos Bend is home to about 300 alligators and hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife. They have miles and miles of well maintained hiking trails among lakes, bayous, swamps and prairies. There are great camping facilities, a Nature Center and several other cool features, like an observation tower.
A Drought-Stricken Lake at Brazos Bend
In order to accomplish our adventure despite the heat we got to the park early in the morning and took a ton of cold water with us, along with a cooler of picnic food. I knew the kids wouldn't be up for a super long hike in the triple digit temperatures so I chose one of the shorter trails for hiking, about 1/2 a mile. The biggest bummer was how badly affected everything was by our extreme drought, you could see only puddles where whole lakes used to be. The alligators obviously don't like that and they now hide in what's left of the water but I'm told that most of the year you can barely go anywhere on the trails without tripping over these amazing creatures.

We did see lots of cool birds though, and the creatures that really love this hot weather are the huge banana spiders. Besides the one complete trail we hiked I also drove around the large park to various spots were we got out and walked a short distance to observation decks and a fishing pier. On one such path through the woods Nathan pointed out a massive web spanning the trees above us and a great big banana spider right in the middle. After that we found about five more such webs and their inhabitants, basking in the sun and enjoying their morning breakfast. Sorry if the photos creep you out, I am both intimidated and intrigued by these colorful arachnids.

As lunchtime approached and the temperatures soared the kids lost their stamina and we decided to pack it in for the day, but all agreed it was a fun adventure and we really want to do it again when it isn't so hot and dry and we are more likely to see a lot more gators.

Speaking of adventures, I'm grateful to the folks at Austin-Lehman Adventures for sponsoring this particular day of local adventure for my family. Austin-Lehman is an award winning adventure travel company with all-inclusive vacation packages for active families all over the world. ALA was voted #1 tour operator/Safari operator in the world in 2009 and # 2 in 2010 by Travel and Leisure Magazine. This year, it continues in the top 5 as #5 in the world. ALA has also made National Geographic Adventure Magazine's list of 'Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.' Family adventures accommodate kids as young as 5 with intimate groups and a low guest-to-guide ratio in distinctive lodging and with unique activities such as biking, hiking and rafting.

Having traveled with various tour companies through Europe and the Canadian Rockies, I can tell you that Austin-Lehman is unique and looks absolutely amazing for active families like mine. Seriously, check out these links and you'll find yourself drooling like I did:

So I hope you'll use this as inspiration to gather your family and plan an active adventure today. You'll hear more about the Hubbell family adventures last week in Pennsylvania over the next few days. 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Austin-Lehman Adventures and I was compensated for our great morning at Brazos Bend but all opinions and language is my own, active adventure is a Hubbell family value, and I'm dead serious when I say ALA's travel packages rock. 

1 comment:

Sarah Hubbell said...

A solitary traveler can sleep
from state to state, from day to night, from day to day, in the long
womb of its controlled interior. It is the cradle that never stops
rocking after the lullaby is over. It is the biggest sleeping tablet in
the world, and no one need ever swallow the pill, for it swallows them.

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