Why bother with the glorified lobster tanks at the Aquarium mega-restaurant downtown? Flee the concrete heat and take the kids down to Surfside to see some real sea life. Sea Center Texas boasts some exceptional aquariums, with marine animals from all over the Gulf of Mexico, including sharks, red drums, gray snappers and a 300-pound grouper named Gordon. An elevated boardwalk built over five acres of coastal marshes will introduce you to the wonders of croakers, pompano, mojarras and killifish (which, by the way, aren't anywhere near as fierce-looking as their name suggests). The youngsters will want to dip their hands in a "touch pool" and play with crabs, clams, snails and anemones; afterward, they can hang out on dry land, chasing butterflies and hummingbirds in the Sea Center gardens. 9 a.m to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Sea Center Texas, 300 Medical Drive in Lake Jackson. Free; donations are appreciated. -- Keith Plocek
"Web Slingers," this month's Naturalist Explorers Class at the arboretum, teaches kids ages five to 12 about the major types of spiders. Perhaps the class will also explain that if Peter Parker were a real spider-man, he wouldn't shoot webs out of his wrists. He'd spin them from his butt. 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, August 30. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway. For information, call 713-681-8433. $15. -- Troy Schulze
Most kids are blissfully unaware that they will one day spend a huge portion of their lives toiling for the man -- so they probably won't understand the significance of Labor Day until much later. They can honor the American worker anyway, though, on Monday, September 1, at the Children's Museum of Houston, by designing glitter fireworks, making hats and marching in their own parade. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1500 Binz. For information, call 713-522-1138 or visit www.cmhouston.org. $5. -- Cathy Matusow
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