Last week we looked at tourist attractions inside Houston proper; this week we rank tourist attractions outside the city limits. Last week our list included museums, shopping destinations, public art and inner city parks. This week, our choices include fewer museums and art, but lots more beach side attractions. High on the must-see list for most tourists is Space Center Houston, and we agree. (The Space Center snagged the top spot last week.) But there's a real charm to the historical and nature sites that are just a little further away from downtown Houston. We think the attractions selected this week are well worth the extra driving time it takes to reach them.
10. George Ranch Historical Park 10215 FM 762 Road, Richmond 281-343-0218
You can see 100 years of Texas history brought to life at the George Ranch Historical Park. The park has frequent re-enactments (although they don't get quite as literal as the San Jacinto Battleground re-enactments - see the next page), cook-outs, hands-on history tours and demonstrations.
9. San Jacinto Monument and Museum / Battleship Texas One Monument Circle, La Porte 281-479-2421
The San Jacinto Monument folks like to brag that the fight that gave the battleground its name was "18 minutes that changed history." Re-enactors take their job very, very seriously and the San Jacinto Day celebrations get bigger and more elaborate every year. Between battles, there's lots to see in the museum with regularly rotating exhibits, the top-floor outlook of the monument features a spectacular view of the area and there's lots of green space if you just want to wander around or sit under a tree.
8. Museum of the Gulf Coast 700 Procter St., Port Arthur 409- 982-7000
The Museum of the Gulf Coast likes to say it's the place where you can see "Jurassic to Joplin," that would be rock legend Janis Joplin, of course, Port Arthur's most famous resident ever. There are lots of exhibits, most with a strict local focus. Exhibits, events and various day camps for kids are regularly scheduled.
7. Armand Bayou Nature Center 8500 Bay Area Blvd., Pasadena 281-474-2551
Like the rest of the Gulf Coast, the Armand Bayou Nature Center still shows a few signs of wear-and-tear brought on by recent hurricanes and droughts, but only a few. There's still lots of nature to explore at the center. Get as up-close as you want - or do what we do and bring binoculars.