Stress-free family vacation
November 16, 2010 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Where to vacation with three generations of family near Houston, TX?

My parents' 40th wedding anniversary is coming up next year. My brother and I were thinking it might be nice to take them on vacation somewhere. Travelers would include: my parents (age 73, pretty active), me (36), brother and sister-in-law (30), and their two kids (4 year old and toddler). Because of the kids, we'd like to do something that doesn't involve too much schlepping luggage or toddler meltdowns. Budget is also fairly modest, because my brother and I would like to pay for our parents. We could just do a big dinner and invite extended family to join us, but for a 40th anniversary we want to do more. So right now we're looking at cruises leaving from Galveston, which would save everyone but me the hassle of a plane trip, and would provide the kidlets with lots of entertainment.

It looks like only Carnival and Royal Carribean sail out of Galveston, though, and their cruise ships are humongous. So before we decide on that, what other options can you guys toss out that would entertain both kids and grandparents, cost $500-$1000 per person, and minimize travel from Houston. Although we're usually all very self-sufficient travelers, this time we'd favor options that are all-inclusive or do a lot of planning for us, so that no one's "relaxing vacation" turns into "dealing with cranky kids."
posted by MsMolly to Travel & Transportation around Houston, TX (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is 4 hrs to Port Aransas too taxing? If you're there in the winter, you can find some pretty decent deals, even on the island.
posted by Gilbert at 1:05 PM on November 16, 2010

I like the Brenham area, particularly in mid-April when the bluebonnets are out. It's a short drive from Houston.

I've stayed at the lovely Mariposa Ranch, which has plenty of accomodation options, including a farmhouse with 3 bedrooms and looks to be within your budget. It's a working ranch, so the kids will be fascinated by everything and you can sit on the porch relaxing. There's also the Blue Bell ice cream factory nearby along with a couple of other attractions if you need a break. We only stayed one night and did dinner elsewhere (very much enjoyed it), but their breakfast in bed was excellent and their food gets good reviews. There are a couple of other nice restuarants in the area.
posted by IanMorr at 1:32 PM on November 16, 2010

We have run renting beach houses near Galveston or Bolivar for largish groups. Assuming the weather is good, when the kids get cranky you kick them out to run up and down the beach. A nice side effect is they go to sleep early too.

Galveston is close for food. You can visit the Strand, Bishop's Palace and other homes, the Elissa, or you can can bring your own food and cook out.
posted by beowulf573 at 1:36 PM on November 16, 2010

My family used to vacation by renting a place on Bolivar peninsula and decamping to Galveston occasionally for nightlife and attractions. Admittedly that was before Ike and Rita - not sure what it's like there now. But we always really, really enjoyed it.
posted by Miko at 1:38 PM on November 16, 2010

Do you want to leave the Houston area?

A bit modest - but perhaps something at Lake Conroe?

posted by abdulf at 1:40 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I went to a dude ranch outside San Antonio (which is probably a little far for you, but I'm sure there are some nearer) for around $1000/person for a week, all-inclusive (including alcohol) that had planned activities daily for all ages, some child care, two daily trail rides for teens-and-older, special rides for children and for teens, etc. There were hotel-style rooms as well as family cabins. (The cabins were cheaper for several people, but there were only two of us.) They had entertainers out every night, country singers and rodeo riders and trick ropers and whatnot. They had hiking and tennis and swimming pools and board games and whatnot. They had shorter stays for less money, and a quick glance shows rates are fairly similar.

It was great fun, and was very much like being on a cruise in its all-inclusive, entertainment-provided nature, but with horses instead of water.

(If San Antonio isn't too far, memail me for the name of where I went, which was a FANTASTIC family-run place.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:56 PM on November 16, 2010

I would say to try and rent a big condo on Mustang Island. We once got one in the summer for about 25 people. Not sure what the rates are now, that was a few years ago. We would do the beach in the morning, pool in the afternoon, Cards and board games in the evenings. You can also take the short drive to Corpus Christi and hit some restraunts, putt putt golf, malls, and movies and such.
posted by snoelle at 2:48 PM on November 16, 2010

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