Tour of Texas with Kids: Sea Center Texas

The kids get a kick out of the
animals in the touch tank.

If you are traveling with kids near Lake Jackson, or don’t mind a bit of a drive from Houston, an intriguing place to visit is Sea Center Texas.  The facility is a free nature center, marine aquarium and fish hatchery operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that really is worth the drive.  When we visit with our Moms Club, we get a special story time in addition to the touch tanks and aquariums, providing the kids with some great entertainment for the day.  For families visiting on their own, there are scheduled story times every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and the third Friday of the month at 10 a.m. 

On our recent trip, staff read A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle and we immediately went to the touch tanks following the story, allowing the kids to make the connection between the real hermit crabs in the tank and the one in the story.  It was also timely because our visit occurred in August right before school started, and the message in the story is that trying something for the first time can be scary, but it gets easier each time. A great reminder for those kids just starting school or even changing grades.

The Sea Center has aquariums dedicated to the aquatic ecosystems of Texas including salt marsh, jetty, reef and open Gulf.  My favorite part of the tour is completing the Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt, which gives the kids something specific to look for and a series of questions to answer so they don’t just whiz by the tanks and miss something interesting.  If possible, plan your trip around feeding time on Wednesdays or Fridays at 10:30, since watching the frenzy is popular with the kids.  (If you make it on the third Friday of the month, you can catch story time and the feeding.)   

Watching the frenzy at feeding
time is fascinating to see.  

Another great feature of Sea Center Texas is its outdoor Wetlands Walkway.  It reminds me of the boardwalk onOso Flaco Lake in central California.  And, of course, I showed up without binoculars or a bird book for another day of birding by accident, but they have a great checklist of birds, butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies, reptiles and amphibians and they also have binoculars for visitors to use!  Another plus is the Wetlands Exhibit Scavenger Hunt, which can keep the kids occupied while adults add to their bird list or learn how to attract their favorites in the Demonstration Garden. 

Sea Center Texas is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.  They are closed Mondays and most major holidays.  Special events are scheduled throughout the year, so be sure to check their calendar for information.    


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