One Perfect Spot for Kids- Lehnis Train Museum, Brownwood, Texas

When thinking of perfect places to tote a trio of grandkids on a road trip, Brownwood, Texas might not be the first place that pops in your head. However, Brownwood does have a lot to offer. One of those cool offerings is the Lehnis Train Museum. Daughter #3 is in her last semester at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. She also just celebrated her 22nd birthday, so on a whim, Tony and I decided to take a road trip with the trio.

We were super impressed with the space and scale of this museum. The kids loved all the model trains and watching them speed along the tracts. The volunteers are fantastic. The fellow running the model trains was also building new cars and engines as he spoke to us. We learned a lot and will avoid a lot of mistakes when we start building a set of our own.

The museum offers a lot of interactive exhibits. The play area is quite large and offered a lot for the kids to build and interact with, the trio spent about an hour and a half in this area and cried when we said it was time to go. The time spent here was so fun. You could see their brains working as they manipulated the levers, latches, and physics demonstrations. No one asked for a video all day!

But, the highlight of the day was the mini train that we got to ride. The cost is $2.00 per person (4 and under are free) in addition to the entrance fee which is $4.00 per person (4 and under are free). And this was the best spent $2.00 ever! The conductors were fun and let the kids blow the horn at the end of the ride.

Brownwood, Texas offers a lot of fun, low key family fun. The train museum is not the only attraction in Brownwood. You can learn more about Brownwood and other great places in Texas if you look in the Texas Travels category over on the sidebar. I have been traveling with kids for almost 30 years, and simple is a good thing.

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What To See In Galveston- Galveston Railroad Museum

Traveling with children is one of the best experiences.  It can also be one of the most challenging.  Galveston is an incredible destination for families.  One of the attractions that make Galveston awesome is the Galveston Railroad Museum.

With 5 acres and over 40 pieces of rolling stock, there is plenty of room for little legs to run.  Many of the cars are open and you can walk though different kinds of cars ranging from dining cars to postal cars.  The different types of engines are on display and open to be toured.

Not only are the cars open, but they are staged with era-specific models wearing clothes or eating a snack from the era in which the train car was in operation.  Its really interesting to see what was considered “luxury” travel at that time.  You can also sit on the benches or take a picture in a berth and imagine what it felt like to travel through the night with the clickity-clack of the train tracks and the sway of the railcars as they rocked you to sleep.

A caboose makes a run down a mile of track most weekends. There is also a Polar Express during the holidays. You can access the website here.

There is also a museum exhibit open that details the history of the railroad in Texas and Galveston as well as how the museum came to be.  The museum is open daily with admission for adults being $10.00 and children ages 3 and older being $5.00.  There are various discounts listed on the website.

So, whether you are looking for an interesting stop on vacation or an interesting field trip while you homeschool, the Galveston Railroad Museum is a great stop.  For more on what to see and do in Galveston, click here.

What is your favorite activity with children?

What To Look At In Galveston

I have the pleasure of living in the East End Historical District in Galveston. This is the original spot where the city grew up first.

We even have ruins that a pirate called home.

With such an old place comes beautiful and diverse architecture. I walk about 20 miles a week with my husband and I never grow tired of looking around.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Where To Eat In Galveston, Texas

So, I want to tell you about my favorite restaurant in Galveston. But then again, I don’t. I like knowing the local spots and if any more people find out about this gem, then I will have to wait longer. But then again, I live here full time and I can eat when all the tourist have gone home and the island settles into the off-season.

Here it is- Miller’s Seawall Grill

Their gumbo is the best on the island. A cool thing they do is to offer samples before you order. This way, you know you like it before you order. And that is great because gumbo is a controversial kind of food. How ever your grandma made it- that is the way it should be. But everybody’s grandmother makes gumbo differently. Its one of those types of foods that there isn’t a recipe written in stone, you just add a bit of this and a pinch of that.

The waffles they serve are the best I have ever had in my life! Seriously, they are fluffy and crisp on the edges. They serve it with melted butter and syrup. Yeah, not gonna lose weight on this meal, but you will enjoy it all the way down to your toes. They serve breakfast all day.

The rest of their menu is so good. Lots of comfort food and basic seafood- all of it cooked well. The fish is great grilled or fried, same for the shrimp. If you are not a seafood lover, that is okay. Their chicken fried stead is huge and delicious. The au gratin potatoes are yummy and my preferred side of choice. Dinner plates are $10.00 and that, my friend, is a steal on the island.

Not only is the food scrumptious, but the atmosphere is incredible. Sherry, the manager, and her staff are awesome. The design of the restaurant allows every table to have a view of the water. The location on Seawall means that you can enjoy the views of the water while you wait for your table. During the summer and most weekends year-round, there will be a wait of at least 30 minutes and as much as an hour and a half. But the wait is worth it.

One day, I might share a local hack so that you know where to eat that doesn’t have the long waits that the Seawall locations have, but not today.

Our Favorite Pancake

We can now eat out without any tears.
We can now eat out without any tears.

I love traveling with our kids.
I love traveling with our kids.

There was a time when Tony and I gave up eating breakfast out while traveling with our children.  The night before we left on vacation I would make up a batch of sausage & biscuits, pigs in a blanket, and breakfast burritos.  Most trips began before dawn and we would pile our four children, my nephew, and often times my cousin- Stephanie, aka the nanny- into the Excursion and a way we would go.  Then we drove and ate as we wanted.

This sounds crazy given how much Tony & I love to eat breakfast, but when the kids were little it was a bad experience.  The problem was that they always wanted to order pancakes.  I would tell them, “Now , these won’t taste exactly like mine.”  They would then swear up and down that they wanted pancakes.  So, Tony would order them pancakes and the food would come.  Then, they would take a bite and cry, “These don’t taste like yours!”  Refuse to eat anymore and drive Tony crazy.  Therefore, we gave up breakfast on the road.  Once at our vacation destination which was usually a house or cabin rental, I would resume cooking breakfast and all would be good.  I guess I should take it as a compliment that no one ever measured up to me.

Below is the recipe for our favorite pancakes.  When Cheyenne, now 19, was a preschooler she would know what I was cooking by the ingredients that I got out.  If I varied the recipes she got very upset.  One morning I decided to add vanilla to the batter and pour the pancake batter over a super then apple slice that I had browned in the pan.  She had a fit and went without breakfast that morning- a very good breakfast I might add.  I never tried to change up the pancakes again.  With her will of granite and flair for drama, there were plenty of battles to fight and the pancake recipe was simply not a battle I cared to fight.

Our Favorite Pancake

1 1/4 cup flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoon of olive oil

1 egg

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Mix the liquid ingredients in a smaller bowl, beat slightly.  Add liquid to the dry mixture and mix.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.

Heat large skillet over medium heat.  Add a small amount of olive oil to pan, once hot pour in batter to make the size of pancake you want.  Once there are lots of bubbles popping on the pancake and the bottom is browned, flip pancake over.  Cook another 1-2 minutes- until center is cooked through.  Repeat until batter is gone.

The batter above make for a thin pancake.  I like them thin so that I can have nice crispy edges that are golden brown.  If you like a thicker pancake, reduce the amount of milk and cook over lower heat.

That is it.  So simple and so good.

Hot Springs 2012

In 2004, our family vacation was to Arkansas.  Hot Springs was the second stop on that journey, Crater of Diamonds was the first stop- it was awesome.  While in Hot Springs, we stayed at the Arlington Hotel.  We were smitten and have wanted to go back ever since.
The Arlington Hotel as viewed from our hike.
So, this past week we skipped town for a mini-vacation before our busy season with the nursery really gets rolling.  The older two were so excited when we told them we were going and began to tell the younger two how great this trip was going to be.  It was pleasantly surprising to see how much they remembered and what they remembered.  Jonathan was 3 and Sierra was 5, so understandably they didn’t remember a whole lot.  However, once there one of the younger two would say, “Oh, I remember that, that was here?”
We didn’t even try not to look like tourists.  This is on the main street.
The Arlington Hotel is a landmark in Hot Springs, in his day Al Capone was a frequent guest.  The hotel still has that feel of a bygone era- one gentleman we met described Hot Springs as “the town that time forgot”- that pretty much sums it up.  I found out about this place from my good friends and former employers who took their kiddos there on vacation. Kids from both families believe the pool at this hotel to be second to none.  After all, how cool is a double decker pool hanging off the side of a mountain?!  The hot tub was great too, and heated by the hot springs.
They go together like peas and carrots. 
We left Friday morning and reached Hot Springs by afternoon.  The first order of business after check-in is always to swim.  That we did, well some of us swam, those with all of our faculties just sat in the hot tub.  Then we dressed for dinner.  It was great fun getting dressed up and walking down the busy street to a really nice Italian place for a wonderful dinner.  Everything we wanted to do was in walking distance, even the national park is across the street.
The upper level  of a really cool pool.
Of all the hot tubs I have been in, this is my favorite!
Beautiful Ladies and a beautiful meal.
On Saturday after a really good breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen, we set out to find the old fellow blowing glass in Santa’s Workshop.  Tony and I could remember finding him near the Alligator Farm- another attraction that is fantastic for the family- but that was about all the details we could recall.  As we headed to the alligator farm, we passed Dryden pottery.  We stopped in and took in the really fine art of clay pottery going on there.  We choose a lovely vase as our souvenir and asked the grandson of the founder about the glass blower.  I am sad to report that Old Bill, as he was called, had passed away and his shop was no more.  We were pretty bummed, Savannah and Sierra had planned to get their keepsakes at his shop.  Old Bill will never know that his handmade ornaments go on our tree every year and his picture is in our scrapbook- he lives on.  He was Savannah’s favorite memory from the first trip.  To be some one’s favorite memory would, in my opinion, be a sign of a life well spent.
The World’s Largest Wheel-thrown Vase by Dryden

With the task of finding the glass blower completed, however sadly, we set off to see the rest of the shops.  Lunch was simple burgers and fries and then, more swimming.  I must have given birth to 4 tadpoles, because they could live in the water.  When the swimming was finished, Tony, Sierra, Jonathan and I went hiking.  Seeing the hot springs running out of the mountain into little pools was a wonder.  The water coming out averages 140 degrees.  Jonathan is a rock hound and he had a ball finding many crystals along the paths.  His backpack was considerably heavier on the return hike.  The views from the top of the mountain were incredible.

The rock hound
With all the hiking and swimming, we had worked up quite an appetite.  Papa John’s delivered pizza for the kids and Tony and I headed out for dinner alone.  There are certainly some perks to traveling with older kids.  We had a wonderful dinner at The Porterhouse.  The last time we came, we enjoyed a date night as well, but that was because we had brought along our cousin, Stephanie, who was an awesome nanny!  Our nephew, Stephen was with us, too.  All those kids prompted many a person to ask “Are all those yours?”

Sunday was time to head home.  We were ready and sad at the same time.  I was a bit grumpy.  Our sleep had been interrupted due to a fraternity booking a lot of rooms.  It seems pie beta stupid had some pressing business to attend to at very early/late hours.  Anyway, it was a great trip overall.  If you are looking for a family friendly vacation spot, Hot Springs tops my list.  No need to worry about frat parties in the summer- they only come out at spring break!