A Family Guide to Houston

The Grandest Parents: a Spirited Guide to Overindulgence

Where to start spoiling your grandkids

By Catherine Matusow August 3, 2014 Published in the August 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Schlitterbahn Galveston. Courtesy Schlitterbahn

Finallyfinally!—you have a grandchild or two to spoil rotten, by which we mean spoil rotten on your own terms, of course (e.g., no roller coasters). Luckily, there are plenty of ways to win them over without growing any more gray hairs than you already have. 

Whether or not they’re into baseball, your children’s children will have a blast watching Skeeters games at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. Children 13 and under can become baseball buddies, 12 and under can join the Skeeters Buzz Brigade, and 3 and under get in free to games, which feature entertainment by everyone’s favorite green siblings, mascots Swatson and Moe. Otherwise, on-site activities include a playground, carousel, splash pad, even a swimming pool complete with water wall and fountains. Plant yourself in the shade at the picnic pavilion next to the pool and—boom—you’re a hero.

There’s only one thing more fun than a waterpark—a waterpark with professional lifeguards and shaded areas. (Right, grandma?) No worries, you’ll find both at Wet ‘n’ Wild Splash Town in Houston and Schlitterbahn in Galveston. We suggest going the cabana route whenever possible (e.g., if the precious tykes are old enough to explore the place on their own while you enjoy a cocktail). Sun yourself on your own private palapa complete with chaise longues, locker, wait service, and more. Set up camp here and let the kids wear themselves out as you relax, although don’t forget to join them for a float down the lazy river.

Not the outdoorsy type? Be honest with yourself. (Nobody likes a chafing granny.) Bring the party indoors and take in a movie at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (Vintage Park in Houston; Mason Park in Katy), where you’ll find a surprisingly good menu with choices for everyone, from burgers to salads and sandwiches—and, yes, it must be admitted, nerves-restoring glasses of wine. Alamo Kids Camp features free morning screenings (check the website for information), and the theaters also host occasional kids viewing parties.

So far, we’ve resisted the urge to buy the grandkids more stuff, but let’s be real: giving the little ones a present or two is not only a thrill, it’s the surest route to most-favored-elder status. Three words: Memorial City Mall, where the American Girl store offers dolls, clothing, accessories, and furniture. Feeling over-the-top? Take a doll to the dolly hair salon for a new ’do, then show it off over lunch at the store’s bistro, or while away an afternoon with a spot of tea and crafting. And if your grandchild is more the stuffed animal type, head over to the Build-a-Bear store at Memorial City, or for that matter to the The Woodlands Mall, or Deerbrook Mall in Humble, where they’re also bear-building in earnest. 

Finally, fight the summer slide by taking the little ones to any one of Houston Public Library’s 40-plus locations. You can check the website to see which programs your branch is offering, but it’s a sure bet you’ll find arts and crafts sessions, literacy programs, writing workshops, story times, and play groups. And while you’re at it, how about getting them their own library cards? Choose some books to check out, then read to the little ones or—gasp—let them entertain themselves for a while. Won’t mom and dad be proud? 

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