Road Trip: Going to Galveston a family tradition

Road trip pit stop.

It has become a tradition. Every year, I take my kids to Galveston for an end-of-summer weekend. The beach city is about a five-hour road trip from where we live, so when you’re short on vacation time and money, it’s a quick, affordable getaway.

Now, while I normally dread the idea of driving my 8-, 6- and 4-year-old anywhere that takes longer than 30 minutes, this road trip doesn’t give me indigestion. Besides the bucket load of electronics I have to keep them busy, there are a few stops along the road that always catch their eyes.

We travel south on I-45 for about an hour.  The first place that makes them sit up and take notice is the drive-in movie theater in Ennis, TX. I point out the window to show them the historic icon and tell them that mommy has been to the drive-in a time or two. First, they are completely in awe of watching a movie outside.

“The movie must be really loud,” they say.

“Well actually, the sounds comes through the radio,” I explain.

“Really?!! How?” they ask.

By the time I finish trying to explain it, another 20 minutes has passed and we’ve reached what I like to call the Villes. That’s the stretch of highway that runs from Centerville to Madisonville and then Huntsville.

Just before reaching Huntsville, we see the convenience store/gas station that makes all others pale in comparison: Buc-ee’s. This pit stop sets the standard. They have any flavor of beef jerky, pork skins and peanuts that you could ever want. Buc-ee’s will make you spend $70 for “snacks” without even buying gas. You can’t pass this up, or you will miss a treasure trove of road-trip goodness.

On to Huntsville, which is home to two Texas staples. The first is the state penitentiary, which I constantly remind the kids is where they keep the people who probably didn’t listen to their mommies. The second is the larger-than-life statue of Sam Houston – a replica of the man who once was president of the Republic of Texas. The university that boasts his name is not too far from the statue, making Huntsville a popular exit among north-to-south travelers.

Even though it’s 40 miles away, Conroe seems like a northern suburb of Houston.  New building construction lines the highway all the way to the city, where you are enveloped by the infamous traffic – and no, it’s not embellished one bit.  Not from the time we enter Houston until we’re through Clearlake at the south end of the city do I detect even a slight thinning out of cars. By now, my kids are on their last Redbox movie and the question “are we there yet?” begins to sprinkle our conversations.

But it’s not long before we see the huge bridge that takes you from the mainland to the peninsula. Because we’re landlocked at home, everyone is eager to turn onto Seawall Boulevard and see the ocean spill onto the beach. The kids are in a trance. They’ve rolled down the windows to take in the sounds of the beach. I love the feeling of giving them something that leaves them speechless and in awe.

It’s not a trip to a fancy resort or luxury villa, but we love it.  A quick road trip to Galveston is just what we need to break up the routines of city living.

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