Illustrations © Bryan Spear

Big Thicket National Preserve

Wildlife | Houston Area

 6102 FM 420 | Kountze

 Free admission

 Walk either the Sundew or Pitcher Plant trail (each 1 mile), and snap a selfie with a carnivorous plant in the background.

Nine different ecosystems converge among the hiking trails and waterways of the Big Thicket National Preserve. Towering pines dominate the landscape, and the Big Thicket is also home to four of the five types of carnivorous (meat-eating) plants found in North America.

Lake Livingston State Park

SPLASH | Houston Area

 300 State Park Road 65 | Livingston

 $5 park admission

 Bring a buddy and snap a selfie splashing water from the lake.

Just an hour north of Houston you’ll find one of the largest lakes in the state. While the lake is popular with anglers — it’s noted for its white bass population — it’s also a great place to cool off. Sit in the pineywoods shade or jump in for a swim; rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard on the weekends.

Moody Gardens

QUIRKY | Houston Area

 1 Hope Boulevard | Galveston

 $65.95 – $75.95 admission

 Take a selfie outside any of Moody Garden’s three glass pyramids.

In Egypt, pyramids were a place for the dead. The glass pyramids of Moody Gardens, on the other hand, are teeming with life. Inside, you can explore the depths of the ocean in the aquarium pyramid or experience the wildlife of the world’s tropical regions in the rainforest pyramid.

Sheldon Lake State Park

PARKS | Houston Area

 14140 Garrett Road | Houston

 Free park admission

 Snap a selfie from either of the tower’s observation decks.

The 82-foot John Jacob Observation Tower at Sheldon Lake State Park has two observation decks providing unobstructed panoramic views of the park’s wetlands and prairie, the San Jacinto Monument and the downtown Houston skyline — each 15 miles away in opposite directions. Climb the stairs or take the solar-powered elevator.

Spindletop - Gladys City Boomtown Museum

HISTORY | Houston Area

 5550 Jimmy Simmons Blvd | Beaumont

 $5 admission

 Snap a selfie in front of the geyser. For extra fun, time your visit with the Lucas Gusher re-enactment schedule, which uses water instead of oil.

On January 10, 1901, a great gush of oil erupted 100 feet into the air from a drilling site at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont. The Lucas geyser produced about 100,000 barrels of oil a day, kicking off the Texas oil boom. Visit the replica at Spindletop — Gladys City Boomtown on the campus of Lamar University.

La King's Confectionery


 2323 Strand Street | Galveston

 Snap a selfie in front of La King's hand-cranked taffy pull. And grab an ice cream while you're at it.

Summer means ice cream, so why not stop at an old-fashioned soda fountain? LaKing's Confectionery in Galveston fits the bill.