If you are looking for a 3 day adventure away in Southeast Texas, then consider a weekend in The Woodlands. Our contributing writer, Heidi Gollub, recently visited The Woodlands and stayed at both The Woodlands Waterway Marriott and The Woodlands Resort. Read on to here her reviews of both and find out what to do with your family on a weekend in The Woodlands.
When it comes to family vacation, do you prefer an action-packed urban adventure, or a secluded resort stay which affords you time to relax and unwind? Normally, I choose option A, the do-it-all and see-it-all excursion, where you have a blast exploring, but tend to come home exhausted. My husband, however, is an option B traveler, preferring to read and swim and nap the vacation days away. On a recent long weekend getaway to The Woodlands, Texas, we struck the perfect balance: two days of playing tourist from the centrally located The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, followed by two days of R and R, poolside at The Woodlands Resort. It turned out to be just the right mix of wandering, eating, exploring, playing, and relaxing. We had four days of fun together as a family, and returned home feeling rested and rejuvenated after our weekend in The Woodlands!
A Weekend in The Woodlands: Family Fun
The Woodlands is a vacation destination you may not have considered, as it is often overshadowed by its flashier neighbor to the south, Houston. But, if you’re on the hunt for a Texas vacation the whole family will enjoy, The Woodlands is just the ticket.
A master planned community, The Woodlands was founded in 1974 with a desire for preserving trees and protecting the environment. This plan is evident on every street. There is no urban sprawl here, just calming tree-lined avenues and wooden signs indicating which “village” you are passing by. Driving around, we discovered playgrounds, parks, pools, lakes, and trails galore. It turns out, 7,790 of the 28,000-acre community is green space! There are 135 neighborhood parks, 205 miles of hike and bike trails, a nature preserve, a waterway, and the 200-acre Lake Woodlands (pictured above), just begging to be explored.
Concealed by wooded byways, each village is like its own small town, with restaurants, shopping centers, and movie theaters. There is no shortage of things to do in The Woodlands, but you may have to hunt for them a little because most buildings are hiding behind rows of lovely trees!
A Weekend in The Woodlands: What We Loved About The Woodlands Waterway Marriott
Our first two nights in The Woodlands were spent right in the Town Center, at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. Located within walking distance from countless restaurants and entertainment venues, we had a great time checking out all that “downtown” The Woodlands had to offer. Steps from the hotel was The Woodlands Waterway, lined with artistic benches and bridges. We strolled along the banks, past the Koi Garden, and came to Waterway Square where my kids enjoyed cooling off in the splash pad.
Half a mile from the hotel, accessible by both Waterway Taxi and the free Waterway Trolley, is the Woodlands Mall in one direction, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the other. We were fortunate enough to be in The Woodlands over the 4th of July long weekend, when a free patriotic concert by The Houston Symphony was scheduled. Guests were encouraged to bring a picnic, so we walked over to Grimaldi’s to pick up a delicious coal brick-oven pizza, before continuing on foot to the concert. It was a spectacular evening, complete with Broadway musical performances and canon blasts at its conclusion. When it was over, we simply walked the short distance back to our room!
We fell even more in love with The Woodlands as we joined in the community’s Independence Day celebrations, with an early morning Fourth of July parade, followed by the Red, Hot & Blue Festival and evening fireworks in Waterway Square. All of these festivities were close enough to our hotel that we could walk, which allowed for short (air conditioned!) rests in the room between events. But even with out the Independence Day festivities, there would be plenty to keep us busy on our weekend in The Woodlands.
A Weekend in The Woodlands: What We Loved About The Woodlands Resort
After two days of exploring and eating our way across town, we moved to The Woodlands Resort and Spa for two days of relaxing. Well, I relaxed. The kids played pretty hard. Greeting the pool as it opened at 8 a.m. and staying for the evening Dive In Movie until 10 p.m., they made the most of the hotel’s amazing water park.
The Forest Oasis Waterscape has two large pools (that play music underwater, to my boys’ delight), three waterslides, a splash pad, a kiddie pool, a hot tub, and a 1,000-foot lazy river. But just in case that isn’t enough, the Resort also offers free activities throughout the day. DJ Mike spins tunes to keep kids moving, dancing the Macarena, and even hula hooping. Friendly staff also make balloon animals, host story time, and help guests make s’mores over the fire pit. You can check out the seven-day summer activity guide here.
The Resort also offers entertainment for parents! If you unwind by playing sports, there are 21 tennis courts and two golf courses onsite. Or, you can head to the spa, with its heavenly eucalyptus-infused steam rooms and dry saunas. I managed to sneak away for a 50-minute Swedish massage, and found myself wishing I could stay all day.
If you’re looking to get away from it all, The Woodlands Resort, tucked away in an oasis of natural forest, is the perfect place. Just lie back on a pool chaise and order a watermelon margarita, while the kids play on the nearby splash pad. Can you imagine a more perfect way to enjoy summer? (I think I may have become an option B traveler, after all.)
For more information on The Woodlands, visit The Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau website. Then start planning your trip to this amazing community in the Texas Piney Woods – a weekend in The Woodlands is just what you need!
Disclosure: Our writer and her family were invited to visit The Woodlands and the various resorts mentioned. We were not compensated for this article. All opinions are our own.