by John Egan
You may have heard that the stork swooped down on Houston with a big delivery this spring.
On April 8, parents Danielle and Adam Busby of League City greeted five baby girls - the first all-girl quintuplets ever to survive birth in the U.S. The Busby babies - Ava Lane, Hazel Grace, Olivia Marie, Parker Kate and Riley Paige - all have finally gone home after their stays at The Woman's Hospital of Texas in Houston.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only 66 sets of babies at the quintuplet level or higher were born in 2013 in the U.S., so the Busby babies are members of an exclusive club.
In honor of the Busby quints, we've rounded up five kid-friendly activities that the five girls and their big sister can enjoy in the Houston area.
Of course, the Busbys aren't the only ones who can partake of these activities.
Local parents and kids can benefit, along with tourists and "bleisure" travelers. Fifty-four percent of business and leisure (bleisure) travelers around the world report that family members - including their kids - accompany them on work trips, according to a report from Bridgeport Global Hospitality. The following kid-friendly activities can help keep the children of those business travelers entertained in Houston.
More than 6,000 animals make their home at the Houston Zoo, including child-pleasing elephants, chimpanzees, sea lions, giraffes and bears. About 2 million kids and adults visit the 55-acre zoo each year.
Of special interest to the kiddos is the John P. McGovern Children's Zoo, featuring a petting area, a butterfly pavilion, a playground and more. At the entrance to the 2.5-acre Children's Zoo is the hand-carved Wildlife Carousel.
Parents magazine gives the Houston Zoo high marks, placing it among the country's top 10 zoos for children.
"Trainers are the rock stars at the Houston Zoo," the magazine says. "Throughout the day, families can peek in on them teaching new behaviors to the lions, giving the elephants a bath, or ... feeding the fruit bats and pelicans."
Children's Museum of Houston
If the museum's description of itself is any indication, this place is alive with activity:
"Housed in a whimsical building designed by internationally acclaimed architect Robert Venturi, the Children's Museum of Houston offers a multitude of exhibits bursting with action-packed fun that engage kids in the ultimate learning experience."
In 2011, Parents magazine hailed the Children's Museum of Houston as the top children's museum in the U.S. The magazine praised the museum's massive outdoor play area, three-story Kidtropolis USA make-believe city and Tot Spot, a multisensory area with cushy steps, balls, mirrors, knobs, switches and doorbells. Tot Spot is designed for children under age 3.
More than 850,000 people, young and old alike, visit the museum every year.
The Kemah Boardwalk bills itself as a "getaway for the entire family."
Located 20 miles southeast of downtown Houston, this 60-acre waterfront entertainment complex includes a playground, a train, amusement rides, restaurants and shops.
"Kemah Boardwalk is so much fun. Rides. Food. Fun. Great for the entire family. Beautiful scenery," a reviewer wrote on TripAdvisor.
This 12-acre urban park in the Houston Convention District "has helped Houstonians re-conceive downtown as a destination for play as well as work," according to its website.
Among the kid-oriented attractions at Discovery Green are the John P. McGovern Playground, the Gateway Fountain, the Hagstette Family Putting Green and the Simmons Family Stage.
Discovery Green attracted more than 1.2 million visitors to its more than 600 free events in 2014.
Looking for a place where your kids can go wild? Head to Wonderwild, with one location in Houston and another in The Woodlands.
"Wonderwild gives kids the freedom to explore, play, imagine and create a world all their own," according to its website.
At Wonderwild in Houston, kids age 8 and under can romp on playscapes, soft sculptures, jumping pillows and a "crocodile slide." For children 5 to 11, there's Wonderwild(er), whose features include indoor rope courses and a pedal go-kart track.
The Woodlands location welcomes children 8 and under with activities mirroring those at the Houston location.
Learn more about planning your next meeting or event in Houston at www.visithoustontexas.com/meetings/