Monthly Archives: January 2010

Children’s Museum of Houston

This was the first museum we visited on Free Day. I’d wanted to visit because the building looked cool and creative from the outside and I’d heard good things about it. Of course we should’ve guessed by the name that all the exhibits are geared towards…of course…duh…kids! So there was not much for us and turned out to be blah boring and a big disappointment. The screaming kids, huge strollers, and crowds everywhere on Free Day did not help either. It seemed like all the parents had the same idea to bring their kids to the Children’s Museum on Free Day. This was also the only museum with a line at the door at 10am and they were letting only a certain amount of people in at a time. Lesson: best to go to the Children’s Museum on a regular day with less crowds. Perhaps going during the weekly free admission time on Thursdays from 5-8pm wouldn’t be a bad idea, but I haven’t tried.

Anyhow, if you have elementary school age kids, this is a great place to bring them, as all the exhibits in this medium sized museum appeal to them. There are 3 floors of toys, games, and hands on exhibits. Kids will have tons of fun running around and learn something while having a great time. There are a couple outdoor exhibits on waterworks and the ecosystem as well. The highlight of the museum is Kidtropolis, with a pretend bank, city hall, grocery store, diner, pet shop, etc for kids to role-play. They could pretend to be chefs, serve meals, play cashier, vet, etc, including costumes. It is creative and I like the concept. They also handed out passes for Kidtropolis with a designated admission time so people would not flood the place all at once. All in all- a good museum if you have kids. Take a pass if your group is just adults.

博物館區免門票那一天我們第一就來兒童博物館。很多人說這是個很好的博物館,而且博物館的外貌很特別,很有趣。但是來到博物館參觀就失望了;我們對展出的東西都不感興趣。當然啦,兒童博物館是對小朋友有興趣的!這個博物館帶兒童來就很好玩,只是大人來參觀就沒什麽好看的。這個博物館有三層interactive 展覽和玩具。 外面也有兩個展覽。 我覺得最有趣的展覽是 Kidtropolis。 Kidtropolis 有小銀行,小餐館,商店,獸醫院,等等;小孩可以扮售貨員,廚師,獸醫,等等。很有趣,很創新。如果帶小孩來的話,不要每年免費門票那一天來玩,因爲很多家庭都有同樣的想法:帶孩子來玩,所以那天博物館很擠逼, 還要排隊進入。兒童博物館每週四5點到8點下午都是免門票的。我沒試過那時候去參觀,但我認爲人都不會比博物館區免門票那一天多。

If you go/旅遊資料:
Address/地址: 1500 Binz St., Houston TX 77004
Hours/開放時間: Tues-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm
Free Times/免費時間: Thursday 5-8pm

Check out my Houston Museum Guide for reviews of more museums.


main lobby

A flower in the ecosystems exhibit

Robot made of phones and telecommunications hardware

closer view

back view

pretend grocery store

pretend diner

pretend food at diner


Houston Museum Guide

Houston has a treasure trove of museums just waiting to be discovered. The bulk of them are located in the museum district near downtown. Over the next few posts, I will give an overview of the museums and a brief description/review of each. This first post is general information and getting around.

Transportation and Parking

Driving: You should generally be able to find free parking without a problem. Most museums have their own parking lot with limited spaces where you can park for free. Free parking is available in the various lots in Hermann Park, which is a short walk to the museums. The Museum of Fine Arts also has a free parking lot on Bissonnet St.

Public Transportation: from downtown- take the Metro light rail to the Museum District stop. Or take any of the Metro buses to the museum district.

Getting Around

The museum district is a pedestrian friendly area. The museums are clustered together and are within walking distance of each other. Some of them may be a farther walk though. The museums have a brochure you can pick up that has a map of the museum district and info on all the museums. Alternatively, here is a link to the map. The other option is to drive and most museums will have their own parking lot where you can park for free.

Free Admission Dates/Times

The vast majority of Houston’s museums are either always free or free on certain days/times, which makes the museums very accessible and easy on the wallet. I make note of the free days/times as I review each museum but it is a good idea to check with the museum to make sure they haven’t changed it.

Museum District Free Day

Once a year the museum district puts on a “Museum District Free Day” when all museums in the area waive their admission fees for the day. This is usually on a Saturday in September. Last year in 2009 it was on September 12th. They even have a complimentary shuttle bus that will take you to all the participating museums that day. It is best to plan out your route in advance because there are so many museums to see and it would be impossible to see them all on just one day. I used Museum Day to see all the smaller museums that I hadn’t gotten a chance to see yet, but did not want to make a special trip to the museum district to check out. Also keep in mind that there will be crowds on this free day, especially in the more popular museums, so patience goes a long way.

Scroll down to the bottom of my post for links to posts on the individual museums.




停車:要在這裡找免費停車場不難。大部分博物館都有自己的免費停車場,可是很小,位子有限量。在你想參觀的博物館找不到停車位子,可以到赫曼公園 (Hermann Park) 的免費停車場停車。赫曼公園有好幾個大大的免費停車場。可以步行到博物館。休士頓美術館在 Bissonnet 街也有一個大的免費停車場。

坐公車:可以坐休士頓 Metro 輕軌鐵路或 Metro 巴士到博物館區。




休士頓大多數的博物館都有免費參觀的時間和日期的優惠, 讓參觀者可以省一點錢。我介紹博物館時會寫它的免費時間在博客,但去博物館前該聯係博物館查明。


每年秋天九月左右博物館區舉辦免費參觀的一天。那天,區内的博物館整天都不收門票。去年2009 年是9月12 日。博物館區也開幾班免費巴士給參觀者乘坐到每一個博物館。這是一個省錢的好辦法來一次過看很多博物館。要一天看完全部的博物館就很趕速,所以應該提前計或好路綫。然後其他博物館選另外的時間參觀。

Museums 博物館

Children’s Museum 兒童博物館

Czech Center Houston 捷克中心

Houston Weather Museum 氣像博物館

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum 非裔士兵博物館

The Menil Collection 梅尼勒藝術館

Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum 拜佔庭教堂壁畫博物館

Rothko Chapel 羅斯科教堂

Houston Center for Photography 休士頓攝影中心

Houston Zoo 休士頓動物園

Museum of Fine Arts Houston and Cullen Sculpture Garden 休士頓美術館和雕塑園

Bayou Bend 美國裝飾藝術舘

Rienzi 歐洲裝飾藝術舘

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston 休士頓當代藝術博物館

The Health Museum 休士頓健康博物館

Houston Museum of Natural Science 休士頓自然博物館

Houston Holocaust Museum 休士頓猶太人大屠殺博物館

Hongqiao (Pearl) Market


Pearl (Hongqiao) Market is a massive 5-story market that doesn’t just sell pearls. It sells all kinds of souvenirs and traditional/modern goods. It is a popular stop for tourists after they visit the Temple of Heaven, so prices are skewed towards this buying segment (read: inflated). Nevertheless, the Pearl Market is still a shopper’s paradise if you go with a discerning eye and bargain lots. It helps that there are 5 floors of vendors and there is tons of selection. One time I did find a beautiful elaborately sequined clutch in the discount bin at one of the vendors in perfect condition, so there are deals to be had. Even if you are not bargain hunting, it is a good place to browse and window shop.

虹橋市場在外語叫做“珍珠市場” 因爲它最出名的貨品是珍珠。有各種各樣的珍珠。有很多種顔色和品質。可以訂自己喜歡的款式鏈子或手鏈。 除了珍珠以外,也有很多其他東西買:皮包,皮箱, 衣服,布料,手提包,瓷器,花瓶,家庭裝飾,電器, 等等。3-5 樓都買珍珠。三樓的比較普通,四,五樓的比較貴。在四樓有個陽臺,走出陽臺可以望到天壇全景,真美麗!

Pearl Market is most famous for…you guesed it- pearls! There are all kinds of pearls to be had here- shapes, sizes, colors, and of course quality. You can buy ready-made jewelry or have them custom make it for you. Floors 3-5 primarily sell pearls, with the 3rd floor having the more everyday and less expensive styles and the 4th and 5th floors having stores that sell more upscale selections. In addition to pearls, there are handbags, luggage, traditional clothes and fabrics, porcelain and ceramics, vases, home décor, paintings, and electronics. One highlight is that if you step out onto the balcony on the 4th floor, you can see a beautiful panoramic view of the Temple of Heaven. It is really stunning, especially if you go around sunset. Highly recommended!

View of Temple of Heaven from inside Honqiao Market


虹橋市場好久好久以前都有。明清時代已經有這個市場。那時候是在胡同裏的露天市場。是平民百姓的一個繁盛的市集。虹橋市場位于北京城牆外,因爲以前老百姓大部分都是住在城外的南部。天橋也是北京老百姓 的重要文化和娛樂中心。虹橋在天壇東門附近,天橋在天壇西門附近,兩個地方都是平民百姓聚集的地方。

虹橋市場 1980 和1990年又再繁盛起來。1990 年搬到室内去。英國首相 瑪格麗特  撒切爾訪問中國時,來虹橋市場參觀,使外國人多認識虹橋市場。其實,外國人早已經認識虹橋市場了。19 世紀和20世紀初期時,來訪北京的外國人都知道來虹橋買東西啊!但是撒切爾來過虹橋市場之後, 多量外國人都想來這裡購物。今天虹橋市場是遊客和旅行團必到的地方!

A bit of history

Pearl Market has been around for centuries. It dates back to the Ming and Qing dynasties and is one of the oldest markets in Beijing. Being outside of the southern city walls of Beijing, it has traditionally been a popular market with the common people, who mostly lived outside the southern part of the city. This was a thriving open-air market with stalls and vendors peppered throughout the hutongs of this area. Back then it was known as colloquially as “Thief’s Market” for the healthy number of pickpockets that abounded and the slick salesmen that always seemed to have the upper hand in selling goods. Hongqiao, located across from the east gate of the Temple of Heaven was the main market for commoners, and Tianqiao, located across from the west gate of the Temple of Heaven was the mainstay for culture and entertainment for the regular folks.

The Pearl Market experienced a revival in the 1980’s and 1990’s. During the ‘90’s it was moved the massive 5-story building that is what we know it as today (minus some refurbishing and renovating). Though the market was already popular with foreigners that visited Beijing in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was really put on the international travel map when British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited China and came to the Pearl Market. Soon everyone wanted to go shopping there and today it has become a staple in tour itineraries and a quintessential Beijing shopping experience.

旅遊資料/ If you go:(2007 年資料/ info from 2007)

門票/ Admission: 沒有/ none

地址/ Address: 北京市崇文区天壇路 和 崇文門外大街之間 (虹橋路 16 號) intersection of Tiantan Lu and Chongwenmen Wai Dajie (street address 16 Hongqiao Lu) Chongwen District, Beijing

交通路线/ Transportation: 地鐵5號綫,天坛东门站/ subway line 5, Tian Tan Dong Men station

开放时间/ Hours: 早 8:30am – 晚 7:00pm

Hao Yuan Hotel

好園賓館是一間位於東城區胡同内的四合院式賓館。賓館很大,差不多一條街那麽長。可以步行到東方廣場和王府井。在清朝時,這是太監李連英的外宅。之後, 張自忠,世界第二次大戰抗日大將軍也住過這裡。鄧穎超曾在這裡辦公。1984年成爲賓館。前港督偉奕訊來過這賓館參觀,英國首相布菜爾訪華時,他 夫人在這裡舉辦過酒會。

Hao Yuan Hotel is a siheyuan (courtyard) style hotel located in the hutongs of Dongcheng District. The hotel is huge and basically comprises the whole hutong. The exterior walls are dull and gray but once you step inside the courtyard it is cozy and welcoming. It is within walking distance to Oriental Plaza and Wangfujing shopping district.

During the Qing Dynasty, this used to be Empress Dowager Cixi’s eunuch Li Lianying’s house. Thereafter, Zhang Zizhong, a general who fought in the second Sino-Japanese War lived here. It was also Madame Deng Xiaoping’s house and office for a period of time and became a hotel in 1984. Today, it is a beautiful courtyard style hotel offering visitors a taste of living in a traditional courtyard style home.

旅遊資料/ If you go: (2007 年資料/ info from 2007)

門票/ Admission: free to walk around

地址/ Address: 北京市东城区史家胡同53 (53 Shi Jia Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing)

交通路线/ Transportation: 地鐵5號綫,燈市口站/ subway line 5, Deng Shi Kou station