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TEXAS ROADTRIP WITH KIDS WORKCATION!

Our adventure started in Austin, where we packed up our car and headed to The La Cantera Resort in San Antonio for what begins 6 days of adventure across the major cities of the lone star state, while heading to speak at an event at NASA in Houston!

As we walked into the resort, we were greeted with stunning views of the Texas Hill Country, and the warm welcome from the staff made us feel right at home (we were even gifted treats for the kids). With our Amex Platinum benefits, we enjoyed a 12 pm check-in, giving us plenty of time to explore the resort's pools, waterslides, and fun activities.

The kids were ecstatic, and we spent the entire day splashing around in the water, going down the slides, and playing various games, like Chess and of course, red light green light. Vinny was particularly fond of the slides, while Luna, Stella and Nico loved the water loungers. And clearly, Stella enjoyed her lunch of mostly ketchup with a burger and fries on the side.


We headed up to our room, which was a one bedroom suite that was complimentarily upgraded from our double room, because of our Amex benefits! It was enough for us all to spread out and feel comfortable.

After relaxing and showering up from our day at the pool... We ventured out of the hotel and over to the Magic Time Machine for dinner. The kids enjoyed their meal almost as much as they enjoyed our rapping server, the 'balloon lady' and the abundance of décor and randomness.


This place is sure to bring the kid out in anyone... even Justin got pranked by our server, when he asked for a big iced water... they delivered.


Perfect!

We had a GREAT time at this wildly kid friendly restaurant and the food was actually pretty good too, despite the kitsch! Almost all of us had the prime rib and no one took leftovers back to the hotel. The fun and cool factor was really "it" for us though, the kids already want to go back (and honestly, so do we).


As we made our way back to The La Cantera Resort... dessert was top of mind and releasing some nighttime adrenaline for a goodnight's sleep was critical for this tired Mama! So, naturally, we headed to the on-site ice cream shop and put to use that $100 Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts credit we got for booking. It was a hit... followed by some play on the big lawns and sprawling fountains and staircases.

On Day 2, we headed to SeaWorld San Antonio, which was just a short drive away. The kids were thrilled to see all the amazing marine animals and experience some awesome rides. Luke and Nico were particularly brave and went on the Steel Eel roller coaster multiple times, while Stella and Vinny couldn't get enough of the Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster. Luna, being the youngest of the bunch (a minute younger than her twin sister), enjoyed the animal shows and the smaller kid rides.

Midday we left the park and headed over to Fish City Grill... fitting. This was a seafood restaurant that the entire family loved! We indulged in some mouth-watering dishes... starting with two dozen Texas Gulf Coast oysters! We continued with the Shrimp Po Boy, The Damn Good Bacon Cheeseburger and Vinny got the pound of Crawfish!

It was a fun time with good food, but we were anxious to get back to SeaWorld to catch the evening dolphin and Shamu shows! Which is exactly what we did... we shut down the park and squeezed in every single ride we wanted to, at least 3 times! As a bonus, the kiddos got to fall in love with dolphins and Shamu, much like I did as a kid!

After closing down the park, we drove to our nearby hotel and crashed! No ice cream tonight and our energy was totally expended, but what a fantastic day (complete with funnel cakes).

On Day 3, we packed up and left The La Cantera Resort after a yummy breakfast, once again courtesy of our Amex Platinum Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits (it's seriously awesome) and drove towards Houston, where I had a Women in Leadership workshop to facilitate at NASA. I've recently been appointed to the DEI board of NASA and it was even more exciting that I got to share this with my kids!

The drive was long but scenic, and we made a stop at Buc-ee's. A Texas road trip staple for clean bathrooms, fudge, kolache's and swag, naturally. It's the coolest "gas station" we've ever been to and no Texas road trip is complete without at least one Buc-ee's stop!

After our longer than you'd expect, because it's just a gas station, stop, we continued our journey towards Houston, where we arrived at the Marriott Marquis. This is not an Amex Fine Hotel, but having the platinum Amex does get us complimentary Gold status at Marriott properties without having to qualify via nights or points each year, which scored us an upgrade to a room on the 28th floor (of 29), facing the Astro's Ballpark. It was an impressive view and the room was fine. We had some issues with the cleanliness and an over hour wait for Valet... which was disappointing, but the kids were eager to get to some swimming and I had to head out for my speaking event at NASA.

While I went to work for a few hours, Justin took the kids up to the Texas Shaped Lazy River on the rooftop, where they had an absolute blast. The lazy river is shaped like the state of Texas, with various waterfalls, and a beautiful view of the Houston skyline. Justin even took some pictures of the kids having fun, and we all laughed at how much they enjoyed themselves. What's better, we had the perk of the M Lounge, which provides a private respite from the rest of the hotel and, better still, it's fully stocked 24/7. It's located right adjacent to the pool and lazy river area, so despite a rocky start to our stay, not having to shell out additional money for soda's, bottled water and snacks was a perk.

After I got back from my work event, we enjoyed a light dinner at the Hotel's M Lounge, where we indulged in some delicious bites like pasta with meatballs, a baked cheese dish, charcuterie and desserts. The lounge had a modern and stylish décor, and the staff was attentive and friendly.


After dinner, we decided to head to Kemah Boardwalk, which was about a 30-minute drive from the hotel for a little fun. The boardwalk was busy, more so than we expected, and had various attractions, including a ferris wheel, a circular rollercoaster that loops upside down over and over (4 of the 5 kids' favorite) a real wooden rollercoaster, which was obviously our family's favorite and a cool observation ride which shared the history of Kemah (meaning: wind in face, and let me tell you, it was windy) and provided a really cool view of the entire boardwalk.

I'd highly recommend a stop at this sure to invoke nostalgia, boardwalk and, I think next time we'll stay in this cute little bay town of just 3,000! The Kemah Boardwalk has it's own hotel, right in the middle of it all!

On Day 4, I had a webinar to facilitate in the early morning, which I did from the private booth type spaces in the M Lounge (the wifi worked great) and after wrapping that up a few of the kids and I enjoyed the hosted breakfast, also in the M Lounge. From smoked salmon and bagels to pastries, to eggs & bacon... it was an impressive (and included) spread. Thankfully, we had a late check out of noon and an open day, so I took the kids down to the pool where we had it entirely to ourselves for nearly two hours. We drank our coffee and hot chocolates from the nearby M Lounge and relaxed in the hot tub, the kids played marco polo in the infinity edge pool and then a game of hide and seek in the lazy river. Eventually, Justin came down and joined us, refilling our coffee's and hot chocolates.

It was the perfect long morning, and we enjoyed our stay, despite a few issues.

In the early afternoon, we left Houston, but first we stopped at a local coffee place called Luce Coffee Roasters, it was a delicious breve latte and according to the kids, "the best hot chocolate, ever" - Luke.

We headed down to Pleasure Pier in Galveston, a little over an hours drive... and it sure wow'd! We had all day wristbands, but you can also pay individually for ride tickets. The kids took full advantage of the unlimited rides and we spent about 5 hours on the pier. Though some of the ride attendants weren't the friendliest and some, downright rude to some guests, the experience itself was fun and I'm sure we'll be back.


After walking backing to the car, we explored Galveston a bit and I read about the city to the kids. Believe it or not, they all really enjoy this part of our trips. Then again, we watch Jeopardy during dinner, so they are curious kids anyway. We couldn't get in at some of the bigger seafood places (hour long waits) so I called up a small, but highly rated scratch kichen and I'm so glad we did! We enjoyed some delicious food at Shucks Tavern & Oyster Bar in the downtown/port area and our service was outstanding! Funny enough we met parents of (grown) triplets who were seated next to us and they were in awe that ours ate oysters. The kids were thrilled for more oysters, caught locally, and Luke couldn't get enough of Ahi Poke. Chicken nuggs and fries for these guys? YES! But also, they'll eat and try all kinds of foods which allows us to enjoy dinner too!

After our day in Galveston, we headed up I-35 toward New Waverly, TX and settled into an AirBnB for the evening. We're usually fans, but this one wasn't great. It did the job (and allowed for us to have a campfire with smores), so I guess if you have to wake up to smoke alarms going off for no reasons and then the a/c mysteriously being set to the lowest possible temperature despite us setting it before bed, and the clear drug dealing going on at the house next door (cars, all night long, they weren't even being discreet)... this converted shipping container was fine.

Cest la vie.


On Day 5, We woke up early, had breakfast and treats at the cute and nearby Honey's Coffee and Biscuits before setting heading to Waxahachie, where we explored the local art scene, visited various galleries and shops, and admired the beautiful murals and street art. The kids were intrigued by the different types of artwork and enjoyed taking pictures of some of the murals and hearts around town.

After checking out the field of Tulips and doing the Historic Driving Trail we continued on to Dallas for lunch at Rodeo Goat. The burgers were juicy and flavorful, and we all loved the variety of toppings and sauces. Though there was a wait, everyone was friendly and the food came out quick, hot and fresh! We were hungry and the

After lunch, we headed to Rainbow Vomit, which was an immersive art installation filled with bright colors, lights, and interactive exhibits. The kids had a blast playing with the various gadgets and posing for pictures in the different rooms. I think Justin had the most fun, on the drums, along with some eager musician kids of our own. The hour flew by...

Next, we headed to the Winstar Casino, located on the Texas-Oklahoma border, where we stayed for the night with our Aunt, Nissa (who had comped rooms and meals for us, and of course, her great and fun company). We enjoyed a sumptuous dinner at the casino's buffet, where we feasted on various cuisines from around the world. The kids loved the ice cream and desserts, and we all agreed that it was one of the best buffets we had ever had. From Mexican food to Asian cuisine to Prime Rib and Italian... it had everything and more. Back in our adjoining rooms we played the games we brought along like Kids Against Maturity and Exploding Kittens, beforing turning in for the night and watching Weather Gone Viral or Forensic Files (our hotel room TV staples).

On our way back to Austin, we stopped at The HUB in Allen, TX, where we enjoyed awesome food and drinks, and the kids played games and danced with the other kids there (and of course made fast friends). The HUB had a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, and the food was delicious. Their bar, 'Spoke', even crafted mocktails for us! And don't get us started on the BBQ at Local Smoke. It was a crowd pleasure, all around!

This Texas Road Trip Workcation was an incredible experience, and we would highly recommend it to families looking for a fun and unique vacation, whether personal or mixing business with pleasure. Texas has so much to offer, from the natural wonders of the Hill Country to the exciting attractions of Houston and Dallas, and the delicious food and vibrant culture found throughout the state. With Amex Platinum benefits like early check-in, late check-out, and hotel credits, families can enjoy even more without breaking the bank.


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