Space Center Houston is just what the child inside you wants it to be. As you drive up to the entrance, your view is dominated by a 747 with a space shuttle on its back. I mean, what could be cooler than that?

Earlier this summer, we took a week-long road trip south to Texas. We had taken tours of the Pioneer Woman Mercantile and Lodge in Oklahoma, as well as Magnolia Market and Harp Design Company in Waco, so I was ready for a change of pace away from cooking and home decor. Sure, we’d had great meals at the Merc and at Vitek’s BBQ, but I was ready to feed my brain and not just my face.

Trying out flight seats at Space Center Houston

Steve and Meghan try out a couple mock-up flight seats at Space Center Houston.

We arrived at Space Center Houston late in the afternoon, the drive from Waco having taken a bit longer than we’d planned due to toll roads and traffic around Houston. We arrived about two hours before closing, meaning that we got to park right up front in a spot vacated by someone who’d been there earlier in the day and had left; after a long drive, things were looking up!

We went inside and learned that the last tram to tour Mission Control would be leaving soon, so we quickly climbed aboard. (Quick travel tip here: when selecting a seat on the tram learn from our mistake and sit as far away as you can from the man who wants to talk loudly about alligators in the Louisiana swamp. This will give you a better chance at hearing the narration.)

The tram trundled across the grounds, stopping occasionally for gates to swing open. We went by large buildings with rockets painted on their sides and finally arrived outside a cement 1960’s-style office building labeled “Apollo Mission Control Center.”

Apollo Mission Control at Space Center Houston

Steve standing outside the doors of the Apollo Mission Control Center.

We were ushered inside the building, up about 12,000 steps (there was an elevator available for those who needed it) and through a door. And there it was. Mission Control. It looked just like you remember from every film about the Apollo program you’ve ever seen. The room was in pristine condition, a window to the finest technology available in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when moon landings were taking place. Everything was there, just as it was when the mission controllers left the room 40 years ago, looking like they might return from a lunch break at any time. You could even see a red rotary phone sitting high atop a console–the famous phone with the direct link to the Pentagon used so often in movies where humans have to coordinate Earth’s defenses against hostile aliens.

Apollo Mission Control Center Space Center Houston

Steve poses in front of the Apollo Mission control room at Space Center Houston.

The red phone in the Apollo Mission Control Center

The “red phone” was a direct line to the Pentagon during the Apollo missions to the moon.

We were allowed into the VIP observation room for a quick orientation as to what we were seeing. We sat down in the same comfortable theater seating (complete with ashtrays) that was used by generals, high-ranking government officials, and family members of astronauts as they nervously watched moon landings unfold live.

An ashtray on a chair in the VIP observation room of Apollo Mission Control

An ashtray is attached to a chair in the VIP observation room behind the Apollo Mission Control Center at Space Center Houston.

From Mission Control, we hopped back on the tram and set off for our next stop, pausing for a moment at a memorial for astronauts who have died while serving at NASA. We continued on our way and got to a large building that held a Saturn V rocket, the rocket that took the Apollo missions into space and then on to the moon. As you can see, it’s a pretty big rocket. Placed on its side, it would be longer than a football field. Note how I’m dwarfed by each of the five first-stage engines.

Saturn V rocket engine at the Space Center Houston

The engines on the Saturn V rocket used for the Apollo Missions were pretty big.

A Saturn V rocket at Space Center Houston

Steve and Meghan walk (and walk) alongside a Saturn V rocket –the rocket used for the Apollo missions.

From the Saturn V rocket building, we went back to the museum. Now, about 45 minutes before closing, we had to hurry to the exhibits we wanted to see. But, about 45 minutes from closing, there really were very few people left in the museum so we were able to move pretty quickly. We first went outside to that 747/space shuttle combination we saw when we parked. We rode the elevator up to the top and stepped aboard the mock-up of the space shuttle. Immediately I stuck my head inside the cockpit to take a look around. It’s amazing that people can learn what all those switches and buttons do.

Space Center Houston space shuttle cockpit

The cockpit of the space shuttle.

In addition to the cockpit, we saw a space suit as well as astronaut sleeping “quarters” aboard the space shuttle. The “quarters” consisted of a sleeping bag tied to the wall that would just float in the weightless environs of space.

A space suit at Space Center Houston

A space suit like those worn by astronauts aboard the space shuttle when they took space walks.

Astronaut sleeping "quarters" on the space shuttle

Sleeping “quarters” aboard the space shuttle consisted of a sleeping bag attached to a wall so the astronaut doesn’t float away.

Finally, we also saw the, um, facilities that astronauts used to answer the call of nature. I’ll just let you use your imagination on this one as to how everything works in the weightlessness of space where you don’t want certain things floating around.

Space shuttle restroom

The restroom facilities look a little different on board a space shuttle.

Back inside the museum, we stopped at a number of other exhibits, including one on the Mercury missions. We saw the Faith 7 Mercury Spacecraft that actually carried Gordon Cooper on his 1963 mission.

Faith 7 Mercury Space Craft

The actual Mercury space capsule flown by astronaut Gordon Cooper on May 15-16, 1963.

Next we wandered over and looked at the Apollo 17 Command Module that flew the final mission to the moon in December, 1972. This mission brought back samples of rock from the moon’s surface including one we were able to touch!

The Apollo 17 Command Module

The Apollo 17 Command Module flew Dec 7-19, 1972. This last Apollo mission successfully traveled to moon and back. This capsule is named “America.”

You can touch a rock from the moon at Space Center Houston

Steve and Meghan touched the moon at Space Center Houston. It’s one of the only places you can touch a rock from the moon.

By now, it was nearing time for the museum to close. We regretted that we hadn’t gotten there a little earlier, but were also glad we’d avoided so many of the crowds that would have been there during the height of the day. We resolved that we’ll just have to go back someday. The child inside me will remember that promise hold us to it.


Have you ever toured Space Center Houston? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

  • When we toured the Prosecco region with @italyunfiltered, we stopped for dinner at a local pizzaria. We didn't know it when we sat down, but we were about to try the best pizza we'd ever had anywhere.⁣
⁣
It began with a crust made from artisan wheat flour. Baked in a wood-fire oven, the thin crust was crispy and chewy in all the right ways. The toppings were fresh and flavorful.⁣
⁣
Every time we see this picture, we just sigh and remember that glorious evening, sitting in the square of a small town, and the way the flavors of this pizza danced in our mouths.
  • One of our favorite things to do on a cruise is to wake up and ask each other, "What does the world look like today?" before opening our curtains. We love that our view changes every day, that we never know what we'll see. ⁣
⁣
This is the view we found on a summer morning when our @celebritycruises ship docked in Ajaccio, Corsica. On seeing this view, we knew immediately this would be a breakfast on the veranda kind of day. ⁣
⁣
When we think of why we love cruising so much, images like this come to mind. And really how can you not love a view like this one?
  • At El Pollo Rey, they serve up specially marinated, fire-grilled chicken with rice, beans, fresh tortillas and pickled red onion. They suggest eating the chicken with the onion. Take their suggestion. It is. So. Very. Good.⁣
⁣
We had the chance to eat at El Pollo Rey on a hosted foodie trip to @visitkansascityks. Put this restaurant on your list of places to go on your next visit to KC. But go early as the line could be long.
  • Just a little to the right...⁣
⁣
This landmark needs no introduction. We stopped here during a cruise and grabbed this photo. And while the tower and it's history are interesting, we really enjoyed the tour of the area. ⁣
⁣
Pisa is touristy, but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy a day spent there, strolling the streets, sipping wine in a cafe, or doing some shopping in the little stores there.⁣
⁣
⁣
#postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #pisa #celebritycruises #leaningtowerofpisa #leaning #pinochio #pisatower #pisano #
  • Fresh cranberries appearing in the grocery store mean that the holidays are fast approaching. For us, no holiday feast is complete without cranberry jelly. ⁣
⁣
We love cooking our own cranberries, and hearing the sound as they pop open while cooking. It's a sound that takes us back to childhood, back to good memories of holidays spent with family. ⁣
⁣
Do you make your own cranberry jelly for your family get-together?
  • We visited the @themockingbirdkc on our hosted food tour in @visitkansascityks. There, we sat on the back patio and sipped nicely crafted cocktails while enjoying some appetizers including a queso dip with chorizo (front), shrimp ceviche (back left) and guacamole with a great level of spice (back right).
  • One of the hottest of all hot-spots in @visitkansascityks is El Pollo Rey. The restaurant's name in English, means "Chicken King," and we can't think of anything more appropriate.⁣
⁣
Offering just three menu items, a whole chicken, a half chicken, and chicken wings, this restaurant's chicken is the stuff dreams are made of. Don't take our word for it...ask the folks lined up out the door who are willing to wait an hour for this tasty treat.⁣
⁣
Served with tortillas (fresh made across the street), rice, beans, and pickled onion, one bite of this meal will have you going back for more. We loved our complimentary visit.
  • Looking for a new and unique #midwest food or drink experience? We found about 20 of them on our sponsored foodie tour of @VisitKansasCityKS. ⁣
⁣
We wrote a new blog post all about the best places to eat and drink in KCK with mouth watering photos of all of them. ⁣
⁣
Just click on the link in our bio to read it and let us know which places you'd like to try most.

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska