Food, The Great Outdoors

Ode to the Donut Picnic

What do you do when the kids wake you up at 5:45 on a Saturday morning and you can’t get back to sleep? You have a donut picnic!

To avoid the Houston heat and humidity (a normal thing after 9 a.m. most of the year), take advantage of those early morning kid wake ups and get outdoors. A few great reasons to do this in Houston:

  1. You beat all the traffic and the long lines at the donut shop
  2. The weather is pretty darn nice in the early morning, even in August
  3. You get first choice of all the best donuts
  4. Your kids get the sugar they crave AND get to run it off before they crash for nap time
  5. You make some great memories with your kids!

To make this happen, you need 2 things – donuts and a really good, kid-friendly park. If you’re not the biggest fan of donuts, any breakfast item will do! Here are some combos that have worked well for us (you can tell we do this a lot):

  • River Oaks Donuts and River Oaks Park – these two establishments are right across the street from each other. River Oaks Donuts gives you kids a cool crown (pictured above), and you can get some delicious coffee. They also have FILLED donut holes and really creative donut options! River Oaks Park is great for kids ages 5 and under – they have a Cinderella carriage and plenty of great age-appropriate play structures. It’s tucked away on a quiet street and there usually is plenty of street parking, especially early.
  • Shipley Do-nuts and Jaycee Park (or ANY park for that matter!) – you just can’t beat Shipley for warm glazed donuts…especially the one at 3410 Ella. Go through the drive through and make sure to order at least half a dozen of the glazed donuts, because they are always perfectly fresh and warm at that location. Don’t forget kolaches too, another Houston tradition! Jaycee Park is tucked away just outside of the Heights, not too far from the Shipley mentioned above, and it’s got everything you need for the perfect donut picnic for kids of any age: picnic tables, a playground for younger and older kids, and a big field for running after eating.
  • Kolache Shoppe and Levy Park – you’re right, these aren’t donuts, but these kolaches are pretty much the best thing ever and worth calling out. If you’re not from Houston and you don’t know what a kolache is, race over to the Kolache Shoppe immediately and grab at least a dozen! If you’re going to Levy Park, hit up the Greenway Plaza location (note: this Kolache Shoppe location is closed on Sundays). Levy Park is by far the most awesome park in Houston for so many reasons. You can spend hours here, and everyone in the family can enjoy it.
  • Hugs and Donuts and Donovan Park – The donuts at Hugs and Donuts are special and a lot of fun to both eat and pick out. Bring ’em over to the “train park” as Donovan Park is affectionately called, and you’ve got a home run!

Don’t forget to grab some juice and coffee as well to enjoy with your breakfast. We usually eat the donuts so fast we don’t need paper plates, but a few napkins will do in case you need to lay them down. Find a picnic table or nice spot on the grass at the park, and you’re in business!

A small note about cleanup – part of the fun is to let the kids get icing all over themselves, so make sure you’re armed with every parent’s secret weapon: WIPES.

As you can tell, we eat a lot of carbs and spend a lot of time outdoors. I guess it balances out…

About Us

And So It Begins!

Today is the day that Houston Explorers is born! It’s one of those remarkable Houston days that we all live for – not too hot, not too cold, just cloudy enough. Lots of potential for sun; less potential for sunburn.

Houston Explorers is a blog for Houston families to plan remarkable adventures, big and small. We will search high and low for the absolute best ways for you to spend your limited, precious time with the people you love. We’ll give you a chance to explore Houston in a way you never expected, and we’ll challenge you to try things with your kids you never thought you could.

There are lots of other Houston-focused blogs and websites out there (many of which are wonderful and that I read regularly) that have inspired me for many years, but I haven’t yet found the “one” that merges my love for the outdoors, culture, food, trying new things, and travel (even if within the city!). I guess maybe there are a few places that cover most of those bases, but they don’t mix in the thing that matters the most – creating unique, memorable, special experiences for and with the people I love the most (two of which are pint-sized).

So who the heck am I and why should you listen to me?

My name’s Katie, and I’m a native Houstonian. I grew up in the ‘burbs telling myself there’s no way I’d ever come back. After leaving for college and grad school, I realized that actually Houston’s pretty great, so back I came. And now y’all couldn’t get rid of me if you TRIED!

Chad and I met at Christian’s Tailgate over a burger, and we pretty much new immediately that lifetime commitment was going to happen within a date or two. We have been married for 7 years, and we have 2 kids – Jacob (5) and Ben (almost 3). Everyone always asks us “do you ever slow down?” And states “you are always so busy!” We think it’s normal and we have a lot of fun.

My love language is information, so when we meet, you will either be amazed or annoyed by any answers I give you to questions about what you should do or where you should eat. This blog is an attempt to channel some of that knowledge so hopefully y’all can benefit from years of research and family adventures. Plus, everyone keeps saying “you should write a blog” – so here it is!

I hope you enjoy Houston Explorers and find these posts useful. Please let me know if you try some of our suggestions – we’d love to hear about your adventures too!

-Katie