Travel


A Guide to the Space Center Houston 8

A Guide to the Space Center Houston // Being Leanna

Have you ever gotten wicked excited over something you thought would just be okay, and then it made your day? Well, that was my experience with Space Center Houston. The space center was somewhere I wanted to go while in the area but it wasn’t at the top of my list. Lets be honest, meeting JJ Watt was (didn’t happen, sadly). Because the space center is 30-45 minutes outside of Houston depending on where you’re staying, it wasn’t our biggest priority. After doing some research once we were settled in, we decided it was well worth it to spend the money, rent a car and just go! In hindsight, this might have been one of the best decisions of the whole trip, and we did a lot of awesome stuff in both San Antonio and Dallas.

So, what do you need to know about the Space Center? Keep reading to see my full guide for how to spend your day at the Space Center Houston

Space Center Houston: A Guide 

A Guide to the Space Center Houston // Being Leanna

Getting there:

1601 NASA Parkway

Houston, TX 77058

The Space Center Houston, as I mentioned, is a little ways away from Houston. It’s about a 30-45 minute drive depending on where in Houston you’re coming from. We had no car while we were there so we opted to rent a vehicle for the day. You could easily take a cab but it’d probably cost you a pretty penny. Even Uber was estimating about $45 round trip. It was easier to spend the $100 for the car for the day and then be free to explore everywhere else in the city we couldn’t easily get to on public transportation. 

A Guide to the Space Center Houston // Being Leanna

 

Tickets and Hours:

Adult tickets: $29.95 / Kids 4-11 $24.95 / Seniors $27.95

Alternatively, if you’ll be in Houston for longer than a day and plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, I highly recommend grabbing a CityPASS. Those are $59 for adults / $49 for kids 3-11

The hours vary depending on what time of year it is and whether or not it’s a weekday or a weekend. I highly suggest checking the website before you go. I’d aim to arrive as soon as they open for the day, it really helped save us some time in lines. 

A Guide to the Space Center Houston // Being Leanna

Attractions:

//Independence Plaza 

I still can’t get over how a space shuttle flew on top of an airplane. That’s insane. Now that the space shuttle is retired you can go in both! There are a lot of awesome interactive pieces in the airplane but my favorite part was how it’s all focused on education. There are so many things that show all the different types of careers there are and really encourages kids to explore those so that they can one day work at NASA. 

//Tram Tour

 This is the first thing you should do when you get to the Space Center to avoid long lines. You can book a specific time online but I found it easier to just arrive as the Space Center opens and hop in line. This is around a 90 minute tour of the NASA campus, filled with lots of stops and fun facts. You’ll get to see where real astronauts train, a whole replica of the International Space Station, and the original Mission control in all its glory. At the end of the tour you’ll see one of the Saturn V rockets and it is ginormous. At 363 feet tall and 6.2 million pounds when fully fueled it’s the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket we’ve ever flown. 

//Living in Space

This attraction is everything you’d think it would be. It’s a demonstration all about how the astronauts live in space. It’s about 30 minutes but the presenters are there for questions afterwards. I don’t know about you guys but all I think about is how cool no gravity is, not any of the challenges of actually living that way. You’ll learn how they cook food, sleep and yes, even how they use the restroom in space!

//Astronaut Gallery

Another amazing attraction for all ages, the space suits throughout the years. This features all different types of suits and other paraphernalia throughout the years of space exploration. You’ll learn a bit about the research that goes into the suits and how they’re designed with their specific wearer in mind. 

//Level 9 Tour

The VIP tour. If you’re really into space or just want a bit more in depth of a tour, this is for you. For $129 you and 11 others will get a 4-5 hour private tour of the NASA facilities. The admission also covers the main admission into the Space Center as well as an included lunch. 

A Guide to the Space Center Houston // Being Leanna

Food:

There is a food court available but i’d suggest waiting and eating out in town if you can. It’s typical cafeteria food, nothing bad but you can certainly get a better meal out at a restaurant. But, you cannot leave without checking out all of the astronaut food in the gift shop. Freeze Dried Ice cream is a must. 

Additionally, you can have lunch with a real astronaut! These are once a week so be sure to plan your trip around this fun event. Tickets for kids 4-11 are $39.95 and adult tickets are $69.95, this includes general admission. You do need to reserve a specific date and time but getting to spend a whole hour with a real astronaut is a once in a lifetime opportunity! 

A Guide to the Space Center Houston // Being Leanna

There you have it! A complete guide to the Space Center Houston. There are so many more attractions within the facility but the ones I mentioned are the must sees. I spent a good 4-5 hours there and you could easily spend longer if you went and saw all of the presentations and demonstrations. 

If you’re still not sold on coming to Houston, read this: 12 Reasons you Need To Visit Houston! If you have any questions at all leave them in the comments!

Question of the day: Have you been to Houston? What did you do there, tell me in the comments!

 

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Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA 6

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

One of the most important things to me when I go traveling is finding a place to eat. I love to explore the local cuisine and try some foods that are new to me while exploring a new city. I’m still working on navigating the solo dining experience without feeling too awkward so most of my meals end up being on the go or during lunchtime where it’s less uncomfortable for me to eat alone. So, if on the go eating is your thing, or you’re just not 100% comfy with sitting at at table for dinner by yourself, this guide is for you!

Check out the bottom of this post for a Google Map with all of the places to eat I mention below! 

 

 

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

Nom Nom Ramen 

This was literally around the corner from my hotel (as most of these places are) and I had never had ramen before. It was a great experience and the staff was great. Clearly I had no idea what I was doing and the waiter was incredibly helpful in deciphering the menu for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you what I got but I can say that it really was “nom nom”. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Really though, for being my first ramen experience, I was incredibly thrilled. I can’t wait to find a ramen place where I live.  

The Dandelion 

A London style pub with gastropub type food. I had to wander in because of the name. This was a rare solo dining experience for me and I took 0 pictures. A) I was a bit scared to be “that person” and B) it was so dim inside! Perfect for the atmosphere but bad for smart phone photography. The menu is spectacular and I highly recommend any of the fish/seafood dishes. Personally, I had the smoked salmon and trout pate and it was devine. If you ever arrive before 5 they serve afternoon tea as well! 

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

Steve’s Prince of Steaks

I know, I know. Pat’s is the place to go but I just didn’t make it over in that neck of the woods (I still put it on the map!). Pat’s is the original home of the Philly cheesesteak with its rival Geno’s right across the street! I ended up at Steve’s which is right near my hotel on my last night in Philly because I had totally forgotten all about getting a cheesesteak! I have no idea how that happened. Luckily, with some swift Google searching, the internet told me that this was the best place near me to grab a cheeseteak. Man, they were not wrong. As someone who normally could care less about steak, this was a bomb a$$ hoagie. I could have eaten 3. 

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

I did not eat here but I’ve heard so many amazing things about this steakhouse that I just had to include it. If you’re staying at the Sonesta it’s in the same building! 

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

Chestnut Street Bagels 

So good, I went twice! Breakfast my first day and lunch my second. Coming from a New Yorker that can be pretty snobby about their bagels, this place was fantastic. The perfect spongy on the inside, crispy on the outside texture. What really blew me away was the cream cheese that had bits of salmon in it instead of slices of salmon on top. I wish I could have brought gallons of this stuff home with me. I didn’t take any pictures because I ate them on the move but i’m sure ya’ll know what an everything bagel looks like, right?

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

Snap Kitchen

I wish I had these back home. These are tasty meals you shop for just like you’re in a grocery store. They’re all pre packaged and they have everything from soups, to snacks, dinners and even breakfast! And, it’s all on the go. You can heat it up in the microwaves at the store or bring it home to heat up. The weather was astonishingly beautiful for February so I grabbed a nice veggie lasagna, some juice and a small bag of chips and headed out to Rittenhouse Square to enjoy a picnic dinner. 

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

Federal Donuts

You guys, these donuts. I can’t. They were so good, and worth the wait. Which reminds me, you need to go as soon as they open or be prepared to wait for the flavor you want. I tried the churro and the blueberry pancake donuts and I fell in love with both. The best part about Federal is that they also serve… wait for it…. fried chicken. Why fried chicken and donuts is a thing, i’ll never know. But, it’s cool and trendy and you need to try it asap so why not try it at Federal Donuts? 

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

Big Gay Ice Cream

The mother of all ice cream parlors. I was on a mission to head to see these mosaics and I happened to walk by Big Gay Ice Cream and I couldn’t just walk by and not have any. If you’re from NYC or Philly than i’m sure you’ve heard all the buzz around this place. Let me tell you, this was the best ice cream I’ve ever had. If you like a thick, custard like ice cream then this is the place for you. Grab my new favorite American Globs which has bits of pretzel and is covered in chocolate. Salty and sweet together is the best combination but if that’s not your thing, they’ve got tons of options.

After re-reading this I think it’s abundantly clear I ate super healthy on my trip to Philadelphia, ha! When in Rome, right? If you’re headed to Philly soon, or even if you live there, you’ve got to check out these places to eat. Save the map below and it’ll take you right to all of them! Also, don’t forget to leave your Philly recommendations in the comments below so others can find them!

If you’re interested in more Philly posts, I wrote all about my amazing hotel stay at Sonesta and where to immerse yourself in Philadelphia history!

 

 

 

Things and Places to Eat in Philadelphia, PA // Being Leanna

 

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Must See Historic Sites in Philadelphia 7


Must See Historic Sites In Philadelphia // Being Leanna

Must See Historic Sites in Philadelphia, PA

When planning a trip to Philly you’re probably on a mission to see the amazing historic site, the Liberty Bell. After all, it is pretty famous. But, did you know that the Liberty Bell is in the middle of Independence National Historic park? 

Independence National Historic Park has been around since 1948 and it consists of over 20 buildings on 55 acres of land. Talk about impressive. Check out a map here to start planning your visit. It’s tough to see everything so I’ve summed up my top 3 spots to see within the park. Certainly you should hit as many spots as you can but if you’re cramming everything into one weekend these are the 3 you need to visit. 

Must See Historic Sites In Philadelphia // Being Leanna

General Park Tips

Most of the historic sites are free to enter but, Independence Hall requires a timed ticket (still free) to get into. Tickets can be picked up at the Visitor’s Center which opens at 8:30. The visitor’s center also has a cafe, restrooms and maps for the whole park. Most of the sites don’t open until 9 so you’ll have time to grab breakfast before you go. In the warmer months I highly suggest getting a portable breakfast and eating in the grass or on one of the many park benches to take in all of the sights. There are security persons and metal detectors to get into the buildings (at least the ones I went in) so be mindful of what you’re bringing with you. You’ll need to take off your jackets upon entering and put any coats and bags through a conveyor like at the airport. 

 

Must See Historic Sites In Philadelphia // Being Leanna

Independence Hall

If you’re American or have ever taken an American History class you’ll know this as one of the most historic sites in the USA. It’s the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, where the Articles of Confederation were adopted and where the US Constitution was enacted. In the west wing lies the original copies of all three of those documents. There is so much incredible history here that it’s my number one must see in all of Philadelphia. 

Must See Historic Sites In Philadelphia // Being Leanna

Congress Hall

Located within Independence Square, Congress Hall is exactly what it sounds like. From 1790-1800 this was home to congress and the senate while Philadelphia was the temporary US capitol. Both George Washington and John Adams has their inaugurations here. If that’s not enough history for you the Federal Mint, the Navy, and the First Bank of the US were all established here. 

Must See Historic Sites In Philadelphia // Being Leanna

Liberty Bell Center

Located directly across from Independence square the Liberty Bell center is another must see attraction. The bell itself is located at the end of a long hallway sprinkled with everything you could ever want to know about the State House Bell (as it was originally called) and its famous crack. Believe it or not, the crack isn’t a crack at all, it was part of a repair job gone wrong! Be sure to ask the attendants any questions you may have; they know all that there is to know about the bell and its history!

Must See Historic Sites In Philadelphia // Being Leanna

There you go! The top 3 historic sites you need to see in Philadelphia. Yes, there are dozens more but these are the 3 you cannot leave town without seeing. Conveniently they’re all right next to each other so it makes for the perfect mid morning itinerary. Be sure to check out this review on the Sonesta Philadelphia if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Philly! Also, make sure you’re always looking for art, it’s everywhere in Philly. I even wrote a whole post about the best street art in Philly so you’ll have a guide!

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Must See Historic Sites In Philadelphia // Being Leanna

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A Stay At The Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel 16

A Stay At The Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel // Being Leanna

I’m just going to come out and say it. I’m a hotel person. I love the idea of an Airbnb, a hoste,l and even camping (or glamping) but sometimes a good ole hotel is the way to go. I was looking in to Airbnb’s for my trip to Philadelphia and I couldn’t find any in the area I wanted that were less than a hotel. So, I booked the Sonesta. It was my first time ever staying in this chain so I wanted to take you all on a tour of my room and share my experience! 

A Stay At The Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel // Being Leanna

Sonesta Philadelphia 

Location

If you’re looking for a centralized hotel in Philadelphia this is it. Being centrally located is the number one priority for me when i’m looking for a hotel. I literally walked everywhere I needed to go. Not once needing to step onto public transportation. Just a 5 minute walk in any direction and you could be at a main attraction. The fact that I got free parking in the garage was icing on the cake. I almost took a train into the city because it would have been cheaper than paying for parking. Yikes.

A Stay At The Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel // Being Leanna

Check-in/out process

I’ve never had a quicker or more friendly check-in experience than I did at the Sonesta hotel. The gentleman that checked me in (wish I could remember his name!) got me ready to go in record time all while answering my thousand questions about different attractions and places to eat. He also gave me the run down on the room service menu because I was starving and a bit stressed from the drive. The concierge also informed me that even though my checkout was noon that I could keep my car in the garage until 6pm that night! That’s insane for a city where parking is $10/hour. The front desk even called my room shortly after check in to make sure everything was up to my standards. I don’t know if this is normal for a nice hotel but I was smitten either way. 

A Stay At The Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel // Being Leanna

The Room

So much light and space!  I was booked in a room with 2 queen beds. It was more space than I needed and I loved it. So much room for activities! Or, just using the second bed as a dresser #guilty. The bathroom was a tad small but just fine for one person and the lighting was insane. So great for makeup (if you’re interested in what’s in my travel makeup bag let me know!). The room also had a great couch, mini fridge and a full sized ironing board. I don’t know about you guys but I hate those mini ironing boards. I roll my clothes when I pack but they always end up with a few wrinkles that I need to get out. Plus, the art was pretty great. If you know anything about me you know I’ve got a map obsession.

A Stay At The Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel // Being Leanna

The Lounge

The Sonesta has what they call the ArtBar and it was a great lounge/bar area. I would sit and sip a beer while on my laptop after dinner some nights if I didn’t want to sit in my room. I also got probably the best margarita of my life here. If you follow me on Instagram then you saw the to-go cup they prepared it in for me to take to my room. It’s the perfect place to take a quick pit stop in between sight seeing or to spend the night at. If you’re looking for a more fine dining kind of place Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is also attached to the Sonesta. Steak people have heard of this place, apparently it’s amazing? All I know is that it was packed all weekend. 

A Stay At The Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel // Being Leanna

Sounds/Sights

The building itself is a piece of art, you can’t miss it when walking or driving down the street which is really cool. The whole front of the building is a mural and it’s stunning. Speaking of views, my room was classified as a “room with a view” but it was just a view of the office building next door. I could see up and down the street a little but not much. Luckily I don’t care much about that as I was barely in my room during the day. As for the sounds, the hotel was pretty quiet. I could hear outside traffic just a bit but the hotel is on a main road. I couldn’t hear anything in either of the adjoining rooms but if people were in the hallway it was incredibly loud. It’s the one complaint I had about the hotel. Luckily nobody ever hangs out in the hallways but if people are strolling to their room and talking in the middle of the night, you’ll probably hear it. 

A Stay At The Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel // Being Leanna

Overall Thoughts

Would I stay here again? Absolutely. In a heartbeat. The next time I stay in Philadelphia, or anywhere with a Sonesta hotel i’ll book a room there. Their staff was beyond expectations. I asked questions about my map every day, asked about restaurants to eat at and how safe certain neighborhoods were to walk around in at night. Everyone was friendly and had great advice. Even the bartender who made my margarita helped me map out how to get to a donut place the next morning. 

Looking for more Philadelphia info? Check back as i’ll be adding more posts soon, for now here’s my guide to the Street Art in Philly and my Casual Vacation look

Question of the day: Have you ever stayed with Sonesta? Tell me your experience below!

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A Stay At The Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel // Being Leanna

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Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics 17

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

Philadelphia, PA Street Art

Whenever I’m in a new city I love to check out the street art. As much as I love to visit the art museums, street art has always been my favorite. As soon as I pulled up to my hotel for the weekend I knew that Philly was really into it’s art. The whole front of the Sonesta is a mural, it’s insane. Who would have thought that Philadelphia would have the largest public art program in the United States? Today, i’m giving you a small glimpse of the amazing art in Philadelphia complete with addresses! If you’re on the hunt for amazing art in Philly you need to use the Mural Arts Map, it shows you were all the best works are. You can bet i’ll be back to this amazing city to see as many works as I can. Be sure to save my map at the bottom of this post for your next trip to Philadelphia!

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

The Atlas of Tomorrow: A Device for Philosophical Reflection – 533 S. Juniper Street (right next to Big Gay Ice Cream!)

I happened to be walking down the street headed to the below destination when I happened upon this massive mural. Equipped with a giant wheel you’re supposed to think of a question and spin it. Find your answer among the 64 short stories and reflect. If you’re ever in town, give this a spin (mine landed on 20) and tweet me what you got!

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

World’s Largest Clothespin – The corner of Market and 15th Street

Because, why not? Right? This is a 45 foot sculpture of a clothespin. You can tell who’s a local and who is a tourist by who stops and stares at this giant sculpture. Who wouldn’t pause at a large steel sculpture right in front of the historic city hall? To say it stands out is a bit of an understatement. To be fair, I think it’s exceptionally cool. 

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

Your Move – John F. Kennedy Blvd. between 15th and Broad Street

Also sitting right within view of City Hall are the sculptures entitled Your Move. Complete with game pieces from all of your favorite childhood games this site has become the ultimate park for skateboarders. Be mindful of the kids on wheels and take a safe lap around the perimeter instead of strolling straight through.

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

Philadelphia Utility Boxes – Washington Square West Neighborhood (use the link for exact addresses)

Come on, how cute is this guy? These artworks were created by the talented students at the University of the Arts. There are about 17 of them throughout the neighborhood and each one is vastly different from the last. These are a great site to see as you’re wandering in between seeing other murals as there is art all around this neighborhood. There are a whole lot of murals in this area (S. Broad street is also known as the Avenue of the Arts) so they are a nice fun extra when you’re walking in between destinations. 

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

Sanctuary – 13th and Chancellor st.

This might be my favorite mural of them all. Something about the movement and all of the plant and animal life just makes you feel relaxed. Always be sure to look high and low for street art in Philly, it’s everywhere! Doesn’t this just make you happy to look at?

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

Theatre Of Life – 507 S. Broad Street

You need to get closer to really see how amazing this piece was but i’m featuring this far away shot because of everything around it. This is just a normal street, with normal buildings and even a Subway and bam stunning work of art. This is the ultimate definition of street art.

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

Philadelphia, PA Street Art: Murals, Sculptures & Mosaics // Being Leanna

Magic Gardens – 1020 South Street

I may have saved the best for last as i’m a huge fan of mosaics. The Magic Gardens is a whole mini concrete jungle of amazing mosaics by Isaiah Zagar. Buy tickets in advance. I didn’t and didn’t want to wait hours to get in so I peered as much as I could through the cracks. If you don’t plan ahead like me make sure you at least walk by and grab a neighborhood mural map (or find it online) and take a stroll. I wandered for over and hour gazing at these beautiful mosaics.

Are you a fan of street art, if so, what about it do you love? What are some of your favorite cities for artwork? For me, Philly has taken the top spot which is pretty hard considering I fell head over heels with the art in Houston and Dallas

Let me know the cities with the best street art in the comments below!

Save this map for your next trip to Philly!

 

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