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Escape to Space City

Houston shines with events celebrating 50th anniversary of moon landing

Kristin Finan
kfinan@statesman.com
The Houston Post Oak Hotel's NASA package includes helicopter transport to Space Center Houston. [Kristin Finan/American-Statesman]

Houston, we have an anniversary.

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 landed on the moon, mesmerizing the country and opening up new doors for future space exploration.

If you want to celebrate the 50th anniversary in style, no city is better than Houston, where this summer you'll find everything from astronaut meet-and-greets to space-themed food. Here are some ways to ring in the anniversary in Space City this summer.

Space Center Houston

Any trip to Houston this summer should include Space Center Houston, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves as both the official visitor center for NASA Johnson Space Center and a Smithsonian affiliate. As expected, the center, which is the No. 1 Houston-area attraction for international visitors, is hosting loads of events in honor of the anniversary. They include an all-day kickoff celebration and concert featuring Walk the Moon and Phillip Phillips on July 20, NASA tram tours, Apollo 11-themed pop-up science labs and a newly restored Apollo Mission Control Center.

Another popular option is the Lunch With an Astronaut program, which allows visitors to hear firsthand stories from NASA astronauts such as Brian Duffy, Mark Polansky and Dr. Anna Lee Fisher, who became the first mom in space in 1984, while enjoying a catered lunch.

"When the doors opened and you see the Earth below, it’s just unbelievable," Fisher said earlier this year at Space Center Houston.

Find the full lineup of summer events at spacecenter.org.

The Classic

A retro feel is the name of the game at this popular American bistro, but in July, the restaurant goes all out. This month's menu includes dishes that were popular at the time of the moon landing in 1969, including roast beef with company potatoes and horseradish cream, Texas 1015 onion dip and Tang soft serve served with Dublin grape soda and chia seeds to invoke a look that's reminiscent of the moon. Visit theclassichouston.com for details.

Schlitterbahn Galveston

Schlitterbahn Galveston, which is located just 30 miles down the highway from Space Center Houston, has incorporated a space theme into its new ride: the Infinity Racers waterslide. An eight-story, head-first mat slide, Infinity Racers pays tribute to the men and women of NASA and the Johnson Space Center throughout the ride, which is as long as two space stations. Multicolored fiberglass that creates special lighting effects inside each slide adds to the fun. Across the state, Schlitterbahn is celebrating 40 years as the “hottest, coolest time in Texas” this summer with special events at its four Texas water parks, located in Corpus Christi, South Padre, New Braunfels and Galveston. Learn more at schlitterbahn.com/galveston.

Museum of Natural Science

Space Center Houston may be the hub of anniversary fun, but Houston's other world-famous museums are getting in on the action, too. At the Houston Museum of Natural Science, take in the new 23-foot sculpture, “Moon,” by artist Luke Jerram. The piece incorporates detailed NASA imagery of the moon’s surface using projection mapping, letting visitors investigate everything from the Apollo 11’s landing spot to the actual “dark side of the moon.” The museum will also display a to-scale replica of a 2021 Nova-C Lunar Rover; screen a film, “Apollo 11: First Steps”; host family star viewing parties; and offer a space-themed version of its popular Mixers & Elixirs event, where “science club meets the social set,” on July 19. Learn more at hmns.org.

Houston Post Oak Hotel

The new AAA Five-Diamond Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston wants to let you celebrate the moon landing with an out-of-this-world experience. The hotel's decadent (and over-the-top) NASA package includes a two-night stay at the hotel; a $300 food and beverage credit; helicopter and private car transfer to Space Center Houston and Johnson Space Center; a guided tour of the space center by a local astronaut; private lunch with an astronaut; and a Ritual of Five Worlds signature treatment for two at the Spa at the Post Oak, Texas’ sole Forbes Five Star spa. Package price is $10,000. Learn more at thepostoak.com.

That’s just a sample of the space-themed fun happening Houston this summer. Find more events at visithoustontexas.com.

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