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A photo of a Ferris wheel at Downtown Aquarium Houston
Photograph: Landry's

The 10 best things to do with kids in Houston right now

From museums to water parks and theater, the best things to do with kids in Houston are fun for the whole family

James Wong
Written by
James Wong
Contributor
Justine Harrington
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For the same reason it’s a great place for children to grow up, figuring out things to do with kids in Houston isn’t rocket science. By design, the city has it all, flourishing scence of art, culture, nature, entertainment, and the types of larger-than-life activities you might expect from the state’s biggest city (everything’s bigger in Texas, after all).


Here, the world-famous Space Center Houston will impress kids of all ages while a sprawling aquarium complex is one of the top children’s museums in the US. Coupled with plenty of inspired green spaces and parks, the city has a knack for having it all. Not to mention, you’re never far from adventure—those with a car can check out Galveston and the Gulf Coast just an hour away (it’s like Houston’s version of Coney Island), a popular destination for waterfront activities.

Below, we’ve rounded up the best things to do with kids in Houston to make the most of your time in H-Town.

RECOMMENDED: our full guide for the best things to do in Houston

Best things to do with kids in Houston

What is it? Home of NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and Mission Control, the monitoring center for the agency’s manned space flights.

Why go? The Space Center in Houston provides a fascinating look into the world’s largest space program – attractions include interactive exhibits, more than 400 space artifacts, a shuttle replica, space simulators, the Northrop Grumman IMAX Theater and Martian Matrix, a kid’s play area. For older kids that are big-time space fans, consider doing a “Level 9 Tour”, which provides an in-depth look at the inner-workings of NASA and Mission Control.

What is it? An award-winning children’s museum for kids up to 12 years old, conveniently located in the Museum District.

Why go? Rated the No. 1 children’s museum in the U.S. by Parents magazine, the Children’s Museum of Houston is packed with awesome educational exhibits, highly interactive displays and huge play areas. The museum even includes a sprawling child-sized city called Kidtropolis, where kids can hold jobs, start businesses and elect one another for city government. And, for younger kiddos, TotSpot has plenty of structures and toys for babies and toddlers.

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What is it? Situated on the western edge of Memorial Park, this 155-acre urban nature sanctuary is a lush, outdoor oasis.

Why go? Boasting five miles of walking trails, gardens, tons of birds and other wildlife, pond habitats and towering pine trees, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center offers a true escape from city life. Every summer, the Arboretum holds week-long Discovery Classes so that children can learn more about the natural world and Houston’s native plants and animals.

What is it? A 26-acre aquatic dream world that’s just an hour’s drive from Houston.

Why go? One of the all-time best attractions in nearby Galveston, Schlitterbahn is a great place to bring the whole family. There are 33 exciting rides and attractions here, including several high-speed slides, kid’s water playgrounds, lazy rivers, wave pools and water coasters, in addition to plenty of snack bars, restaurants and even a swim-up bar for the adults.

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What is it? A non-profit that showcases Houston’s best performing arts scene alongside some of the biggest traveling Broadway hits.

Why go? Because what kid can resist a stage adaptation of Frozen or Wicked? This massive complex has two performance chambers, so if Elsa isn’t for everyone in your family, your group can still go to the same venue (and see different shows). Or how about a compromise? Mean Girls should do the trick.

What is it? An underwater wonderland with a 500,000-gallon aquarium and an entertainment complex with carnival-style games, an aquatic carousel, a restaurant and a Ferris wheel.

Why go? Kids will adore the Downtown Aquarium, with its dazzling habitats and attractions, including a Shipwreck exhibit, a tropical rainforest, the Shark Voyage and the Discovery Rig, which features the chance to get up-close-and-personal with horseshoe crabs and stingrays. Children under two get in free.

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What is it? Houston’s premier locally owned bookstore, located near Rice Village, has a wonderful children’s section.

Why go? Book lovers young and old should make it a point to stop by Brazos Bookstore, a widely-known hub of literary culture in the heart of Houston. In addition to having a stellar selection of children’s books, Brazos always has fun, kid-specific events going on – check their calendar for story-times, author signings, book-themed parties and more.

What is it? A 12-acre downtown park that includes a kid’s play area, restaurants, an amphitheater and event lawn, 2 dog runs and much more.

Why go? This lovely, vibrant green space is located right in the middle of downtown Houston, and there are always tons of kid-centric activities happening, from mini-golf and yoga classes to family movie nights. Discovery Green is also the perfect spot for a Sunday picnic under the shade trees.

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What is it? Just a short drive from Houston, this popular amusement park perched on Galveston’s historic pier boasts a wide variety of rides and fun attractions.

Why go? Built in the late 1940’s, the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier was a prime family vacation destination until Hurricane Carla struck, in 1961. Thankfully, the park has since been rebuilt, and today, it’s a massive pier featuring 16 amusement rides, a plethora of fun games and live entertainment – all right on the scenic waterfront. A day spent at Pleasure Pier will undoubtedly delight the whole family.

What is it? One of the most heavily attended museums in the U.S., with a spectacular collection of mineral specimens, a planetarium, space-station models, a dinosaur skeleton and much more.


Why go? The Houston Museum of Natural Science houses world-class exhibit areas including the Cockrell Butterfly Center and the Burke Baker Planetarium, in addition to over a dozen permanent exhibits that examine space, science, astronomy, paleontology and Texas wildlife. The museum has a popular summer camp series, as well, that includes Chemistry Camps, Space Camps and Dinosaur Camps.

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