A sprawling multicultural metropolis, Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States. And while “Space City” might be best known as an energetic economic hub, it boasts top-rated museums, an active Theater District, mouthwatering restaurants, and an impressive number of green spaces and parks.
Packed with exciting excursions and attractions, Houston’s bustling city limits can be transformed into a giant playground for kids — and make for an unforgettable family vacation. From interactive museums to scenic urban hikes, here are Houston’s top 10 outings to enjoy with kids.
Children’s Museum of Houston
Widely considered one of the country’s finest museums for children, Children’s Museum of Houston is a perfect place to spend the day with little ones. Interactive exhibits, like Invention Connection, where kids can brainstorm their own inventions, are both educational and engaging. With 90,000 square feet of engaging exhibits (plus an area dedicated to the very young ones), the museum is a one-stop-shop for a full day of fun.
Spend a day at one of Houston’s most beautiful outdoor spaces, Buffalo Bayou. This massive park on the water is home to a variety of attractions, including the Waugh Bat Colony. Around dusk, you can see more than 250,000 bats emerge from their caves and take flight into the night. Hidalgo Park offers a large wooden playground and splash pad, so plan to make a day of it and take in all that Buffalo Bayou has to offer.
Space Center Houston
If you’ve got a future astronaut in the family, Space Center Houston is a must. Here, kids can learn what it’s like to live in space, tour actual rocket ships, and on Fridays, a real-life astronaut visits and shares their experiences. Your family can also browse a collection of moon rocks and other space artifacts and memorabilia. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop, where you can score freeze-dried ice cream and other goodies.
A 12-acre urban park situated in the heart of Downtown Houston, Discovery Green offers a variety of entertainment options for families. Pack a picnic for the park’s massive lawn, kayak on the lake, and play on the playground to get the full park experience. Don’t forget your swimsuit — the park’s Gateway Fountain is the perfect place to splash around.
Kids and adults alike will revel at the more than 200 sea life species that fill the tanks at Houston’s Downtown Aquarium. Get up close and personal with stingrays, learn all about reptiles in the Education Room, and scope out piranhas in a simulated Rainforest. Downtown Aquarium also offers carnival games, rides, and a calendar packed with exciting events.
Housing more than 6,000 species of animals, the Houston Zoo is the perfect stop for your animal-loving family. Watch zookeepers feed the giraffes, bathe the elephants, and learn all about your favorite species. Toddlers can head to the Children’s Zoo, where they can tour a bat cave and meet goats and other friendly creatures in the petting area.
Ice at the Galleria
Unless you forgot to pack a few items, a mall probably isn’t the first place you’d visit while on vacation. Houston’s Galleria will make you reconsider. The Galleria boasts some of the city’s best shopping, and the chance to cool off at Ice at the Galleria. Skate rental and admission are $13 per child, and you’re welcome to stay on the ice for as long as you like.
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
For outdoorsy families, there’s no better stop than the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. After hiking down one of the Arboretum’s scenic trails, you can wander through the gardens to scope out the local flora and fauna. A “Tyke Hike” for younger kids is held every Monday, in case you’re visiting during the week. At the Nature Center, scope out interactive exhibits and learn everything you ever wanted to know about animal habitats.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
After a full day of bouncing around at this massive indoor trampoline park, everyone’s going to be totally exhausted. Play ultimate dodgeball, jump into the cushy foam zone, or perfect your basketball dunking skills, all while burning off excess energy and plenty of calories.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Also one of the country’s most popular museums, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is enthralling for both kids and grown-ups. With a Planetarium, Butterfly Center, and a variety of permanent exhibits, everyone in your family will find something to get interested in, whether it’s strolling through the collection of dazzling natural gemstones or exploring outer space.
Ready to enjoy a trip to “Space City”? Find hotels for your family trip to Houston. Or, find more ideas for excellent kid-friendly vacations.