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Things to Do in Houston With Kids + 4 New Itineraries

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The best of the South and urban development combine to make Houston an incredible place to visit as a family! As the fourth-largest city in the U.S., Houston is home to some of the best attractions that kids and parents alike will enjoy. Texas is one of the best states to visit with kids, and Houston definitely proves that.

From well-known attractions like the Space Center Houston and the Houston Museum of Natural Science to a wide array of parks, zoos, and other kid-friendly places, Houston has it all.

Things to Do in Houston With Kids

The thriving metropolis has tons of yummy restaurants and cultural experiences to explore. If you’re planning a trip to Houston with your family, this roundup is full of fun things to do in Houston with kids!

Contents

Fun Things to Do in Houston With Kids

Fun Facts About Houston

Houston has tons of museums that introduced us to many things about the city! Some are historical facts, and others are funny and also surprising.

  • With so many restaurants and cuisines available, locals love to eat out often. No wonder most restaurants were always packed with diners!
  • You may remember the iconic “Houston, we have a problem.” But it was actually misheard and was supposed to be, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” It may not be as catchy as what people are used to, but Houston is one of the first words mentioned by astronauts from the moon!
  • With at least 145 languages spoken in Houston, it is one of the most diverse cities in the US! 
  • You can also find 90 consular offices for different nationalities within the city. It makes an excellent destination for international travelers too! 

Best Time to Travel to Houston

Summer is the most popular time to visit Houston with kids. The weather is beautiful in the summer months, making it a popular destination for families looking for a great adventure.

If you’re looking to avoid crowds, spring, fall, and winter may be better choices for you. Some attractions may also be limited in these seasons or even closed.

How to Get to Houston with Kids

You can travel by car, by bus or take a long drive to Houston if you live nearby. But for a convenient trip, we chose to fly to Houston.

If you are coming from George Bush Intercontinental Airport, you can ride the Metro Bus 102 for only $1.25 (paid in cash only). The multiple stops make the bus ride to downtown Houston convenient. But it may be a concern for someone in a rush. In fact, the traffic and multiple stopovers take the bus almost 90 minutes to get downtown.

Traveling with kids and looking for tips, then make sure to click the links below and read more:

How to Get Around Houston with Kids

Houston has a simple street layout and several transportation options, making it easy for us to travel around the city.

  • Taxi: You can easily hail taxis downtown, which is the most convenient way to travel, even to the outskirts of Houston. It is still a pricey option. And you may also have to call a taxi when your family is traveling from outside downtown.
  • Rental Car or Own Car: Houston has a pretty easy street layout. All you need is a good map to get from one place to another.
  • Light Rail: When traveling downtown, the light rail is the best option. All you need to do is grab a money card that you can use for the buses.
  • Bus: Unlike the light rail, buses go further away from downtown. You can also use the money card from the light rail to pay here too. 
  • Uber/Lyft: Both services are available in Houston. In fact, they are convenient and offer cheaper rates than taxis. Before heading to Houston with kids, download the ride-hailing apps on your phone to book a ride. 
light rail in Houston

We used the combination of Lyft and light rail to get the city’s best experience and visit other places away from downtown.

Where to Stay in Houston with Kids

Houston has some of the best family-friendly hotels in the state of Texas. If you plan to stay for a night or more, check your itinerary and other things to do with kids in Houston to pick the best places and get a good night’s rest.

There are several options for downtown and far destinations.

Houston focused on map

Family Friendly Hotels In Houston

  • Comfort Suites Northwest Houston At Beltway 8: The property is one of my favorite places to stay in Houston with kids. With free breakfast, free parking, and free stay for kids, it is the perfect place to be with your family, even better if you have your own car. You can also eat out and choose from the restaurants just minutes from the hotel. 
  • Palace Inn Blue Tomball Parkway: If you want to be nearby attractions for kids, you can stay at Palace Inn. The complimentary breakfast, free parking, and amenities for kids and adults make this property one of the best family friendly properties to stay in Houston. Give yourself some time to swing by the golf course!
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Houston – N Downtown, an IHG Hotel: The property costs higher than the other hotel recommendations, but it has everything you need for a Houston staycation or a weekend getaway! In addition, you can bring your pets, relax in a spa and enjoy other facilities for kids and parents. Remember to pack some swimwear if you want to stay here!
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Houston Galleria Area: For families on a tight budget, La Quinta Inn & Suites lets you stay with your whole family and pets in one place. Staying here also keeps you close to the city’s great attractions, architecture, and diners! Be sure to eat local crab at one of the nearby restaurants!

Things to Do in Houston With Kids

1. See different species of animals at the Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo is home to over 6,000 animals. The 55-acre zoo is the second-most visited zoo in the United States. Some of the notable exhibits include a large elephant enclosure, a children’s zoo, and also an entire area devoted to native Texas wetlands. Feedings and demonstrations also take place throughout the day for a more interactive experience.

The Houston Zoo is located within Hermann Park, and free parking is available in the park. The parking spaces are limited and you can also find offsite parking locations listed on this website. You can visit the Houston Zoo and some places in our Houston with kids guide with the Houston City Card. Get yours here!

flamingos in Houston | Things to Do in Houston With Kids

2. Take a stroll with the family at Hermann Park

Hermann Park is a popular place to visit for tourists and locals with many things to do in Houston for kids. Located in the heart of Houston, the over 440-acre park has lots to explore and do, including a train ride on the Hermann Park Railroad.

You can also find pedal boats on McGovern Lake, a beautiful Japanese garden, and even a golf course! You could easily spend a day here with kids just exploring. The park is close to other main attractions in Houston, making it an excellent place to get some energy out between attractions.

Hermann Park | Things to Do in Houston With Kids

3. Watch exhibits and experience the carnival rides at Downtown Aquarium

The Houston Downtown Aquarium is a fun activity to do with your animal-loving kids! The aquarium is housed within two redeveloped landmarks in downtown Houston – Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks.

The sprawling aquarium has a multitude of exhibits, including interactive touch tanks. There are even carnival rides and a full-service restaurant and bar! Take a tour of the city and get a pass to experience the Downtown Aquarium’s rides here.

4. Go on an educational tour in Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is incredibly kid-friendly. With a planetarium, a butterfly exhibit, and a new Paleontology Hall, your kids could spend hours here! Permanent exhibits cover all areas of natural science, from dinosaurs to astronomy and renewable energy. Buy your Houston Museum of Natural Science pass here.

5. Enjoy art at Museum of Fine Arts Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston makes art fun for the whole family. With easy tours and exciting family programs, the museum has plenty of ways for kids and adults to enjoy art. Tickets to the museum are free for children under 12 and also free for everyone on Thursdays!

6. Experience what it’s like to be an astronaut at the Space Center Houston

Space Center Houston is one of the most popular things to do in Houston with kids. As the official visitor center of the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, this science museum has artifacts and activities related to America’s history of space exploration. Check available tickets and dates here.

Space Center | Things to Do in Houston With Kids
Space Center | Things to Do in Houston With Kids

Interior of Shuttle at Space Center 

You can walk through actual rocket ships and experience what it’s like to be on the International Space Station. You can also step inside the mission control center. This is where the NASA team monitored the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the moon. Houston, we have landed!

Space Center Houston

7. Be with the butterflies at the Cockrell Butterfly Center

Directly next to the Houston Museum of Natural Science is the Cockrell Butterfly Center. This large glass dome is home to a model rainforest and hundreds of colorful butterflies.

You also need to watch an informative video to enter the center. If you’re lucky, a butterfly or two will even land on you! 

8. Bond with outdoor activities at the Buffalo Bayou

Buffalo Bayou Park is a large park with spectacular views of the Houston skyline. You can go for walk or ride the bike on the biking trails. Hidalgo Park is also a great area for kids, with a splash pad and a big playground.

If you walk around the park near sunset, look out for bats! In fact, Buffalo Bayou is home to the Waugh Bat Colony. Watch them emerge from under the Waugh Drive Bridge at dusk.

9. Sign up for kid activities at the Children’s Museum of Houston

The Children’s Museum of Houston is the perfect activity for younger kids in Houston. With 90,000 square feet of interactive play and learning, your kids will be endlessly entertained. There’s even an outdoor water area and a low ropes course perfect for older kids. Admission is free for kids under 1 and $15 for everyone else.

10. Watch the opera with the family at Houston Grand Opera

Want to experience the thriving performing arts scene in Houston? The Houston Grand Opera is the place to go! Seeing an opera is a bucket list experience, and the Houston Grand Opera is one of the best opera companies in the country. 

They even offer Opera to Go! shows. These are 45-minute operas sung entirely in English enjoyed by students, kids, and the whole family.

11. Explore nature at Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

If your family loves getting out and exploring nature, make sure to add the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center to your list of things to do in Houston! The Arboretum is committed to preserving and showcasing the natural beauty of Houston’s geography.

The 5 miles of trails through forests, meadows, and ponds include interactive exhibits and a Sensory Garden. At some times of the year, the Arboretum goats also come by to keep the vegetation at bay! Admission to the Houston Arboretum is free.

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

12. Watch concerts and outdoor performances at the Miller Outdoor Theatre

The Miller Outdoor Theatre is located within Hermann Park and hosts various shows, concerts, and performances. In fact, there are free performances outdoors. Be sure to buy advance tickets for the shows at the picnic area.

Every show made from the Miller Outdoor Theatre is perfect for children. Don’t miss out watching these shows with whole family!

13. Understand the mind and body at The Health Museum

The Health Museum is located in the Museum District of Houston, offering super fun, interactive, and educational activities for the whole family! The museum’s mission is to foster curiosity about the human body to encourage healthier living. Check ticket deals here.

With a wide range of exhibits, including real organ dissections and anatomy walkthroughs, a visit to the museum will be a learning experience for everyone. The exhibits change frequently. So you will see something new on your next visit to the museum!

14. Head on over to The Galleria for some retail therapy.

Need a break from all the museums in Houston? With over 400 stores, The Galleria is Houston’s largest shopping center. It’s modeled after the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, with a gorgeous glass ceiling.

In the center of The Galleria is a large ice skating rink that operates year-round! In addition, you can find shops at every price point and a wide selection of family-friendly dining options here.

15. Appreciate family time at the Kemah Boardwalk

Just 30 miles outside of Houston, Kemah Boardwalk is a classic, fun-filled boardwalk amusement park. Located on the waterfront in Galveston Bay, the boardwalk has several retro carnival rides, including a ferris wheel, carousel, and wooden roller coaster. There’s even a stingray exhibit where you can touch and feed live stingrays!

Your family can enjoy the amusement park, go for a shopping, and also dine at the waterfront restaurants. Kemah Boardwalk is an excellent addition to your time in Houston for a full day or just a quick visit. Book transportation to Kemah Boardwalk here.

Kemah Boardwalk

16. Join exhibits at the Moody Gardens

You can find Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas, an hour’s drive from downtown Houston. There are many things to explore in this non-profit educational destination, making the long drive worthwhile.

The most iconic part of Moody Gardens are the three pyramids – the Rainforest Pyramid, the Aquarium Pyramid, and the Discovery Pyramid. There are tons of interactive exhibits and learning opportunities. There’s even a white sand beach with a water park! You can also book a value pass ticket ahead to access all the attractions.

17. Be a detective for a day at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Part of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens features 14 acres of manicured gardens and a wide collection of art. The collection has lots of activities for kids, including puppet shows and arts and crafts activities. You can even take part in “Detective Days,” which include self-guided scavenger hunts through the collection.

18. Hop on water rides at Hurricane Harbor SplashTown

It’s no secret that Houston can get hot in the summer! Cool off and enjoy a day of fun at Hurricane Harbor SplashTown. This Six Flags water park is located north of Houston and has 48 acres of fun. 

There’s a water activity for everyone at this park, from thrilling slides to lazy rivers and wading pools. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor SplashTown is a great family-friendly activity, as there are rides suitable for every age group.

19. Experience outdoor story and movie times at Discovery Green Park

Discovery Green is an 11 acre small park in Houston. The park runs lots of kid-friendly events, like storytimes and movie nights. You can also find plenty of green space for a picnic, an open-air reading room, a splash pad, a playground, and more.

Discovery Green Park

20. Get chocolate snacks at The Chocolate Bar

The Chocolate Bar is like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory! Huge displays of chocolate sweets and an ice cream bar will draw in sweet tooth’s of every age. Take your pick of favorites at the traditional candy counter and ogle the crazy chocolate concoctions. There’s also a large window in the shop where you can even see the chocolate get prepared!

21. See live models for steamed trains at the Houston Area Live Steamers

Locomotive lovers are in luck at Houston Area Live Steamers! This park operates as a club to unite steam train enthusiasts. At the park, you can see the live models of steam trains and actually ride on several. The group also offers free rides on the third Saturday of every month.

22. Pet animals and experience farm life at Old MacDonald’s Farm

No, not that Old MacDonald! There are lots of farms near Houston with exciting activities for the whole family. Old MacDonald’s Farm is a 15-acre farm and activity center with tons of fun things to do. Admission is under $20/person and you get access to the petting zoo, pony rides, a train ride around the property, and more. You can also enjoy the pumpkin patches here in autumn too.

23. Visit Houston’s Major League Baseball team at the Minute Maid Park

Minute Maid Park is the home of Houston’s Major League Baseball team, the Houston Astros. Watching sports in person is a completely different experience to watching them on TV. With classic ballpark concessions, a baseball game is fun for the whole family. 

Visiting in the offseason? You can also take a tour of Minute Maid Park to get a feel for the stadium. The park holds concerts and Astros games throughout the year.

24. Watch a rodeo show at Houston Rodeo

Stay in Houston on the days of the annual rodeo show. It’s a must-see event for rodeo fans and travelers! The Houston Rodeo is the world’s largest livestock show, drawing in 2 million fans to see the events annually.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in the NRG Park is a memorable bull riding and barrel racing experience. You can find a large carnival and watch multiple musical performances.

25. Watch interactive children shows at Express Children’s Theater and Main Street Theater

Express Children’s Theater is one of Houston’s most acclaimed theater institutions. They create engaging and fun performances with kids in mind. In addition, the theater has a performance space on Main Street and performs around the city. Many of their shows are free of charge, entertaining, and educational. You can find the full schedule of performances on their website here.

26. Fly to the past at the Lone Star Flight Museum

This non-profit aerospace museum has over 24 historic aircrafts that you can actually step inside. What makes the museum’s collection unique is that many of the planes are actually operational. The museum is also kid-friendly, with simulations and educational activities.

Get to know the 24 historic aircraft by buying a ticket to the museum

27. Watch movies outdoors at Moonstruck Drive-In

There are only approximately 300 drive-in movie theaters left in the United States. At the Moonstruck Drive-In, you and your kids can experience all the charm of a classic drive-in movie. Moonstruck shows feature films and classic movies. 

Food and beverages are available to purchase from local food trucks and nearby restaurants. The drive-in is along the East River, which offers beautiful sunset views of the downtown Houston skyline!

28. Take a tour of several art marvels at Smither Park

The urban city of Houston has tons of parks and green spaces. Smither Park is a unique, arts park near the University of Houston. This small park is home to a large collection of mosaics, sculptures, and art walkways. There are always new things happening at the park as you walk around with the family.

29. Create your own pot designs at The Mad Potter

If your kids love arts and crafts, The Mad Potter is the perfect place to go in Houston! This pottery studio is a local favorite in Houston. You can choose your piece of pottery and paint it to your liking. You’ll go home with a customized piece of art!

30. See different car models at the Art Car Museum

Visit the Art Car Museum and revel in this homage to contemporary art. The Art Car Museum is called Garage Mahal for its beautifully decorated cars. The building itself is a unique work of art. The building, located in the heights, has an iconic scrap-metal and chrome exterior.

31. Fish and camp outdoors at Brazos Bend State Park

Travel to the southwest of Houston to visit Brazos Bend State Park. It only takes you under an hour to reach the destination. The state park is nearly 5,000 acres and is home to many native wildlife and plants, including alligators.

There are lots of different trails of varying lengths and difficulties. The Creekfield Lake Nature Trail is a paved, .5-mile trail perfect for families with young kids. You can fish, camp, bike, and visit the George Observatory. Entrance to the park is $7 per person 13 years old and up.

Brazos Bend State Park

32. Listen to the orchestra and join interactive art activities at the Houston Symphony

The Houston Symphony is an American orchestra that puts on various enriching shows and performances for the Houston community. We suggest joining the Family Concert SeriesThese Saturday morning concerts offer a more interactive experience with arts and crafts and an “instrument petting zoo”!

33. Pick new books to read at Brazos Bookstore

A local bookstore tells you more about a community. The Brazos Bookstore is no exception. This bookstore is a beloved Houston institution stocking lots of fiction books for adults and children. 

Beyond picking up a new read, Brazos hosts fun-filled activities for kids, including storytimes, parties, and author signings. How do you get your kids excited about reading? Here are my top tips!

34. Immerse into art at the Color Factory Houston

Color Factory Houston is an immersive and colorful art museum in Upper Kirby with several interactive installations for all the senses!

Color Factory partnered with many artists, businesses, and non-profits to create these experiences. There’s even a ball pit designed in collaboration with NASA to honor the 50th anniversary of the moon landing!

35. Channel your medieval side in the annual Texas Renaissance Festival

Channel your medieval side in the annual Texas Renaissance Festival. The festival has been one of the largest Renaissance festivals in the nation, which started in 1974. The location spans 200-acres in a former strip-mining site an hour outside of Houston. 

If you’ve never been to a Renaissance fair or festival, this one is a great introduction. With interactive performances and demonstrations, there’s fun for the whole family!

Where to Eat in Houston with Kids?

Houston is a haven for seafood dishes and different cuisines with familiar flavors and the adventurous. You can dine in these family friendly restaurants in the city.

seafood dish
  1. The Breakfast Klub 
  2. Ninfa’s on Navigation
  3. Local Foods – Rice Village
  4. Barnaby’s Cafe
  5. Niko Niko’s Greek
  6. HS Green Fresh Food Kitchen
  7. Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Deli
  8. Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill
  9. Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
  10. Goode Company Seafood

Tips for Visiting Houston with Kids for the First Time

Choose the best time to visit Houston. Outdoor family activities are perfect for the summer and springtime. In the low season, find indoor attractions.

Houston has many things to see (and eat!)! Do you want a strict schedule? You should get a CityPass for Houston and take a tour to the popular places.

Visiting Houston with Kids for the First Time

Houston Itinerary

You can plan a memorable Houston itinerary by visiting exciting places for your family! The city has many sites to see in different places. We recommend planning trips by distance.

Houston Itinerary

Here are the places and schedules we followed on our trip. I hope this plan will help you with your trip to the city.

Houston Itinerary Day 1

  • Arrive in Houston 
  • Dine at Barnaby’s Cafe
  • Hermann Park
  • Houston Zoo 
  • Children’s Museum of Houston 
  • Express Children’s Theater and Main Street Theater 
  • The Chocolate Bar 

Houston Itinerary Day 2

  • Sleep in
  • Dine at The Breakfast Klub
  • Downtown Aquarium
  • Houston Symphony or Moonstruck Drive-In
  • Buffalo Bayou
  • Art Car Museum
  • Dinner at Niko Niko’s Greek

Houston Itinerary Day 3

  • Breakfast
  • Space Center Houston
  • Color Factory Houston (on the way to space center)
  • The Mad Potter 
  • The Galleria
  • Dinner at Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Deli

Houston Itinerary Day 4

  • Breakfast at Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Deli
  • Hurricane Harbor SplashTown 
  • Lunch at Central Grocery
  • Houston Area Live Steamers
  • Old MacDonald’s Farm
  • Flight back home (airport)

Thoughts on Traveling to Houston with Kids

Houston is often overlooked as a travel destination for families, yet it has many places and activities to explore! You can always find things to do in Houston with kids for all seasons.

Take a splash at theme parks and resorts, or go for an educational tour around the city. Houston is the best place for exploration and outdoor fun!

Tips & Tricks For Booking An Affordable Family Vacation
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
  • Activities / Excursions
  • Rental Cars
  • Cruise
  • Travel Insurance
    • Purchase must have travel insurance through Allianz
  • Looking to save even more money when you travel? Visit my Travel Resources page to see all the reliable and trustworthy brands that I use to book my travel with. I only recommend brands that I’ve used and can vouch for, so you’re in good hands!
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