20 Top Things to Do With Kids in Houston

Houston city skyline with sun setting

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Its massive size can make the task of finding fun activities for kids in Houston a little daunting. As long as you're willing to drive a little—and wait in a little traffic—you'll find plenty of entertaining options for the restless youngsters in your clan.

Houston is known as a center for space technology and NASA, as a large city with many cultural attractions, and as a Gulf community with its own sea life to learn about.

01 of 20

Ride a Mini Steam Train

Child on miniature railway train looking out window
Justin Lambert / Getty Images
Address
17802 Roberts Rd, Hockley, TX 77447, USA

The Houston Areas Live Steamers is a club that creates and operates model steam trains. Some of their locomotives are just large enough to ride. Young railfans will love to cruise along the 4,700-foot track in Zube Park—a 15-minute excursion. Adults are welcome, too.

Rides on model diesel and steam trains are free and offered on the third Saturday of every month, plus a few Sundays in the fall and spring.

02 of 20

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at The Chocolate Bar

Chocolate Variation On Display At Store
Jens Siewert / EyeEm / Getty Images
Address
2521 University Blvd, Houston, TX 77005, USA
Phone +1 713-520-8888

The Chocolate Bar in Rice Village is as close to a real-life Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory as they come. Eccentric decor adorns the purple walls, the cases stocked with just about every type of creative chocolate treat imaginable—from seasonally shaped bonbons to realistic chocolate "pizzas." Never mind the near-infinite selection of ice creams. There's even a window in the back that kids can look through to watch the confections being made.

03 of 20

Enjoy Rides and Games on the Kemah Boardwalk

Ticket booth on boardwalk amid carnival rides on boardwalk
Image Source / Getty Images
Address
215 Kipp Ave, Kemah, TX 77565, USA
Phone +1 281-535-8100

The Kemah Boardwalk is about 40 minutes from downtown Houston on Galveston Bay, but the colorful array of carnival games and rides are worth the drive. After an obligatory go on the 65-foot Ferris wheel, you can indulge in a funnel cake or enjoy an ice cream cone at the water's edge. The 35-acre oceanfront amusement park is brimming with arcade games, themed eateries, and rides like the Aviator, Inverter and Boardwalk Tower.

04 of 20

Get Soaked at SplashTown

Kids in an inner tube on water slide

Sebastian Condrea / Getty Images

Address
21300 I-45, Spring, TX 77373, USA
Phone +1 281-355-3300

Hurricane Harbor SplashTown is located at Houston's Six Flags outpost. It's the city's largest waterpark, spanning 40 acres in Spring. The park uses 2 million gallons to wet the slides and rides—some of them 75 feet tall. Thrills abound at this summertime oasis, as is shown by the loopy six-lane Stingray Racer, the alien-themed Vortex, and other exhilarating rides. Kids can even try their hands at surfing on the wave simulator, FlowRider.

The park is open only in the summer (from May or June to around September), though it sometimes reopens in December for special holiday programming.

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05 of 20

Play and Learn at the Children's Museum

  Robyn Correll / TripSavvy

Address
1500 Binz St, Houston, TX 77004-7112, USA
Phone +1 713-522-1138

Ranked as a top children's museum by family magazines and travel sites, the Children's Museum of Houston takes education seriously by making it as fun as possible. Put your toddler to work as a make-believe city council member, police officer, or chef in Kidtropolis, a city where kids rule. After they've earned their keep, kids can learn about budgeting by using a pretend $40 debit card to buy groceries. In the Building Zone, kids can learn about how pulleys work by hoisting a big bag of gravel. In the Powerplay area, children learn about health and fitness by doing what they do best: jump, climb, and dance.

06 of 20

Meet the Animals at the Houston Zoo

 Robyn Correll / TripSavvy

Address
6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Phone +1 713-533-6500

Take your kids to one of the Houston Zoo's Meet the Keeper sessions to maximize the fun. Keepers share fun facts and often interact with the animals to demonstrate interesting aspects of their behavior. The elephant bath is always a crowd favorite, and kids will be mesmerized by the daily bat feedings. For an extra fee, you and the kids can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium, children's zoo, or the commissary, where food is prepared for the animals.

07 of 20

Enjoy Science at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Natural History Museum

 Robyn Correll / TripSavvy

Address
5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Phone +1 713-639-4629

A stinky flower is one of the most popular exhibits at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Though it rarely blooms, when it does, it's quite a show. The corpse flower's bloom can be up to eight feet tall and smells like rotting flesh.

For a stink-free experience, kids will love the Burke Baker Planetarium, a domed theater that can surround you with a starry sky, a laser light show, or even a hurricane. And don't miss the paleontology exhibit's main attraction: Tyrannosaurus rex.

08 of 20

Visit Space Center Houston

Space Center Huston

 Robyn Correll / TripSavvy

Address
1601 E NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058, USA
Phone +1 281-244-2100

Space Center Houston is the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston and a Smithsonian Affiliate museum.

At Independence Plaza, you can go inside the shuttle replica Independence, mounted on top of the historic and original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft, and then explore the giant plane.

Walking into the Astronaut Gallery feels like stepping into a science fiction movie. Figures in space suits, encased in glass tubes, stare down at you from around the room. The Feel of Space presentation gives kids a sense of what it's like to live and work in space. They'll learn how difficult—and hilarious—simple tasks such as showering, eating, and sleeping can be without gravity.

You can actually go on-site at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) to tour astronaut training facilities, Mission Control, and more.

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09 of 20

Ice Skate at the Galleria

Galleria

 Robyn Correll / TripSavvy

Address
5015 Westheimer Rd Suite #1260, Houston, TX 77056-5727, USA
Phone +1 713-621-1500

It may seem a little odd to go ice skating in the middle of a shopping mall, but it's a 30-year-old tradition at Houston's Galleria. If you plan ahead, you can sign the kids up for some lessons. And if the kids discover that they just don't have the gift for ice skating, there are plenty of toy stores and ice cream shops nearby to keep them happy.

10 of 20

Flutter With the Butterflies

Butterfly with transparent wings perched on leaf

Catherine McQueen / Getty Images

Address
5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Phone +1 713-639-4629

Step inside an indoor rainforest at the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. You'll enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of butterflies flitting about in a three-story glass structure. This is one of the best things to do in Houston on a rainy day.

In the Chrysalis Corner, kids can watch butterflies emerge, completing their amazing transformation from caterpillar to flying beauty. Hardcore bug lovers will want to see the hissing cockroaches and whip scorpions.

11 of 20

Have Fun at the Aquarium

The exterior of the Houston Aquarium lit up at night with a swordfish fountain in the front

TripSavvy / Vincent Mercer

Address
410 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Phone +1 713-223-3474

In addition to a 500,000-gallon aquarium, the Downtown Aquarium entertainment complex has a Ferris wheel, carnival-style games, a restaurant, and white tigers. At the Discovery Rig exhibit, kids can even touch horseshoe crabs and stingrays.

See the battery-powered locomotive and ride the "Electric Eel Train" through the complex and see the shark experience.

12 of 20

Visit the Armand Bayou Nature Center

A grassy field with a sign for the Prairie Interpretive Trail

TripSavvy / Vincent Mercer

Address
8500 Bay Area Blvd, Pasadena, TX 77507, USA
Phone +1 281-474-2551

Show up early to the Armand Bayou Nature Center to enjoy Breakfast on the Bayou. You'll cruise along in a pontoon boat while snacking on pastries. The marshy environment at Armand Bayou supports an astonishing variety of birds and other wildlife, including deer, owls, armadillo, rabbits, and raccoons. The park also has a small collection of captive animals including snakes, spiders, hawks, and bison.

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13 of 20

Learn About the Human Body

Plastic brain lit up and hooked to wires

Abbamouse / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Address
1515 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004, USA
Phone +1 713-521-1515

Go inside the human body at the Health Museum. This beloved Houston museum provides interactive and educational experiences for the whole family. Take a walking tour through a huge human body and learn how it works. The Health Museum, affiliated with Texas Medical Center, has created a colorful experience that takes museum visitors on a journey to learn about the physical and mental aspects of themselves. The Health Museum also houses Houston's first 4D theater where you can see the 3D film "Planet You."

14 of 20

Tour the Houston Astros Ballpark

Entrance to the Astros stadium

TripSavvy / Vincent Mercer

Address
Houston, TX 77002, USA

The Houston Astros' home field is Minute Maid Park. When they aren't playing, 1.5-hour tours will take you behind the scenes at the park to see historic Union Station (which is where the tours start), the broadcasting booth and press box, and a luxury suite. Tour participants can take a lap around the field and see the dugout, bullpen, and manual scoreboard. Game Day tours are a bit different but are also exciting as you can get in early and experience the excitement as the Astros prepare to play ball.

Minute Maid Park is an interesting place to visit and even features a vintage, full-sized locomotive that runs along 800 feet of track on the left-field wall in keeping with the historic railroad history of the area.

15 of 20

Spot Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park

The swamp waters surrounded by trees in Brazos Bend State Park

TripSavvy / Vincent Mercer

Address
21901 Farm to Market Rd 762, Needville, TX 77461, USA
Phone +1 979-553-5101

Only 40 miles from downtown Houston you'll find this 5,000-acre park where you can go biking, hiking, boating, and fishing. There are interpretive programs and guided hikes to take.

The park contains a Nature Center where you can learn about the area's ecosystems and inhabitants, including an estimated 250 alligators that are six-plus feet long. You can often see the crocodilians lurking in the water—especially in Elm and 40-Acre Lakes—so it's important to be alligator-safe.

The park is also home to the George Observatory, where you can investigate the cosmos through high-powered tele­scopes. For information on programs or passes, visit the observatory website. If you want to spend a bit more time, camp out at Brazos Bend State Park and go stargazing.

16 of 20

Get Some Air

Child standing on platform at indoor trampoline park

Maria Kraynova / EyeEm / Getty Images

Address
20100 Holzwarth Rd, Spring, TX 77388, USA
Phone +1 281-219-9255

Urban Air is an indoor adventure park. It's the ideal air-conditioned place to spend a hot and humid (classically Houston) summer day. You can jump on the trampolines, get competitive on the Warrior Obstacle Course, climb walls, go indoor skydiving, and have fun on the Sky Rider indoor coaster.

Urban Air has several locations in the Houston area, including Cypress, Jersey Village, Willowbrook, and Northwest Houston.

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17 of 20

Catch a Show

People sitting on lawn at Miller Outdoor Theatre at sunset

Deepak Bawa / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Address
6000 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Phone +1 832-487-7102

The Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park provides an eight-month season of free shows and programs.

This family-friendly outdoor venue presents classical music, jazz, world music and dance, ballet, Shakespeare, musical theatre, and much more. You can bring a picnic to the park and enjoy the show.

18 of 20

Learn Golf

Young girl learning how to golf on a green course

SDI Productions / Getty Images

Address
1030 Memorial Brook Blvd, Houston, TX 77084, USA
Phone +1 281-406-3176

Kids can always go to Topgolf with an adult, but the Spring Academy is just for kids ages six through 12. The academy provides three days of entertainment and learning all about golf. Kids will learn golf etiquette, chipping, and putting and improve their full swing. The courses are taught by Topgolf's pros and provide individual hands-on instruction.

19 of 20

Visit the Pyramids

Low-angle view of glass pyramid with palm trees and flowers

Danny Lehman / Getty Images

Address
1 Hope Blvd, Galveston, TX 77554, USA
Phone +1 409-683-4200

Moody Gardens, an amusement complex on Galveston Island, has pyramids—a Rainforest Pyramid, an Aquarium Pyramid, and more. There's plenty of action at the 3D and 4D theaters and for a laid back change, ride the replica of an 1800s paddlewheel boat. 

There's plenty going on to entertain the big kids as well as the little ones.

20 of 20

See the Fountains Dance

Silhouette of child enjoying fountain lights at night

Piotr Mazur / EyeEm / Getty Images

Address
The Woodlands Waterway, The Woodlands, TX 77380, USA

You can walk along the Woodlands Waterway in downtown Houston. While this area houses many businesses, it's a fun place to stroll. See a free show at the Pavilion and walk down to the fountains for a colorful, choreographed light and fountain show in the evening.

The Waterway Square district has restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, and a waterfall area for relaxing.

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20 Top Things to Do With Kids in Houston