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Exploring Houston, Texas with Children

exploring-houston-with-children

Houston - Lots of Fun Things to Do with Kids

Houston is a fun place for kids. Houston is family-friendly. Many people don't realize that because other images spring to mind. Houston is hot. Long hot summers spring to mind. "Oil" is the cry from the past through today. Houston as the energy capital of Texas. Others hear "Houston" and immediately envision cowboys riding their horses up and down the streets of the city. Still others think of Space and NASA. Most hear the words "Houston, we have a problem." Few, if any, think Houston is family-friendly with places and events ready for children to explore. .

Why not look at Houston as an educational playground? The following attractions and activities provide entertainment but also an opportunity for family field trips. Houston is full of fascinating places to explore. You're never too old too old, too young, or too curious.

Texas Day Trips

 

Houston Skyline

Houston Skyline

Houston Skyline

Spend time in the Texas Hill Country exploring the Texas Wine Trail - Great Houston Day Trip up to the Hill Country

New Texas travel book about the Texas Wine Country in the famous Hill Country area.

Get a sense of Houston history - From swamp to space, Houston's done it all

Blast off into Space!

On Saturday nights volunteer amateur astronomers pack up their telescopes and go out to the Fort Bend Observatory for an informal star party. Houston has excellent space-related resources. For those bitten by the night-sky and telescopes bug, Houston is a treasure. Children will find a window to the world of astronomy at the George Observatory, experience the virtual reality of going to the moon or visiting Haley's comet through the Challenger Learning Centers, or maybe even coming face to face with an actual space station at NASA.

Exploring Space

For many people the words Houston and space are synonymous. Say "NASA" and people think Mission Control Center in Houston. Every week Houstonians look up from the Earth into a vast array of planets and stars, asteroids and meteorites, and a whole host of other celestial bodies.

  • Space Center Houston
    Plenty of fun for the entire family. Each attraction is self-guided so you can spend as much time or as little in each area as desired. Generally, you should plan to spend 4-6 hours. There is a food court area.
  • NASA Johnson Space Center Tour
    When you visit Space Center Houston, take the tram tour of the Johnson Space Center (JSC).
  • Burke Baker Planetarium
    Planetariums have really blossomed. The whole focus is to make astronomy interesting and fun. An out-of-this-world experience awaits visitors. (The Planetarium is located within the Houston Museum of Natural Science, so your visit can extend to 4-5 h
  • George Observatory at Brazos Bend State Park
    One of Houston's hidden jewels. What is unique about the observatory is that it is also an educational facility. Their mission is to get people to look up. There are 3 large telescopes, one of which has a giant 36" mirror. Saturday Night Public Viewi
  • Moody Gardens Discovery Pyramid
    Travel across time and space to discover how we will live and work among the stars. 30+ interactive exhibits and a fun-filled science theater.

Bugs, Bats, and Butterflies!

The world is an amazing place, and children are filled with curiosity. Why does a frog leap? How does a spider spin its web? Wondering and thinking is the beginning of all scientific discoveries. By nurturing your child's curiosity, you can propel him into a lifelong voyage of exploration and enjoyment.

Nature

Luckily, Houston is a city with vast resources. Although the city has a reputation for only having a landscape of freeways and overpasses and nothing more, a second look will find a city that knows the value of green.

  • Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary
    Tucked away in a residential area north of the Beltway sits a nature paradise waiting to be discovered by children. The sanctuary is open and free to the public. This is not a park. The animals live here. There are 3 ponds, nature trails and a log ca
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science
    Kids will love the Insect Zoo and there are plenty of docents ready to help kids understand a bug's life.Hours of fun with the planetarium, the butterfly center and more.
  • Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC)
    This wildlife refuge and wilderness preserve is the recipient of the Lone Star Land Steard Award. It is the largest urban wildlife preserve in America and perhaps the world. Plenty to see and hear. Kids will have lots of opportunities to encounter na
  • Moody Gardens - Galveston
    Explore the North Pacific, South Pacific, South Atlantic Oceans, as well as the Caribbean Sea at this site. Giant glass viewing areas diplay marine life. The kids adore the penguins.

Tranquility Park in Houston, Texas

Tranquility Park in Houston, Texas

Tranquility Park in Houston, Texas

Where Fun Has No Boundaries!

Finding a blend of education and recreation is one of the more delicate modern balancing acts parents are faced with on a daily basis. It is possible for children to relax and have fun while he or she learns. The Houston Parks and Recreation Department is one of the single best resources offered to Houston families.

Like Texas, Houston is Big--Really Big

Houston's park acreage is so vast that just one of its parks, Cullen Park, could contain the entire park systems of Atlanta, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Tampa combined. Surprised? So are many Houstonions. Renowned Hermann Park is an oasis of culture, zoology, horticulture, and recreation--and it's 5 miles from downtown. There is more.

  • Houston Zoological Gardens
    The Houston Zoo is Houston's #1 rated kid-friendly facility.
  • Allkek Velodrome
    This is an Olympic standard bicycle arena, available for serious training and general recreational use. The Velodrome opened in 1986 for the U.S. Olympic Festival. It is one of 20 velodromes in the country and provides racing, classes, and safe cycli
  • Playground for All Children
    A safe, yet challenging environment for children of all ages and abilities, this innovative playground is the flagship of Houston's park system. Features a Water Play Zone and a birthday party pavilion, patterned after the park's historic picnic pavi
  • Miller Outdoor Theatre
    If you want to expose your children to the arts, this is a great place to start. Performances are free. This is one of the nation's finest open-air theaters, featuring entertainment from spring through fall.

Downtown Houston

Downtown Houston

Downtown Houston

Playgrounds of the Mind!

More than anything, museums are playgrounds of the imagination. They can transport you back to the past, they can bring early civilizations to life; they can nurture your creativity; they can stir a child's wonder. Who wouldn't want to enter through the portal of a large mouth and journey through the human body or march up to the fully assembled bones of a T-Rex? Adventures await the hearty explorers.

Museums, Museums, and More Museums

Take a trip to Houston's popular Museum District and you'll find sea lions and Cezannes, ancient tribes and contemporary artists, petrified dinosaur bones and a giant brain. Houston is rich in museum wealth. Not only are there museums in the District, they're tucked away in the Heights and planted across the street from the zoo. They spread from Glaveston to Fort Bend County and their subject matter is equally vast.

  • The Children's Museum
    This is a super kid-friendly museum and is most appropriate for children up to 12 years. With almost a half million visitors annually, the museum not only provides ineractive exhibits but actual experiences in technology, history, culture, health, hu
  • The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)
    If you have a child interested in the arts, the MFA should b high on your list of places to visit. With wonderful programs geared for families, the museum has a constantly changing monthly program of fun, hands-on activities for the whole family.
  • National Museum of Funeral History
    Understandably, the name of the museum might have you steer your youngsters away. However, one of the primary purposes of this museum is to preserve historical artifcats as well as educate the public. You'll find exhibitsand artifacts on John F. Kenn
  • Railroad Museum
    Include this museum during a day trip to nearby Galveston. The restored Glaveston Union Depot is one of the largest train museums in the Southwest, containing more than 44 full-size railcars and locomotives.

Viewing the Battleship TEXAS

Viewing the Battleship TEXAS

Viewing the Battleship TEXAS

Day Tripping!

Feel you are in need of a mini-vacation? A day trip is in order. There are many places that are a short trek from central Houston. These places offer families a great way to spend a few hours together. You can travel back in time and explore life on a tall ship, or explore the time when Texas was first settled. Going on historical field trips is a great way for kids to learn Texas history.

Quick Houston Day Trips

  • The Galveston Historical Foundation
    Galveston is a short drive from Houston and its history and beaches beckon Houstonians every summer. Pirates, beaches, rich history, and so much more awaits visitors
  • 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA
    What was Galveston like in the 19th century? Board this tall ship, visit the exhibits, and scramble over the ship.
  • Sea Center Texas
    ea Center Texas is a marine aquarium, fish hatchery and nature center operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The site's visitor center educates through interpretive displays, a "touch tank" and aquariums depicting native Texas habita
  • San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Complex
    The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site consists of the Battleground, Monument and Battleship TEXAS.

Houston's Old and Houston's New

Houston's Old and Houston's New

Houston's Old and Houston's New

Magic Carpet Ride!

Children are curious. They want to explore the world. History and geography go hand-in-hand. If you want to bring history to life, Houston offers a variety of experiences. Want to make history and geography appealing to kids? Make it "up front and personsl." Tell them a good story, take them places where they can experience the time, the period, the people. As Arthur Schlesinger said, "Nothing is more fun or more fascinating than the consideration of how people lived in the past."

Experience History

  • George Ranch Historical Park
    The George Ranch is a 480-acre living history park. You'll travel back in time to the 1830s, the 1890x, and the 1930s. Expedrience life with one family through four generations.
  • Holocaust Museum Houston Education Center and Memorail
    Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers - Authentic film footage, artifacts, photographs and documents show life in pre-war Europe, the Nazi move toward the "Final Solution" and life after the Holocaust. Our 1942 Holocaust-era railcar and 1942 Danish
  • The American Cowboy Museum
    Want a glimpse into the western heritage of Native Americans, Blacks, Hispanics and women in the Houston area? Check out the Taylor Stevenson Ranch where you'll find tours, exhibits, oral historians who offer stories and lectures dressed in native at
  • Hong Kong City Mall
    Immerse yourself in Houston's Asian experiece. The Asian architecture, gardens, and fountains are worth a visit but there's so much more. This is one of the largest Asian indoor malls in the country. You'll find mroe than 20 restaurants and cafes and

Learn More About Home-Town Heros

Local police and fire departments offer tours and programs

It's way too easy to take for granted all the things others do so that our lives can be better. The Houston Police Department and the Houston Fire Department have their respective museums and programs. We often only think of the work these folks do during times of intense stress but they operate every day, 365 days a year.

Those Who Serve

  • Houston Police Museum
    The Houston Police Department Museum and Officers’ Memorial is located in the lobby of HPD headquarters at 1200 Travis, and features unique displays and a memorial wall honoring the ultimate sacrifice made by those officers that gave their lives in t
  • Houston Fire Museum
    The HOUSTON Fire Museum was originally Fire Station No. 7, the first fire station built by the Houston Fire Department after it went fully paid in 1895. Today, the Houston Fire Museum has been completely renovated and is listed on the National Regist

Starting the Houston Junior Police Academy

Where Fun is the only Game in Town!

Okay, sometimes you just have to have some fun in your life. Sure, a case can be made for educational opportunities at amusement parks--consider the matter of physics applied to roller coasters--but sometimes a child simply wants to run free. Here are several major "fun" parks in the Houston area.

Houston has Waterparks, Schlitterbahns, Amusement Parks and Boardwalks - Houston offers kids year-round fun

  • Moody Gardens Galveston
    Looking for island fun? Work or play, this tropical destination is ideal for families and groups alike. Explore the Aquarium Pyramid®, Discovery Museum or 3D, 4D and Ridefilm theaters. Enjoy the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat or a little summer fun at bea
  • SplashTown Park
    53-acre water park on th edge of Houston in Spring, Tx. Rides include a Lazy River, Rip Qurl, and water rides, pools and slides.
  • Kemah Boardwalk
    There is enough here to keep you busy for days. Tons of rides including the Rollercoaster, Ferris Wheel,CP Huntington Ttrain, Balloon Wheel, Bouncer and more. Check out the floor-to-ceiling aquarium tanks at The Aquarium Restaurant. Plenty of shoppin
  • Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Indoor Waterpark
    Daring speeds slides, endless rivers, uphill water coasters, waves for surfing, splashing and relaxing, plus kid-friendly water playgrounds.

Houston Cow Parade

Houston Cow Parade

Houston Cow Parade

Do you have a favorite place in Houston? Tell us about it. - I love to hear from my readers

Hypersapien2 from U.S. on May 25, 2012:

Great lens! I have some of these on my own lens about fun family activities in Houston.

aishu19 on March 26, 2011:

This is a nice guide that helps point out the places in Houston..Now I know where to come to if I ever plan a vacation in that side of the country.

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