Looking for some fun things to do in Houston and the surrounding area with your little ones? In addition to your typical Dave and Buster's, Chuck E Cheese, and a plethora of movie theaters, Houston also has a number of other fantastic things to do with your kids that you may not find everywhere.
Read on for a list of 40 fun, family-friendly activities in and Around Houston, TX!
For Animal Lovers
1. Houston Zoo
A sprawling 55 acres, the Houston Zoo, located in Hermann Park, is home to over 900 species and thousands of animals, including rhinos, turtles, monkeys, zebras, tigers, snakes, otters, red pandas, and much more. The Houston Zoo is great for young folks and the young at heart!
2. Houston Downtown Aquarium
In addition to its fantastic displays of aquatic life, including its touch pools, the aquarium is also home to four stunning white Bengal tigers. Feed the stingrays, have lunch at the restaurant, take a train ride under the sharks, and ride the 100-foot-tall ferris wheel for great views of the city. Kids of all ages will enjoy their trip to the Houston Aquarium.
3. Sea Center Texas
About an hour south of downtown Houston, you'll find Sea Center Texas, a marine hatchery and aquarium that's part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife system. With free admission and a touch tank, this aquarium is well worth the drive!
4. Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Research Center
This research center focuses on Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle, a rare and endangered sea turtle. Admission is free, with tours given on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Located in Galveston, this is another great kid-friendly option that is worth the drive from Houston.
5. Bayou Wildlife Zoo
Just 40 minutes from downtown Houston, you'll find Bayou Wildlife Park in Alvin. Take a tram around the wildlife park to see over 500 animals, then stop by Addie Lou's Barnyard and the Big Red Barn to see more wildlife up close. Take a picnic lunch or grab something from their snack shop.
6. Cypress Trails Equestrian Center
Your little horse enthusiasts will love a trail ride or riding lessons at Cypress Trails Equestrian Center!
7. Cockrell Butterfly Center
Part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Cockrell Butterfly Center is both educational and magical. Learn about the anatomy of insects, discover types of beetles and other crawlies, and see live stick bugs, scorpions, and more. Marvel at the plethora of butterflies in various colors and sizes. The butterfly center is sure to be a hit with your young ones.
8. Oil Ranch
Forty minutes from downtown Houston sits Oil Ranch with over 50 acres of good family fun. Milk a cow and pet other barnyard animals; take a hayride, pony ride, and train ride; ride a mechanical horse; go fishing and swimming; shoot paintballs; and get (not TOO) lost in a maze.
9. Old MacDonald's Farm
Another great petting zoo, Old MacDonald's Farm is located in Humble and features pony rides, train rides, and much more! Visit in October to pick your pumpkin in the pumpkin patch!
For History & Science Buffs
10. The Heritage Society's Museum of Texas HIstory
Older kids will enjoy touring old buildings and learning about Houston's colorful history. Open Wednesday through Saturday, the museum offers children's programs and lectures and hosts special events.
11. Museum of Natural Science
With 17 permanent exhibits, planetarium, and special exhibits, your kids will have plenty to see and plenty to learn.
12. Rosenberg Railroad Museum
Open Wednesday through Sunday, the Rosenberg Railroad Museum features tours and exhibits where kids can tour rail cars, see model trains, and learn about local railway history. Your little train enthusiast will love it!
*Bonus: Galveston also has a great little railroad museum, and you can see a historic train station with a life-size caboose in Katy's Old Town.
13. Space Center Houston
Visit the Johnson Space Center for live presentations, computer simulators, and fun exhibits. Parents and kids are sure to learn something new about space travel!
14. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
Part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Bayou Bend was once the home of noted philanthropist Ima Hogg and covers 14 acres. It is open year-round and features silver, Americana, paintings, and other art. The grounds feature beautiful flowers and note-worthy statues. Visit their website for special events, like their yearly Christmas Village.
15. George Ranch Historical Park
This 22,000-acre working ranch allows children to experience everything from the Texas Revolution to World War 2. Divided into four time periods, from the 1830s to 1930s, the park has something for everyone!
16. Holocaust Museum
For older kids, the Holocaust Museum is a moving tribute to both those who survived and those who did not. With history lessons and warnings for the future, the Holocaust Museum is a must for your young global citizens.
For Outdoor Adventurers
17. Dewberry Farm
Open seasonally - in the fall for their pumpkin patch, in the winter for cut-your-own Christmas trees, and in the spring for SpringFest - Dewberry Farm features rides, pedal cars, a train, games, photo props, and much more.
18. Discovery Green
This nearly 12-acre park in Downtown Houston features places for photo ops and lots of room to run around, making Discovery Green a +great place to get outdoors and spend time with family. Check their website for special events, like ice skating and the Field of Lights during the winter and festivals and flea markets during the summer. You may even catch a live concert on Thursday night.
19. Hermann Park
This large park on the southwest side of Houston features a golf course, reflecting pool, and kiddie train. Check the schedule for the Miller Outdoor Theater, as many of their shows are kid-friendly.
20. Bolivar-Galveston Ferry
This free ferry runs from Galveston Island over to the Bolivar Peninsula. If you're lucky, you may even see a dolphin or two!
21. Port of Houston
Another free boat ride takes you around the port of Houston for approximately an hour and a half.
22. George Bush Park
This sprawling 7800-acre park in West Houston features a playground for the kids, a shooting range, picnic spots, and miles of trails, some paved and some unpaved. Grab your hiking shoes or bicycle and spend the day exploring the outdoors.
23. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
Get outdoors and walk the over five miles of trails in this fabulous nature experience.
24. Nature Discovery Center
Located in the heart of Bellaire, Nature Discovery Center in Russ Pitman Park is an excellent place to take the kiddos. With nature story time every Wednesday, plus camps and classes, the discovery center has something for kids of every age.
For Fine Arts Fans
Alley Theatre, Hobby Center, and the Houston Ballet often feature shows that older kids will love, like The Little Mermaid, coming up in December, 2021, at the Hobby Center. Enjoy a meal nearby, either in the park at Niko Niko's or at Barnaby's Cafe. Then catch your show!
26. Children's Museum Houston
Founded in 1980, the Children's Museum features many permanent exhibits, designed for ages birth to twelve years.
27. Book Club for Kids at Blue Willow Bookshop
Another Shade of Blue, a book club for kids in 4th to 6th grades, meets one Saturday a month to discuss their latest book choice.
28. Art Car Museum
Opened in 1988, this small, unique museum is open to the public by donation only. In addition to recent winners of the annual art car parade, the Art Car Museum also displays hanging works of art and a few 3D works of art. This funky little museum is a great place to spend half an hour or so.
For Theme Park and Arcade Lovers
29. Kemah Boardwalk
Twenty miles from downtown Houston, Kemah sits on the Gulf of Mexico. Visit the boardwalk for rides, games, dining, and concerts.
30. Moody Gardens
Another Galveston favorite, Moody Gardens features a set of pyramids - the Aquarium Pyramid, the Discovery Pyramid, and the Rainforest Pyramid. Kids of all ages will love Moody Gardens!
31. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown
With over 15 attractions, this water park in Spring is sure to be a summer-time family favorite!
For Active Families
With locations in Katy and Spring, Topgolf is a great place for your young golfers to practice their swings.
33. Katy Miniature Golf and Batting Cages
With mini golf, batting cages, a bungee jump, and more, your kids will get all the exercise they want at Katy Miniature Golf and Batting Cages.
34. Bowl and Barrel
Located in CityCentre, Bowl and Barrel offers bowling, along with a great menu of small bites, pizzas, and more. The kids will love the bowling; the parents will enjoy the food and beverages.
Give your kids an experience you remember fondly from your childhood with a visit to SK8TOWN Roller Skating Rink in Spring.
36. Mason Road Skate Center
Another great skating rink located in Katy, Mason Road Skate Center offers skating lessons and a weekend pizza buffet.
37. Aerodrome Ice Skating
Exchange your roller skates for ice skates and head to the Willowbrook area of Houston for some cool family fun.
38. Texas Rock Gym
For your small climbing enthusiasts, visit Texas Rock Gym to practice your climbing and bouldering skills.
For the Little Foodies
Houston has a number of fantastic gelaterias. Some of our favorites include:
- Fellini Gelato & Caffe, with locations in West U and in City Center
- Gelato & Co in La Centerra, Katy
- La Argentina, with locations on San Felipe in Houston and on Mason in Katy
- Dolce Neve Gelato in the Heights
- SweetCup Gelato & Sorbet Originale in Montrose
40. Kid-Friendly Restaurants
When it comes to restaurants, "kid-friendly" means different things to different people. We are fans of any place that has a playground, has a large, casual outdoor seating area, or has themed decor geared toward kids. With that in mind, here are some great Houston-area options:
- Hat Creek Burger Company, Katy (play area)
- Jimmy Changas, several locations (Jimmy's Jungle playground)
- Red River BBQ & Grill, Katy (play area)
- Texas Borders, several locations (playground)
- Hubcap Grill, Heights (outdoor space)
- Barnaby's, several locations (blocks to play with)
- Rainforest Cafe, Katy Mills Mall (Yes, I know it's a national chain, but you can't beat the theme!)
- Clay's, North Houston (sandbox, playground, and large space to run around)
- Little Matt's, West U (arcade)
- Las Ventanas, Energy Corridor (playground)
- Lupe Tortilla (playground)
For Little Learners
41. TUTS Humphrey's School of Musical Theatre
Theatre Under the Stars offers a selection of musical theatre classes for a variety of age groups, with some in-person options and some virtual options.
42. Sur La Table Cooking Class Camps
Sur La Table suspended their in-person classes during the pandemic, but they have re-opened! So in addition to virtual classes for the whole family, they also have a number of dates available for in-person classes for kids and teens.
43. Danjoy's Homemade Pasta Cooking Camp
In addition to making homemade pastas for you and your family to enjoy at home, the Danjoy family also offers a kid's pasta summer camp. If you live in the Katy area, check out this fun four-day camp where your kids will learn how to make colored pastas, tortellini, and even chocolate ravioli!
Whether you live in Houston or are just visiting, you'll find plenty of things to do with the family.
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