10 Things to Do in Houston With Kids

Updated On October 8, 2023

By the time Houston became a city of Texas in the mid-1830s, the area had been more or less abandoned by the native tribes that had lived there for the prior 2,000 years.

Being official has only encouraged the area’s astronomical growth.

Today, Houston is the most populated city in Texas as well as holding the title of the fourth largest city in the US.

While the overwhelming traffic makes it hard to get around without irritation, Houston actually has plenty of conveniences.

For one, it’s a short drive to the coast.

So, dealing with the highly stressful environment of a major city is rewarded by cities like Galveston and Corpus Christi.

There are other benefits of Houston when it comes to entertainment.

Come along with us as we pick the top 10 to do with kids!

10 Things to Do in Houston With Kids

Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston

1. Space Center Houston

Perhaps one of the most notable NASA locations, Houston’s Space Center is a universe of fun for all ages.

It actually serves as the museum and visitor center for Johnson Space Center where the real magic happens.

There are tours and a plethora of items to look at.

See retired spacecraft, get up close to spacesuits from the past, and go inside a replica shuttle.

Want to give your kids perhaps one of the biggest treats?

Have breakfast with an astronaut, catered by Wolfgang Puck!

It’s hard to imagine a more inspiring opportunity than one where you and your child can ask a real astronaut questions.

Feel free to also plan around the schedule of events and learn something new!

Downtown Aquarium
Downtown Aquarium

2. Downtown Aquarium

Houston may be a short drive to the ocean, but only at the aquarium can you reach out and touch a sea creature.

Yes, the Downtown Aquarium has touch pools where little and big hands alike can reach in and sort of pet marine life.

No need to wait for a scare from lifeguards, see sharks up front at the aquarium, too.

In total, there are 300 species to check out across 500,000 gallons of water.

The collection is a nice representation of the world’s waterways.

It takes about an hour to go through the whole place, perhaps longer if there are especially interested visitors.

Houston Funplex
Houston Funplex

3. Houston Funplex

If your little ones have some energy that needs to be exercised, Houston Funplex is a great place for it.

It’s also extremely convenient for the insufferable summers because it’s indoors!

Perhaps this is a good time for your kids to pick up new hobbies, too.

Inside, you can find bowling, an arcade, go-karts, skating, and a bunch of rides.

No need to leave for food, either.

You can spend an entire day here without having to see the sun.

It’s also a popular place locally for birthday parties.

Discovery Green
Discovery Green

4. Discovery Green

Every big city needs some green space.

Discovery Green is a 12-acre park in the midst of Houston that is free to the public.

It’s not your typical park, though.

Within the confines are two restaurants, a dog park, a kiddie water park, a lake for kayaking, and an open amphitheater for events.

Oh yeah, there are also events going on throughout the year.

Be sure to check out the calendar in advance so you won’t miss a show.

Children's Museum of Houston
Children’s Museum of Houston

5. Children’s Museum of Houston

Who could say no to a bubble lab?

Explore all the fun exhibits and hands-on fun all year long at the Children’s Museum.

Over 9,000 square feet have been dedicated to getting your kids involved in learning in the most creative ways.

Even the sunshine-yellow entrance is a signal that something unique is inside.

Want to play a spy game or experience a city run by kids?

It’s all inside!

Even the very young have a place of their own, the Tot Spot.

On a budget?

Plan for a family night on Thursday when it’s free for everyone from 5 to 8 pm.

Color Factory
Color Factory

6. Color Factory

Experience color like you’re seeing it for the first time.

Going through the Color Factory opens you up to over a dozen exhibits that invite you to get involved.

The general vibe is Texas-themed.

So, as you’re walking through, it’s basically a cultural experience.

Want to be hands-free?

You can check your bags at the entrance and get digital images from photo stations.

Go home with keepsakes and sweet treats.

Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park
Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park

7. Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park

It’s always nice to have more than one place to let your kids run wild.

Urban Air unofficially guarantees the little people will be completely tuckered out by the time they get home.

They can jump, battle each other over a ball pit, try gymnastics, climb walls, and even have their birthday party on site.

Houston Zoo
Houston Zoo

8. Houston Zoo

55 acres of Hermann Park is devoted to housing 6,000 animals from around the world.

Over two million people get to witness the wonder that is the animal kingdom in Houston annually.

That actually makes it the second most visited zoo in the US.

In addition to walking around the zoo, there are several animal encounters to make the trip even more special.

Individual encounters include anteaters, elephants, gorillas, tortoises, and farm animals.

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

9. Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

Want a little more lively art in your life?

Take the family down to this water park.

The facility is a multi-story sculpture fountain that’s surrounded by beautiful greenery.

Even better than the view?

It’s free to visit!

Cockrell Butterfly Center
Cockrell Butterfly Center

10. Cockrell Butterfly Center

It sounds like the stuff of dreams.

A rainforest is full of butterflies.

That’s exactly what you get at Cockrell Butterfly Center.

About 55 species are represented here, some so big they look like colorful paper airplanes.

Stand still for a moment and one might even land on you.

Drop in on Thursday after 5 pm and it’s free!

Houston Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Houston Safety Review

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth it to rent a car in Houston?

It depends on how well you can handle horrific traffic.

It just so happens that one of the most well-known qualities of Bayou City is the intense traffic.

Houston has the third worst traffic in the entire US.

So, if you rent a car, be prepared to deal with construction, delays, and backups that make no sense.

Of course, if you’re there, avoiding the problem entirely is unlikely.

However, taking public transportation can help alleviate some of the stress by keeping you off the roads.

There are also apps like Lyft and Uber where someone else can be face-to-face with all the confusion.

Knowing how bad the traffic is might make you reconsider where to stay.

It might be easiest to get a hotel in the middle of all the things you want to do.

That way, if you have to take public transportation or Lyft, it will be short rides.

How close is Houston to the beach?

Just off Trinity and Galveston Bays is Sylvan Beach, which is about half an hour from downtown.

The water is from the Gulf of Mexico and it’s a great place for new swimmers thanks to smaller waves.

Sylvan Beach is part of a 32-acre park with silky white sand.

There’s also a really fun pier reminiscent of Santa Monica Pier in California.

If you’d rather get further out to the ocean, perhaps you’d consider Galveston.

It’s around 45 minutes from Houston and there’s a lot more to do and see.

So, if you’re staying a few days in Houston, feel free to take a drive down to Galveston for a beach and touristy day.

Is Houston safe for tourists?

The safest part of Houston is often viewed as the downtown area.

It’s very well lit at night and there are lots of things to do in buildings with 24/7 security.

This area is heavily monitored and should ensure a carefree time when attending an event or just walking around.

What about the rest of the city?

Unfortunately, you don’t have that many people without having someone trying to take advantage.

The best way to overcome the issue is to go and map out all the things you want to do.

Find a hotel that is as close to the middle of everything as you can.

Work on being back there before it gets too late.

While crimes against tourists are rare, staying vigilant in any new city is the smartest way to go.

When is the best time of year to vacation in Houston?

It may seem like the answer to that is summer, because of proximity to the gulf.

That would not necessarily be the case for Houston.

In addition to having uncomfortably hot weather, Hurricane season runs from June through November.

Being that close to the coast means tropical storms and hurricanes are a possibility and should be ventured to with caution.

You just never know when the weather will do something unexpected, but staying up to date on patterns can make a difference.

That means the best time to visit H-town is March through May.

This is when you’re least likely to encounter a weather event and the temperatures are nice enough to get outdoors without issue.

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