Houston Family Attractions

Houston Family Attractions

Houston Family Attractions are robust and diverse. The metro area has everything you’d expect in terms of zoo, theme park, water park, large urban parks, children’s museum, science center, zoo, football stadium, basketball arena, baseball park and aquarium. Then, Houston elevates to a top tier family destination with NASA Johnson Space Center and Kemah Boardwalk, not to mention Galveston Beach.

Children’s Museum of Houston
DESCRIPTION: This museum ignites a life-long passion for learning in children through interactive exhibits and innovative programming. Invention Convention lets kids engage in a workshop of gadgets to create individual contraptions. KidTropolis lets youngsters choose a skyline, government, occupations and systems that make a city work; you kids can outsmart a hacker in Cyberchase. Matter Factory introduces kids to concepts and properties of materials science. FlowWorks is an exciting, interactive, fun and educational exploration of hydropower. Kids discover the laws of motion with Motion Commotion and TotSpot keeps the smallest of toddlers inquisitive and engaged. There’s more fine exhibits and a small cafe as well.
ADMISSION: Ages 1-64 $7, Military w/ID and Age 65+ $6; under age 1 enter Free
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Sat 10a-6p, Sun Noon-6p
ADDRESS: 1500 Binz Avenue, Houston, TX MAP
PARKING: plenty of garage parking at $7 per 3+ hours
PHONE: 713-522-1138
WEBSITE: http://www.cmhouston.org

Houston Zoo
DESCRIPTION: The city has come a long way since 1920 when Houston Zoo housed about 50 animals in a small downtown park. Today, its located on 55 lush acres of Hermann Park, over 4,500 animals from more than 800 species populate the most-visited zoo in the Southwest. The zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and the bird, reptile, and primate collections are among the finest in the world, particularly the Wortham World of Primates 2.2-acre rainforest habitat, Alkek Komodo and Crocodile Monitor Exhibit, and the Red Panda Exhibit. African Lions, Malaysian Tigers, spectacled bears, and Ankole cattle, the African Wild Dog exhibits also feature animal amenities that include a pool and cabana for shade — a significant benefit in Houston. Guests may also observe them from a shaded viewing area; Natural Encounters Building is home to over 50 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, tropical fish and spectacular corals. The sizable petting zoo and kid-sized exhibits are great for tots; Macaw Cafe and eatery kiosks populate the zoo. If you see people well dressed in the evening, note that several venues in the zoo host catered corporate events. In a nice touch, the zoo annually hosts a Dream Night at the Zoo for critically ill children.
ADMISSION: Ages 12-64 $10, Ages 2-11 $6, Age 1 and under enter Free; Carousel $2.50; entry is free on MLK Day, Presidents Days, Columbus Day, Friday after Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day
DAYS & HOURS: daily 9a-6p with Summer hours extended to 7p
ADDRESS: 1513 North MacGregor, Hermann Park, Houston, TX MAP
TRANSIT: Metrorail travels between Downtown, Midtown, Museum District/Zoo, Texas Medical Center, Reliant Park and the South Fannin
PARKING: on premises
PHONE: 713-533-6500
WEBSITE: http://www.houstonzoo.org

Houston Museum of Natural Science
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1909 and benefiting from corporate philanthropy, it has grown into one of the most popular science centers in the nation. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls hosting over one million objects and specimens, let your kids see the 70-foot dinosaur skeleton, Cockrell Butterfly Center housing butterflies in a six-story glass cone, 600 mineral specimens and Native American artifacts. The Hall of Paleontology, Welch Chemistry Hall are stellar and Burke Baker Planetarium lets you visually experience the universe’s star systems. There’s more — Herzstein Hall of Special Exhibitions, Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife, Frensley Hall of African Wildlife, Strake Hall of Malacology, Cullen Hall of Gems & Minerals and Wortham IMAX Theatre. The museum also presents traveling exhibitions on a variety of topics. In addition to creating its own exhibits like Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia; Kremlin Gold: 1000 Years of Russian Gems and Jewels and The Human Genome: Reading the Book of Life, the Museum hosts traveling exhibits from around the world. Touring exhibits have included Body Worlds 3, Dead Sea Scrolls, Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor, Fabergé: Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars, Titanic Artifact Exhibit, and Saint Peter and the Vatican. Visitors also enjoy the nearby George Observatory.
ADMISSION: Exhibits for Adults $15, Ages 3-11 $10, Age 62+ and Students w/ID $10; separate fees for Butterfly Center, Planetarium, and IMAX Theater
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Sat 9a-9p (last entry 7p), Sun 11a-9p (last entry 7p)
ADDRESS: 1 Hermann Circle Drive, Houston, TX MAP
TRANSIT: Metrorail Reliant Park Station
PARKING: on premises, $10 with Museum ticket stub
PHONE: 713-639-4600
WEBSITE: http://www.hmns.org

Downtown Aquarium
DESCRIPTION: Located on 6 acres, this multi-faceted experience includes Gulf Coast Seafood to dine on, a 500,000 gallon aquarium full of exotic marine life surrounding you, a Shipwreck, Louisiana Swamp, Rainforest, Aquatic Carousel, Lighthouse Dove, SunkenTemple, Discovery Rig, White Tigers, Shark Voyage, dancing fountains for the kids, a gas-powered train and a Ferris wheel; a nice gift shop is on the premises.
ADMISSION: see website
DAYS & HOURS: Sun Thu 10a-10p, Fri-Sat 10a-11p
ADDRESS: 410 Bagby Street, Houston, TX MAP
PARKING: valet parking and garages
PHONE: 713-223-3474
WEBSITE: Link

Minute Maid Park
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 1999, Houston Astros baseball park is a great place to while away time after a busy conference or business meeting downtown. A retractable roof allows a natural grass field to grow for, then role out so a comfortable temperature is maintained for games among its 40,950 seats. A vintage, full-size locomotive runs along 800 feet of track whenever someone hits a homer and the structure. The main entrance is the old Union Station railroad building. Walking tours of Minute Maid Park year are round.
ADMISSION: tours $9 Adults, $7 Age 65+, $5 Ages 3-14; Age 2 and under enter Free
DAYS & HOURS: depends on Houston Astros baseball games
ADDRESS: 501 Crawford Street, Houston, TX MAP
PARKING: parking garages and lots nearby
PHONE: 713-259-8000
WEBSITE: http://astros.mlb.com

Toyota Center
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 2003, this 19,500 seat arena is home of the NBA Houston Rockets, WNBA Houston Comets and large concerts. Its charms are revealed inside with some of the most comfortable seats of any arena and playing surface 32-feet below street level giving great sight-lines to all. The exclusive Lexus Lounge and Red and White Bistro’s superior food and service are well above average.
ADMISSION: see website for pricing matrix
DAYS & HOURS: depends on Houston Rockets basketball games and concerts
ADDRESS: 1510 Polk Street, Houston, TX MAP
PARKING: 2,500-space, seven story parking garage includes a private skybridge entrance for premium guests; 10,000 total parking spots are within a few blocks
PHONE: 713-758-7200
WEBSITE: http://www.houstontoyotacenter.com

NRG Stadium
DESCRIPTION: Houston Texans play in a dazzling 70,000 seat stadium that must be the envy of football fans nationwide. Formerly called Reliant Stadium, it still has Texas-sized amenities and restrooms, you’ll quickly see why the NFL is happy to name Houston a regular host of the Super Bowl. The old Astrodome it replaces for most events is next door.
ADMISSION: see website for pricing matrix
DAYS & HOURS: depends on Houston Texans football games
ADDRESS: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX MAP
TRANSIT: METRORail stops at the stadium
PARKING: parking spaces surround the park for tailgating
PHONE: 866-468-3926
WEBSITE: http://www.houstontexans.com/facility

Sam Houston Park
DESCRIPTION: In 1900, Mayor Sam Brashier bought the Kellem-Noble land and house on the edge of town to create Sam Houston Park. Today, it is a striking contrast against the modern city skyline and yet its so accessible to downtown workers. The park represents a clear appreciation of Houston’s past, as represented by the many restored historic houses that were also moved here. Two of the houses pre-date the founding of Houston. The Jack Yates House is located here as well.
DAYS & HOURS: daily, dawn to late
ADDRESS: 1100 Bagby, Houston, TX MAP
PHONE: 713-845-1000
WEBSITE: http://www.heritagesociety.org/park.html

Tranquility Park
DESCRIPTION: A shining definition of how to do a small urban park right, Tranquility shines with several tall golden fountains that have held up well since the park was dedicated in 1979. It was dedicated to the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon, where astronaut Neil Armstrong, said the first words on 20 July 1969, “Houston, Tranquility base here. The eagle has landed.” The park is home to many events, including the Children’s Festival and the Houston International Festival.
DAYS & HOURS: daily, dawn to late
ADDRESS: between Smith, Bagby, Rusk and Walker, Houston, TX MAP
PHONE: 713-780-2515
WEBSITE: none

Sesquicentennial Park
DESCRIPTION: Completed in 1998, this 10.4 acre terraced park that meanders along the Buffalo Bayou on the northern edge of downtown. The highlight of the park is seven 70-foot tall towers designed by artist Mel Chin from the inspiration of 1050 Texas school children born in 1986, the year of Houston’s Sesquicentennial from 1836. Dramatically lit at night, the park makes good use of its location adjacent to the Theater District, and a small amphitheater for concerts.
DAYS & HOURS: daily, dawn to late
ADDRESS: between Wortham Center and Bagby Street, Houston, TX MAP
PHONE: 713-250-3666
WEBSITE: Link

Discovery Green
Completed in 2008, this 12-acre delight covers a large parking garage, but has captured the “Genie in Bottle” as one of the rare classic meeting places for nature, humanity and man’s creations. There’s a one-acre lake, landscaped tree groves, children’s playground, interactive water features, amphitheater, dog runs, distinguished public arts, recreation area, a small, library, performance space, spacious green lawns, nice restaurants such as The Grove and The Lake House. In a city not known for public planning, the park represents a milestone in exquisite urban landscape design and location that orients visitors to Brown Convention Center, Hilton Americas (convention center hotel), Minute Maid Park (baseball) and Toyota Center (basketball) to one eco-friendly setting.
DAYS & HOURS: daily 6a-11p
ADDRESS: 1500 McKinney, Houston, TX MAP
PHONE: 713-400-7336
WEBSITE: http://www.discoverygreen.com

Emancipation Park
This park this park became one of the most enduring gifts to Houstonians by Rev. Jack Yates and other former slaves; his church, Antioch Baptist, and Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church formed the Colored People’s Festival and Emancipation Park Association. In 1872, they pooled $1,000 to buy this land as home for Juneteenth Celebrations. They named it Emancipation Park and the park continues annual Juneteenth celebrations at present. The park boasts tennis courts, a basketball court, a large combined softball/football field, a picnic area, exercise equipment, a playground, a huge swimming pool, and a community center.
DAYS & HOURS: daily, dawn to dusk
ADDRESS: 3108 Dowling Street, Houston, TX MAP
WEBSITE: http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/emancipation.html

Hermann Park
Though dedicated as a park in 1914 by George Hermann, this 445 acre park has lovingly evolved to become home to the Miller Outdoor Theatre, a Japanese Garden, Houston Zoo, Museum of Natural Science, Burke Baker Planetarium, Houston Garden Center, Hermann Park Railroad for children and Hermann Park Golf Course. Working from a Master Plan since since 1993, the park always seems to have beautification and tree planting improvements underway. It has 17 grills scattered throughout the Park available on a first come, first served basis; joggers and bikers love the many trails too.
DAYS & HOURS: daily, 6a-11p
ADDRESS: 601 Fannin Street, Houston, TX MAP
PHONE: 713-524-5876
WEBSITE: http://www.hermannpark.org

Memorial Park
4 million Houstonians visit this 1466-acre place of refuge each year. It was originally a training camp for the soldiers of World War I. Conveyed from private ownership to the city in 1925, the park has been upgraded with 30 miles of trails, a lengthy landscaped bicycle trail, a major golf course, large expanses of picnic area, a large collection of tennis courts, 4 sand-volleyball courts, 3 softball fields, 2 baseball diamonds, 2 soccer pitches, one croquet court and a fantastic nature center. The 3-mile jogging trail from the edge of downtown is used by 10,000 runners daily. Check their website calendar of events.
DAYS & HOURS: daily 6a-11p
ADDRESS: Memorial Drive, Houston, TX MAP
PHONE: 713-863-8403
WEBSITE: http://www.memorialparkconservancy.org

Splashtown Park
DESCRIPTION: Water rides aplenty, a feature attraction is Tornado which resembles a 60-foot tall yellow and blue checkerboard funnel turned on its side where riders are set in motion down a 132-foot long tunnel. Thunder Run lets you experience wild twists speeding down an inline tube. Zoom Flumes 
are three fun-filled flumes including a 95-foot tandem-tubing slide. Wild Wave Pool is a half-million gallons of wave-floating fun. At Blue Lagoon, you lay in the sun with swings, geysers and water cannons and many more rides to make a full day of it.
ADMISSION: Online Adult: $30, Age 3 and under 48″ $25
DAYS & HOURS: hours vary between 9a-6p; Summer hours to 7p
ADDRESS: 21300 1-45 Freeway North, Spring, TX MAP
PARKING: on premises
PHONE: 281-355-3300
WEBSITE: http://www.splashtownpark.com

NASA Johnson Space Center Houston
DESCRIPTION: Established in 1961; entering the center you see a jaw-dropping Saturn Rocket used to lift the earliest American spacecraft. Space Center IMAX Theater, shows the excitement, the commitment and the risks taken by men and women astronauts from Mercury to the Space Shuttle. Blast Off Theater is the only place in the world where you can experience the nearly all the same sensations of launching into space like an astronaut. NASA Tram Tour takes you to the Historic Mission Control Center, the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility or the current Mission Control Center. Astronaut Gallery includes African-American astronauts in their first mission photos: Guion S. Bluford (Aug 30-Sep 5, 1983), Ronald E. McNair (Feb 3-11, 1984), Charles F. Bolden (Jan 12-18, 1986), Mae C. Jamison (Sep 12-20, 1992), Bernard A. Harris (Apr 26-May 6, 1993), Winston E. Scott, Jr (Jan 11-20, 1996) and Robert L. Curbeam, Jr (Aug 7-19, 1997). The Living in Space module simulates life for astronauts aboard the space station and there’s plenty of space ship artifacts in the large gallery as well. NASA Space Center also runs day camps and teacher programs.
ADMISSION: $20 Adults, Ages 4-11 $16, Seniors $19, Age 4 and under enter Free. Order online for substantial discount
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 10a-5p Sat-Sun 10a-7p, with extended Summer hours
ADDRESS: 1601 NASA Parkway, Houston, TX MAP
PARKING: on premises
PHONE: 281-244-2100
WEBSITE: http://www.spacecenter.org

Kemah Boardwalk
DESCRIPTION: This 60-acre theme park is just a short drive south of Houston on the shore of Galveston Bay. The boardwalk reminds you of the old Atlantic City. There is no charge to walk around on the boardwalk. Tickets for rides can be purchased individually or all-day ride passes. Enjoy carnival games and old-fashioned thrill rides, such as a carousel, Ferris Wheels, swings and zip lines. In 2007, the Boardwalk Bullet, a 96-foot-tall, 3,236-foot-long wooden roller coaster opened on the boardwalk. Dine at Landry’s Seafood, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Saltgrass Steak House, Cadillac Bar or at many other cafes on the boardwalk. For relaxation, you can also sit outdoors to watch sailboats cruise past.
ADMISSION: Pay for each ride
DAYS & HOURS: daily
ADDRESS: 301 Kipp Avenue, Kemah, TX
PHONE: 281-334-9880
WEBSITE: http://www.kemahboardwalk.com

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