houston skyline

Are you looking for things to do in Houston with kids? Houston is one of those places where both you and your kids can have a good time as you travel. Known as the world capital of space exploration, Houston is not only the largest city in Texas, but the largest city in the south.

You won’t be at a loss for things to do in Houston with kids! From learning about space and exploring museums, to seeing animals and marine life and eating delicious southern barbecue, Houston has something for everyone. Whatever your travel style is, I’m sure you will find something in Houston to make every traveler in your family happy!

Which of these things to do in Houston with kids will you do first?

ferris wheel and french fry stand in the evening

Free Things To Do in Houston With Kids

Boat Tour of Houston Ship Channel

This is one of the coolest things to do in Houston with kids and it’s a fantastic opportunity that you don’t want to miss. Sam Houston Boat Tours offer a free 90 minute tour of the Houston Ship Channel. The vessel hold 100 passengers at a time. The only thing you have to do is reserve your place on the boat 24 hours in advance online.

Clear Lake Park

If you’re ready for some windy days, palm trees, and beautiful sunny picnic by the water, then you need to head to Clear Lake Park. A picnic by the water is the perfect way to save money while exploring Houston, plus the scenery is stunning! The park has an exceptional playground for young kids, a splash pad, and a wooden walkway out over the water. (A great place for family pictures!)

Baytown Nature Center

The perfect place for a walk by the water or a picnic in the park, the Baytown Nature Center is one of many natural getaways from the bustling city. There is a nice playground and many kayak friendly sections of water for those looking to get out and explore on the water.

Walk the Museum District

The museum district in Houston has 19 museums and 4 different walkable zones. You will find many of the museums are either free or have certain days and times of the week that they offer free admission. For budget travelers, this is one of the best things to do in Houston with kids!

rentable bikes parked along sidewalk in houstons museum district

Houston Arboretum

This is a great place to step out of the city and into nature. It’s also great for kids because of their indoor nature center and the curved boardwalk around the pond. You have a good chance of seeing turtles and other wildlife while you’re at the arboretum!

Art Car Museum

One of the museums I recommend most is Houston is the Art Car Museum. It’s one of the best things to do in Houston with kids if you have little ones who love cars! Old cars have been drastically transformed into works of art at the museum and you can also see some restored vintage cars as well.

Walk the Historic District

Another area of Houston worth taking a self guided walking tour. There’s no better way to explore a new city than by walking the streets for yourself. See historical landmarks, mansions, churches, and parks. You also can sit along the water at Allen’s Landing Park!

Hermann Park

A huge 445 acre urban park located in the southern end of the museum district. The Houston Zoo, Japanese Garden, the planetarium and Bird Island are all in Hermann Park. For budget travelers who look for great places to picnic and for those looking for the best places to take family travel photos, Hermann Park is one of the best things to do in Houston with kids. There are photo opportunities throughout the park and some key features such as the reflecting pool and the Centennial Gardens.

benches in hermann park in houston

Sylvan Beach Park

Just a thirty minute drive from Houston is the free Sylvan Beach Park. If you are looking for the closest beach to Houston, this is it. The beach is almost always a win when traveling with kids! For beach lovers, a visit to the Sylvan Beach Park is one of the best things to do in Houston with kids!

The Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market

There’s nothing better than saving money while traveling. Consider trading a meal out at a restaurant with a meal bought from the farmer’s market. Eating local produce and supporting local vendors is an amazing thing to do while traveling. This can be done at the Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market!

Edith L Moore Nature Sanctuary

Full of beautiful southern scenery, the Nature Center is a hidden Houston gem! One of the most nature-centered things to do in Houston with kids, the nature sanctuary is the perfect place to visit to get closer to nature after having been in the business of Houston. There are walking trails through the woods and swamp as well as wooden boardwalks through beautiful palm forests!

Visit Houston’s Asia Town

Houston has their own little piece of Asia in the city. You can visit the Hong Kong City Mall or take an Asian heritage tour. There are shops and restaurants to visit through out the area. You can also stop at the Teo Chew Temple. Teo Chew is a Vietnamese Buddhist temple and the atmosphere is quiet and serene. When visiting you must dress modestly. Dresses or pants for women and no tank tops or short skirts.

Other Great Things To Do in Houston With Kids

The Children’s Museum of Houston

Sometimes all you need while traveling is a way for your kids to get their energy out in a safe and kid-friendly way and there is no better place for this than at the Children’s Museum of Houston! This museum is science focused and had tons of hands on activities that young kids will love!

Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center

A 2,800 acre outdoor education facility that is a perfect place to visit for those exploring the Houston area with kids. Experience the views from the observation tower, the beautiful lily pad covered waters, and the wooden boardwalk trails through the park! For those looking for a place to fish or spend time on the water, this is the place to be. Sheldon Lake State Park is a hidden gem and should be added to everyones list of things to do in Houston with kids!

Armand Bayou Nature Center

Perfect for family travelers, the Armand Bayou Nature Center has nature trails, lots of different animals and habitats to check out, as well as fishing and canoeing opportunities. This is perfect for nature loving travelers!

Houston Funplex

For all those gamers in your traveling party, head to the Houston Funplex! Complete with ferris wheel, bowling, skating, bumper cars, a plunge tower, and many more rides, games, and fun activities to take part in indoors. This is a great rainy day or hot day activity when in Houston!

The Houston Zoo

Like most things to do in Houston with kids, this zoo is packed with exciting things to do and see. As a traveling mom of two little girls, I’ve been to a lot of zoos, aquariums, nature centers, etc. I have to say Houston Zoo is one of the best. The highlights for us were the sea lion habitat and the elephant habitat. Little ones will love watching the sea lions swim around beneath them. You can also watch the elephants take a swim right in front of you!

tiger looking through greenery in the zoo

Battleship Texas State Historic Site

For history buffs this will be one of the coolest things to do in Houston with kids! You can tour the ship yourself or take a guided tour to learn a more in depth history of the ship. Plus, you can never go wrong with incorporating a little bit of learning into your travels.

The Health Museum

A fun, educational, and hands on experience in Houston can be found at the Health Museum. This museum is intriguing for all ages, making it one of the best things to do in Houston with kids! (Check their website for free times and days!)

Houston Botanic Garden

A must see when in Houston, the Houston Botanic Garden has beautiful southwestern architecture and plants throughout the grounds. This is a great place to learn about local flora and fauna as well as take family travel photos in a stunning location!

Houston Aquarium

Although the Houston Aquarium is quite small, it’s still one of the best things to do in Houston with kids! Aside from marine life, they have a restaurant, a white tiger exhibit, and a mini amusement park. Complete with a ferris wheel and a train ride through the shark tunnel, the Houston Aquarium is so much fun for kids and adults alike.

pink jelly fish in the houston zoo

Houston Museum of Natural Science

One of the coolest things to do in Houston with kids is the Houston Museum of Natural Science. You can explore their butterfly house and check out the super fun Dinosaur Hall! (Check their website for free days and times!)

Kemah Boardwalk

If your’e looking for some fun in the sun while in Houston, look no further than the Kemah Boardwalk! Complete with amusement rides, a ferris wheel, live music and delicious food, the boardwalk sits along the shore of Galveston Bay and Clear Lake. For fun loving travelers, this is a must see when in Houston!

Search For Murals

Houston has close to one thousand murals! Make a fun game to play as your explore the city with your kids, whoever spots the most murals wins. You can also make a point to visit some of the most popular murals in Houston! These include The Wave, Houston Is Inspired, Greetings From Houston, Hearts, the Love Wall, and the Hummingbird Wall.

Space Center

A trip to Houston just wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the space center! Arguably one of the most popular things to do in Houston with kids, The Space Center is a fun way for kids to learn while traveling. Take a tour of the center, buy a classic NASA sweatshirt, and even have lunch with an astronaut!

a piece of space equipment at the space center, one of the coolest things to do in houston with kids

Hurricane Harbour Splashtown

For those traveling with young kids, this waterpark in the northern part of the city is a must visit when visiting Houston in the summer. Cool off in the lazy river, splash pad or on one of the many water slides. This is the perfect way to have fun while keeping your kids cool and happy during the hot Texas summers!

Holocaust Museum Houston

This museum in Houston is ideal for travelers home school or world school. This is a great opportunity for children to learn about not only the horrors of the Holocaust but also the history of the Jewish people from ancient to modern times.

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

This is a beautiful home and gardens that are perfect to explore and photograph while you’re in Houston. The gardens make for a perfect place to take family travel photos and inside there are stunning works of art to discover. A trip to the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is the perfect pre-lunch activity as there are several cafes around the gardens for you to choose from.

Old Town Spring

If you are ready to escape the hustle and bustle of the lively city of Houston, head north to the Old Town Spring. This is a historic little town full of shops, old buildings, and delicious food. This is a great place to indulge on desserts and buy souvenirs to remember your time in Houston.

The Burke Baker Planetarium

What better city to visit a planetarium than the city of space exploration? One of the coolest and most educational things to do in Houston with kids, the Burke Baker Planetarium has more than seventeen exhibits and offers learning opportunities involving dinosaurs, space, nature and much more. The planetarium is within walking distance of the Health Museum and the Children’s Museum of Houston.

Where To Eat in Houston With Kids

FOR BARBECUE

Pinkertons Barbecue
Listed in the “Top 9 Up and Coming Pit masters” this is THE place to stop for Texas style BBQ and ribs.

FOR YOUR SWEET TOOTH

Glazed- The Doughnut Cafe
Dig in to some delicious over the top doughnuts. S’mores, Kit Kat, Oreo, or go crazy with a cheese burger on doughnut buns!

FOR A QUICK BITE

Cliff’s Grill
We stopped here twice for lunch; its a great hole in the wall restaurant. Their Spicy Crisp Chicken Sandwich is SO GOOD, I ordered it both times!

Salata
A perfect quick stop to build your own salad. Their salad bar has more options and toppings than I’ve ever seen on one before. You can also get soups and wraps!

chocolate desserts on a pan at a dessert shop

Where To Stay In Houston With Kids

Houston Marriott/ Museum District
We loved staying at the Houston Marriott. The room was nice and we had a great view of the city. It was nice to stay in a hotel so close to the attractions we wanted to visit while we were in the city. You may want to consider this hotel if you don’t want to rent a car or have to take an Uber all over the city. You really can get to so many attractions and restaurants on foot from this Marriott. You also get amazing views from their rooms no matter which side of the hotel you stay in.

Hampton Inn & Suites
A more affordable option is the Hampton Inn & Suites. It’s also in a great location for walking to surrounding restaurants and activities. You can get a room for around $130/night. The Hampton Inn is right off of Interstate 10 and you are just a short walk away from Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum, and the quirky Beer Can House.

Hotel Ylem
For a boutique hotel option, try out the Hotel Ylem. It’s a super trendy hotel with a bar, free breakfast and a 24/7 gym. This hotel will allow you easy access to The Houston Zoo, The Downtown Aquarium, Hermann Park, and the museums in the museum district, all within a twenty minute drive. At around just $105/ night this is a great hotel for the price!

skyline and ferris wheel lit up, palm trees on foreground just after sunset

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Houston With Kids

This cost breakdown will be for a middle-budget traveler who is spending three nights/four days in Houston. Simply adjust the days accordingly to fit how many days you plan on staying in Houston.

Also, when it comes to transportation to and from the city, our costs will all be different. I’m going to plug in my travel costs and you can simply replace it with your own estimate for your transportation into the city. Attractions included in this cost break down are the Houston Zoo, The Houston Aquarium, and entrance fees to museums. On our trip to Houston we ate out five times and the rest of our meals were made from groceries I bought and kept in our hotel room.

Transportation to and from Houston: $400
Accommodations: $410 (3 nights)
Getting around the city: $80
Attractions/Activities: $110
Food & Drink: $100
Misc./Other: $50 (Tylenol, sunscreen, parking costs, etc.)

Total Cost for Three Nights & Four Days in Houston: $1,150

Again, this is definitely a middle ground travel budget. Without a doubt you could stay in a five star hotel, rent a nice car, eat every meal at a sit down restaurant, and pay to get in to tons of attractions to up your travel expenses. You could also stay in a budget hotel or Air BnB, eat the majority of your meals from the grocery store, and only see free or cheap attractions to lower your travel costs.

Is Houston Safe For Solo Travel Moms

You need to know the truth about Houston before visiting alone with your kids. Houston has a higher than crime rate than the whole of Texas and a higher crime rate than 97% of the United States. I want to make it clear that I’m not advising that you stay away from Houston. I enjoyed the city and I think you will too. It’s just that when you’re a woman traveling alone with little ones, I think it’s important to know this.

We went to the zoo, the aquarium, ate at delicious restaurants and so much more while we explored Houston and stayed safe the whole time. Just make sure to take normal safety precautions like staying in well lit public spaces.

The Best Time of Year to Visit Houston With Kids

When you are exploring Houston, there is no doubt that weather will have a big impact on your time in the city, especially when traveling with kids. If you don’t want your time in Houston to be made difficult by 90+ degree weather, avoiding the summer months is a must. June happens to be the rainiest month in Houston as well.

Generally, the spring and fall are great times to visit Houston. If you don’t mind the cold, you can find lower prices in the winter months. However, if you want to find the perfect balance between good weather and good prices, visiting in the spring and fall are your best bet!

No matter how you choose to see the city, these things to do in Houston with kids are so much fun! I always say travel doesn’t have to end when you have children; in a lot of ways it really just begins!

So, tell me. Which of these things to do in Houston with kids will you do first?

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