We’re headed to Houston next month for my mother’s 80th. Birthday party and a cousin’s wedding. My daughters, grandsons, and I will be there for 2 weeks, too long to keep the boys cooped up in my mother’s house in Humble helping prepare for the party and visiting with mostly adult relatives. Not too mention the boys aren’t very excited about going in the first place, they’d much rather stay home and play with their friends. We decided that finding activities for us to do would make the trip go smoother, for us and the boys.
We lived in Houston in 1990. Back then there didn’t seem much to do other than a trip to Johnson Space Center, Astroworld, and an occasional day in Galveston; my kids weren’t exactly thrilled with the Space Center or Galveston. Perhaps we were too busy working that we didn’t know of many other family activities in the area.
While doing research for this trip I learned that Astroworld closed back in 2005; a new theme park called Grand Texas Theme Park is said to open in New Caney this summer, but I checked their Facebook page and their post in April of this year shows a picture of a muddy forest. Doesn’t look like they’ll be opening anytime soon, definitely not this summer!
I did however find some other cool things for families to do in Houston. It seems that Houston has a bunch of new family friendly venues and the old ones have been spruced with fun activities for kids.
Here’s a round-up of the places we plan to visit while in Houston this summer.
Old MacDonald’s Farm
I passed this place every day on FM 1960 when I went to work and we’ve never been there. Old MacDonald’s Farm first opened it’s doors in 1991, the year before we left Texas. The place has 12 petting barns, pony rides, train rides, a swimming pool, and more. Best of all it’s the best bargain I found in Houston!
Located in Humble, Texas at 3203 FM 1960 East the Farm opens at 10:00 am daily from February 1 – November 30. Closing times vary.
Admission is $10 + tax per person (kids 18 months and under are free) ALL the activities are included with the admission ticket. They offer group rates for school trips, family outings, and birthday parties. They have a pumpkin patch in the fall. Click here for more information on Old MacDonald’s Farm.
Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center
Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center is a community park located at 20634 Kenswick Drive, Humble, Texas.
This 300+ acre nature preserve is home to a variety of plants and wildlife, it features white sand beaches along Spring Creek, swamps, paved and primitive trails, and more.
There’s a nature center, an outdoor classroom, a re-creation of a Texas homestead and Indian village, picnic areas, playground, barbecue pavilion, and canoe launch.
They offer guided tours, a kids’ summer nature camp, and other programs. You can hike, picnic, bike, canoe, fish, and explore nature. Best of all it’s all FREE.
The park is open daily from 8:00 am to dusk. Reservations and registration must be made for the barbecue pavilion, Summer Nature Camp, classroom, and some programs. Click here for more information on Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center.
Riva Row Boat House
The Riva Row Boat House in The Woodlands, Texas rents one and two person kayaks. It’s a great way to see the Woodlands Waterway.
It’s locate at 2101 Riva Row, The Woodlands, Texas and open from 9:00 am to sunset (til 8:00 pm in the summer). Kayak rental for the first hour is $15 for singles, $20 for tandems. Extra hours are $5/hr. for both types.
While you’re at The Woodlands you can spend some time at Town Green Park, stroll along the waterway, and shop and dine on Market Street.
Downtown Aquarium at 410 Bagby St. in Houston is an aquarium, carnival, restaurant, and bar all rolled into one 6 acre complex.
It’s 500,000 gallon aquarium is home to hundreds of marine creatures. They have several animal exhibits including a white tiger, sharks, and stingrays.
The highlight of the day for many kids, like my grandson Jett, will probably be the Shark Voyage, a train ride thru the 200,000 gallon shark tank. There are also several carnival rides and games. And when you get hungry you can grab a meal or snack in the restaurant surrounded by all sorts of aquatic life.
Admission costs: $10.99 for adults, $7.99 for kids under 42″, kids under 2 are free. Prices of rides vary from $2.99 – $4.99 per ride. You can purchase an all day pass with unlimited rides and access to the exhibits. Passes cost $18.99 for adults, $17.99 for kids. They are one of the activities available on the Houston CityPass, it’s a great deal if you’re planning to visit several sites in Houston, many of them are included in the CityPass.
Click here for more information on the Downtown Aquarium!
Shankz Black Light Miniature Golf
Shankz Black Light Miniature Golf 3091 College Park Dr., The Woodlands, Texas is a fun and affordable way to spend a weekend afternoon. Play mini-golf surrounded by neon colored creatures. They also have a variety of arcade games.
A round of golf cost $8.49 for adults, $7.49 for kids 4-12. Kids under 4 are free.
Children’s Museum of Houston
Ranked #1 as the best children’s museum in the US by Parents magazine, the Children’s Museum of Houston is a great place to spend the day. Their interactive hands on exhibits will provide the kids hours of fun while they learn about the world around them. Best of all it’s a bargain at $10 per person!
Located at 1500 Binz St., Houston, Texas it’s open most days (closed Mondays) from 10 am – 6 pm with special summer and holiday days and hours. They offer free admission on Thursdays from 5 pm – 8 pm.; and participate in the Houston CityPass.
Click here from more information on the Children’s Museum of Houston!
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Located in Hermann Park the Houston Museum of Natural Science will thrill all budding paleontologists and archaeologists and enthrall every mom who loves the bling!
The kids will love the the dinosaur bones in the Paleontology exhibit and love getting grossed out when they learn about the mummification process in the Hall of Ancient Egypt while moms and dads gawk at the gems and jewels in the jewelry vault.
The museum is also home to a butterfly center, giant screen, planetarium and has other special exhibits. All of these require separate admission fees.
Open daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Admission is
$20 for adults, $15 for kids 3-11, kids under 3 are free. (Admission is to the museum’s permanent exhibits. Other areas and special exhibits require separate fees.)
This museum also participates in the Houston CityPass. The pass grants admission to the permanent exhibits and pass holders get discounted admissions to special exhibits, butterfly center, giant screen, and planetarium.
Also located in Hermann Park is the Houston Zoo. Go play on the wild side and spend a day at the zoo!
You can stroll thru the animal exhibits, feed the giraffes, watch a 4-D movie, ride a carousel, and splash in the water play park.
The zoo is open daily except Christmas Day from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm. Admission is $16 for adults, $12 for kids 2-11, kids 1 and under are free. Tickets for the 4-D movie, giraffe food, and Carousel ride must be purchased separately;
The zoo participates in the Houston CityPass. The pass grants zoo admission and pass holders get discounts on the movie and carousel tickets.
Johnson Space Center
Space Center Houston is the official visitor’s center of the Johnson Space Center. This educational center built by award winning designers with input from Walt Disney Imagineering opened its doors in the fall of 1992. It’s located at 1601 NASA Pkwy. in the Clear Lake area of Houston.
Space Center Houston brings the space program to life with hands-on activities, films, live shows, and exhibits. Visitors can take a 90 minute tram ride that takes you to the heart of the working Space Center with stops at the historic mission control, the new mission control, building 9 where astronauts train, and more. You can watch educational films and live shows, visit exhibits of NASA artifacts, explore a space shuttle, experience blast-off, and even touch a real moon rock and have lunch with a real astronaut!
It’s ope Monday – Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and on weekends from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm.
Admission fees at the door are $23.95 for adults, $18.95 for kids 4-11, kids 3 and under are free.
The ticket includes the tram ride, shows, and exhibits. Lunch with an astronaut, and space camps require a separate fee and reservations. You can save time and money by purchasing your tickets online. They participate in the Houston CityPass, pass holders gain admission to the center including the tram ride, shows, and exhibits. Pass does not include lunch with an astronaut and other special activities.
Whenever we lived in Houston we would drive to Kemah to buy fresh Gulf shrimps. We usually eat at one of the seafood restaurants in the area and bring home a cooler full of fresh shrimp to enjoy later.
These days there is much more to do in Kemah. The Kemah Boardwalk opened in 1997. It’s an outdoor entertainment center filled with restaurants, shops, and rides. You can take a thrill ride on a speed boat around Galveston Bay or a wooden roller coaster, touch stingrays, play midway and arcade games, and more.
The Kemah Boardwalk is open every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving Days. You can pay pay per ride or buy and all day ride pass. Click here for more information.