In less than a month we’ll be setting off as a family of five to experience new cities across the globe. In preparation for our trip we’re reflecting on our favorite family experiences in the city we’ve called home for the past decade.
Here are our top five Houston family experiences:
1. Children’s Museum of Houston
It may seem a bit obvious to list the Children’s Museum of Houston in the top spot given that the name of the museum includes the word “Children” but we’ve been to many such museums and the Houston Children’s Museum is one of best of its kind anywhere.
The main floor features ‘Kidtropolis,” a mock-up of a city street where kids can try out a variety of careers, from EMT to News Anchor. After completing a task they can collect their pay and either deposit it at the bank or use it to shop for essentials in the grocery store or at the sidewalk restaurant.
Kids up to three years of age will enjoy the ‘Tot Spot’ on the 2nd floor.
On the “Power Tower” kids can climb up a three story sculpture.
The lower floor features an area where kids can create different kids of art or machines, from paper rockets to race cars made of Legos.
IF tips: CMH can get very crowded, especially on weekends. It is advisable to arrive when the museum opens so that you can enjoy the best exhibits (i.e. Kidtropolis) before the museum starts to fill up. It is possible to park for free at the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion a couple of blocks away (1500 Herman Dr.). After checking out the museum take the opportunity to stroll through the gardens.
2. Miller Outdoor Theatre
Miller Outdoor Theatre offers high quality and FREE musical and theater productions during the weekends (and some week days) except during the winter months. Typical performances include musicals, Shakespeare plays, cover bands, symphony performances and more.
Tickets to the covered seating area can be acquired at the box office the day of the show (free!), but we always prefer to bring a picnic and spread out on the grass covered hill.
Miller Outdoor Theater is located in Hermann Park. If there is no show on during your visit there are some other great activities to enjoy in the park including exploring the Japanese gardens or taking a ride on a paddle boat or the miniature train.
IF tips: If you decide to sit on the hill (rather than in the reserved seating area), chairs are allowed on the left side (facing the stage) and the right side is reserved for people without chairs. You are welcome to bring a cooler with food and beverages (including adult beverages) but glass is not allowed. It is a good idea to arrive an hour or two prior to the show to stake out a spot near the front.
3. Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston is a must visit for any budding scientist, astronaut, or any kid who is interested in space exploration (and what kid isn’t?). At Space Center Houston you can learn about the history of space exploration, find out about current and future missions, and experience some of what it is like to be an astronaut. You can even touch a real moon rock!
A visit to Space Center Houston is not complete without a tram tour of the Johnson Space Center, where you can see a real Saturn V rocket and visit mission control.
IF tip: If you must quote that famous movie line you might like to know that the actual transmission from Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert to mission control was “Okay Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
4. Discovery Green
Located downtown, Discovery Green has a huge splash pad that is perfect for cooling off in the summer. There’s a playground, cafes, and changing rooms. Discovery Green often hosts art exhibits that change time to time, and in the evenings there are frequently concerts or free movies on a big screen.
The Discovery Green playground incorporates several artistic pieces that double as jungle gyms.
There are many sculptures and other pieces of art nearby.
IF tip: Phoenicia Market is a block away and has some great takeaway food that you can bring over to DG for a picnic.
5. Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers a whole host of experiences including exhibits, a butterfly garden, IMAX theater and planetarium. Some of our favorite areas of the museum include the exhibit on Texas wildlife, the paleontology hall, and the hall of gems and minerals, which features amazing crystals and gemstones from across the globe.
The HMNS Weiss Energy Hall was recently totally renovated and is a great way for the whole family to learn about energy production in the past, present and future.
“Energy City” is an fantastic high-tech 3-D video display that showcases various energy sources with the Houston skyline as a backdrop.
Kids can try their hand at operating a remote operated vehicle (ROV).
Many of the exhibits are interactive.
IF tip: There is enough to see at HMNS to spend a full day there if you have the time. If you need a lunch break there’s a popular hamburger chain in the lobby.
That’s our Houston top five, but there are many more activities for kids and adults alike to enjoy in the Bayou City. Enjoy your visit!