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We had a free weekend recently and decided to head to take a short family road trip to Houston for a mini family vacation. The only problem was that I didn’t have time to find out what kid-friendly activities and attractions were actually there ahead of time!
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What’s in Houston?
As it turns out, Houston has a LOT for kids and families to do- interactive museums, parks, nature centers, water parks, the zoo, a SPACE CENTER, and more! And Galveston is less than an hour away and has more family fun to offer!
The number of attractions to pick from are overwhelming! Thankfully I came across the Houston CityPASS, which allowed us to fit in the top attractions in our short amount of time, while also saving us some money!
What’s a CityPASS?
A Houston CityPASS is a packaged deal that saves you almost half off admission to the top 5 Houston attractions. You can purchase it online and either use a mobile voucher at the first attraction to get your ticket booklet, or get a ticket booklet sent to you in the mail.
Once you use it for the first time, it’s valid for nine consecutive days (including that first day). At most locations, it can also save you time, since you can skip the regular ticket lines!
Right now, the Houston CityPASS admission includes tickets for:
1. Space Center Houston
2. Downtown Aquarium
3. Houston Museum of Natural Science
4. Houston Zoo OR Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Pick one.)
5. Kemah Boardwalk OR Children’s Museum of Houston (Pick one.)
Can It Really Save Me Money?
YES! Now if you’re only there for one day, or only planning to do one or two activities, then probably not. But this is definitely a big money saver for a family vacationing in Houston!
Where We Went
The Children’s Museum of Houston
We spent almost the entire day at the children’s museum and had a total blast! They have exhibits and play areas for kids from toddlers on up to around 12 years old. Some of the exhibits would even be interesting to kids a few years older if they like to build and invent.
Kidtropolis was the favorite- where the kids run the city and have many jobs to explore. They get a paycheck and everything, it was a lot of fun! There’s also an outdoor area with their EcoStation exhibit and interactive water area called FlowWorks, so you might want to have a change of clothes at the ready.
Plan to get there as soon as it opens to make the most of your time. No need to worry about lunch as they have a cafe’ where you can actually get healthy food that appeals to both kids and adults!
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
I had no idea this museum’s collection was so extensive. There are almost 70,000 works of art in their collection, from every era and continent! They have many works by well-known artists and some really amazing Roman and Egyptian sculptures- which Little J thought was super-cool!
We didn’t have much time that day to take it all in, but we did get lucky in that the exhibit Vincent van Gogh: His Life in Art was still going on. It had a companion display, Van Gogh Up Close which was interactive and so much fun!
We definitely want to go back to see more of their permanent collections on our next trip.
Downtown Aquarium Houston
The Downtown Aquarium Houston is like a small entertainment complex. They have a great restaurant where you can eat while seated around the 150,000 gallon aquarium and watch the sea life, then they have the main Aquarium Adventure Exhibit (which is what the CityPASS ticket is for), Stingray Reef, a stage for animal shows and live music, several games and rides, a train that takes you on a Shark Voyage, and a splash pad.
The Aquarium Adventure Exhibit is the main attraction and has about 6 or 7 parts to it. Each part depicts a different environment with the animals native to that environment, like the Texas Bayou, or a tropical rainforest.
They don’t just have sea life, they also have spiders, snakes, frogs, lizards, and more- including white tigers! Wait, what? Yep, white tigers. They’re also working on a new outdoor exhibit for the tigers to give them more space, which is great news.
It was a little crowded that day, but we took our time through the aquarium and enjoyed looking at the variety of animals.
We decided to be brave and paid extra to ride the Electric Eel Train and go on the Shark Voyage. You go through the center of a 200,000 gallon shark tank, and I’ve got to say I was scared about it, but it was really cool! And we learned a lot about the sharks in there- especially the sawshark, which we’d never seen before.
Unfortunately that was all we had time for, but next time I definitely want to go to the Space Center Houston, the Houston Zoo, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science!
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Some IMPORTANT Final Tips
- Check the weather before you go when deciding what activities you might want to do, and in what order. The weather can be pretty hot outside if you’re going during the summer.
- Look at the calendars for the different attractions to see what else is going on when you’ll be there. You may get lucky like we did and find a special event or exhibit going on!
- Don’t forget to also check the Houston event calendar for more things to do, or to help you be aware of times that the city might be more crowded due to certain events.
- When driving in downtown Houston, prepare to pay for parking and watch for the one-way streets!
- Depending on your plans, you may be able to use the Metro Rail Houston to get around and save some money on parking.
- If you’re looking for more to do without having to spend more money, here are some free things to do in Houston.
Using the CityPASS:
- Read the advice for visitors section on the CityPASS site for each attraction- it’ll tell you the best times to go and other tips to make your visits to the attractions even better!
- Don’t rip out the tickets from your booklet, or they’ll be invalid.
- Be careful to use your tickets before the expiration date!
- Check out the website and your coupon book for special offers for upgrades and discounts!
The Houston CityPASS really offers some great savings for your next trip to Houston, so check it out! Or find out the many other cities where you can save with a CityPASS and start planning your trip today!