6 Reasons Houston Is Your Next Great Family City Escape - Family Traveller (USA)

Houston is an eclectic city where southern charm and pick-up trucks meet the culture and sophistication of a major metropolis. Plus, there’s plenty for kids to discover in this Texas city. So, grab your cowboy boots and scoot on over to these spots great for the whole family.

Museum of Natural Science

Kids and parents alike will easily be able to spend hours in this incredible museum. Begin in the Morian Hall of Paleontology, where kids will be wowed by the vast collection of incredible dinosaur skeletons that are all posed in riveting scenes that bring them to life. Explore mummies in the Hall of Ancient Egypt: You’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into an old Victorian-era house. Kids can open drawers and discover bones, gemstones and more in the Cabinet of Curiosities. Learn about offshore drilling in a dynamic ride in Wiess Energy Hall. Or get educated on the importance of Texas’s coastal regions in the Hamman Hall of Texas Coastal Ecology.

Be sure to spend some time relaxing in the Cockrell Butterfly Center, where you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of brightly colored wings fluttering in the tropical rainforest environment, complete with a 50-foot waterfall.

Space Center Houston

Budding astronauts and little scientists should not skip this highlight. Experience a virtual Martian sunset and find out what it really takes to travel to Mars in the Mission Mars exhibit. Kids will delight in seeing inside the replica of the Independence shuttle, mounted on top of the historic and original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft. Or, get an up-close look at real space suits used throughout history.

Not to be missed is the tram tour of NASA Johnson Space Center. You’ll see down to the floor where NASA astronauts train for current missions. Plus, you’ll visit the iconic and historic Mission Control and wander through Rocket Park and see the towering Saturn V rocket. For a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can also choose the Level 9 (VIP) tour and get the chance to walk the floor of the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility.

Children’s Museum

While a lot of cities have children’s museums, Houston takes it to the next level. Kids of all ages will love this fun and creative space made just for them; families can easily spend a whole day here. Get a taste of city life at Kidtropolis, a fully functioning city, complete with different careers for kids to choose from, banks, a skyline and a city government. Get active at Power Play or the Ropes Challenge Course, where kids can put themselves to the test with different physical challenges. The littlest travelers can enjoy the Tot*Spot. Meanwhile, teens can keep themselves busy in the Maker Annex, where they’ll be guided through everything from 3D printing and soldering circuits to robotics, animation, game development and more.

The museum also offers days just for kids with learning differences, as well as Sensory Friendly days for kids and families with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and sensory processing differences.

The Zoo

Situated at the edge of picturesque Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo features a vast array of animals, from big cats like lions and tigers to playful sea lions and giraffes. It also features a Children’s Zoo with animals native to Texas, live shows and a petting zoo for more up-close fun.

Take animal encounters to the next level with exclusive experiences you can book in advance. Experiences range from feeding giraffes or piranhas to getting a kiss from a sea lion or even walking a cheetah.

Museum of Fine Arts

Older kids will enjoy visiting this art museum, where they can explore a bit of everything. Contemporary art, Renaissance paintings, photography, special exhibits highlighting cultures around the world and a sculpture garden are just a few of the things that can be found here. This is also a great spot to grab lunch at the cafe or at one of the food trucks parked just outside.


Speaking of grabbing a bite to eat, Houston is a foodie’s paradise. You’ll find it all, from classic TexMex to sushi that rivals the Tokyo fish markets and everything in between. For families, we recommend heading to BCK Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures for dinner. This unique concept creates slightly upscale versions of nostalgic childhood favorites like SpaghettiOs, mac ‘n’ cheese with a Cheeze-It crust and fried apple pie. Stop by the Breakfast Klub for breakfast (of course!). You’ll find southern comforts like biscuits and gravy, fluffy pancakes and even wings and grits. If you don’t get your full fix during your stay, there’s even a location at the Houston airport for one last taste of Texas.

Pro Tip

CityPass is available in Houston and offers discounts and savings on the above attractions (except the food!), and more. Plus, it gives you the added perk of skipping any entrance lines. See the full list of Houston attractions it covers and buy yours here.

By Hannah Freedman