Families with children will find themselves with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to finding things to do that will appeal to young and old alike. Houston and the surrounding area is filled with family-friendly fun entertainment and educational activities that parents or grandparents can enjoy right along with their kids.

Indoor Family Fun

One of the largest museums of its kind in the U.S., the Children’s Museum of Houston (CMH) is located in the Museum District and was recently named America’s Number 1 Children’s Museum by Parents magazine. Visited by over 1.1 million people every year, the 90,000 square-foot museum offers interactive arts, history and culture, science and technology, and health exhibits. Among the most popular attractions at CMH is Kidtropolis, a city run by visiting children complete with a TV studio where kids can do their own on-air news reporting. The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS), located in Hermann Park just a few blocks from CMS, is visited by over 2 million people annually, and ranks as one of the top-10 most visited museums in the country. The museum features a dozen permanent exhibits including the Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife, the Frensley Hall of African Wildlife, the Welch Chemistry Hall, and the massive 240,000-square foot Morain Hall of Paleontology featuring over 60 complete or nearly complete dinosaur skeletons. HMNS also features a huge planetarium, and a 3-D IMAX theater. When it is time to leave pre-historic times, families can head to Space Center Houston, located at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The Kids Space Place at the center has interactive exhibits that let kids experience many of the same things astronauts do while in space, as well as the Mission Kidtrol area and the Build-a- Rocket activity. If you are looking for family-friendly entertainment, check out the Express Children’s Theater in the Northwest section of the city. The theater offers weekly performances of classic children’s plays and newer productions including Stuart Little and Junie B. Jones.

Outdoor Family Fun

When it’s time to go outside and play, Houston has some great options. The 55- acre Houston Zoo is the tenth largest zoo in the U.S., and is visited by more than 1.8 million people annually. The zoo features more than 900 species and 6,000 animals, and a special children’s zoo with a Natural Encounters area that lets kids get up close and personal with a number of friendly species. Wet’n’Wild Splashtown, located on 40 acres just northwest of Houston in nearby Spring, is the largest water park in the area. Featuring over two dozen slides and attractions, including a wave pool, the 2-million gallon water park has the Wet’n’Wild Jr. area with scaled-down versions of the park’s slides for younger kids. And speaking of fun in the water, large beaches including Surfside Beach, Stewart Beach, Sylvan Beach, Galveston Island State Park Beach, and East Beach are all located an hour or less from Downtown Houston. If the family is looking to get into nature, the 155-acre Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is located in Memorial Park in the heart of the city. The nature center features a children’s botanical hall that offers interactive workshops about wildlife and plants, as well as “tyke hikes” specifically designed for younger children (18-months to three years old). For families in Houston the fun literally never ends, and can be even more affordable with the use of the CityPASS program, which offers deep discounts on tickets to many attractions and museums throughout the city. So, get out there and have some fun.