When traveling to the nation’s fourth-largest city, you surely expect to have your pick of attractions and amusements to choose from, and Houston does not disappoint! Regularly named among the most family-friendly locations in the United States, Houston is a year-round destination offering inspiration, education, and fun for all ages. The city is home to an array of urban parks and playgrounds, innovative museums, and stimulating play spaces. Here’s our list of the top 20 places you don’t want to miss when visiting Houston with kids!

Art Car Museum

140 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007 • (713) 861-5526 • http://artcarmuseum.com

This contemporary art installation specializes in “art cars” – elaborately decorated vehicles. The museum’s aim is to “encourage the public’s awareness of the cultural, political, economic and personal dimensions of art”.

*Insider Tip – Open by appointment only! Call in advance to schedule your visit.

Buffalo Bayou Park

1800 Allen Pkwy &, Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77019 • (713) 752-0314 • https://buffalobayou.org

Buffalo Bayou Park is a 160-acre urban green space popular with locals and visitors alike. Home to whimsical play structures, a volleyball court, multiple biking and walking trails, a dog park, the Lost Lake wetland gardens, and Lee and Joe Jamail Skate Park, Buffalo Bayou has plenty of fun things to offer your whole troop – and some of the best views of the Houston skylines for those perfect photo captures, too.

*Insider Tip – Witness 250,000 bats emerge at dusk from under the Waugh Drive Bridge for a truly unique wildlife experience!

The Children’s Museum of Houston

1500 Binz St, Houston, TX 77004 • (713) 522-1138 • https://www.cmhouston.org

One of the largest museums of its kind in the nation, the Children’s Museum of Houston features more than 90,000 square feet of interactive exhibits centered on science and technology, history and culture, health and human development, and the arts. The Tot Spot play area offers enriching play for guests two years and under, but there’s plenty to amuse kids of all ages – including science labs, spy games, and obstacle courses. The museum offers innovative workshops and educational programs throughout the year – check their events calendar to see what’s happening during your visit!

*Insider Tip – Stop by the Fiddle Sticks Toys shop at the museum to take a little edutainment to-go. Fun for rainy days in your vacation rental, or continued learning when you return home. Souvenirs with a purpose!

Discovery Green

1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010 • (713) 400-7336 • https://www.discoverygreen.com

This 12-acre green space in the heart of downtown Houston is the pulse of the community. offering a variety of free things to do for residents and visitors from all walks of life, including a playground, amphitheater with live music and shows, a putting green, shuffleboard, bocce courts, a jogging trail, and so much more. Situated along Kinder Lake, where guests can enjoy kayaking and stand up paddling lessons, remote controlled boating on the model boat pond, and ice skating during the wintertime.

*Insider Tip – Tell the youngsters to wear a bathing suit under their day clothes or bring one along to take advantage of wet and wild fun at the Gateway Fountain and the Mistree water feature!

The Galleria

5085 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056 • (713) 622-0663 • https://www.simon.com/mall/the-galleria

Houston’s largest and most popular shopping center, The Galleria is home to more than 400 shops, a full-sized ice skating rink, and a uniquely themed play area. The Little Galleria Play Area on the second level features mini-versions of Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Williams Tower, as well as a soft-foam area with climbers, slides, tunnels, and a play wall.

*Insider Tip – There are plenty of toy stores and ice cream shops for a little junior-sized retail and foodie therapy at The Galleria!

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056 • (713) 850-8841 • https://www.uptown-houston.com/

At just under 3 acres, Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is home to a Texas-sized water feature perfect for photo ops, picnics, and frisbee games. The 64-foot-tall fountain centerpiece is built to resemble a “horseshoe of running water,” nestled among 186 live oak trees at the base of the 64-story Williams Tower.

*Insider Tip – This is a favorite pet-friendly space where you’re sure to capture once-in-a-lifetime photos of both the little ones and the family pup!

The Health Museum

1515 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004 • (713) 521-1515 • https://www.thehealthmuseum.org

The Health Museum is a Smithsonian affiliate facility inspiring passion and curiosity in health, the medical sciences and the human body through interactive, educational experiences for the whole family. Walk through a huge human body to learn how it works, or check out the ever-changing traveling exhibits on a range of topics. Affiliated with Texas Medical Center, The Health Museum also offers a number of diverse programs and classes for all age groups.

*Insider Tip – Keep this one in mind to occupy the kids on a rainy day. A fun way to sneak in a little education and work off energy!

Hermann Park

6001 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030 • (832) 395-7100 • https://www.hermannpark.org

With 445 acres of exquisite space in the heart of the city, Hermann Park offers a range of fun activities for the whole family, including a train ride, pedal boats on McGovern Lake, walking trails, and a breathtaking Japanese Garden that serves as a symbol of friendship between the U.S. and Japan, and a peaceful place to meditate and reflect among traditional Japanese plants.

*Insider Tip – This is the ideal spot for a midday or evening break after time spent exploring the museum district!

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024 • (713) 681-8433 • https://houstonarboretum.org/

This 155-acre wooded wonderland is a natural respite in the middle of the city, with five miles of kid-friendly trails and exploration through forest, pond, wetland, and meadow habitats. Enjoy the interactive exhibits at the Discovery Room, find fun trinkets at the Nature Shop, and explore the lush Wildlife Garden and the Carol Tatkon Sensory Garden!

*Insider Tip – Visit on Saturdays for free, 45-minute hikes with a knowledgeable Arboretum Guide!

Houston Downtown Aquarium

410 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002 • (713) 223-3474 • https://www.aquariumrestaurants.com

This expansive six-acre entertainment and dining complex houses a full-service restaurant and bar, shopping opportunities, and a variety of attractions and entertainment for a full day (or night) of family fun! Highlights include a 500,000-gallon aquarium featuring hundreds of diverse underwater species, a shipwreck exhibit, Ferris wheel, carnival games, and white tigers.

*Insider Tip – Friday Family Nights are the perfect time to visit for reduced pricing, scavenger hunts, and more!

Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS)

Photo Credit: hmns via Instagram

5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030 • (713) 639-4629 • https://www.hmns.org

Another favorite spot in the museum district, The Houston Museum of Natural Science is home to the Cockrell Butterfly Center, the Burke Baker Planetarium, and a massive Paleontology Hall. One of the most visited museums in the United States, HMNS offers programs and exhibits covering a range of engaging topics, such as astronomy, paleontology, chemistry, energy, geology, and Native American culture and history. The three-story butterfly center is an indoor “rainforest” with waterfalls, tropical plants, and, of course – countless butterflies!

*Insider Tip – Wear bright colors to attract butterflies for maximum interaction and amazing photo ops!

Houston Zoo

6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030 • (713) 533-6500 • https://www.houstonzoo.org

The country’s second-most visited zoo, The Houston Zoo is a sprawling 55-acre zoological park housing more than 6,000 animals from 900 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Located in Houston’s Hermann Park, The Houston Zoo was named one of the “10 Best Zoos” in the nation by Parents Magazine!

*Insider Tip – The Houston Zoo offers a selection of interactive animal experiences for an additional fee, Give an elephant a bath or paint with a sea lion!

Hurricane Harbor Splashtown

Photo Credit: babykmi via Instagram

21300 Interstate 45 N, Spring, TX 77373 • (218) 355-3300 • https://www.sixflags.com/splashtown

Another favorite attraction worthy of a little journey, Hurricane Harbor Splashtown is located just over 20 miles away from Houston in Spring, Texas. Home to jumbo slides, tube chutes, wading pools, and a lazy river, SplashTown is the area’s largest water park, with 40 acres and more than two million gallons of splashtacular fun.

*Insider Tip – This is a fabulous opportunity to “unplug” and enjoy good old-fashioned family fun. To keep mobile devices safe while you play, rent a locker and bring Ziploc bags for waterproof storage!

Kemah Boardwalk

215 Kipp Ave, Kemah, TX 77565 • (877) 285-3624 • https://www.kemahboardwalk.com

Worthy of a brief road trip, Kemah Boardwalk is just a 20-mile trek from downtown Houston. Here, visitors enjoy shopping, dining, family friendly events, and 15 boardwalk attractions, including the Stingray Reef aquarium, a 65-foot Ferris Wheel, and 36-foot Carousel, as well as more adventurous rides for the thrill-seekers. It’s also just a great place to stroll on a sunny day among the street performers and dancing water fountains!

*Insider Tip – The Boardwalk is built entirely along the shores of Galveston Bay and Clear Lake. Make a day of it and spend some time at the beach!

Miller Outdoor Theatre

6000 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030 • (832) 487-7102 • https://www.milleroutdoortheatre.com

The hub of arts and culture in the Houston area, During its eight-month-long season (March-November), Miller Outdoor Theatre hosts free plays and shows for all ages as well as a range of live music performances, including classical, ballet, jazz, dance, film, and Shakespeare each year in Hermann Park.

*Insider Tip – This is a prime picnicking spot for those looking to soak up a little Houston sunshine in a lush green space.

Minute Maid Park

501 Crawford St, Houston, TX 77002 • (713) 259-8000 • https://www.mlb.com/astros/ballpark

Home to the Houston Astros baseball team, Minute Maid Park is located at downtown Houston’s Union Station. Visitors can embark on guided tours offered daily, including a lap around the field and a close-up visit to the dugout, bullpen, and manual scoreboard. Game Day tours offer early admission and a preview of the team preparing for the game. Minute Maid Park features a vintage, full-sized locomotive that runs along the left-field wall in tribute to the railroad heritage of the area.

*Insider Tip – The standard tour is one-hour long. Two-hour tours are also available for extended experiences.

Moody Gardens

1 Hope Blvd, Galveston, TX 77554 • (409) 683-4200 • https://www.moodygardens.com

This Galveston entertainment hub is home to a massive aquarium, botanical garden, two theaters, and a number of play spaces. Enjoy Gulf breezes as you drift along on a traditional paddlewheel boat or explore the “pyramids”! The Discovery Pyramid features more than 40 exhibits, and the 13-story Rainforest Pyramid transports guests to the wilds of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, while undersea adventures await at the Aquarium Pyramid.

*Insider Tip – A worthwhile road trip less than an hour from Houston, and a great excuse for a beach day away from the city!

Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH)

1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005 • (713) 639-7300 • https://www.mfah.org

A slew of opportunities for hands-on art experiences and creative discovery await at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston! Boasting a range of more than 64,000 exhibits spanning 6,000 years of history and six continents, MFAH offers weekly programs designed specifically to encourage children and adults to explore art together, including storytime play dates and family days events.

*Insider Tip – Make sure to walk through the Wilson Tunnel connecting the Beck and Law buildings for a vibrant surprise the kids will love!

Schlitterbahn Water Park

2026 Lockheed Rd, Galveston, TX 77554 (409) 770-9283 https://www.schlitterbahn.com/galveston

It just doesn’t get any better than a beach day… or does it? Another Galveston favorite, Schlitterbahn is the place to be for epic water getaways on the Gulf of Mexico! Featuring climate-controlled rivers, tranquil coves and harbors, slides and pools, this award-winning water park is regularly featured as a family favorite by the Travel Channel!

*Insider Tip – Schlitterbahn is one of the rare amusement places that will allow guests to bring outside food and drinks!

Space Center Houston

1601 E NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058 • (281) 244-2100 • https://spacecenter.org

It’s the most amazing outer space fun you can find on Earth. Space Center Houston features hundreds of artifacts and exhibits inspiring young learners to embrace science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a fun and engaging way. Home to NASA Mission Control and astronaut training, Space Center Houston is a Smithsonian Affiliate museum boasting more than 400 things to see and do.

*Insider Tip – Ask about behind-the-scenes tours of the NASA Johnson Space Center!

Bonus Tip: If the timing of your visit is just right, take advantage of the opportunity to take part in a genuine Texas tradition! The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world since 1932. This annual, family-friendly event showcases the region’s Western heritage through competitions, exhibitions, local cuisine, a carnival, and more. It’s a great way to usher in the spring season in the Lone Star State!