Houston is a fun family destination, home to world-famous attractions such as Space Center Houston, vibrant parks, restaurants and museums. Explore the exciting exhibits at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, see rare animals at the zoo, visit the children’s museum, or feel inspired at Smither Park. On sunny days, admire the beautiful McGovern Centennial Gardens, watch an outdoor performance at the Miller Outdoor Theater and have a picnic in one of the city parks. Here are the best things to do in Houston with kids.

1. The Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science
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Founded in 1909, the Houston Museum of Natural Science endeavors to preserve and advance general knowledge of natural science and to inspire visitors to take an interest in the subject. One of the most visited museums in the United States, the museum has a variety of projects, programs, and exhibitions that cover several different topics, including astronomy and the science of space, paleontology, chemistry, energy, Native American culture, and gems and minerals, among others.

The museum is home to the Burke Baker Planetarium, which presents a range of science and astronomy shows. Visitors always enjoy stopping by the Cockrell Butterfly Center, a beautiful three-story glass building filled with tropical plants and butterflies. If you are looking for fun things to do in Houston with kids, this museum is a must-see. The museuem is also known for the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, a huge 394-seat theater that screens a variety of educational films and programs in 3D and 4K technology.

5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas, Phone: 713-639-4629

2. Space Center Houston

Space Center Houston
© Space Center Houston

Part of the extensive science education program at Manned Space Flight Education Foundation Inc., Space Center Houston is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States and welcomes more than 800,000 visitors every year. The center was established in 1992 with the aim of educating, encouraging, and inspiring young learners to embrace science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a fun and engaging way.

World-renowned as the home of NASA Mission Control, International Space Station Mission Control, and astronaut training, Space Center Houston takes visitors on a journey behind the scenes and into the world of space. Using space exploration to inspire wonder and interest in the fields of science and math, the center presents over 400 temporary and permanent exhibits, artifacts and items from space, and other various attractions related to America’s human spaceflight program.

1601 NASA Parkway, Houston, Texas 77058, 281-244-2100

3. The Children's Museum of Houston

The Children's Museum of Houston
© Courtesy of Visit Houston

The Children’s Museum of Houston offers a range of diverse exhibits, workshops, and programs for children and encourages them to engage in a unique and exciting learning environment. The museum endeavors to transform the lives of children and the communities in which they live through innovative, child-centered learning; it features excellent displays and presentations for children of all ages.

Explore Yalálag is an interactive display set inspired by an Oaxacan mountain village in Mexico where children can learn about the day-to-day life of people who live in the community. The Building Zone is an interactive exhibit that teaches children basic principles of physics and engineering. The Children’s Museum of Houston is one of the top things to do in Houston for families. Eco-Station is an indoor/outdoor display that explores environmental issues and ecological studies, while Flow Works delves into the wonders of water and fascinating concepts related with hydropower.

1500 Binz, Houston, Texas, Phone: 713-522-1138

4. Smither Park

Smither Park
© Smither Park

Smither Park is an exciting work in progress that will amaze and intrigue anyone interested in art. The park is full of inspiring and whimsical art installations which have been created by community artists. Each of the interactive installations in the park has been designed to stimulate creativity and free thinking, and to inspire children of all ages (and their parents) to follow their creative side and produce beautiful visual art using all kinds of waste products like bottle caps, shells and the like. The park is free to enter and visitors can interact with the community artists on Saturdays.

2441 Munger Street, Houston, TX 77023, 713 926 6368

5. McGovern Centennial Gardens

McGovern Centennial Gardens
© McGovern Centennial Gardens

Situated in Hermann Park in the heart of Houston, the McGovern Centennial Gardens prides itself on a magnificent collection of manicured landscapes and gardens for the public to enjoy. Managed by the Hermann Park Conservancy, which was established in 1992 to restore and maintain the gardens for the people of Houston, the collection includes a beautifully maintained rose garden, an arid dryland garden, a leafy woodland garden, and a recently introduced interactive family garden.

The McGovern Centennial Gardens is one of the top Houston attractions for garden lovers. One of the main features of the gardens is a spectacular 30-foot high garden mount with a spiral to its summit, which boasts beautiful views. The Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion is equally beautiful and provides a lovely place to sit and relax.

1500 Hermann Drive, Houston, Texas, Phone: 713-524-5876

6. Caracol

© Caracol

Caracol is a laid-back, inviting restaurant managed by brothers Hugo and Ruben Ortega and known for its authentic, regional, and historic Mexican cuisine. Everything is made with the best ingredients from the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. Designed to create a beach getaway feel, the restaurant and its cuisine take diners on a culinary journey along the Mexican coast.

Get a taste of some of the country’s best seafood dishes, such as ‘Tostadas de Pez Vela Ahumado’ (smoked swordfish tostadas) and ‘Langosta Puerto Nuevo’ (fire roasted lobster served with ropa beans). A full-service bar presents guests with a wide range of handcrafted cocktails, wine flights, and a nice selection of cervezas and tequila. The restaurant is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and it provides a variety of vegetarian options for diners with specific dietary requirements.

2200 Post Oak Blvd, Suite 160, Houston, TX 77056, 713-622-9996

7. Three Brothers Bakery

Three Brothers Bakery
© Three Brothers Bakery/Facebook

A long-standing Houston institution, 3 Brothers Bakery is a huge operation with three locations where food lovers go when they fancy mouth-watering European-style high-quality breads, bagels, pastries, or cakes. Three Brothers Bakery is certified kosher, offering more than 400 different items, both dairy and non-dairy, including baked goods, fantastic pastries, incredibly delicious rye bread, cake balls, gingerbread cookies, award-winning Key lime pie and pecan pie, fabulous traditional hamantaschen, buttery and flakey rugelach, and much, much more. The bakery roasts its own coffee, and most of their goodies are now available by mail order, including their famous, amazing, over-the-top Pumpecapple Piecake, consisting of three pies sandwiched between three layers of cake.

4036 S. Braeswood Blvd, Houston, TX 77025, 713-666-2253 (CAKE)

8. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
© Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

Covering a lush and beautiful 155 acres, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is a must-see attraction for families. You can start your visit by enjoying 5 miles of hiking trails which take you through a variety of habitats including wet lands, savanna, woodlands and prairie. There are 8 ponds where you a stop to admire the abundant wildlife. The arboretum hosts a wide variety of educational workshops and lectures for adults as well as children of all ages. These include Tyke Hikes, Home School programs, Summer Camps and even Birthday Parties. Adult programs include birding and photography courses and gardening workshops.

4501 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX 77024, 713 681 8433

9. Discovery Green

Discovery Green
© Courtesy of Greater Houston CVB, Julie Soefer

Discovery Green is a vibrant 12-acre park in the heart of downtown Houston that provides the public with a beautiful outdoor space in which to relax and participate various outdoor activities. Together, the City of Houston and the non-profit Discovery Green Conservancy opened the park in 2008. Today, Discovery Green presents a variety of dynamic programs, workshops, and events throughout the year that are free and open to the public.

Situated on the north side of the lake is Kinder Lake, where people can enjoy kayaking and stand up paddling lessons, remote controlled boating, and ice-skating during the winter. The park is also home to a nice sized playground for whimsical young children, the Fondren Performance Space, and the Anheuser-Busch Stage, features that offer live music and shows, a putting green, shuffleboard and boules court, and a jogging trail for fitness fundis.

1500 McKinney, Houston, Texas 77010

10. The 1940 Air Terminal Museum

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum
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Based at William P. Hobby Airport, the 1940 Air Terminal Museum is an ode to Houston's fascinating aviation history. Housed in the original art-deco styled Houston Municipal Airport building, which served as the first terminal specifically for passenger flights in Houston, the Museum showcases the rich heritage of civil aviation and provides information about the airlines and general and business aviation.

Several galleries display a variety of exhibits containing vintage aviation memorabilia like silver service items, models, documents, and photographs while a modern theater screens films related to aviation. Guided field trips and docent-led tours are available during the weekdays, and the museum puts on an airshow every day of the week.

8325 Travelair Street, Houston, Texas 77061, 713-454-1940

11. The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

The Original Ninfa's on Navigation
© The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

The Original Ninfa's on Navigation is a popular Mexican restaurant that serves delicious Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican cuisine. Originally, Ninfa Rodreguez Laurenzo (Mama Ninfa), who was famous for her fajitas, established the restaurant as a tortilla factory. Eventually, the factor turned into a restaurant that went on to become a solid fixture of the Houston eating scene and has been a favorite ever since.

Executive Chef Alex Padilla serves traditional Mexican food to diners for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and the menu includes temptations such as mouth-watering huevos rancheros, tacos covered in toppings, and melt-in-your-mouth fajitas. The Original Ninfa's also caters special events and delivers meals on request. Prior to Astros games (or Rockets Games), the restaurant offers a shuttle to and from Minute Maid Park (or Toyota Center) as well as free parking.

2704 Navigation Blvd., Houston, Texas 77003, 713-228-1175

12. Downtown Aquarium

Downtown Aquarium
© Courtesy of Greater Houston CVB, Julie Soefer

Made up of two redeveloped downtown Houston landmarks – Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks Building – the Downtown Aquarium is a spectacular six-acre entertainment and dining complex that houses a 500,000-gallon aquarium with more than 200 species of aquatic life from around the world.

In addition to a magnificent variety of aquatic and geographic exhibits and displays related to the marine environment, the complex also features a full-service restaurant and stylish bar, a fully equipped ballroom for special events, shopping opportunities, and a variety of other attractions and entertainment.

410 Bagby St @ Memorial Drive, 713-223-3474

13. The Health Museum

The Health Museum
© The Health Museum

The Health Museum (aka The John McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science) exists to stimulate curiosity and wonder about the human body, heath and medical science. This popular museum is one of the most-visited interactive science learning centers in the country, attracting more than 2.5 million visitors each year. There are always new exhibits in the pipeline, but currently the most popular attractions include a massive beating heart and a Texas-sized walk through brain in the Amazing Body Gallery and the DeBakey Cell Lab where children get to dress up in lab coats, gloves and goggles as they make their way through experiment stations.

1515 Hermann Drive, Houston, TX 77004, 713 521 1515

14. Lone Star Flight Museum

Lone Star Flight Museum
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On a mission to celebrate and showcase flight and the history of Texan aviation, the Lone Star Flight Museum is sure to fascinate and educate all members of your family. The museum encompasses the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, where you can learn about aviation pioneers from the Lone Star State. In addition, there are many wonderful vintage aircraft to admire and 27 hands-on fun exhibits which will introduce children (and adults) to the fundamental scientific and mathematical principles which enable man’s ability to take to the skies. There are also 3 replica Cockpits and 2 hang-glider simulators for you to try out.

11551 Aerospace Ave, Houston, TX 77034, 346 708 2517

15. Killen's Barbecue

Killen's Barbecue
© Killen's Barbecue

Killen's Barbecue is one of Houston’s favorite places to go for delicious smoked brisket and barbecue, unrivaled meat platters, flavorful sides, and tasty desserts. Killen’s serves a variety of meat by the pound, from brisket and beef ribs to any kind of pork you can think of, ranging from pulled pork and bone-in-the-belly to homemade sausage. Sides such as creamy mac and cheese, creamed corn, and pinto, green, and baked beans give an extra kick to your meal while sweet treats like seasonal cobbler and buttermilk pie add the final touch.

3613 E. Broadway, Pearland, TX 77581, 281-485-2272

16. Coreano's

© Coreano's

Coreano's serves up award-winning Mexican-Korean fusion fare throughout Houston. The truck, which is parked at a variety of locations through the city most days of the month, is best known for its delicious street-style Korean barbecue tacos, which are available three apiece with marinated beef bulgogi, Korean-style chicken, or sauteed Korean tofu. A variety of Korean barbecue burritos are also served up, along with kimchi quesadillas and Korean rice bowls. Specialty fries feature toppings such as caramelized kimchi and the truck's signature El Scorcho spicy sauce. Phone: 346-291-0381

17. Star Pizza

Star Pizza
© Star Pizza

When Star Pizza started offering their pies made of whole-wheat flour, it was a revolution. After a time, people let go of tradition and fell in love with the taste of Star Pizza’s delicious deep-dish pizza. With a nutty, sweet, and whole-wheat dough, it will quickly become your favorite. The old fashioned nostalgic atmosphere in all their three Houston locations also helps provide an authentic dining experience. It can be tough to decide on the best topping, and everyone has a strong opinion on this.

Try Marilyn’s with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and onion or Hank's with mushrooms, olives, and Italian sausage. There is a whole range of other items on the menu, and they also have a salad bar on the weekends when Star Pizza becomes a favorite spot amongst families for Sunday lunch or dinner. If you wonder why the pizza sauce is so delicious, you should know that they make it from scratch using a special mix of spices and herbs. Fresh dough is made every day with unbleached and untreated flour.

77 Harvard St, Houston, TX 77007, 713-869-1241

18. Harry's Restaurant & Cafe

Harry's Restaurant & Cafe
© Harry's Restaurant & Cafe

A mid-town Houston institution since 1948, Harry's is a place for a Sunday breakfast with family and friends, sunny and bright, with tiled floors and a no frills decor so not to distract from the delights coming from the kitchen.

Expect a happy marriage between Southern comfort food and the owners' Greek and Ecuadorean heritage, what this means is biscuits and gravy, freshly squeezed orange juice, blueberry waffles, huge Greek omelets with potatoes, sautéed onions, tomatoes, fresh parsley and feta cheese and things like the Churrasco platter with potato and Cheese Patties fried in Achiote Oil served on Lettuce and topped with a tomato-onion Encurtido. It comes with two eggs, grilled beef, avocado, and a South American red pepper peanut sauce. You will have to make a trip back in order to try all the things on the menu that caught your eye but could not fit on your plate.

318 Tuam St, Houston, TX 77006, Phone: 713-528-0198

19. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
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Located at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH), the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is the home to the museum’s collection of American decorative arts and paintings. Displayed in the former house of Houston civic leader and philanthropist Ima Hogg, which is situated on 14 acres of beautifully manicured gardens in the historic River Oaks neighborhood, the collection is made up of a range of paintings and decorative arts, including ceramics and silver. Bayou Bend is also home to the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center, which includes the Kitty King Powell Library and a retail store, where visitors can purchase copies of their favorite paintings and other decorative arts.

6003 Memorial Drive at Westcott Street, Houston, Texas 77007, Phone: 713-639-7750

20. Miller Outdoor Theater

Miller Outdoor Theater
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The Miller Outdoor Theatre is an outdoor performing arts center located in Hermann Park. The theater plays host to a wide variety of professional entertainment and free shows between the months of March and November. The performances are incredibly compelling, and range from classical music and ballet to films and theater. Guests can enjoy a picnic on the amphitheater-style hillside before performances, or sit in a comfortable covered seating area during the show.

As part of its free seasonal productions, the Miller Outdoor Theatre offers a variety of daytime children’s programs, which are scheduled throughout the week and on weekends. Performances include well-known favorites such as The Velveteen Rabbit and Arabian Nights, and new productions such as Mesoamerica de Mexico, Swing, Jive and Pop! Into Dance and Mixteco Ballet Folklorico.

6000 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, TX 77030, 832-487-7102

21. Sheldon Lake State Park

Sheldon Lake State Park
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Located in Sheldon Lake State Park, Sheldon Lake is a reservoir on Carpenter’s Bayou in the San Jacinto River Basin that lies northeast of Houston. The lake is a popular outdoor recreation venue for locals and visitors alike, allowing them to partake in activities such as fishing, boating, kayaking, and wildlife observation.

The park features an environmental learning center, which offers several different programs related to fishing, birding, hiking, and wildlife/nature study for children, as well as regular wildlife demonstrations. The 82-foot John Jacob Observation Tower offers visitors incredible panoramic views of the surrounding wetland and lake, the park’s restored prairie, the downtown Houston skyline, and the San Jacinto Monument. More family vacations

14140 Garrett Rd, Houston, TX 77044, 281-456-280

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22. Houston Zoo

Houston Zoo
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The Houston Zoo is a 55-acre zoological park that is home to over 6,000 animals ranging across 900 species. Located in Hermann Park in the heart of Houston, the zoo sees over two million visitors every year, all of whom come to discover and learn about the myriad species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. They also take part in the many educational programs, workshops, and events organized by and held at the zoo.

If you are wondering what to do in Houston this weekend, there is always something fun going on at the zoo. The zoo provides a unique and fun-filled experience that fosters appreciation, knowledge, and care for the natural world, and the permanent exhibits are especially popular. Some of them include African Forest, a replica of an authentic African village with some of the continent’s most bizarre animals, Carnivores, where you come face to face with some of the world’s greatest hunters like lions, leopards, and jaguars, and the Wortham World of Primates, home to lemurs, mandrills, howler monkeys, and tamarins.

6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, TX 77030, 713-533-6500

23. Astros Ballpark Tours of Minute Maid Park

Astros Ballpark Tours of Minute Maid Park
© Courtesy of Visit Houston

Home to the Houston Astros baseball team, Minute Maid Park is located at Union Station in downtown Houston. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the famous stadium by taking guided tours that are offered each day. The famous stadium features a vintage locomotive that runs along a track on the wall. Some of the guided tours even explore historic Union Station, allowing visitors to appreciate the heritage of the railroad, the broadcasting booth, and the press box.

Several tours stop by the luxury suite, which offers some of the best views in the house. Tours also take visitors down to the field to see the dugout, bullpen, and the manual scoreboard. They last between one and one and a half hours.

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