Houston Family Road Trip Ideas and Podcasts for Kids

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Hey friends! Hope your summer is getting off to a great start. As promised, I have rounded up some fun activities for families road tripping to Houston. I’ve also created a list of great podcasts for kids to help make your trip(s) more pleasant. Enjoy! If you missed our last post on San Antonio, check it out here.

Please note, the following is provided for informational purposes only; the information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes, and no guarantees are made.

Destination: Houston, TX

Houston is a wonderfully interesting and diverse city with tons of fun family activities. Only about two and a half hours away, Houston is a great place for a family road trip. This summer is the perfect time to head to Houston if you are a space and science lover, as the city is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 space walk. Check out a great Austin Chronicle article here that talks about anniversary events in Houston and other Texas towns. Here is a list of highlights to check out with your family in Houston:

Stuff to Do

Children’s Museum of Houston

Details: There’s something new to do every day at the Children’s Museum of Houston! Packed with 90,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, the Museum offers 14 hands-on galleries with plenty of fun and learning to be had. See what’s going on during the day of your visit by checking out the online calendar. Plus, don’t forget that they have exciting permanent exhibits and new exhibits which are constantly changing. The Children’s Museum of Houston is for the young and young at heart, but specifically, they target children from birth to age 12 and their families. Each of the exhibits, experiences, and programs have been designed to engage a broad range of children’s ages and interests. There are more than a dozen exciting new activities every day, weekly themes, and special events.

Location & Hours:  

  • 1500 Binz, Houston, Texas 77004

  • Hours: Mondays, 10am-6pm (Memorial Day thru Labor Day); Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10am-6pm; Thursdays, 10am-8pm; and Sundays, 12-6pm.

Admission: Adults/Children (Ages 1+), $12; Seniors (Ages 65+), $11; Active Duty Military Personnel: $10. You can also save $2 off admission every day after 5pm except on Thursdays. The Museum is FREE every Thursday for Thursday Free Family Night from 5-8pm. Participation in S.E.C.R.E.T., the Museum’s live-action spy games, requires a separate $7 fee. Purchase all tickets here. Parking is free.

Downtown Aquarium

Details: The Downtown Aquarium is the product of redeveloping two downtown Houston landmarks – Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks Building. This magnificent six-acre entertainment and dining complex is a 500,000-gallon aquatic wonderland, home to over 300 species of aquatic life from around the globe. With a full-service restaurant, an upscale bar, a fully equipped ballroom, aquatic & geographic exhibits, shopping, and a variety of amusements (click here for the list of games & rides), the Downtown Aquarium has it all! Click here for a map, and check out the calendar of events.

Location & Hours:  

  • 410 Bagby St @ Memorial Dr., Houston, TX 77002

  • Exhibit hours of operation: Sunday-Thursday, 10am to 8:30pm; Friday & Saturday: 10am to 10pm

  • Restaurant hours of operation: Sunday-Thursday: 11am to 8:30pm; Friday & Saturday: 11am to 10pm

Admission: Varies.

  • Admission to the Aquarium Exhibit is $12.99 for adults (42” and up) and $9.99 for children (under 42”). Seniors are $10.99.

  • Admission to the Stingray Reef is $5.99 per entry for both admission and stingray food; admission alone is $3.50 per person.

  • There are also a wide variety of single ride tickets.

  • All-day Adventure Passes are also available for $20.99, which includes one-day unlimited access to all rides and the Aquarium Adventure Exhibit.

  • Purchase tickets here.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Details: As one of the oldest nature education facilities in Texas (founded in 1967), the Arboretum is dedicated to the mission: “…to provide education about the natural environment to people of all ages and to protect and enhance the Arboretum as a haven and as a sanctuary for native plants and animals.” The grounds of the Nature Center are open daily from 7am to dusk. The building which houses the Discovery Room (call ahead to check availability), Nature Shop, classrooms, and offices is open daily from 9am to 5pm. The building and grounds are occasionally closed for holidays and special events. Please check here for a full list of building and grounds closures. See the events list here. Trail map here.

Location & Hours:  

  • 4501 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX 77024

  • Open seven days a week (except national holidays), 7am to dusk for grounds and trails. Get parking info, directions, and check the schedule here.

Admission: Free; donations happily accepted.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Details: The mission of the Houston Museum of Natural Science is to preserve and advance the general knowledge of natural science; to enhance in individuals the knowledge of and delight in natural science and related subjects; and to maintain and promote a museum of the first class. The Museum houses the Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham GIANT Screen Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, and a fascinating variety of permanent exhibit areas that examine astronomy, space science, Native American culture, paleontology, energy, chemistry, gems and minerals, seashells, Texas wildlife, and much more. In addition, the museum frequently presents traveling exhibitions on a variety of topics.

Location & Hours:  

  • 55555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas 77030

  • Summer Hours:

    • Sunday–Wednesday: 9am-6pm

    • Thursday: 9am-9pm. Permanent Exhibits are free Thursdays from 6-9pm.

    • Friday–Saturday: 9am-6pm

    • Hours differ slightly for the Giant Screen Theatre, the Planetarium, and the Butterfly Center. Check the links for details.

Admission: Purchase tickets here.

  • Permanent Exhibitions (Adults, 12 and up, $25; Children, 3-11, $16; Children 2 and under, free. Military and Senior discounts available.)

  • Planetarium (Adults, 12 and up, $9; Children, 3-11, $8; Children 2 and under, free. Military and Senior discounts available.)

  • Butterfly Center (Adults, 12 and up, $12; Children, 3-11, $10; Children 2 and under, free. Military and Senior discounts available.)

  • Giant Screen Theatre (Adults, 12 and up, $12; Children, 3-11, $10; Children 2 and under, free. Military and Senior discounts available.)

Houston Zoo

Details: The Houston Zoo has over 6,000 permanent residents (animals) for whom the Houston Zoo provides housing, meals, medical care, and even education! Each year over two million guests come to experience the incredible variety of animals and ecosystems as well as attend special private and public events and entertainment. The zoo mission is to connect communities with animals, inspiring action to save wildlife. See the zoo map here.

Location & Hours:  

  • 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, TX 77030

  • Open 7 days a week, 9am-7pm. Entrance gates close at 6pm.

    • Evening Chill: Now through August 10th, the Zoo stays open until 8pm every Friday & Saturday.

Admission: General Admission - Adults (ages 12+), $19.95; Children (ages 2-11), $15.95; Seniors (ages 65+), $14.95; Wildlife Carousel, $4.00. Purchase tickets here.

  • Value Pass (includes: Zoo general admission, unlimited walks through DINOSAURS exhibit, souvenir conservation bracelet [available at the DINOSAURS exhibit entrance] and unlimited Carousel rides) - Adults, $24.95; Children, $22.95.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)

Details: Discover the restless genius of Vincent van Gogh through more than 50 of the iconic artist’s masterworks—on view exclusively in Houston. Vincent van Gogh: His Life in Art comes to the MFAH thanks to a collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum and the Kröller-Müller Museum which, together, hold the largest collections in the world of Van Gogh’s work. This summer, Choreographic Objects transforms the Museum into a series of performance spaces welcoming visitors of all ages. Blurring the lines between sculpture, video, installation, and participation, the art of internationally acclaimed choreographer William Forsythe invites us to experience movement in new ways. Icons of Style explores the rich and varied history of fashion photography, from niche industry to powerful cultural force. More than 200 images showcase a diverse range of fashions, from elegant portraits of the early 20th century to the trendsetting styles of Beyoncé, David Bowie, James Harden, Audrey Hepburn, Run-DMC, Selena, and Solange. Works from the MFAH collections fill the galleries year-round with art embracing every era of history across the globe. Exhibition list here. Family programs here.

Location & Hours:  

  • 1001 Bissonnet, Houston, Texas 77005

  • Tuesday & Wednesday | 10am to 5pm
    Thursday | 10am to 9pm
    Friday & Saturday | 10am to 7pm
    Sunday | 12:15 to 7pm

Admission: General admission for Adults (19+), $17; Youth (13-18; children under 12 are free), $10. Senior, military, and college discounts available. Admission is free on Thursdays. Purchase tickets here. Parking information here.

Space Center Houston

Details: Your first stop in Houston has to be the Space Center Houston, a leading science and space exploration learning center. Educational emphasis is placed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in a fun and engaging way. The goal of Space Center Houston is to fuel the STEM pathway and be a gateway for space exploration, science and engineering learning and innovation. The Center features more than 400 space artifacts, permanent and traveling exhibits, exhibits and experiences and theaters related to the exciting future and remarkable past of America’s human space-flight program – all for one admission price. The experience is designed to engage adults and children alike. Space Center Houston has the world’s largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples for public view. Known around the world as the home of NASA Mission Control, International Space Station Mission Control and astronaut training, guests are taken behind the scenes to see NASA Johnson Space Center.

  • The Space Center Houston Apollo 11 celebration will be held July 20th. Check out the 50th anniversary celebration guide here. Anniversary celebration ticket information is here. No worries if you can’t make the July 20th celebration - there is a lot to do during less crowded days. General hours of admission are included below.

Location & Hours:  

  • 1601 NASA Pkwy, Houston, Texas, 77058

  • Open every day of the week, typically from 9am-6pm or 10am-5pm, with longer hours in July. Check the summer schedule here.

Admission: General admission is $29.95 for adults; $24.95 for children (4-11; children under 4 are free); $27.95 for seniors (65+); and $5.00 for parking. Purchase tickets here.

Typhoon Texas Waterpark

Details: Okay, this is not in Houston proper, but 30 minutes outside Houston in Katy, TX. If you are in the area, pop in if your family is in the mood for a water park! Check out the lazy river and lots of activities and water slides for all ages. See the park map here.

Location & Hours:  

  • 555 Katy Fort Bend Rd., Katy, TX 77494

  • Open every day of the week, typically from 10:30am-7pm or as late as 10:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. However, operating hours can change due to weather conditions. Check the summer schedule here.

Admission: Admission varies depending on the day you are attending. Check the calendar here for pricing by date. General admission (ages 2 and under are free) for choose-your-day tickets starts at $20.69 and goes up to $38.99. Purchase tickets here. Season pass tickets are also available. Parking is free.

**Pro Tip: If you plan on visiting a number of these attractions, consider purchasing a Houston CityPASS. One booklet = five admission tickets. Purchase here.
Houston CityPASS saves you 47% on Houston's five top attractions, including the Children's Museum of Houston!  

  • Children's Museum of Houston

  • Space Center Houston (NASA)

  • Downtown Aquarium

  • Houston Museum of Natural Science

  • Houston Zoo OR Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

You'll skip most ticket lines, too. CityPASS is valid for nine days beginning the first day of booklet use. 

Cost:

  • Adult: $62 ($116 value)

  • Youth (ages 3-11): $52 ($88 value)

Roadtrip Survival Tool: Podcasts for Kids

Here is a quick list of some great podcasts for kids to listen to during your road trip:

1.     Big Life Kids Podcast

From the folks who brought you Big Life Journal, Big Life Kids podcast teaches children to stay resilient, believe in themselves, and face life's challenges with confidence. In each episode, Zara and Leo travel the world to discover the living heroes that are making a difference in the world today. Most episodes are under 20 minutes. All ages.

2. But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

But Why is a show led by kids! Kids ask the questions and they find the answers. It's a big interesting world out there. On But Why, they tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world. Have a question? Send it to them! No specific age range listed. Episodes are usually about 20-30 minutes long.

3.     Circle Round

Created and produced by parents of young children, WBUR's (Boston’s NPR News Station) Circle Round is a podcast that adapts carefully-selected folktales from around the world into sound- and music-rich radio plays for kids ages 4 to 10. Each 10- to 20-minute episode explores important issues like kindness, persistence, and generosity. And each episode ends with an activity that inspires a deeper conversation between children and grown-ups.

4.     Dream Big

The Dream Big podcast is a family-friendly podcast inspiring kids (and adults!) to pursue their passions in life and take action to make their dreams a reality. Hosts Eva Karpman (currently 9-years-old in the 4th grade) and mom Olga Karpman interview world-class performers who do what they love and live their dreams each and every day. Eva also does solo episode where she answers questions from the audience and discusses personal development principles. The Dream Big podcast’s short 15-20 minute format makes for the perfect length to listen to an episode in the car with your kids.

5.    Fierce Girls

From athletes to aviators, scientists to spies. From the deep blue sea to the dark, black skies. Australia is full of girls who dare to do things differently. Adventurous girls. Girls with guts and spirit. You know what they are? They're FIERCE. And these are their stories. Join the amazing Turia Pitt, Lisa Wilkinson, Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Pearson, Leah Purcell and more, as they tell the inspiring tales of some of Australia's most extraordinary women. Most episodes are under 20 minutes. No specific age range listed.

6. KidNuz

KidNuz is the first daily news podcast created for kids age 6-13. It features stories on current events and politics, entertainment, science, sports and more – followed by the KidNuz quiz. The podcast was launched to inspire thought-provoking conversations between parents and their children. Weekday, nonpartisan news podcast created just for kids. Five minutes of news that will inform without bias, and educate without opinion.

7. Tumble

Tumble is a science podcast for kids, to be enjoyed by the entire family. They tell stories about science discoveries, with the help of scientists! Join Lindsay and Marshall as they ask questions, share mysteries, and share what science is all about. Recommended for ages 8+. Episodes are usually 15 minutes or less.

8. Sparkle Stories Podcast

Create a kinder, gentler world for you and your family with over 1,200 original audio stories for children ages 3–12. Most episodes are 15-45 minutes.

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Happy Texas road tripping!

Esha/Enriched Family

Enriched Family provides custom family-focused research, as well as organization services. If you ever need help finding the right camps, children's enrichment activities, childcare options, or schools, or need some help with personal, family, or small business organization, please reach out! I offer a free, 20-minute initial phone consultation to all new clients to discuss matching your needs and priorities with my services. I invite you to check out our services and click the "Let's Get Started" button below to contact me.