Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city, has no shortage of amazing fun things to do with kids, which makes it an ideal vacation destination. The hard part is deciding what you want to do with your time while you’re visiting the most culture-rich metropolis in Texas. To help you out, we went ahead found the top 15 things to do in Houston with kids. 

Most importantly, you need to find the right hotel for your families, so we did the research for you! Marriott Bonvoy™, families can enjoy special rates, free in-room Wifi, mobile check in and more. Marriott Bonvoy members save when they book on Marriott.com.

photo: Gabby Cullen

Explore the Children’s Museum of Houston

This museum dedicated to kids and play is one of the biggest of its kind in the country. With over 90,000 square feet of fun, be sure to spend a good portion of time in the popular Kidtropolis exhibit, where kids run the city, get a job, earn “money,” and spend it using a “debit card.”

Online: cmhouston.org

Hang Out with Some Butterflies

This three-story, indoor “rainforest” is located in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It has waterfalls, tropical plants, and of course, tons of butterflies. For extra interaction, wear a brightly colored shirt; the butterflies might come to rest on you and the kids!

Online: hmns.org/cockrell-butterfly-center

photo: Image by Trish Badger courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Get Cultured at the Museum of Fine Arts

Introduce your kids to the fine arts by visiting this important Houston institution. Besides the permanent exhibits (recommended for older kids), there are plenty of opportunities for hands-on art experiences. On Sundays check out Family Days, which run from September through April, and offer free music, games, crafts and guided tours.

Online: mfah.org

photo: Gabby Cullen

Let Your Wild Animals Roam at the Zoo 

The Houston Zoo is known as one of the best in the United States, housing over 6,000 animals from 900 species. Conservation is a major priority for the zoo, and they do all they can for the health and happiness of all the animals. Kids will love the opportunity to get up close and personal with animals like giraffes and seals.

Online: houstonzoo.org

photo: courtesy Marriott

Be in the Middle of Everything at the Marriott Medical Center/Museum District

If you’re looking for a hotel with easy access to Houston’s top attractions, this is it. Close to the Zoo and the Museum District, there’s even a stop on the city’s METROrail system across the street for easy transportation options. Kids will love the indoor pool, too. 

Online: marriott.com

Be One with Nature at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

This 155-acre space in the middle of the city has plenty of kid-friendly trails and opportunities to learn about nature. Be sure to look for turtles, and don’t forget to make it up the hill for a waterfall and stunning views of Houston. 

Online: houstonarboretum.org

Go Under the Sea at the Downtown Aquarium

This 500,000-gallon aquatic attraction is home to over 300 underwater species. Wander through the shipwreck exhibit before wandering over to the Discovery Zone to get up close and personal with animals like a bearded dragon, colorful fish and sea turtles. For any kids who love jungle animals, a stop at the newly expanded White Tiger habitat is a must.

Online: aquariumrestaurants.com

Explore the Last Frontier at Space Center Houston

Space-obsessed kids (or anyone else) will love the hundreds of artifacts and exhibits at the Space Center Houston museum. Also home to NASA Mission Control, the International Space Station Mission Control and astronaut training, this is one of the best places in the world to learn about both past and future space exploration. You'll even get a behind-the-scenes tour of the NASA Johnson Space Center! 

Online: spacecenter.org

photo: Jonnu Singleton/SWA Group, courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Stroll Through Buffalo Bayou Park

This urban green space is popular with locals and visitors alike. Little kids will want to spend time in the nature play area that boasts a stream, climbing logs, a tri-level treehouse and a slide; you’ll find it near the skatepark, which is perfect for your older adventurers. Be sure to hang out until sunset, and then watch over 250,000 bats emerge from under the Waugh Drive Bridge.

Online: buffalobayou.org

Enjoy the Convenient Lodging at Element Houston Vintage Park

Not only do you get a free breakfast when you stay at Element Houston, but each room has either a full kitchen or kitchenette, which is perfect for families. It’s also near the George Bush International Airport and is pet-friendly, too!

Online: marriott.com

Get Thrills at the Kemah Boardwalk

The Kemah Boardwalk is a seaside destination just 20 miles from downtown Houston featuring 15 boardwalk attractions for thrill-seekers of all ages. There are street performers, dancing water fountains, an aquarium featuring stingray and rainforest exhibits, firework Fridays and more! 

Online: kemahboardwalk.com

Cool Off at Hurricane Harbor Splashtown 

If you’re going to visit Houston anytime past the spring, don’t forget—it gets hots here in the summer! The best bet (and a huge hit with kids) for warmer months is Hurricane Harbor Splashtown. Rent a cabana, and spend the day riding family- and kid-approved water rides! 

Online: sixflags.com/splashtown

photo: courtesy George Ranch

Go Back in Time at the George Ranch Historical Park 

Located on a 20,000-acre working ranch, you’ll learn about over 100 years of Texas farming and ranching here. It’s divided into four different periods, there are costumed “workers,” blacksmithing demonstrations, hands-on activities and more! Tip: You’ll need to plan accordingly to visit the ranch, as it’s only open to the public on Saturdays.

Online: georgeranch.org

Get a Little Retail Therapy at the Galleria

The Galleria might have over 400 stores to whet your shopping appetite, but it’s also a kid-friendly haven. From the ice-skating rink to an awesome playground and two swimming pools, it’s easy to spend a whole day here, which, especially in the summer, can be a nice break from the Houston heat. 

Online: simon.com/galleria

photo: courtesy Marriott

Relax at the Sheraton Houston Brookhollow Hotel

This premiere hotel makes it easy to relax while on vacation in Houston. With a free shuttle to the Galleria Mall, a heated outdoor pool, and spacious accommodations, you’ll never want to leave. 

Online: marriott

With Marriott Bonvoy™, members can enjoy special rates, free in-room Wifi, mobile check-in and the ability to earn and redeem points at Marriott’s thousands of hotels. Not a Marriott Bonvoy member? Join for free when you book! Save on your trip to Houston here!

—Gabby Cullen

The Best Upcoming Events for Kids in Houston
If you’re looking for events and activities, don’t miss our local Houston events calendar, which has everything from story times to seasonal activities like sporting events, family festivals and outdoor movie nights.