Family-Friendly Activities in Houston
Houston is so big–655 square miles—that choosing activities for a family day out can be overwhelming. In a city that covers so much ground, it’s not surprising that transportation is a big deal. In fact, Houston seems to celebrate all modes of transport with museums and tours that are down to earth and out of this world. Whether your grandkids are into trains, planes, horses, or rocket ships, Houston has family-friendly senior outings ready to go.
Houston’s police horses spend their off-duty time at the Mounted Patrol Facility where they graze 5.5 fenced acres and rest in a 46-stall barn. Everyone is welcome to visit the horses on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and you’re welcome to bring apples, carrots, and peppermints from home to feed your new friends on the force. Officers and staffers will answer questions when they can, and admission is free.
Houston isn’t exactly known for its beaches but it is one of the busiest ports in the country, handling 2/3 of the Gulf of Mexico’s container cargo and serving as home port to several cruise ships. For an up-close look at the working side of Houston’s waterfront, the local port authority offers free 90-minute boat tours on the M/V Sam Houston. See freight ships from all over, watch cargo-handling machines in action, spot shorebirds, and learn about the city’s history. Reservations are required, and tours run Wednesday thru Sunday.
Little astronauts and budding engineers will enjoy a day at Space Center Houston, which features kid-friendly museum exhibits, a flight simulator, and a tram ride through NASA’s Johnson Space Center to see the legendary Mission Control as well as carefully preserved rockets and engines.
Explore downtown Houston, the Museum District’s 18 institutions, Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo, and Reliant Park without a car by following the Houston Metro Red Line. Take the train from the University of Houston southward to hit all the major stops with no parking hassles. Day passes are $3 per person.
For a fun twist on Houston’s car culture, visit the Art Car Museum, where artists’ and car customizers’ wildest creations are on display. See a Honda motorbike converted into a high heeled shoe/tricycle, a plush bunny version of a Volkswagen Rabbit, a custom “roachster,” a bathtub built for speed, and other auto art that defies description. Admission is free, and the museum is open Wednesday thru Sunday.
The 1940 Air Terminal Museum at William P. Hobby Airport is for aviation fans and history buffs alike. The Art Deco building that houses the museum was the original city airport building. Now it features airline and aviation memorabilia, a theater, guided tour options, and several restored planes. Because Hobby is still an active airport, planespotting opportunities abound for visitors.
If you and your family are on-the-go types, Houston Bike Tours offers a Bayou Leisure Tour for ages 8 and up. Check out historic buildings and Buffalo Bayou Park’s Sabine Promenade on this guided bicycle trek. And if bikes aren’t cool enough for the teens in your family, book an outing with Segway Tours of Houston to see the Bayou, bats, and local historic sites. Tours are recommended for age 12 and up.
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