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20 miles from downtown Houston is a 42 acre amusement park with a small town feel. The Kemah Boardwalk has been open since 1997, and receives over 3 million visitors every year. Whether you've visited the Boardwalk before or not, we've put together some tips we think you'll want to know before you go.
One of the best parts about visiting the Houston area is that so many attractions are operational and pleasant all year round! Even on hot summer days, the Kemah Boardwalk is ready with “cooling zones”: tents with mist and shade to take a break before resuming your adventures.
Kemah also keeps things interesting by introducing new events frequently throughout the year. For example, Friday nights during the summer feature an impressive firework display. Other special events have included Salsa Sunday's, Kid Krazy Mondays, Tribute Band Tuesday's, etc. These special events only last for a limited time when they are introduced, and then it won't be long before something new takes its place. Even if you've visited the Boardwalk before, you're sure to find something new! Make sure to check back for the newest seasonal installation so you don't miss a thing.
There is a good spectrum of activities available for all ages at the Kemah Boardwalk. The most obvious of these activities are all of the rides! Enjoy the Ferris wheel, double decker carousel, balloon wheel ride, or Jungle Bouncer with your younger crowd, or head to the Drop Zone, Aviator, and Wipeout if you're looking for something to shake you up a bit. Kemah is also home to the Boardwalk Bullet: a classic style, high-speed wooden roller coaster.
If the traditional ride isn't your style, perhaps you will appreciate “The Beast.” This boat takes visitors out on the water, and moves at a refreshing 40 mph. Veterans of this ride will tell you getting wet is inevitable, but especially in the splash zone, which is in the back. Beware! You may want to bring a bag or another waterproof case for phones and cameras.
If the splash zone sounds good to you, you will also want to check out the playground and dancing water fountains on the boardwalk. This feature is especially helpful to keep kids entertained on those hot, humid days. Bathing suits are allowed.
If you just want to relax and take a break from your busy life, come enjoy the view of the boardwalk. There are benches and tables along the way to enjoy the waterfront view. Sunsets are particularly breathtaking from the boardwalk.
On top of experiencing all of these activities and sights, Kemah has become a Pokemon Go hub. The Boardwalk and surrounding landmarks feature three gyms, 12 pokestops, and lots of water-based Pokemon like Dratini and Tentacool. Carnival game booths are even stocked with stuffed Pokemon toys, so you can catch em all while you catch em all.
Kemah Boardwalk boasts a line up of ten restaurants that range from fast food to fine dining. Your options include area favorites like The Flying Dutchman, Salt Grass Steakhouse, and Red Sushi. If you eat at the Aquarium restaurant, don't miss a chance to touch and feed live stingrays at the Stingray Reef. The park also has more classic carnival food like cotton candy, churros, and funnel cakes. There's no reason to go hungry on a trip to Kemah.
The Kemah Boardwalk comes equipped with its very own Boardwalk Inn, overlooking Galveston Bay. All rooms face the Boardwalk, and guests at the inn have access to an outdoor pool and hot tub, priority seating at all boardwalk restaurants, and live entertainment, among other amenities. There's also a Holiday Inn not far from the Boardwalk, and a variety of other accommodations within the Bay Area.
The Boardwalk is free for all to enjoy the sights, sounds, and carnival food smells. Tickets for rides can be paid for individually, but most Houstonians find it's better to get an unlimited pass. Passes can be bought just for the boardwalk, or you can go for a CityPass. which provides a bundle including entrance to other attractions throughout Houston. “The Beast” boat ride is not included in the all-day, all-ride pass.
Parking is free during off-peak times, including weekdays and off seasons. However, parking is always free (even during peak times) in the lot off of Hwy 146 and 6th street. There is a free Park and Float Ferry, and traffic moves from this free waterfront parking smoothly and quickly under normal circumstances. However, if you'd like to park closer during a peak time, expect to pay between $6-10 cash per car.
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