3-Day Family Vacation
Your guide to three days of fun
Coming to Houston with the brood? There's one thing for certain: you won't be bored! H-Town is jam-packed with exciting things to see and do year-round. We've put together a three-day adventure itinerary, plus full-day activity options, family-friendly hotels and restaurants, and much more to help you plan your trip. Of course, you should mix and match activities to suit your family's tastes. And if you have a specific question about your trip, you can always check out our FAQ. Happy vacationing!
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MORNING: check out the Houston Zoo, the place Parent’s Magazine recently named one of the “10 Best Zoos” in the nation. Set in a 55-acre lush tropical landscape, the Houston Zoo is home to more than 4,500 exotic animals representing more than 800 species.
AFTERNOON: The Houston Museum of Natural Science, one of the most visited museums in the U.S., features the Wortham IMAX Theatre, Burke Baker Planetarium, Cockrell Butterfly Center, permanent exhibit halls and traveling exhibitions. One of the best discovery places for kids and adults alike.
EVENING: Witness 250,000 bats emerge at dusk from under the Waugh Drive Bridge, located over Buffalo Bayou between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive. You can watch them from a special deck beside the bridge or take one of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership's Waugh Bridge Bat Colony Pontoon Boat Tours.
MORNING: Space Center Houston is the official visitors experience at NASA's Johnson Space Center. The Starship Gallery Journey begins in Destiny Theater with the 12 minute feature of "On Human Destiny" which traces the history of the manned space program. You can also observe three capsules that were actually flown in space and mock-ups that were used for astronaut training. The Level 9 tram tour consists of a behind the scenes tour to Johnson Space Center including the Historical Mission Control Center and the International Space Station Shuttle mock-up facility where astronauts receive their training. (Note: Guests must be 14 years or older to participate in the Level 9 tour.)
AFTERNOON: Overlooking Galveston Bay, and just 20 minutes from downtown Houston, Kemah Boardwalk is a 35-acre coastal getaway featuring themed restaurants, retail shops and amusements for the whole family.
EVENING: Catch free music, dance and kid-friendly performances, from hit musicals to international acrobatics troupes, at Miller Outdoor Theatre inside Hermann Park. Downtown's 12-acre park, Discovery Green, features a model boat pond, children's playground, interactive water features and fantastic year-long programming geared toward families.
MORNING: The world-class Children’s Museum of Houston is crazy fun for all kids, featuring 90,000 square feet of interactive and bilingual exhibitions in the areas of science and technology, history and culture, health and human development, and the arts. Kids can run their own city and compile their own TV news reports at Kidtropolis, make their own gadgets in the Invention Convention exhibit, and check out the forces of hydropower at FlowWorks. And for children three years and younger, Tot Spot provides a wonderland of invigorating activities for infants and toddlers. Or perhaps you want to head to the Health Museum takes kids on an interactive, Magic School Bus-like exploration through the human body, letting them identify their personality, view their internal organs, see what they will look like in 30 years and much more!
AFTERNOON: Head over to Hermann Park. This 445-acre urban park is the perfect place to spend a day with kids, whether it’s riding the train along Hermann Park Railroad, pedal boating on McGovern Lake or enjoying a peaceful picnic inside the McGovern Centennial Gardens. Or if you're looking for a more rustic outdoor experience, check out the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, where miles of trails and different habitats make for a fun afternoon of exploration.
EVENING: The Downtown Aquarium is a 500,000-gallon under-water adventure complex that includes a Ferris wheel, an aquatic carousel, Shark Voyage and a restaurant.
SEE IT ALL FOR LESS
A Houston CityPASS ticket offers mega savings. Included is prepaid admission to Houston’s top attractions and museums at a fraction of the cost, $64 for adults and $54 for children ages 3-11 (a savings of 50%). With CityPASS, you can explore the workings of mission control at Space Center Houston, experience the wonder of the underwater world at Downtown Aquarium, walk on the wild size at the Houston Zoo, or stop by the Children’s Museum for ultimate kid-friendly fun!
- Buffalo Bayou canoe, kayak and pontoon boat tours
- Sports (whatever the time of year, you're bound to find action-packed sports in H-Town)
- Skateparks (Houston's home to the United States' largest skate park, Greenspoint Spring Skatepark)
- Art Car Museum (Houston's famous, artistically decorated cars have a spot all their own)
- SplashTown, Houston’s largest and most diverse water park, featuring 40-acres and more than two million gallons of summer fun
- Schlitterbahn Water Park (on Galveston Island)
- Moody Gardens on Galveston Island takes visitors on an adventure through three pyramids of discovery
Where to Stay
Houston has great hotels to fit any budget. Click here for a list of properties that are Downtown and easily accessible to many of the city’s attractions. Here are just a few of the city’s family-friendly properties:
Marriott Marquis Houston: Opened in December, 2016, this 1,000-room hotel offers easy connection to downtown attractions and is located across from the 12-acre and activity-filled Discovery Green. The Marquis includes many dining options as well as a Texas-shaped lazy river on an open-air deck with the downtown skyline as your backdrop. Let your kids "ride" to El Paso and back in a matter of minutes.
Hilton Americas-Houston: Situated in Avenida Houston, downtown's newest entertainment district, this 1,200-room hotel sits across from downtown's Discovery Green and the Toyota Center, home of the Houston Rockets. The hotel offers various dining options and connection to events at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Omni Houston Hotel: The Omni Junior Chefs program offers our youngest guests a nutritional and enriching experience. With a nourishing yet delicious menu, a welcome tote that doubles as a lunch bag, and organic snacks to enjoy upon checking-in, healthy eating can be fun and enjoyable at all ages. Junior Chefs are also given a Say Goodnight to Hunger postcard to color and turn into the front desk to donate a meal to Feeding America, teaching that taking care of others is just as important as taking care of yourself.
The Westin Galleria: This kid-friendly hotel features a Westin Kids Club program that includes a goody bag and dial-up bedtime stories right from your room.
Magnolia Hotel: This historic Downtown hotel offers complimentary breakfast service, bedtime cookie & milk, and rooftop pool and jacuzzi.
Residence Inn by Marriott: Located in the Galleria area, this hotel is housed in converted apartments that are very spacious and perfect for families. They have a full breakfast selection, kitchens in the room, and they have kid-friendly meals every weeknight included in the rate.
To book special offers at Houston hotels, click here.
Traveling from Bush Intercontinental or Houston Hobby Airport, take Super Shuttle or a Metro bus to Downtown or a cab anywhere you need to go. In the city: Take a cab or use the METRORail to travel between downtown, the Museum District and other neighborhoods. For more information about how to navigate the city, click here.