The Children’s Museum of Houston has been catering to children since 1980 and boasts a wide array of activities to foster learning in a fun, innovative way. As a native Houstonian, I visited often with my family and could not wait for the day when I could bring my son, who is now 2-1/2 years old. There are 14 different exhibits to visit, and there is something for any child from toddlers up to 12 years old. It's a good idea to wear comfortable shoes as you will most likely be chasing your kid all over the place!
The John P. McGovern Kids Hall is set immediately off of the entrance, and in it, guests will find artwork from across the world. There are also activity tables arranged in the shape of a train that feature a variety of crafts children can partake in. year.
My toddler and I spent most of our time in Kidtropolis, which is a kid-sized city complete with a police station, newsroom, H-E-B, veterinarian’s office, art studio, cafe, and more. The stations allow kids to see the ins and outs of each profession, and they can actually earn money as they learn to spend at different shops or to deposit at the bank. Museum employees are stationed at both the entrance and exit of Kidtropolis to monitor the exhibit and ensure that there are never too many kids inside at once.
The next major exhibit is Matter Factory, which helps kids explore the different types of matter. We also visited Shocks and Jolts, which teaches kids all the ins and outs of electricity, and on over to How Does It Work? This science-focused exhibit teaches kids things through interactive exhibits. For example, how an air current can keep a beach ball floating in mid-air or how to build different ramps with various twists and turns to create a mini-scale roller coaster.
After that, we headed through Cyberchase, Yagalag: A Mountain Exhibit in Mexico and Invention Convention before spending a good chunk of time at FlowWorks, the outdoor water exhibit. Be prepared for your kid to get wet at this one, because the exhibit encourages kids to play in the different water activities. While there’s no pool or splash pad, there are a lot of opportunities for your little one to end up wet. At the crux of the exhibit is an 18-foot cauldron that fills with water, and you better believe it was a definite highlight for my son to watch that giant bowl of water tip over and empty itself out. We also created our own waves, controlled how fast or slow water flowed through a dam, and then floated boats down a water course. It was also easy to locate my son no matter where he was in the exhibit, and since it was outside I wasn’t worried about him running from one room to the next without me.
If you’re looking for a fun, mostly indoor activity spot for your kids – and let’s be real, summer days in Houston practically beg for indoor activities – this place should definitely be on your radar. From a kid’s perspective, there is no shortage of things to do, so they’ll be entertained for hours. I feel like we barely scratched the surface while we were there, and we definitely didn’t see all the exhibits.
But because of the museum's mass appeal, be prepared for crowds. We showed up right at 10 a.m. when it opened, and the first few exhibits we went to were a breeze; however, as it got closer to lunchtime, the place started to fill up.
Facts for planning your visit:
- The museum is located in the heart of Houston at 1500 Binz Street.
- Kids under age 1 are free, and admission for all other ages is $12.
- The museum is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and it stays open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. On Sundays, hours are noon-6 p.m. It is closed Mondays except during summer months when it opens 10 a.m.-6 p.m. as well. From 5-8 p.m. on Thursdays, there is free admission for Family Night.
- You can buy tickets in advance online or at the door when you arrive.
- There is a dedicated parking garage for the museum across the street, and parking costs $7 for the first hour, $8 two, and $9 for three hours or longer.
- Outside food and drinks are not permitted, but both are available for purchase inside.
Photo courtesy the Children's Museum of Houston