Visiting The Woodlands can feel like traveling to another world - there are so many trees! (Depending on where you live in Houston, this may be a huge change of scenery.) About 45 minutes north of Houston, The Woodlands is full of fun for the whole family. It's close enough that you can spend the day here without much of a drive time but offers enough to do that you could stretch it into a weekend getaway. Read on for of our favorite things to do in The Woodlands with our kids.
If you have younger kids (toddler-10 years old), your family will love this museum. It's small enough that you can keep track of your "active" little ones easily, and all exhibits are pint-sized and full of fun. There's the interactive water tables, craft station, trains, larger-than-babies building blocks, a market, and even a stage for story times and shows. It's a fun way to start the day and make sure to check the calendar to see what special events are happening each week.
Related: 100 Things to Do With Houston Kids Before They Grow Up
Photo by Carrie Taylor
Unfortunately, the resort does not currently offer day-use passes, but if you can afford the time to spend the night you won't regret it. The Forest Oasis Waterscape is the resort's massive pool that features a 1,005-square-foot lazy river, a waterslide tower, splash pad and kiddie pool, and a cafe. It hosts various fun activities throughout the week, like poolside movies and snacks. There are also bike rentals available and the resort is connected to hundreds of miles of trails that sprawl throughout The Woodlands.
Hike the Trails
You've probably figured this out by now, but The Woodlands also boasts a big network of trails that wind through - you guessed it - the surrounding woods. The George Mitchell Preserve has two hiking trails and three miles of bike trails. Many of the area parks are connected to trails, and some of our favorites are Terramont Park (has lots of amenities and shade) and Northshore Park (big space, fun playground, and it's right on the lake).
Waterway Square is the piece of The Woodlands' entertainment center where you'll be able to dine right off the water. There's a small green area where kids can play along with fountains that are programmed to perform lighted choreography to various songs. It's a nice stop if you're planning for a dinner and a movie, as it's across the street from Cinemark 17 and within walking distance of The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.
Related: Best Things to Do in Dallas, TX With Kids
Photo courtesy The Woodlands Township
Of the numerous pools in The Woodlands, the Rob Fleming Aquatic Center is the highlight. It's located in the Village of Creekside Park near Lake Paloma, and you'll find a lazy river, water slides, splash features, and fountains. There is also a concession stand and plenty of seating, and the cost isn't too bad either - $8 for kids under 48-inches-tall and $10 for everyone else.
Located next to The Woodlands Recreation Center and inside Bear Branch Park, this skate park is also dog-friendly! Bear Branch park features plenty of grassy space, a frisbee golf course, and a playground for your younger kids while the big kids take advantage of the massive concrete skate bowl. Bikes, rollerblades, and skateboards are allowed. There is also a pool on-site, so you can cool off there and back a day of it.
The Woodlands is home to several indoor play and activity centers for kids of all ages. Some of our favorites include Main Event, which includes a massive arcade and bowling alley; We Rock the Spectrum, whose open play area includes an arts and crafts section; IGi Playground Indoor Play Spaces: Main Event, We Rock the Spectrum, IGi Playground, which has an incredibly cool playground and even a cafe for parents; and Shankz Black Light Miniature Golf, where you can enjoy some glow-in-the-dark mini golf.
Related: Insider's Guide to Exploring Pearland, TX With Kids
Swan paddeboats arrived at Riva Row Boathouse in the fall of 2018. Photo courtesy The Woodlands CVB
Rent a kayak, paddleboard or even a swan paddle boat (yes, really!) at these boat houses on Lake Woodlands. You can rent single or tandem kayaks for $15-$20 for one hour, and it's only an extra $5 for additional hours. Reservations are not required, but you can make them if you have a large group just to be safe. Life jackets are provided, and you can even let your family pet take a ride! If you'd like to arrange a lesson, there are sessions available by certified instructors for $30 per person. Note that the boat houses are closed Wednesdays throughout the year as well on Tuesdays in January-May and August-December.
Market Street is the main mixed-use shopping center you can visit and is similar to LaCenterra and CityCentre in that it has a central green space for kids to run around. The shopping is similar to those locales as well, and there is a Cinemark on site. The restaurants next to the green space are a big pricey, so this may be your best option as a dinner spot.
This mall is great because it's huge (two stories), has a decently-sized food court as well as restaurants outside, and a nice indoor play area for kids.
Related: 20 Things to Do in Tomball With Kids
Slides and more at Kanga's. Photo courtesy Kanga's.
Indoor Play Spaces
For indoor activities, try the Obstacle Warrior Kids offers one-hour ninja classes for your aspiring athletes (you just need to sign up at least 24 hours in advance). There's also Kanga's Indoor Playground with climbables and slides - perfect for youner kids through age 10-12.
Top photo courtesy The Woodlands CVB
This post originally published in May 2017.