We don't have to tell you that during a Houston summer, the heat and humidity come at you at full force. Staying cool with the kids is top priority these days, and while the area has plenty of splash pads and pools, sometimes it's nice to just be out of the sun. And enjoying someone else's air conditioning. Even though we love them, we know it can get expensive at indoor playgrounds and gyms, so we've included an entire section of free indoor fun ideas to help you beat the heat without breaking the bank. And if you don't mind dishing out some dollars for fun indoor experiences, the second half of this list includes our favorite paid entry Houston-area venues where you can beat the heat this summer.
Find yourself in need of even more ideas? Be sure to check out our guide to free summer fun and full guide of things to do with Houston kids in the summer.
1. Sign your kids up for Kids Bowl Free and they'll enjoy two games of free bowling every day all summer long.
2. Head to Barnes and Noble Storytime on Thursdays and Saturdays for some indoor reading and activities.
3. Tour the free indoor museum at the San Jacinto Monument.
4. Visit one of Houston's FREE indoor play spaces at local churches and gyms.
Spend the day in imaginative play at an indoor playspace on a hot summer day. Photo by nancyEphotography/MajestKids Playland.
5. Try a free class for kids at a local craft or tech store.
6. Visit your local fire station to see the fire trucks up close and meet the firefighters who work hard to keep us safe. Visits must be scheduled in advance online.
7. Take advantage of free admission to Houston's top museums on certain days.
8. Browse the shelves or attend story time at one of Houston's unique independent book stores.
9. Spend the morning at your local Harris County Public Library. The different branches run a variety of events throughout the week, including Toddler Time, Summer Storytime, crafts and more.
10. Get a group together and visit the WaterWorks Education Center (it's free!), where kids can learn all about the importance of water conservation through interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. Appointments to visit must be made in advance.
11. See aquatic life without a fee at Sea Center Texas, just south of Houston in Lake Jackson.
12. Volunteer with kids at Houston Food Bank's Portwall Warehouse where kids ages 6 and up can help sort and distribute food.
Burn off some extra energy jumping and playing at an indoor trampoline park. Photo courtesy of Sky Sports.
1. Popcorn, a good movie, discounted tickets (we're talking $3 or less) and AIR CONDITIONING make seeing a daytime flick with the kids high on our summer fun list. Bonus: there's also plenty of free outdoor evening movies showing around town this summer, too!
2. Bring a taste of winter to a hot summer day by spending the day ice skating at the Galleria.
3. Bounce your way through the day at one of these indoor trampoline parks. A couple hours of extremely active indoor play? Sign us up!
4. Future space explorers will love seeing the exhibits at Space Center Houston.
5. See if you can make it out in time at an Escape Room.
6. Take a tour of the 1940 Air Terminal Museum or visit the Lone Star Flight Museum with plane lovers.
7. Learn about sea life at the Downtown Aquarium.
8. Remember roller skating? It's still a thing! Skate over to the Dairy Ashford Roller Rink and relive your childhood while making new memories with your kids.
9. Get a healthy dose of historical activities by attending Fort Bend Museum's Summer History Fridays. Activities are geared at children ages 5-12, but all ages are welcome.
10. Parents of babies and toddlers: beat the heat and have some fun at one of these indoor play spaces geared specifically towards your little ones.
Plane enthusiasts will love seeing huge aircraft up close. Photo by Ashley Jones.
11. Visit the largest indoor playground in Texas in Webster.
12. Run off some steam with a rousing game of laser tag.
13. Check out the indoor rainforest and aquarium pyramids at Moody Gardens.
14. Need a sweet treat to beat the heat? Stop by one of these 9 delicious popsicle shops to cool off!
16. Catch a show on stage in the Houston Theater District.
17. For the train-obsessed kiddos, a trip to the Rosenberg Railroad Museum or Galveston Railroad Museum is a must.
18. Get your glow and game on at Glowzone.
Indoor bowling to stay cool while still having fun. Top photo by the author.
This post originally published in 2017.