Southeast Houston's Lone Star Flight Museum Will Have Your Kids Flying High

The Lone Star Flight Museum has colorful planes on display. Photo by Rebecca Ortiz for Mommy Poppins
The Lone Star Flight Museum has colorful planes on display. Photo by Rebecca Ortiz for Mommy Poppins
1/19/24 - By Ashley Jones

Soaring warbirds, thrilling simulator experiences, and soft spots for tots to land have parents jetting to the Lone Star Flight Museum in Southeast Houston. Located at Ellington Field, the aviation museum boasts exciting exhibits and interactive elements for visitors of all ages. 

Along with tons of fun exhibits for the kiddos, this Houston museum's two hangars are home to a large collection of planes that have served in multiple wars, many of which are still functional today and fly for the museum as well as in air shows across the country. It is also home to the Space Gallery and the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, which honors legendary pioneers in flight history. We love to visit with our 3-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. Read on to find out what keeps us coming back and for tips and tricks to get the most out of your visit.

Check out our handy guide to all Houston's best kid-friendly museums, and for a day of cost-free fun, browse our list of Free Museums and Free Museum Days for Kids in Houston.


Top Things to Do at Houston's Lone Star Flight Museum

Navigate the Hangars

Our most recent self-guided tour of the Lone Star Flight Museum started with a stroll into the first of two large airplane hangars on the property. Everything inside the museum is so well-kept and pristine, and the walkways are wide, making it easy to navigate with a stroller. Each airplane, including the warbirds, dive bombers, fighter jets, and more, is perfectly polished and features an informative plaque with tons of information about the weight of the plane, the plane's mechanics, and flight history.

While our kiddos were more interested in pointing out their favorite paint jobs (with the toddler trying to make a break for the cockpits) than having every single word read to them, my husband and I certainly enjoyed learning about these historical aircraft. The way that the airplanes are arranged throughout the hangars allows for easy access to each one.

With 60,000 square feet of air-conditioned hangar space, there is plenty of room to move around comfortably, and it was easy to allow the kids to see each plane from several angles to point out the different parts of the plane, including where the engines are, the propellors, and even where artillery is stored. Around the outside of each of the hangars, large wall displays give even more information regarding wartime flight history, including interactive screens with videos and photos. 

RELATEDDays and Times for FREE Admission to Houston's Museums

Learn the Ins and Outs of Flying at the Flight Academy

Next, we headed to one of our favorite spaces in the museum, the Flight Academy, where the kids were able to interact with 27 exhibits designed to show how planes fly. Seeing wind tunnels work and getting their hands on samples of airplane building materials that they could touch and feel was exciting.

Other exhibits in this area explained the effect of weather on flight. Each station was more interactive than the next and allowed for serious learning opportunities. They also got to climb into three replica cockpits to explore what the interior of the huge planes they just saw in the hangars would look like. The next stop on the path took us to what ended up being the best part of the visit: A hang gliding simulator where they got to sit on the seat, hold on to the bar, and try their hands at gliding. Another highlight of this area was a station where they were able to build paper airplanes to take home.

RELATED: Must-See Houston Museums You've (Probably) Never Heard Of

Kids can get a sense of gliding with the hang gliding simulator. Photo by Rebecca Ortiz for Mommy Poppins

Visit the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame and Aviation Art Gallery

While exploring the museum, we were able to walk through the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame. This prestigious hall boasts monuments honoring pioneers in aviation, entrepreneurs in the flight industry, and military and space exploration leaders. Some notable inductees that we learned about are Presidents George W. Bush and Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Tom Landry. 

Another exhibit we enjoyed was the Milestones and Monuments Gallery, featuring the works of aviation art by Douglas Ettridge, provided from the personal collection of aviation hall-of-famer Durrell U. “Dee” Howard. The gallery offered a calm moment after all the excitement of the Flight Academy.

RELATEDTouring the 1940 Air Terminal Museum

Explore the Final Frontier in the Space Gallery

No Space City aviation museum would be complete without a nod to space flight, and the Lone Star Flight Museum doesn’t disappoint with its new Space Gallery. Learn what it took for the astronauts that flew on the Space Shuttle to train and live in space with up-close views of Crew Compartment Trainer and authentic 1970s Space Shuttle Motion Base Simulator. A Lunar Rover and Centaur Robot can also be seen in this exhibit, showing off advanced robotics and concepts that are all part of our journey back to the moon.

Take to the Virtual Skies in the MaxFlight Simulator Experience

For an additional fee, school-aged children and adults can get a realistic piloting experience in the cockpit of the MaxFlight Simulator. This fully interactive simulator can achieve 360-degree motion, letting you practice flips, rolls, dips, and more all while staying safely on the ground.

Pick your airplane and take it to the skies, or opt for an underwater or rollercoaster experience in the sim for a wild ride that will satisfy thrill seekers. Height and weight limits and double occupancy requirements apply.

The Lone Star Museum's new Toddler Terminal is prefect for kids ages 1-4. Photo courtesy of the museum

Take Off at the Boeing Toddler Terminal

In the Lone Star Flight Museum's newly opened Boeing Toddler Terminal, you can unstrap your tiny riders from ages 1-4 for a bit of active fun as they climb, slide, build, and play. This Houston tot spot features soft, aviation-themed play structures, toddler-safe flooring, a bright mural, and interactive STEM stations with moving gears, magnetic sliders, a bead maze, and more, to let your littlest ones work out energy through imaginative play.

Keep an eye out for the addition of story times, dedicated tours and crafts for little learners, sing-alongs, play days, and toddler-focused birthday party packages. These fun offerings are currently in the works!

Inside Tips for Visiting the Lone Star Flight Museum

This Houston museum is great to visit any time of year, but we especially love to go in the summer and winter months, since it’s primarily indoors. The weather is also something to consider when visiting, as it’s located at Ellington Airport, right off a runway.

This is important because, if you make it on a nice day when its planes are flying (which is often), you may get to witness the takeoff and landing of a historic warbird or other cool aircraft. Guests are welcomed out back to see the active airplanes up close from right on the tarmac. Don’t be shy! During previous visits, we’ve been able to peek in and under aircraft while they’re parked; and helpful staff and pilots are around and often happy to answer questions and snap a photo.

Annual Lone Star Flight Museum Events

The Lone Star Flight Museum has some family-friendly annual events worth stopping by for. Holidays in the hangars are something to see, from trick-or-treating and Easter egg hunts to breakfast and photos with Stearman Santa after he flies in on the classic PT-17 Stearman in December. Other fun events include the National Aviation Day Celebration and Science Day, where participants can do hands-on experiments, observe demos, hop in the flight simulator, and more.

Lone Star Flight Museum Birthday Parties and Camps

If you’re looking for a fun spot to throw your aspiring pilot’s next party or a way for them to get a head start on their aerospace dreams, the Lone Star Flight Museum offers birthday party packages and even summer and spring break camps. Currently, two birthday party packages are offered for kiddos ages 6 and up, with toddler options coming soon. Space is available for up to 14 pilots-in-training and includes a 2-hour rental with a paper airplane workshop and a special goodie bag for the birthday kid.

Getting to the Lone Star Flight Museum and Parking

Located right off Highway 3 in the Clear Lake/Webster area, the Lone Star Flight Museum can be found at the corner of Challenger and Aerospace Avenue at Ellington Airport. Parking is free, and the large parking lot has plenty of spaces. Energy-efficient vehicle parking is available near the front entrance.

Food at the Lone Star Flight Museum

The Lone Star Flight Museum now has a coffee shop that can be found in the gift shop area. Visitors can enjoy premium coffee drinks and breakfast and lunch offerings. Don’t forget to browse for clothing, toys, books, and more at your stop in the gift shop.

Strollers and Potties at the Lone Star Flight Museum

The Lone Star Flight Museum is stroller-friendly, with wide, smooth aisles in the hangars and enough space to maneuver through the exhibits. Stroller parking is available in the Boeing Toddler Terminal. The clean and accessible bathrooms are centrally located.

Admission and Hours to the Lone Star Flight Museum

The Lone Star Flight Museum offers child, youth, and senior rates, and admission is half off every Thursday. Children 4 and under are free. Memberships are a worthwhile investment, especially for Bay Area Houstonians. Different tiers are available, and membership perks include access to exclusive events and discounts at the gift shop and for birthday parties, events, camps, warbird rides (for adults and accompanied teens), guest admission, and some workshops.

This Houston museum is open year-round from Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-5pm and on Sundays from noon-5pm. It’s also open on Mondays in the summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

All photos by Rebecca Ortiz, for Mommy Poppins

Places featured in this article: