Top Things to Do at Kemah Boardwalk with Kids

Kids love the carousel on Kemah's boardwalk.
Kids love the carousel on Kemah's boardwalk.
5/14/23 - By Rachael Cherry

Kemah and its boardwalk may be just 20 miles from downtown Houston, but it delivers a drastic change of scenery from city life. The Kemah waterfront is packed with kid-friendly attractions that will keep the whole family entertained for hours.

Kemah, Texas, is well known for its delicious and family-friendly restaurants, which make for the perfect lunch or dinner after a long day with kids. And the boardwalk has plenty to keep you entertained between meals, from amusement park-style rides to the fascinating Stingray and Reef exhibit.

For more family fun south of town, check out our ultimate guide of things to do with kids in Galveston

You can also save with the top attractions in Houston with Go City - Houston card. By purchasing this ticket, you receive admission to several Houston attractions at half the regular price: Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo or the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Kemah Boardwalk or the Children’s Museum Houston.


Free and Cheap Things to Do at Kemah Boardwalk

1. Dancing Water Fountains

Situated directly in the center of the Boardwalk's plaza are the Dancing Water Fountains. Water shoots out of the ground at random in tall arches, so definitely pack a swimsuit for your kids or be prepared for them to get wet. 

2. Feeding the Fish

Sporadically placed along the docks of the boardwalk are dispensers that give out a handful of fish food for a couple quarters. My son loved throwing food into the water and watching the numerous fish surface to eat. I loved that I could keep him easily entertained with the change in my purse.

Coin-operated telescopes line Kemah's boardwalk. 
Coin-operated telescopes line Kemah's boardwalk. Photo courtesy of the League City Convention and Visitors Bureau

3. Coin-Operated Telescopes

Another fun feature on the docks is the coin-operated telescopes, which are perfect for spotting seagulls, ducks, cruise ships, yachts, and more. We were even able to spot some dolphins out at sea a few times. While the bay wasn't busy during our trip, this time, we still couldn't resist stopping to see if we could catch sight of anything.

4. Kemah Boardwalk Playground

Behind The Flying Dutchman restaurant, there is a free playground for kids to burn off some steam. The play area is a traditional setup with slides, various climbable pieces, and seating for parents.

Best Things to Do with Toddlers at Kemah Boardwalk

5. Train Ride Around the Boardwalk

For $6.50, visitors can buy a ticket to board the running replica of the C.P. Huntington Train and get a ride around the boardwalk, which my son demanded the second he heard the train whistle blow as we were walking up. It was a fun way to see the different attractions and plan out where we wanted to go during our visit. 

6. Stingray Reef & Rainforest Exhibit

If your kids want to see some sea life up close and personal, head down to the first level of the Aquarium Restaurant to Stingray Reef. At this exhibit, kids are not only able to touch the stingrays but also feed them. From there, you can then walk over to the Rainforest Exhibit to see turtles, piranhas, and more. Tickets are $5.25 or $6.99 based on the experience you pick.

7. Kemah Boardwalk Fireworks

In recent years, Kemah has been putting on weekly fireworks displays in the summer. Check the Kemah Boardwalk Calendar for dates and times. Even outside of firework season, you'll find some cool events you won't want to miss.

Best Things to Do with Big Kids at Kemah Boardwalk

Midway games on Kemah boardwalk

Big kids will love playing the midway games on the boardwalk.

7. Midway Games

There is a variety of traditional Midway Games (that yield prizes, of course) available along the boardwalk behind the Lighthouse Buffet. These games are aimed at older children and adults who can successfully toss a ring over a bottle and the like.

8. Arcade

If your kids are in the market for some time-honored arcade games, look no further than the second level of the Boardwalk. You'll find everything from air hockey to interactive video games at the Boardwalk Arcade. Even my toddler, who can't actually play any of the games just yet, loved running around the arcade pretending to play them.

9. Amusement Rides

Amusement rides are probably what the boardwalk is most famous for, and the 15 different rides do not disappoint. My toddler loved the Double-Decker Carousel and aforementioned train, but there are plenty of thrilling rides for older kids, too, like the wooden Boardwalk Bullet roller coaster that reaches speeds over 51 mph. Ticket prices vary for each ride, and an adult may need to accompany children under a certain height depending on the ride restrictions.  

Boardwalk Beast on the Kemah boardwalk.

The Boardwalk Beast is an entertaining water ride.

10. Boardwalk Beast

For kids who want to actually get out on the water, a spin on the Boardwalk Beast is a must. Tickets are $20 for kids 12 and under and $25 for adults for a 4-mile cruise around Galveston Bay. The Beast runs seasonally, so be sure to check the calendar for running times. Kids must be at least 36-inches tall to ride. And just a warning, the crew promises guests will get wet one way or another, so be prepared. 

I definitely recommend checking out the Boardwalk's website prior to your trip to get up-to-date ticket information for the rides and hours of operation. For families looking to spend an entire day at the Boardwalk, there is an all-day pass available as well. It does not include the Boardwalk Beast, Stingray Reef, Iron Eagle, Midway Games or the Arcade. 

Kid-Friendly Restaurants on the Kemah Boardwalk

11. Don't Skip the Seafood

There are tons of great seafood restaurants around Kemah that you shouldn't miss during your visit. Joe's Crab Shack is a classic spot for casual dining, with their fried shrimp being the star of our meal. If you're looking for an unforgettable experience, we recommend trying out Aquarium. This one-of-a-kind restaurant is sure to please kids of all ages with its fishy exhibits and 50,000 gallon tank. Dining here is basically an event all on its own.

12. Grab a Treat on the Boardwalk

No waterfront day is complete without a sweet treat. Kemah Boardwalk features a variety of refreshing and delicious desserts, from funnel cake to ice cream. We particularly loved the scoops we got at Cool Cow Creamery, located just around the corner from the rides and attractions. 

13. Unbeatable Burgers

Just outside of the designated Boardwalk area (and totally worth the detour) is Tookie's. A personal favorite, this burger joint slings super-sized beef patties, baskets of fries and onion rings, and frosty shakes that will fill your bellies and bring a smile to even the pickiest eaters' face. A vintage '70s vibe and stacked kids menu make Tookie's the perfect place to beat the heat while enjoying a meal with a waterfront view.  

All photos courtesy the Kemah Boardwalk Facebook page

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