3 Days in Houston with Kids: Ultimate Itinerary by a Local Mom

The Houston Zoo is a great stop for kids, and near other things to do in Houston, too. Photo by Jessica A., courtesy of the zoo
The Houston Zoo is a great stop for kids, and near other things to do in Houston, too. Photo by Jessica A., courtesy of the zoo
1/27/23 - By Sarah Banks

Looking for things to do when visiting Houston with kids? We've got you covered with this three day itinerary packed with kid-friendly activities in Houston.

You’re sure of a big Texas welcome in Houston on a family weekend away. Houston is a large, diverse, kid-friendly city with many amazing indoor and outdoor tourist attractions. With warm weather year-round, Houston is great to visit in any season – although plan for indoor and pool time in the heat of the summer. Whether you’re looking to head to one of the world-class attractions in the Museum District or are keen to learn about space at NASA, there are hundreds of awesome things to do in Houston with kids.

When you need to take a break and enjoy local dining, most restaurants welcome small to large families with family-style meals, large booths and kids’ menus. We’ve made suggestions for eating out with some of Houston’s most famous cuisines, such as Tex-Mex, steaks, and barbecue, but if you need further inspiration, check out our Houston kid-friendly restaurant guide. And if you're looking for festivals and other special events on the days that you're in town, use our kid-friendly activity calendar.

Ready? Check into one of Houston's Family-Friendly Resorts and Hotels and start exploring!


Day 1: Things to Do in Houston with Kids

The Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park 
Explore the Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park. Photo by Vicky Li Yip

Morning in Hermann Park/Houston Zoo

A regular feature on the lists of the top zoos in the country, the Houston Zoo is a great morning (or even full day!) out. Set in a large lush tropical landscape, the Houston Zoo is home to more than 6,000 exotic animals representing more than 900 species. Houston Zoo is set in Hermann Park, which itself has enough space and activities to keep your kids occupied for a few hours.

Day 1 Lunch: Rest and refuel over lunch at nearby Barnaby’s café. The restaurant is colorful and welcoming to kids, with an extensive kids menu. Grown-ups also have a great choice from salads and burgers to a Texas rib-eye and fries.

Houston Museum of Natural Science 
Megalodon Jaw photo courtesy of the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Afternoon in Houston's Museum District

The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) is one of the most popular museums in the United States, making it a must-see Houston attraction. Five floors of permanent halls display treasures such as dinosaur bones, gems, wildlife and mummies. Strollers are allowed inside the Museum and there are designated stroller storage places for any exhibits that don’t allow strollers inside them.

BBQ restaurant in Houston 
BBQ restaurants are usually casual and perfect for kids. Photo courtesy of Dickey's

Day 1 Dinner: No trip to Texas is complete without a visit to one of our barbecue restaurants. Our guide to kid-friendly barbecue restaurants in Houston will give you some inspiration!

Day 2: More Kid-Friendly Activities in Houston

Space Center Houston 
Space Center Houston photo by Rebecca Ortiz

Morning at Space Center Houston

Houston is also known as “Space City,” so it’s no surprise that Space Center Houston is one of the top tourist attractions for visitors to enjoy. Over a million people visit the attraction every year. A major highlight is the tram tour taking you to see where the astronauts train and the mission control from the first moon landing. Combined with that jaw-dropping experience are many interactive exhibitions, opportunities to touch a piece of the moon or mars, and an “Angry Birds” play area.

Day 2 Lunch: The Space Center has its own huge café with plenty of great choices. Alternatively, head to our afternoon destination, Kemah, which has a range of kid-friendly food outlets, including chicken, pizza, seafood, and burger restaurants. If you haven’t tried the traditional Texas fairground funnel cake, you can buy it here!

Afternoon on the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast is only 15 minutes from NASA, and one of the best family-friendly spots to hear the waves and see the pelicans is Kemah Boardwalk. There are fifteen amusement rides on the boardwalk, with everything from a double-decker carousel and cute train for the tiny tots to plenty of thrilling rides for older kids – the wooden Boardwalk Bullet roller coaster reaches speeds of over 50 mph.

If you bring a change of clothes, your younger kids will love the dancing water fountains. This water feature is a great way to cool off if you’re visiting during Houston’s warmer weather.

Houston Aquarium 
Houston Aquarium is a fun thing to do and place to eat with kids. Photo by Rebecca Ortiz.

Day 2 Dinner: One of the most spectacular dining views in Houston is at the Houston Aquarium. The menu is kid-friendly, with a range of great-tasting options. 

Day 3: Things To Do In Houston With Kids

Morning at The Children's Museum Houston

Spend the morning at The Children’s Museum of Houston, which was recently renovated and is one of the best kid-friendly stops in Houston. The Museum is packed with many indoor and outdoor exhibits for kids of all ages. There are 18 different spaces that encourage kids to explore the world through hands-on activities and exploration. One of the best is the make-believe street, where kids can deliver the mail, work as a veterinarian, be the cashier at the grocery store, and many other fun roles!

One of the kid-friendly coffee shops in Houston. 
One of the kid-friendly coffee shops in Houston. Photo courtesy of Kaffeine Coffee.

Day 3 Lunch: No trip to Houston is complete without checking out Houston's Best Tex-Mex Restaurants with Free Ice Cream and enjoying some fajitas, nachos, or quesadillas. Don’t forget your queso, salsa, guacamole, and nachos! Our choices all serve free ice-cream to keep the kids happy. Or, head to one of these kid-friendly Coffee Shops Near Houston. Kaffeine Coffee and one of the Common Bond locations are both just short drives from the Children's Museum.

The Galleria in Houston has more than just shopping. 
The Galleria in Houston has more than just shopping. Play area photo courtesy of The Galleria.

Afternoon: Your Pick of Indoor or Outdoor Favorites

Finish off your trip to Houston at The Galleria. The Galleria is a great stop to buy your souvenirs or gifts to take home. The mall has three levels that house 400 stores and restaurants. However, there isn’t just shopping at the Galleria. The huge mall has one of our favorite ice skating rinks and a state-of-the-art children’s play area, so nobody will complain they are bored. 

If you prefer to be outdoors rather than in the mall, take a trip in the afternoon to Buffalo Bayou Park. The 160-acre park has plenty of trails for walking or biking, a skate park, and a chance to venture underground in one of the city’s first water cisterns. If you have time, make sure to visit the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony at sunset to see more than 250,000 bats emerge and fly around in the night sky! 

Know Before You Go

Although you can have a great weekend in downtown Houston without a rental car, having your own transport can be helpful, especially if you want to visit NASA or head down to the beach at 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.

Hope you have an amazing time in Houston

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