Our family loves to travel and vacation, but my kids aren’t super excited about long trips in the car. We booked at the last minute for Fourth of July week. Our usual destinations were booked or super expensive. So, we decided to take a trip to Houston for Fourth of July. The drive is under six hours from New Orleans, and it is a big city with many things to do.
We bought City Pass for all of us which included five of the six attractions below for $59 for adults and $49 for children. CityPASS is also available in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa and Toronto. If you are doing a trip for a five nights like us, I highly recommend it. It was a great value and provided things for us to do each day.
Children’s Museum of Houston
The Children’s Museum of Houston is a must see to me. They have a huge area meant to teach kids about adulting called Kidtropolis. In Kidtropolis, kids get salaries, create business plans, and use an ATM machine. They had several other areas including a toddler area, craft area, and science experiment area. They currently offer free family nights on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is a very cool place with something for everyone. We could have visited this place twice. My Mom teaches history, and we almost had to leave her there. We paid extra for the planetarium presentation called starry nights which they recommended for young children. My 7 year-old daughter and 11 year-old son both enjoyed it. There are dinosaur fossils, an Egypt, mineral, shell, Indian artifacts, and Faberge’ exhibits that were all included in our ticket price. Some of these exhibits rotate, so check their website before going for current info.
We paid extra for the butterflies and lots of butterflies. This is not a must see to me if you have been to the Insectarium. Certain exhibits are free from 5 pm to 8 pm on Thursdays (hours change seasonally). If you do one extra, I would recommend the planetarium.
Space Center Houston
This is an hour south of all other attractions. We went to Space Center Houston on last day as we headed home. This is a must see especially if you have any future astronauts in the family. We saw shuttles and you can meet an astronaut on Fridays. My kids enjoyed the talk on the international space station and learning that astronauts drink recycled pee. The tram tours are cool but long. One tram tour includes seeing the command center. I strongly recommend getting advance online tickets on their website for the tram tours and planning your visit around them.
American Girl Houston (Memorial City Mall)
If your daughter is into American Girl, this is a must. In fact, you may go to Houston just because she wants to go here. They recommend hotels in the area that will have a bed for the doll for your stay. They have a place to get the doll’s hair and nails done. There is a Bistro to have lunch, tea, or early dinner. Of course, there is also lots of shopping! I recommend the tea. You can make reservations online in advance. This mall has a skating rink and double-decker carousel that you can visit as well.
The unique items for me At the Houston Zoo were baby otters, a road runner, a bald eagle, mongoose, and giraffe feeding area. I also felt much closer to the elephants. We viewed gorillas, orangutans, and a lion in a glass enclosed area which was much more up close and personal. This zoo seemed much more spread out than the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. I would do this on a day that has an overcast and that you are ready to hear your kids complain that their feet hurt.
The two most interesting things for us at the Downtown Houston Aquarium were an octopus and a random white tiger. The white tiger is enclosed in glass. It was definitely the closest that I had been to a white tiger. For $6, you can upgrade your ticket to include a train ride in a shark tank, a Ferris wheel, carousel and some other rides. I must say that I like our aquarium better. The restaurant was cool, and my kids loved it. If you don’t do the city pass, I would maybe just have dinner at the restaurant which has its own huge aquarium. You can make reservations on OpenTable.