Family Vacations In Houston: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

08/12/2011 01:00 pm ET | Updated Oct 15, 2011
  • Sandy Mitchell The Huffington Post

Family vacations in Houston can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters — it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are recommended attractions for those planning Houston family vacations.

Space Center Houston

Space Center Houston, the visitor center at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, features an array of space artifacts such as the Gemini 5 and Mercury 9 capsules. It also offers a tram tour of the Johnson Space Center, a kids play area and a large format theater. Address: 1601 Nasa Parkway, Houston, TX 77058 Phone: 281-244-2100 Hours: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Price: Adults, $20.95; Seniors, $19.95; Children (ages 4-11), $16.95; $5 discount for purchasing tickets online

Houston Children's Museum

The Houston Children's Museum is one of several museums located in Houston's museum district. The 83,000-square-foot facility features 14 galleries with interactive exhibits including EcoStation, where kids help create a stream bed and collect insects, and Power Challenge, where kids work their way through an obstacle course.

Address: 1500 Binz St., Houston, TX 77004
Phone: 713-535-7264
Hours: Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
Price: $8; Seniors (65+) and Military, $7; Infants (under age one), free; all visitors are free on Thursday after 5 p.m.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers four floors of exhibits featuring the likes of Texas wildlife, crystalized minerals and pre-Colombian artifacts. The facility also includes a butterfly zoo and a planetarium.

Address: 5555 Hermann Park Dr., Houston TX 77030
Phone: 713- 639-4629
Hours: Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Price: Ticket prices vary by exhibit; check website for current information.

East Beach in Galveston

Located on the east end of Galveston Island, about 45 minutes from downtown Houston, East Beach is one of the largest beaches in Texas. In addition to swimming, visitors can go fishing and bird-watching or check out the concerts and sand-castle-building competitions often hosted here.

Address: East Beach, 1923 Boddeker Rd., Galveston, TX 77550
Phone: 409- 762-3278
Hours: Open 24 hours
Price: Free

The Menil Collection

The Menil Collection, located in the former residence of Houston art collectors John and Dominique de Menil, houses an extensive array of modern art. Among more than 15,000 paintings are works by Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol.

Address:1515 Sul Ross St., Houston, TX 77006
Phone: 713-525-9400
Hours: Open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Price: Free

Houston Zoo

The 55-acre Houston Zoo houses more than 6,000 animals of more than 900 species. Highlights include the Asian elephant habitat, the seven different ecosystems in the Natural Encounters Building and the 6.5-acre African Forest.

Address: 6200 Hermann Park Dr., Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713- 533-6500
Hours: Mid March until early November, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m; early November to mid March, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: Adults, $12; Seniors (65+),$6.50; Children (ages 2-11), $8; Children (age 1 and younger), free

Downtown Aquarium

The Houston Downtown Aquarium houses more than 200 animals in more than 500,000 gallons of water. Highlights include the Louisiana swamp exhibit and the Gulf of Mexico exhibit, which features sea animals indigenous to the Texas Gulf Coast. The aquarium is also home to a restaurant where diners can observe the fish tanks while they eat.

Address: 410 Bagby St., Houston, TX 77002
Phone: 713-223-3474
Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Price: Adults, $9.25; Seniors, $8.25; Children (ages 2-12), $6.25; Children (ages 1 and younger), free

Have you been to Houston? What are your favorite attractions?