Summer family fun

Grab the kids and have a great time

Summer is in full swing and if you are still looking for something to do with your family, the Defender has rounded ten activities that appeal to adults and children alike. Plan a visit and treat your family to one of the city’s fun-filled, action-packed adventures that are as entertaining as they are educational. Some activities are also free or low-cost.

Visit a local water park or swimming pool and cool off this summer.

1Adventure

If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, there are plenty of places to get out and take on a new adventure.

  • The Galveston beach is a great place to go hang out, and have fun. And with the new Pleasure Pier, families can enjoy the beach or take in the amusements on the boardwalk. Other activities include fishing, golf, shopping, sightseeing and performing arts. Visit www.galveston.com
  • Moody Gardens in Galveston is ideal for families and groups alike. Delve into the oceans depths at the Aquarium Pyramid, explore the world of science at Discovery Museum, experience the action of MAX and enjoy gulf breezes aboard the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat. Visit moodygardens.com
  • Kemah Boardwalk — This coastal getaway features themed restaurants, retail shops, and amusements for the whole family. This 35-acre carnival-like atmosphere has a 36-foot carousel, a 65-foot Ferris wheel and rides like the Aviator, the Inverter and the Boardwalk Tower. Visit www.kemahboardwalk.com
  • The Crocodile Encounter in Angleton allows you to follow the activities of Houston’s largest wildlife show and find out what it’s really like to live and work with the nation’s largest group of Nile crocodiles. Visit crocodileencounter.com
  • Space Center HoustonKids can experience the rich history and the awe of space at Space Center Houston. From the popular Build-A-Rocket to Mission Kidtrol, children will explore and learn the concepts of space. For a real behind-the-scenes look at NASA, take your kids on the exclusive Level Nine Tour. Visit spacecenter.org

2Entertainment

There’s no shortage of places to go to keep your kids entertained this summer.

  • Miller Outdoor Theater is a tradition for countless residents. Families can bring picnic baskets, blankets and lawn chairs. Upcoming events include Children’s Hilltop Festival performances of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “My BFF the Dragon” and “The Great Switcheroo.” Visit www.MillerOutdoorTheater.com
  • UpStage Theatre is a non-profit organization and group of talented volunteers dedicated to providing the highest quality, yet affordable and family friendly theatrical experience for both the young and the young at heart. Visit www.upstagetheatre.org
  • Theater Under the Stars is a non-profit based in Houston, which offers a world-class musical theatre experience that ranges from full-scale Broadway productions to educational initiatives that extend beyond the stage and into the community for actors and aficionados of all ages and abilities. Visit Tuts.com.

3Etcetera

  • Get a CityPASS and see the city. For families looking to stretch their vacation budget, the Houston CityPass offers tickets to five of Houston’s top attractions and museums at a fraction of the cost. Visit www.citypass.com/houston
  • Since 2012, the Sugar Land Skeeters baseball team has provided affordable, family-fun entertainment at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. The 360-degree ballpark includes a carousel, inflatable kids’ zone, splash pad, playground and much more. Visit www.sugarlandskeeters.com
  • Houston Astros – Get single game tickets to watch Houston’s professional baseball team in action at Minute Maid Park. Special activities include Family Sundays, $1 Hot Dog Wednesdays and Big & Bright Friday Nights. There are also daily tours and game-day tours. Visit www.houston.astros.mlb.com
The Children’s Museum of Houston celebrates Independence Day on Monday, July 4 at 1 p.m.

4Museums/Cultural

Spend your day exploring Houston’s museums, without breaking the bank.

  • The Children’s Museum of Houston is packed with 90,000 square feet of innovative, interactive bilingual exhibits for kids. Free Family Nights are offered every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. Visit www.cmhouston.org
  • The Houston Museum of Natural Science, one of the most heavily attended museums in the U.S., features the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, Burke Baker Planetarium, Cockrell Butterfly Center, permanent exhibit halls and traveling exhibitions. The permanent exhibit halls are free on Thursdays from 2-5 p.m. during normal hours and on Thursdays from 3-6pm during the summer and holidays. http://www.hmns.org
  • The Houston Museum of African American Cultureis one of the city’s newest museum institutions and is dedicated to telling the story of Africans and African Americans in Houston and beyond. Opened in 2012 inside the Houston Museum District, HMAAC offers programming, lectures and exhibitions that involve people of color. There are also film series and educational classes. Visit org
  • Set in Houston’s Third Ward, Project Row Housesis a nonprofit art initiative aimed at creating a positive place for local artists to work. Some of the shotgun-style houses are dedicated to art and photography, while others are devoted to the literary and performing arts. Visit projectrowhouses.org
  • The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated primarily to preserving the legacy and honor of the African-American soldier. The 23,000-square-foot historic armory space allows for reenactments, exhibits and lectures. Visitors will see artifacts from the Revolutionary War through both world wars to present day conflicts. Visit www.buffalosoldiermuseum.com
  • The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is a 155-acre nature sanctuary with total of 5 miles of walking trails that wind through forest, meadow and wetland habitats. Visit www.houstonarboretum.org
  • The Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center is a great place to get up to speed on history, as well as experience African culture. A Buy Black Marketplace is held each month and includes a vendor market, book and art fair. Visit theyearofrestoration.org/Houston.html

5Recreational

A limited budget is no reason not to have fun. Houston has a number of parks and activities for the whole family.

  • The Houston Parks & Recreation Department also offers something for everyone, including 370 parks, 225 playgrounds, 23 water spraygrounds, 60 community centers, seven golf courses, 180 basketball courts and 206 tennis courts, and many activities are free.
  • Memorial Park, part of HPARD, is one of the largest urban parks in the country. Grab the bikes, a picnic basket and enjoy the day. Or, take advantage of the 18-hole golf course, tennis, softball, swimming, volleyball, skating, cycling or running. Visit www.houstontx.gov/parks/
  • Discovery Green’s downtown 12-acre park features a model boat pond, children’s playground, interactive water features and fantastic yearlong programming geared toward families. The park also offers live music, films and story time readings. Visit discoverygreen.com/

Water parks

With Houston’s blistering heat, it’s no surprise that water parks are high on the list of places to go this summer. Grab the kids and plenty of towels…oh, and a good book, because they’re going to want to stay all day.

  • SplashTownThe area’s largest and most diverse waterpark located just 20 minutes from downtown. Get adventurous on the Tornado or chill out in the lazy river. Tips: Save money by buying your tickets online. Save $5 by going Mon-Fri. Lots of local retailers offer discount coupons, check with Fiesta or online at RetailmeNot.com. Visit Wetnwildsplashtown.com
  • Typhoon Texas. One of the best-kept secrets is just up the road. The state-of-the-art waterpark in Katy offers something for the whole family. Tips: Save $5 by going Mon-Fri.  Lots of local retailers offer discount coupons. Visit TyphoonTexas.com
  • Schlitterbahn Water ParkHot or cold, rain or shine, Schlitterbahn – located on Galveston Island – has your family covered with climate-controlled rivers, slides and pools that will put you in a tropical mood. Tips: Save money by buying your tickets online. Save $10 by going Mon-Fri. Lots of local retailers offer discount coupons. Parking, life jackets and tubes are free. Visit Schlitterbahn.com/Galveston