Summer activities for kids

There’s no shortage of things to do in Houston this summer. From free outdoor concerts to story times for kids to theater performances and more, there’s ample summer fun for the whole family.

Here are the Defender’s picks for kid and family friendly activities in Houston this summer.

Adventure

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

  • Galvestonbeach is a great to go hang out, and have fun. And with the 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 Gardensin 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. Visitcrocodileencounter.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

Entertainment

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

  • Miller Outdoor Theateris 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 MillerOutdoorTheater.com
  • UpStage Theatreis 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 Starsis 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.

Educational

  • Summer Storytime Tours at Rienzitake place Wednesdays in June and July, 10 am. Introduce kids to magic of art and literaturethrough fun and interactive activities for ages 3+. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the garden after the event. Rienzi is the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston home, 1406 Kirby; free
  • Read with Pawsitive Pups at Levy Park. Kids can practicereading to trained therapy dogs the 2nd Sunday each month at 1 pm: June 10, July 8, August 12.
  • Nature Story Time at Discovery Center take place Wednesdays, 4 pm.Free story time for kids with a variety of fun: live animals, puppets, short nature walks, crafts or songs and nature stories. Located at 7112 Newcastle.
  • Check out Houston Librarylocations throughout the city this summer for weekly story times and fun activities for kids.

Misc.

  • 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 Skeetersbaseball 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

Museums/Cultural

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

  • The Children’s Museum of Houstonis 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 Houston Symphony at the Pavilionoffers free mezzanine and lawn seating at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. June 7, 8 pm, Jaws-In Concert, July 3, 8 pm, Star-Spangled Salute, July 16, 8 pm, The Music of David Bowie, August 30, 8 pm, Blue Suede Tunes, September 4, 8 pm, Rebels, Raiders & Superman: A Tribute to John Williams, October 12, 8 pm, Hocus Pocus Pops.
  • The Buffalo Soldiers National Museumis 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 Centeris 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

Recreational

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 Departmentalso 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 houstontx.gov/parks.
  • Discovery Green’sdowntown 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. Every Thursday from 7-9 pm throughout May and June,UHD has partnered with Discovery Green to host free concerts in the park, featuring top acts from the region. 

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