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A Family’s Guide to Visiting Houston!

Sooo…you’re planning a trip to Houston.  Well, let us be the very first to welcome you here with our handy-dandy Family Visitor’s Guide!  As the nation’s fourth largest city and a mecca for world-class restaurants, arts, and entertainment, we realize that it might feel a bit overwhelming when you first sit down to plan a trip here.  Which is exactly why our team has collaborated together on this comprehensive and clearly organized guide! This post is a compilation of some of our favorite destinations as well as tips and tricks for traveling with children in and around Houston, and we hope that it serves as a powerful planning tool, a checklist for where to go and what to do, and a helpful resource while you’re here too.

Already a Houstonian?  We encourage you to play tourist for a day and rediscover the city that we all know and love.  You probably know just as well as we do that there is never a dull moment here and always something new and unique to get into.  So pull out that fanny pack, hang a camera around your neck, and pretend like you’re seeing our beautiful city for the first time all over again!

Houston Visitors Guide - Featured

Getting Around

We can probably all agree – a car is the best way to get around Houston with the freedom and flexibility it provides.  But if you are traveling in by plane {or bus or boat or spaceship…}, there are plenty of other options too!

Metro :: The METROrail Red Line is ideal for visitors wanting to visit the museum district of Houston. The 13 mile track runs from Fannin South Station through downtown, the Museum District, and the Texas Medical Center. Along this route are plenty of restaurants, sports arenas, museums, and more. {Not to mention the kids will love riding!}

Houston B Cycle :: A bike rental service throughout the downtown and Montrose area of Houston where you can pay and grab a bike from a kiosk. Bayou City Adventures also rents bikes along with helmets and a bike lock too!

Scooter Rental :: Probably not the best kid-friendly option, but just in case you have a chance to get away with your partner, check out this company that rents out scooters or mopeds.

Taxi :: Houston Yellow Cab, United Cab, Lone Star Cab, Taxis Fiesta, and 24 Hour Airport Taxi are the major cab companies operating in Houston.

Uber :: A unique mobile app that allows you to request a ride, monitor your driver, and pay for the service all via your mobile phone.  Genius!

Rockabye Baby Rentals Traveling Baby Company :: If you are flying in and need a carseat, you can rent one from these companies. You can also borrow a crib, high chair, and even toys for a fee!

Where to Stay

There is absolutely NO way that we could list each and every hotel and resort in the greater Houston right here on this lovely little page, so instead – we are going to give you a jumping off point of just a few of our faves.  Then, you be sure to chime in and let us know of others you have stayed at or are looking into in the comments below too.  M’kay?

Sheraton Four Points  :: Located in City Centre, this hotel puts you just walking distance from the wonderful dinners, shops, and open walking areas of City Centre and Town & Country, as well as less than five minutes from Memorial City Mall.  Since the hotel isn’t directly connected, you can save a bit of money and have some peace and quiet when you need it.
{West Houston} 10655 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

Magnolia Hotel :: This hotel is just the right amount of comfort and elegance.  With garden tubs, complimentary guest happy hours, and free bedtime cookies and milk, this is a hotel your whole family will love.  Plus, it is in the heart of downtown – a hop, skip, and jump from offices, restaurants, clubs, and concert venues.
{Downtown} 1100 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX 77002

Hilton Americas :: With a fabulous bar and a new Pappasitos, this hotel has something for everyone.  It’s right across the street from Discovery Green and adjacent to the George R. Brown convention center.  The hotel amenities include a spa, barber shop and beauty salon, full service UPS store, and indoor pool and whirlpool, so if you decide to never leave, that’s okay too.
{Downtown} 1600 Lamar, Houston, TX, 77010

Omni :: The Omni hotel has a special package just for families with younger kids staying in the hotel.  The Omni Sensational Kids gives kids special delivery of milk and cookies, and the option to borrow a backpack full of games for everyone.  The Omni is also minutes away from the world famous shopping in The Galleria.
{Galleria} Four Riverway, Houston, TX 77056

The Woodlands Resort :: Located just north of Houston, The Woodlands Resort is one of our favorite local destinations with deluxe accommodations, a relaxing spa, tennis center, nature activities, and of course – their stunning Forest Oasis Waterscape.  With so much to do nearby as well, this resort makes for the perfect family-friendly resort and staycation!
{The Woodlands} 2301 North Millbend Dr, The Woodlands, TX 77380

where to stay houston

What to Do

One of our most favorite things about Houston is that there is ALWAYS something to do!  Every weekend, there is a fair or festival…each day of the week, there is a special activity or fun promotion around town…and every month, there are new places being built or businesses that are opening.  So our biggest piece of advice is to explore and find out all that this great, big city has to offer.  And here’s a fun jumping off point for YOU!

Children’s Museum :: Learning is made fun at the Houston Children’s Museum!  With a Tot Spot for the little brains and endless activities for even the oldest kids, everyone will be entertained.
{Museum District} 1500 Binz, Houston, Tx 77004

Discovery Green :: An urban park in the heart of Houston, Discovery Green offers endless entertainment.  Ranging from the splash pads in the summer to Toddler Tuesdays and yoga in the park, the activities are endless.
{Downtown} 1500 McKinney, Houston, Tx 77010

iFLY :: An indoor skydiving adventure with all the thrills…but without having to jump out of a plane.  With two locations in Houston {Memorial and The Woodlands}, they are super accessible no matter which part of town you are coming from.  Plus – almost anyone age 3 to 103 can fly and join in the fun too!
{Memorial} 9540 Katy Fwy , Houston, TX 77055
{The Woodlands} 26860 N I-45, Oak Ridge North, TX 77386

Downtown Aquarium :: Dine at their full service restaurant, then view their over 200 species of aquatic life!  The Downtown Aquarium features underwater exhibits with fish from all over the world.  Add in their White Tiger exhibit and conservation efforts – and this is a must visit.
{Downtown} 410 Bagby St, Houston, Tx 77002

Houston Travel Guide - 1Houston Zoo :: Feed the giraffes, mingle with monkeys, and get hands on in the children’s zoo!  The Houston Zoo offers fun for all ages.  Their gorilla exhibit opens to the public Memorial Day 2015!
{Museum District / Med Center} 6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, Tx 77030

Hermann Park Railroad :: No visit to the Houston Zoo is complete without a ride on the Hermann Park Railroad!  The train offers a new view of Hermann Park as it circles past the ponds, museums, gardens, and amphitheater.
{Museum District / Med Center} 6102 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, Tx 77030

Sugar Land Skeeters Baseball Game :: Grab your peanuts {and your Cracker Jacks!} and head on over to Constellation Field to watch the Sugar Land Skeeters play ball.  Make sure to check their schedule for events such as Princess and Pirates or fireworks nights.
{Sugar Land} 1 Stadium Dr, Sugar Land, Tx 77498

Museum of Natural Science :: Peruse the gemstone exhibit, take the kids to the Butterfly Center, or check out the constantly changing exhibits available at HMNS.  Kids of all ages {and adults too!} love the Morian Hall of Paleontology {read :: dinosaurs!}.
{Museum District} 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, Tx 77030

Museum of Fine Arts :: Even Houstonians and those who have been here dozens of times might be surprised at everything that MFAH has to offer, like one of our favorites – Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens!  We also love that there are countless ways to get into the museum for FREE, so when planning your visit – you might to check those out here.
{Museum District} 1001 Bissonnet, Houston, TX 77005

Moody Gardens :: During the summer, grab your sunscreen and drop by Palm Beach!  Year round, visit the Rainforest Pyramid and the Aquarium Pyramid – you’ll see them the second you get to Galveston Island.
{Galveston} One Hope Blvd, Galveston, Tx 77554

Space Center Houston :: Visit a full scale model of a space shuttle, take in a show, and even meet an astronaut!  Have a once in a lifetime experience by touring Mission Control.
{Webster} 1601 Nasa Pkwy, Houston, Tx 77058

Stomping Grounds Playland :: Lose yourself in a comfy chair and a perfectly-brewed latte, while your kids wear themselves out in an amazing 2,000-square-foot indoor playscape. Later, come together to grab a bite in their café, featuring a broad menu of fresh, tasty choices for the whole family. Stomping Grounds Playland is the perfect place to stay and play!
{Sugar Land} 15415b Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land, TX 77478

Ice Skating at the Galleria :: No visit to Houston is complete without a visit to the Galleria.  Whether you decide to skate with the public, take private lessons, or join in for DJ Ice Jamz, add this to your agenda.
{Galleria} 5015 Westheimer Rd, Houston, Tx 77056

Where to Eat

There are so many great restaurants in Houston, and there like many of the sections above – there is NO way that we could name all of them! However, these are some of our favorites in and around town broken down by meal of the day…

Empty plate on tablecloth on wooden table

Breakfast

Shipley Do-Nuts :: One word- kolaches. If you’ve never had one, you’re missing out, and Shipley’s is definitely the best place in town for this unique breakfast staple. {Oh, and their donuts are pretty amazing too!} There are many locations all over town, so when you’re ready to eat – just plug it into your smartphone to find the one nearest you.
{Everywhere} Use this store locator to find the one nearest you.

Brother’s Taco House :: If we’re not eating kolaches and donuts, we Houstonians are eating breakfast tacos…and Brother’s is the kind of place you schedule your trip around because their tacos are just that good.
{Downtown} 1604 Dowling St, Houston, TX 77003

Buffalo Grille :: Be sure to get in line early for this popular breakfast spot, and come hungry because they take the “everything’s bigger in Texas” motto very seriously. Don’t be surprised when your pancakes come out bigger than your plate, and be sure to order their peppered bacon.
{West U} 4080 Bissonnet, Houston, TX 77005
{Memorial} 1301 S Voss, Houston, TX 77057

The Breakfast Klub :: Famous for their chicken and waffles, but the whole menu is great. Come here for breakfast or lunch to get your favorite southern dishes that will taste just like mama made it.
{Midtown} 3711 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002

Lunch

Dish Society :: This new Houston hot spot is all about local and farm-to-table ingredients paired with a casual and family-friendly dining environment. It’s a no brainer for families visiting the area.
{Galleria} 5740 San Felipe, Houston, TX 77057
{Katy} 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd, Katy, TX 77494

Killen’s BBQ :: The short trip to Pearland will be worth every second once you get a taste of this mouthwatering BBQ. Don’t just take my word for it either, Killen’s BBQ just landed at number 10 on G Magazine’s 25 Best New Restaurants in America for 2015. In AMERICA, y’all. Seriously run here right now!
{Pearland} 3613 E Broadway St, Pearland, TX 77581

Taqueria Del Sol :: Authentic Mexican cuisine can be hard to come by in our Tex-Mex obsessed culture {guilty!}, but this place is the real deal. Their gorditas and sweet breads are not to be missed out on.
{Southeast} 8114 Park Place Blvd, Houston, TX 77017

Star Pizza :: Serving Chicago and New York Style “pies” to Houston since 1976 along with a laid back atmosphere and beer on tap. You won’t regret spending your afternoon or evening here filling up on some amazingly delicious pizza.
{Montrose} 2111 Norfolk, Houston, TX 77098 – Star 1
{Rice Military} 77 Harvard, Houston, TX 77007 – Star 2

Ruggles Green :: If you’re looking for something organic, gluten free, and delicious, you’ll find it here. Known for not only being Houston’s first certified Green restaurant, Ruggles also has something for everyone on the menu and is perfect for any family needing a casual lunch spot while in town.
{Several Locations} Find the location nearest you here.

Dinner

Reef :: Consider hiring a local sitter service, and head here to get some of the best seafood the Gulf Coast has to offer. Chef Bryan Caswell, has many claims to fame including being a James Beard award finalist, being named one of the 10 Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine, and competing on the Food Network’s Next Iron Chef competition in 2010. Whatever you do, don’t skip the fried mac ‘n’ cheese. If seafood isn’t your thing or you don’t have a sitter, try one of his other local restaurants – El Real Tex Mex or Little Bigs.
{Midtown} 2600 Travis St, Houston, TX 77006

Taste of Texas :: For a traditional Texas steakhouse experience complete with a delicious salad bar and mouthwatering desserts, Taste of Texas won’t disappoint.
{West Houston} 10505 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

Lopez :: Home of the Spicy Habanero Margarita and the best queso around, make this short drive outside the Beltway worth every second. If you and your family decide to come here…we beg you, take us with you. So good!
{Southwest} 11606  Wilcrest, Houston, TX 77099

Cedar Creek :: If your trip has you in Houston on a day where the humidity isn’t at 90% and you want to soak in some Vitamin D, Cedar Creek Cafe Bar & Grill is the place for you. The laid back backyard bar like atmosphere allows for a fun night for mom and dad while the little ones are in bed.
{Heights} 1034 W 20th, Houston, TX 77008

Off the Beaten Path

If you’re up for a little day trip, there is SO much to do on the outskirts of town!  If you’re only in town for a few days, plan on getting away for at least one.  And if you’re going to be in Houston for awhile, check as many of these hidden gems off the list as you can!

offthebeatenpath-houstonvisitorsguide

Blessington Farms :: Blessington Farms offers pick your own blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries {seasonal}, as well as fishing and areas for picnics. Additionally, their Farm Funland offers hayrides, barrel trains, animal encounters, giant slides, pedal cars, and more. A definite must-do!
{Simonton} 510 Chisolm Trail, Simonton, TX 77476

Bayou Wildlife Zoo :: Enjoy a safari-like adventure as you travel throughout this “free-range” zoo on a guided tram tour. Bayou Wildlife Zoo also offers a small petting zoo and pony rides too.
{Alvin} 5050 FM 517 Rd, Alvin, TX 77511

Kemah Boardwalk :: The Kemah Boardwalk is home to a wide variety of restaurants, rides, games, and retail shopping. Additionally, they frequently offer live entertainment as well as host a variety of different events throughout the year.
{Kemah} 215 Kipp Avenue, Kemah, Tx 77565

Brookwood :: Brookwood is an amazing residential facility and vocational program for adults with disabilities. It offers a gift and garden center where you can find tons of great items made by the residents, as well as browse the greenhouse full of beautiful plants. The Brookwood Community also has a fantastic cafe, run by award winning chef Michael Fernandez which is open for lunch 7 days a week.
{Brookshire} 1752 FM 1489, Brookshire, TX 77423

Independence, TX :: Step back in time when you take a short trip up 290 to Independence. Rich in Texas history, your visit to Independence might include a visit to the original site of Baylor University, Sam Houston’s home during the 1850s, pioneer homes, and historic plantations and churches. Not to mention the beautiful landscape full of rolling hills blanketed in wildflowers during the spring months.

George Ranch Historical Park :: George Ranch is a living history site located on a 20,000 acre working ranch featuring historic homes, costumed presenters, and livestock.
{Richmond} 10215 FM 762 Rd, Richmond, TX

Lake Conroe :: Located an hour north of downtown Houston, Lake Conroe is home to a wide variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation {boating, fishing, swimming, etc.} as well as many lodging choices from luxury hotels to condo rentals.

George Bush Presidential Library :: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is the presidential library of George H. W. Bush {41}. The museum’s permanent exhibits show the influences and challenges that shaped President Bush’s life and presidency, while there are also a variety of temporary exhibits that offer a number of perspectives of the former president, his life and work.
{College Station} 1000 George Bush Dr W, College Station, TX 77845

Froberg’s Farm :: Froberg’s offers public strawberry and flower picking {for a fee}, as well as a wide variety of fruit and vegetable selections, homemade pies, jellies, and candies.
{Alvin} 3601 W Highway 6, Alvin, TX 77511

Sea Center Texas :: Sea Center Texas is a marine aquarium, fish hatchery, and nature center operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It offers many interactive exhibits, a touch-tank, and aquariums depicting native Texas habitats.
{Lake Jackson} 300 Medical Dr, Lake Jackson, TX 77566

George Observatory :: The George Observatory, located in Brazos Bend State Park, is a satellite facility of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Admission to the Observatory includes telescope viewing through all three large research domes. They also offer overnight events!
{Needville} 21901 FM 762, Needville, TX 77461

Galveston, TX :: Located on the Texas coast, Galveston offers many options for family fun – including Moody GardensPleasure Pier, and Schlitterbahn!

Insider Tips

  • Houston is NOT a pedestrian city, so don’t plan your trip thinking that you can just walk everywhere you want to go.  Have you seen a map?  We. Are. Huge.
  • With that, our sidewalks aren’t exactly stroller friendly. While it might be easier to opt for the lightweight umbrella stroller, it just may not be able to handle the cracked sidewalks and streets. If you have a jogging stroller, that may be a better option. It’s kinda like wearing workout clothes and not actually working out, we won’t tell anyone you aren’t actually going jogging!
  • In the summer, it’s HOT, HUMID, and RAINS a lot. Pack lightweight clothes, an umbrella, and sunscreen. You’ll probably need all three on any given day. You should also plan to stay hydrated, as we are all pretty accustomed to sweating buckets. Literally. Buckets.
  • And on the topic of humidity… Mamas, if you have curly or frizzy hair – you’ll definitely want to pack a flat iron or some sort of anti-frizz product. Unless you don’t mind looking like you have a lion’s mane, in which case, no judgment here!
  • Everything is bigger in Texas, and in Houston – that means MOSQUITOES! Bug spray is a must! Hell hath no fury like a hungry skeeter in Houston!
  • If you are planning on a night out, The Motherhood Center is a great and trusted resource for on-the-spot sitters. Hello, Houston date night!
  • Houston has TONS of attractions that are listed in this post, but before you book, be sure to check out visithoustontexas.com for discount coupons! You’ll probably need to save a few dollars after the transportation fees, anyway!

Once again, we welcome you here to Houston!  Please be sure to connect with us on social media to stay up to date with all that is going on.  And of course, we encourage you to reach out to us with any other questions or thoughts you may have too.  Enjoy your time here – our city is truly one of a kind!

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4 Responses to A Family’s Guide to Visiting Houston!

  1. Emily Smith May 18, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    Great blog post thanks for all the information!

  2. Mrs Jackson November 3, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    Hello. I’m planning a first time trip to Houston for the Thanksgiving holiday. My youngest daughter lives in North Houston. And is having a baby soon, due date is 15th. My daughter stays in a one bedroom apartment. I’m visiting with other family members. And I would love for all of us to be together there in Houston for Thanksgiving. I want us to be able to sleep, cook, and eat under the same roof. Do you know of any places there in Houston or North Houston where we could cook eat and sleep ? Thank you so much ?

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