Things to Do with Kids in Houston this Summer 2021

"SunForceOceanLife" by Ernesto Neto at MFAH | Photo: Justin Jerkins/365Houston

Make the most of summer with our guide to the best things to do for kids and families in and around Houston for summer 2021.

With school out for the summer, it’s time to head out to all corners of Houston and uncover the best entertainment and things to do for everyone in the family, from free and budget-friendly options to one-of-a-kind experiences.

Enjoy the latest museum exhibits, make a splash, head out on an outdoor adventure, and much more that will make this summer one to remember.

Check out our guide below on the best ways—indoors and outdoors—to spend this summer with kids and families in Houston.

Cockrell Butterfly Center at HMNS | Photo: Justin Jerkins/365Houston

Expand your mind at museums around Houston

Take a tour through some of Houston’s most exciting (and air-conditioned) offerings so that you can keep cool and keep kiddos entertained all summer long.

Looking to have family fun on a budget? Many of the museums below also feature free or low-cost days during the week (usually on Thursdays), so check with your destination before heading out.

Take a trip to the Museum District

  • Asia Society Texas Center | FREE | Virtual Options – Engage with the diversity of Houston through enriching programs and events, exhibitions, and hands-on educational opportunities. The Asia Society at Home collection also offers plenty of videos, family activities, interactive webcasts, and more digital offerings for all ages. Timed entry tickets recommended. Thursday and Friday 11am to 4pm; Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm.
  • Children’s Museum Houston  Dive back into nearly two dozen exhibitions and hands-on activities for kids of all ages at the recently reopened children’s museum. Explore the world of ecology, immerse kiddos in other cultures, learn vital STEM skills, clamber around obstacle courses, and much more all summer long. $12 for ages 1 and up; $11 for ages 65 and up; free for ages under 1. Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm; free on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm.
  • The Health Museum Explore the body and the ways our health depends on the environments around us at this interactive science center and member-institution of the Texas Medical Center. Featuring larger-than-life displays of organs and systems with the body, little ones can get an up-close look at how humans work and why health is so important. $10; $8 for ages 3 to 12 and 65+; free for ages under 3. Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm; Sunday noon to 5pm; free on Thursdays from 2pm to 7pm.
  • Houston Museum of African American Culture | FREE This museum serves as a cultural portal through exhibitions that engage visitors of every race and background to explore the histories and contemporary experiences of Africans and African Americans from Houston and throughout the African Diaspora. Friday and Saturday 11am to 6pm.
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science  Walk among the dinosaurs, take a tour on an African safari, marvel at sparkling natural gems and minerals, surround yourself with butterflies, explore the many indigenous and historic cultures from around the world, and much more at one of the city’s oldest museums and a centerpiece of summer fun in the Museum District. $25 for ages 12 and up; $16 for ages 3 to 11 and 65+; free for ages 2 and under. Monday to Sunday 9am to 6pm; free on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm.
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston The city’s jewel of fine arts contains tens of thousands of artworks across many different media and styles, important archeological finds from around the world, and a colorful interactive exhibition this summer that can be found within the recently expanded campus that also includes two cafés, theaters, and more. $19; $16 for ages 65 and up; $12 for ages 13 to 18 and students; free for ages 12 and under. Hours vary Wednesday to Sunday; free admission on Thursdays 11am to 9pm.
  • Houston Zoo Roam where the wild things are with over 6,000 animals to see, including elephants, giraffes, seals, gorillas, and so much more. Though most of the park is outdoor, you can find relief from the heat at many shaded spots throughout or in some of the special buildings that boast exhibits on reptiles, tropical birds, fish, and more. Tickets must be purchased in advance online. $22.95 for ages 13 and up; $17.95 for ages 3 to 12 and 65+; free for ages under 3. Open daily 9am to 5pm.
Courtesy of Art Car Museum

Explore the museums of Greater Houston & beyond

  • Art Car Museum near the Heights | FREE – For the creative kids or the car enthusiast, this museum boasts a collection of contemporary art and ornate art cars, which find their way down Allen Parkway in the annual parade. Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 6pm; appointments only, which can be reserved in advance online.
  • Lone Star Flight Museum in South Houston Let the little one’s minds soar high with interactive, immersive activities that boost STEM skills, explain basic scientific principles, and engage in hands-on educational stations. Plus, you can check out their expansive collection of vintage aircraft and other exhibits while visiting. $15; $13 for ages 12 to 17 and 65+; $10 for ages 3 to 11; free for ages 2 and under. Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm; Sunday noon to 5pm.
  • Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center in Sugar Land The 12,000–square foot building features five children’s exhibits, including the small world Kidtropolis, USA, a cultural exploration in Cum Yah Gullah, a thought provoking investigation into how things work, an exciting way to tinker with electricity in Shocks & Jolts, and a kid-friendly play area for kiddos 35 months and younger at Tot*Spot. $12 for ages 1 and up; $11 for ages 65 and up; free for ages under 1 and members. Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm.
  • The Woodlands Children’s Museum in the Woodlands Experience a world of play at this Woodlands museum that encourages and excites children and families while inspiring a lifelong sense of wonder and discovery. Across a dozen exhibits, kiddos can learn about the properties of water in the Splish Splash Water Play area; use their imaginations in the pretend playhouse; crawl, climb, and enjoy soft play for the littlest ones in Little Ocean Wonders, hear a tale at the Storybook Stage, and more. $7 for ages 1 and older. Tuesday and Thursday 10am to 2pm; Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 10am to 4pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Courtesy of Typhoon Texas

Soak up the sun with outdoor activities

Get out and explore the Great Outdoors, cool off in the water, get up-close looks at some fascinating creatures, head to the beach, take in a show, and enjoy many other summer activities around Houston and beyond.

  • Houston Arboretum & Nature Center in Memorial Park | FREE Kids of all ages will enjoy a day at the Arboretum at Memorial Park, where they can trek along miles of trails, get a lesson in aquatic animals, express their creative side with the Art in the Outdoors program, enjoy family activities, and explore what nature has to offer. Parking fees may apply; parking is free on Thursdays. Open daily 7am to dusk.
  • Miller Outdoor Theatre at Hermann Park | FREE – Watch a variety of performances, from plays and dances to concerts, musicals and more at the unique outdoor theater that has sat in Hermann Park for nearly a century. Bring your picnic gear and sprawl out on the hill, or reserve free tickets to sit under the massive awning. Check out their schedule and plan your visit.
  • Hitting Galveston’s Beaches Galveston Island has all you need for a fun family outing, complete with crashing waves and sandcastle building, across more than 32 miles of beaches for you to enjoy. Stake out a spot at Stewart Beach, have a picnic on the West End, sun soak up some rays while sunbathing along the seawall. Plus, you can head into historic Galveston for even more things to do.
  • Crocodile Encounter in Angleton Bring the exotic animal lovers to Angleton to see crocodiles and other wildlife in their habitats for a unique and educational wildlife experience. The rewarding tours are exciting as you view the animals alongside a wildlife expert, or little ones can dig in deeper with summer camp opportunities. Online booking is recommended. Self-guided tours are $14; $10 for ages 3 to 12. Guided tours are $20; $12 for ages 3 to 12. Open daily; hours vary.
  • Hatari Wildlife Park in Weimar Encounter some of nature’s most fascinating species at Hatari Wildlife Park in Weimar, about an hour and a half west of Houston. Across multiple ranges, you’ll find unique sets of animals from around the world, including wildebeests, zebras, bison, camel, giraffes, and much more. Drive-thru and self-guided walking tours are available. Day passes are $30; $28 for ages 65 and up; $18 for ages 3 to 12; free for ages under 3. Thursday to Sunday 9am to 6pm.
  • Typhoon Texas in Katy Slap on the sunscreen and head to Typhoon Texas for a float down the lazy river, a splash around at the Gullywasher, a thrilling ride down water slides, fantastic food, and time to relax with a refreshing beverage. Check out some of their summer events to maximize your good time. $44.99; $32.99 for ages 65 and up and children under 48″; some discounts may apply depending on day of visit. Monday to Thursday 10:30am to 6pm; Friday to Sunday 10:30am to 7pm.
  • Splashway Waterpark & Campground in Sheridan An hour and a half southwest of Houston, you’ll find a waterpark brimming with family fun, including the dueling splash blasters, a floating obstacle course, a chill-worthy Lagoon, the Minnow Pond for little ones, and much more. Turn it into a getaway when you book a tent site or rent bunkhouses, cabins, and more. $44.99; $32.99 for ages 65 and up and children under 42″; free for ages 2 and under. Summer hours are open daily from 11am to 6pm.
  • Showboat Drive-In Theater in Hockley Fill up the car and head to this longtime classic drive-in theater, about 35 miles northwest of Houston. Showings include popular new releases and family-friendly films. Tickets can be purchased online in advance and concessions can be ordered through the FanFood app. Times vary.
Courtesy of Moody Gardens

Beat the heat with indoor family fun

Cool off with an array of family-friendly activities that you can do indoors around the Greater Houston area.

  • The Dr. Seuss Experience at George R. Brown Convention Center | Ends Sunday, August 15, 2021 Jump into the colorful world of all things Dr. Seuss at this Seuss-tacular sensation that takes each guest on an awe-inspiring journey through nine different Dr. Seuss books, including The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and many other faves. There are also chances to meet some of the Seuss characters. Reserve your tickets online. Tickets range from $23 to $50. Open Wednesday to Sunday; hours vary.
  • Summer Movies Series at Studio Movie Grill Sip on a cool refreshment with some fresh popcorn and see a movie at Studio Movie Grill on Monday through Fridays. Each week features a new family-friendly movie, including Minions, Trolls: World Tour, Abominable, and others at the first showtime of the day. Tickets are $6 and include your small drink and popcorn. Times vary.
  • Free Bowling for Kids at Lanes around Greater Houston – The Kids Bowl Free program partners with bowling lanes around the country, helping provide kids a safe, secure, and fun way to spend time this summer. Free, with registration. Good for 2 free games each day of the program, all summer long.
  • Little Brushes at Pinot’s Palette (Multiple Locations) Budding artists will love seeing their art come to life on a canvas at Pinot’s Palette. From painting to crafting and everything in between, Little Brushes fosters a friendly and collaborative environment, providing everything your little artist will need to bring out their creative spirit. There are camps that last the whole week or you can sign up for one class at a time. $55 per guest per session; $225 for a full week of sessions. Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm.
  • Moody Gardens in Galveston One of Galveston’s crown jewels, this trio of glimmering pyramids house educational experiences that immerse visitors in the world of nature. A 10-story Rainforest pyramid features more than 2,000 exotic plants and animals, including saki monkeys, sloths, birds, and more, while the Aquarium pyramid takes a deep dive into the ocean with up-close experiences with marine species from around the world. In addition to these, traveling exhibits are hosted in the Discovery pyramid, visitors can get their feet wet at the outdoor Palm Beach water park, or take in stunning productions in their multiple theaters. Open daily 10am to 6pm. Prices vary.
  • Chill at a local library Cozy up with a good book, join a book club, and give your library card some use this summer. Houston Public Library, Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Library, Montgomery County Library, and many other library locations around town have events happening daily for some free family entertainment. Several of them are offering in person and virtual events to encourage young readers no matter where they are.
  • Take a lap at roller skating rinks Glide around and check out some cool places with the kids at indoor skate rinks. Dairy Ashford Roller Rink, Mason Road Skate Center, Houston Just Rolling Skating Park, Humble Family Skate Center, sk8Town in Spring, plus many more have entertainment lined up for you all summer long. Get retro with the kids and show them what it feels like to glide around under disco lights and music as they skate and play the games of childhood pasts.
Courtesy of the Dr. Seuss Experience

Find More Things to Do in Houston All Year Long

You can find more fun in our interactive event calendar and 365 Weekend Guides.

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Shea Kummer is a mom to 3 active boys living in Katy. She has a business degree from Texas Christian University and a background in social media management. When she's not cheering on her boys, she can be found looking for the best ways to make lasting family memories.