Things to Do for Kids & Families This Summer in Houston

Levy Park hosts weekly and monthly programs for kids; learn about them in the 365Houston Calendar | Courtesy of Levy Park

Make the most of summer with our guide to some of the best things to do for kids and families in and around Greater Houston for summer 2023.

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, head out on an outdoor adventure, make a splash, and savor 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.

And find more things to do with kids that are happening this week and beyond in our Calendar.

2023 Summer Things to Do for Kids & Families in Houston

A Texas-shaped pool with skyscrapers in the background
The Texas-shaped lazy river at Marriott Marquis Houston | Courtesy of Marriott International

Snag a day pass for Houston’s best pools

Summer in Houston doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire time indoors.

In fact, several of the city’s signature hotels and resorts open their refreshing pools to the public—even if you’re not an overnight guest at the hotel. All you’ll need is a day pass, which can be purchased for each of the eleven pools that we’ve gathered in our summer pool guide.

Find a spot nearest you, gather your family and friends, and take a dip at some of the best spots for lazy river laps, tropical drinks and family-friendly pools in Greater Houston.

Cool off with some icy treats from the roving Unicorn Snow Cones truck | Courtesy of Unicorn Snow Cones

Savor icy treats at Snow Cone shops in Greater Houston

On Houston’s hottest days, it’s tough to beat icy treats bursting with fruity flavors and sweet drizzles.

Fortunately, in every corner of the city, you can find pop-up stalls and trusted shops scooping up shaved ice and snow cones to help you cool off.

We’ve gathered more than 20 of them to stop by nearest you.

Get up close with the animals of the Houston Zoo this summer | Photo: Justin Jerkins/365 Houston

Make a day of it at the Museum District

Take a tour of 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.

  • Asia Society Texas Center | FREE – Throughout the summer, you can check out outdoor screenings of beloved films at Asia Society Texas’ lawn, swing through bustling cultural festivals, and take in enriching programs and other events that help visitors engage with the diversity of Houston. Admission to the building is free, though some gallery spaces are $8; free for ages 12 and under. Wednesday to Friday 11am to 6pm; Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm.
  • Children’s Museum Houston – Dive into nearly two dozen exhibitions and hands-on activities for kids of all ages at the Houston 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. $17 for ages 1 and up; $15 for ages 65 and up; free for ages under 1. Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm; Thursday 10am to 8pm (free from 5pm to 8pm); Sunday noon to 6pm.
  • 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 within 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; Thursdays 10am to 7pm (free from 2pm to 7pm); Sunday noon to 5pm.
  • 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. Thursday to 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. 9am to 6pm daily; 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 immersive summer exhibitions. Plus, you can grab lunch at its newest addition, the Kinder Building, which features two restaurants, a film theater, 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—including the all-new Galapagos Islands exhibit. 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. Flex pricing is in effect for various times of the day. 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 5pm; 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. $18; $15 for ages 12 to 17 and 65+; $12 for ages 4 to 11; free for ages 3 and under. Monday 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. $15 for ages 1 and up; $14 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. $8 for ages 1 and older. Tuesday to 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 – Celebrate Miller’s centennial year with a variety of performances, from plays and dances to concerts, musicals and more at the unique outdoor theater that features Hermann Park’s iconic hillside seating. 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.
  • Hit up 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, and soak up some rays while sunbathing along the seawall. Plus, you can head off the coast and enjoy historic attractions, indoor destinations and more things to do.
  • Typhoon Texas in Katy – Slap on the sunscreen and head to Typhoon Texas for a float down the lazy river, a splash around 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. $54.99; $34.99 for ages 65 and up and children under 48″; some discounts may apply depending on day of visit. Hours vary.
  • 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. $59.99; $49.99 for children under 42″; $4.99 for ages 2 and under, or free with proof of swim diaper. 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.
A green character holding a lantern
A world of characters guide you through your adventure at Department of Wonder | Courtesy of Department of Wonder

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.

  • Department of Wonder in Sugar Land – Equal parts theater, arcade, art gallery, theme park and escape room, Department of Wonder at Sugar Land Town Square defies simple categorization. Weaving together wondrous environments, memorable characters and hands-on exploration, this one-of-a-kind experience immerses visitors in an interactive realm of fantasy designed to engage your senses and ignite your imagination. Together with your crew, you’ll decipher intricate puzzles, unravel mysteries and embark on an adventure that rewards curiosity at every turn.
  • 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 Thursdays. Each week features a new family-friendly movie, including The Land Before Time, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek 2, and others at the first showtime of the day. Tickets are $6 and include a 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.
  • Zero Latency Houston in Memorial – Take a step into the surreal when you put on a virtual reality headset and, together with up to eight players, experience an engrossing video gaming session at Houston’s first free-roam, warehouse-scale, fully immersive virtual reality venue. Battle a zombie outbreak, killer robots in space, or explore a mind-bending mystical world with up to eight players per session. Gaming is open to ages 13 and older, and requires a reservation to play.
  • Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park – All summer long, you can find the ‘Stros hitting the diamond on practically any day of the week. Tickets can be had for around $10 on many days and the roof stays closed for most of the season, which means sweet, sweet air conditioning as you root on the home team. Keep an eye out for upcoming promotions and you can score limited fan giveaways or enjoy discounts at the ballpark on drinks, hot dogs, and more.
  • Moody Gardens in Galveston – One of Galveston’s crown jewels, this trio of glimmering pyramids houses 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.
  • Sign up for summer camps across Greater Houston – While some of the windows have begun closing for various types of camps, there’s still an opportunity to find one that fits you and your kiddos’ interests. Check out our guide to camps that are ongoing this summer.
  • 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, 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.
Take to guided nature activities at the Houston Arboretum | Courtesy of Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

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.