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Space Center Houston

Our favorite attraction in Houston is Space Center Houston.  Celebrating the city's unique ties to NASA, Space Center Houston is a full-day's worth of historical and scientific fun.  The indoor playground, alone, would be enough to convince us that this is a great place for children.   Our kids had a fantastic time climbing and exploring the three-story interactive play structure.  Beyond the playground, the other exhibits and presentations were both educational and entertaining.  We particularly enjoyed the "Life in Space" live presentation where we learned about the everyday activities of an astronaut living in zero-gravity.  Our kids loved touching a moon rock and seeing how much they would weigh on Mars. 


Tips for your trip:

  • The one aspect of the Space Center that we felt was over-rated was the tram tour of Johnson Space Center - the real, working NASA.  Our children were bored with this time-consuming tour, so we believe your time is best spent staying with the exhibits.
  • Before you go, check out books on space at your local library.  We were surprised how little our children knew about the space program, and we believe the time spent learning about astronauts beforehand positively enhanced their visit to Space Center Houston.
  • For a unique culinary experience that your family will enjoy, make sure to buy some "astronaut ice cream" at the gift shop before you leave.

Mayborn Museum

The Mayborn Museum, one of our top-rated children's museums in Texas, is wonderful.  We spent five hours playing, discovering, and exploring the world around us through the interactive exhibits and we still didn't experience everything the museum offers.  Unlike some children's museums, the Mayborn feels clean, spacious, and low-stress.  We all enjoyed our day of hands-on learning.  Some of our favorite exhibits included a water table and bubble room and a news room complete with a "green screen" where children can give a weather report in front of a camera.  Occasionally, special programs are offered at the museum; we enjoyed storytime and a puppet show while we were there.  Our family is already looking forward to our next trip to the Mayborn Museum.


U.S.S. Lexington

History comes alive when you step aboard the U.S.S. Lexington, a 16-story, 33,000 ton Naval aircraft carrier commissioned in 1943.  Our children loved exploring the ship, particularly the aspects of sea life to which they could relate such as the berthing rooms (where the sailors slept), dentist's office, sick bay, and chapel.  They were enthralled with the hands-on cock-pit exhibits where they could push buttons, flip switches, and let their imaginations take flight.  Our eldest son (6) and Dad were fascinated by the 20 vintage aircraft and the enormous anti-aircraft twin-mounted guns on the flight deck.  The movie shown in the on-board Mega Theater "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag" was truly awesome.  We all left the Lexington with a better understanding of and a deeper gratitude for the men and women who serve in our armed forces.  Texas Family Travel recommends that every Texas family make a trip to Corpus Christi to visit the U.S.S. Lexington.



A great family experince was our much-anticipated trip to the Alamo.  Before the trip, we took the opportunity to teach the kids some Texas history, so they would know what they were seeing (your local library is a great resource).  Our boys are big Davy Crockett fans, so they were thrilled to see his rifle and decorated vest.  Our 2-year-old daughter didn't appreciate the history, but she enjoyed the gigantic carp in the small stream in the back and was delighted with her snow cone on Alamo Plaza.  To get there from the Riverwalk, follow the river right through the lobby of the Hyatt.  A trip to the Alamo is almost a rite of passage for every Texas family.




State Capitol and Texas State History Museum

"Everything is bigger in Texas" including the state capitol building and the State History Museum.  The impressive state capitol resembles the U.S. Capitol, but because it is Texas, is just a little taller.  All ages will enjoy walking through the capitol building gazing up at the rotunda and peeking in the House and Senate chambers.  For families with young children, though, we recommend keeping this visit relatively short and then venturing over to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum to learn the story of Texas.   Even if you think your kids are too young to appreciate history, they will be "WOWed" by the exhibits here.  From the Spanish knight, to the Alamo replica, to the oil derrick, our kids had a blast, learned quite a bit, and their imaginations were sent soaring.  After we got home, the kids dressed up like "one of those cowboy heroes at the museum" and played Texas cowboy all afternoon.  For most families, we recommend the "4-D" multimedia presentation, The Star of Destiny, in the Texas Spirit Theater.  The amazing special effects (such as rattling seats, wind, and sound effects) are extremely entertaining for most (our 2-yr-old loved it) and reminiscent of an amusement park experience; however, their authenticity had our most sensitive child wanting to run for the door.

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