Weekend Getaway With a Toddler: Houston

Houston earned the nickname “Space City” because the city’s name was the first word spoken when a man walked on the moon. Plus, this destination, where you’ll find NASA’s Johnson Space Center has many other worthy associations with the space industry. It’s also a great place to go with a toddler for the weekend, whether or not that youngster has developed a rampant curiosity about Outer Space.  As one of the largest cities in the nation, Houston has a lot to offer toddlers and their families, from kid-friendly restaurants, attractions and landmarks, not to mention numerous transportation options.

Skyline of Houston, Texas in daytime under blue sky

Skyline of Houston, Texas in daytime under blue sky

Houston Hot Spots You Shouldn’t Miss

There are many things to consider before choosing where to take your toddler in Houston. They include:

  • Age appropriateness
  • Admission prices
  • Whether the attraction might be overly crowded
  • If there are things for parents to enjoy along with their kids

Children's Museum of Houston is a wonderful place to spend several hours. Advertised as “a playground for your mind,” it’s sure to satisfy the most curious and energetic toddlers. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., the museum also operates some Mondays during peak times such as summers and spring break periods.

A three-story installation at Children's Museum of Houston lets visitors leap up and down different levels. Photo: City Pass

A three-story installation at Children's Museum of Houston lets visitors leap up and down different levels. Photo: City Pass

Admission is $12 for people older than one. Also, if you visit on a day other than Thursday after 5 p.m., you can save two dollars off of the admission price. Even better, Thursday evening is Family Night and everyone can go to the museum for free from 5-8 p.m.

So, what can you and your toddler look forward to on a Children’s Museum visit? There are numerous attractions to explore, such as:

  • Playgrounds and similar structures that kids can climb up, crawl through and slide down
  • An inventor’s workshop
  • An indoor/outdoor environmental exhibition called the EcoStation

Also, the Tot*Spot is a special area for kids up to 35 months of age and their parents. It features a ball and pillow pit, amphitheater and lots of knobs and switches toddlers can manipulate to see the effects of their actions.

Want to get outdoors and expose your tot to some live theatrical goodness at the same time? Include the Miller Outdoor Theatre on your itinerary. All performances are free and allow you and your little one to enjoy a cool open-air setting along with a complete program of shows especially for kids. Performances typically happen at 11 a.m. from March through October so you don’t have to worry about interfering with naptime.

Fabulous Photo Opportunities

Your weekend getaway to Houston wouldn’t be complete without at least a few family photos that’ll eventually get places of honor on your living room wall or office desk. Houston is a very modern city that offers many cool places to make the most of your camera’s capabilities.

One of them is Discovery Green, a huge and action-packed park that regularly hosts special events ranging from yoga classes to concerts. It also has a lot of beautiful areas to pose in for snapshots with your toddler.

For example, Synchronicity of Color is a huge art piece made of vibrant blocks, and it would make a cool backdrop for a conversation-starting family photo. Also, consider the Stedman West Veranda, a shady area that conveniently overlooks the McGovern Playground.

Synchronicity of Color at Discovery Green. Photo: WhereTraveler

Synchronicity of Color at Discovery Green. Photo: WhereTraveler

You might also want to head downtown to Wiley’s Love Wall Mural, located on the side of what used to be the Heights Post Office at Yale and East 11th Street. Boldly painted in shades of red, orange and yellow, plus bits of green and blue, the mural regularly attracts attention from passersby because it’s so bright.

That means you won’t have any trouble finding a willing person to snap a family picture as you and your relatives stand in front of this famous example of Houston art. The word “Love” is also a good way to emphasize a principle that probably means a lot to your household.

Toddler-Friendly Restaurants to Quiet Rumbling Stomachs

There are over 8,000 restaurants in the Houston area, so it’s not hard to find some that cater to toddlers, no matter how squirmy, fussy and impatient they might get. Try Hickory Hollow, a cowboy-themed place to eat that was featured on the Food Network and has satisfied hungry Houston patrons since 1977.

The "medium" chicken fried steak at Hickory Hollow. Photo: Houston Press

The "medium" chicken fried steak at Hickory Hollow. Photo: Houston Press

One of its many locations is on Heights Boulevard in Central Houston. It offers outdoor dining and a diverse menu sure to please even the pickiest eaters.

Focus on the Little Buckaroos Kids Menu, which offers familiar items like grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, plus a side order. If you eat on-site instead of taking the food to go, the meal also comes with a drink and sweet treat.  You’ll find plenty of delicious options catering to adult taste buds too, like vegetable platters, chicken fried steaks and pork ribs.

A meal at Amazón Grill is also a fabulous choice during your trip. Ranked one of the city’s top 10 family-friendly restaurants in 2014 by the Houston Press, this cool establishment has a fun atmosphere, friendly staff and large menu.

Located on Kirby Drive, this Houston favorite offers a tasty menu of things like Cuban-inspired sandwiches, house-ground burgers and even funnel cakes. Consider trying the fish tacos or Cubana Soup, too. Corn dog bites, macaroni and cheese with grilled chicken and popcorn chicken are some of the options for kids. All those come with a drink, fries and cotton candy.

Things to Know Before You Go

Houston has a subtropical, humid climate with moderate weather patterns. Specifically, the temperature falls below freezing only 18 days per year on average and is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above less than 90 days annually. That means you may not have to worry about extreme weather but it’s still necessary to bring sun gear, such as a hat and glasses, to avoid sunburn on bright days.

Mosquitoes can be particularly problematic after rain. To avoid bothersome bites, stash pediatrician-approved bug spray in your diaper bag or backpack.

Now you know how to have an unforgettable time away in Houston with your toddler. It’ll be a weekend when everyone makes treasured memories.

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