🔒 13 extremely fun Houston-area attractions your kids will love

Family outings in the Houston area (Dig World, Lucky Land, Lone Star Flight Museum, Old MacDonald's Farm, Texas TreeVentures)

HOUSTON – Ready to get out of the house and have a proper Houston-area adventure? OK, so where to?

Of course, you can visit the area’s most popular destinations (e.g., the Houston Zoo, Space Center Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science) -- that is, if you have the courage and the cash. But chances are, you’ve already been to all of them, maybe even multiple times.

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If you’re searching for something new, or at least new-to you, peruse our list of 13 extremely fun family-friendly attractions in the Houston area.

👷‍♀️ Dig World

New Katy amusement park will let kids operate construction equipment (Dig World)

Can you dig it? At Katy’s construction-themed kiddie park Dig World, the answer is an emphatic “Yes, yes, you can.” Designed with the help of experts from Texas A&M’s Department of Construction Science, the 3.5-acre park is a wonderland for the kinds of kiddos who can who can tell you the difference between a skid steer and a backhoe. The adventure park’s main attraction -- the chance for the young and young at heart (Yes, fellow adults, that means you) to man powerful earth movers, including excavators. Dig World also has a playground, a gem-mining station, UTV’s, and a turf field with yard games.

Two-hour passes cost $24.99 per person for all visitors 32 inches or taller. The park operates Thursday and Friday 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

📍 5000 Katy Mills Circle, Katy, Texas 77494

📞 (346) 435-8888

💻 https://www.digworldtx.com/

🏰 Newman’s Castle

Tour a Texas castle in scenic Bellville, a tiny town an hour west of Houston. Longtime resident Michael Newman, owner of the town’s beloved Newman’s Bakery, built the regal residence himself. Open for tours daily, the castle is equipped with its own drawbridge, moat, and trebuchet.

To reserve a tour of Newman’s Castle, call (979) 865-9804. On the day of the tour, guests meet at the bakery at 10:30 a.m. to buy tickets and receive directions. Newman’s Bakery is at 504 East Main Street in Bellville. Castle tours are offered Monday through Friday, 4 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday, 4 a.m.-5 p.m.

📍 1041 Old Highway 36, Bellville, Texas 77418

📞 (979) 865-9804

💻 http://newmanscastle.com/

🐼 Lucky Land

Terracotta Army at Lucky Land (Image courtesy of Lucky Land)

Lucky Land Houston, a three-acre family attraction off Airline Drive, celebrates the city’s deep Asian culture and history. Here, you can ride a rickshaw, admire a replica of the first Chinese emperor’s Terracotta Army, pose with statues of Kung Fu martial artists, traipse through an oh-so-cute panda village, snap a selfie with a very large lucky cat, reflect at a koi fish pond, and view a replica of the Great Wall of China.

📍 8625 Airline Dr, Houston, TX 77037

📞 (281) 447-3400

💻 www.luckyland-houston.com

🐊 Gator Country Adventure Park

Alligators at Gator Country Adventure Park outside Beaumont. (Photo courtesy of Gator Country)

A sanctuary for “nuisance alligators,” Gator Country Adventure Park outside Beaumont is home to more than 450 alligators, crocodiles and other reptiles, including snakes, lizards, tortoises and caimans. Visitors can gander at hundreds of gators living in and around nine fenced ponds across the facility.

Two creatures at this site are so intimidating, they’re actually assigned their own ponds – Big Al and Big Tex. Big Al measures 13 feet, four inches long. He was the largest gator in captivity in America until the arrival of Big Tex, who measures an inch shy of 14 feet.

In addition to watching alligators, you can snap photos with them, hold them (at least the small ones), wade with them and feed them hot dogs with a cane pole.

📍 21159 FM 365, Beaumont, TX 77705

📞 (409) 794-9453

💻 www.gatorrescue.com/

🌳 Texas TreeVentures

Texas TreeVentures in the Woodlands (Image courtesy of Texas TreeVentures)

Thrill seekers, channel your inner Tarzan and tackle an aerial ropes course at this adventure park in The Woodlands. Texas TreeVentures is situated on the campus of the Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park, directly adjacent to the expansive 1,800-acre George Mitchell Nature Preserve, which is home to abundant wildlife, several miles of wooded trails, and Spring Creek. The course consists of a series of obstacles and challenges designed for children and adults. It’s three levels, self-guided and tests participants with 72 challenging elements. The higher you go, the harder it gets.

General admission prices for visitors ages 13 and older are $45, and $40 for children ages 12 and under.

📍 6464 Creekside Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas 77389

📞 (281) 210-2048

💻 https://texastreeventures.com/

⚓ The 1877 Tall Ship Elissa

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Tall ship Elissa, Galveston, Texas (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images) (Getty)

The Elissa, an iron-hulled, three-masted barque, is one of the oldest ships still sailing. She launched in 1877 from Aberdeen, Scotland, and for the next 90 odd years, the ship lugged commercial cargo to and from North America, South America, Europe and elsewhere. Through the years, the ship changed hands and names multiple times, sometimes going by Fjeld, Gustaf, Christophoros and Achaios, according to the Texas State Historical Association. Elissa docked in Galveston in 1883 and again in 1886. In 1978, the Galveston Historical Foundation brought the ship from Greece to Galveston, restored the vessel and converted it into a floating museum.

Now berthed at the Historic Seaport in Galveston, the ship is one of the island’s most-visited attractions (aside from its beaches) and receives some 40,000 visitors each year. Fun fact: In 1978, the ship became the first item outside the United States to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Self-guided tours of the ship are $10 for adults, $7 for youths ages 6-18, and free for children ages 5 and under.

📍 Pier 22 Suite 8, Galveston, Texas 77550

📞 (409)765-7834

💻 https://www.galvestonhistory.org/

🐮 George Ranch Historical Park

File image of George Ranch Historical Park (Image courtesy of George Ranch Historical Park)

Travel through more than 100 years of living Texas history and immerse yourself in the lives and experiences of the Lone Star State’s early settlers at the George Ranch Historical Park in Richmond, Texas.

Tour historic homes and watch presentations delivered by costumed reenactors at the 23,000-acre ranch, located about 30 miles southwest of downtown Houston.

The park is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for kids aged 4 to 12, with free admission for children younger than four.

📍 10215 FM 762 Rd, Richmond, TX 77469

📞 (281) 343-0218

💻 www.georgeranch.org

🚢 Galveston Naval Museum

File image of the Galveston Naval Museum (Image courtesy of David James)

At the Galveston Naval Museum, explore the ships that battled on the high seas during World War II.

Here, you can take self guided tours through the USS Cavalla Submarine and USS Stewart Destroyer Escort docked at Seawolf Park. As you tour the ships, walk their decks. Explore their torpedo rooms. Visit the command rooms where orders were given. Stand where crews launched depth charges and hedgehog mortars. Take hold of the controls and imagine what it was like to be crew member aboard these stories vessels.

📍 100 Seawolf Park Blvd, Galveston, TX 77554

📞 (409) 770-3196

💻 https://galvestonnavalmuseum.com

🚂 Galveston Island Railroad Museum

Inside the Galveston Railroad Museum. (Photo provided by Galveston Island)

At the Galveston Railroad Museum, learn the history of one Texas’ most significant railways -- the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway.

Admire the museum’s rolling stock collection, which includes a 1948 Southern Railroad dining car. Then check out the exceptional model train display before browsing the museum’s rotating exhibits, which offer a comprehensive look at the history of the railroad.

📍 2602 Santa Fe Place, Galveston, TX 77550

📞 (409) 765-5700

💻 https://galvestonrrmuseum.org

🐊 Crocodile Encounter

File image of a crocodile (Pixabay)

Crocodile Encounter is a fully licensed and insured United States Department of Agriculture zoological facility with a focus on science and wildlife education. Marketed as “Houston’s only reptile zoo,” Crocodile Encounter boasts that it houses the largest group of crocodiles on display in the state of Texas.

Here, you will see crocodiles and alligators swimming and sunning. During the 90-minute tour, guides will bring crocs right to you for a feeding demonstration.

In addition to crocodiles, many other animals call Crocodile Encounter home, including numerous species of snakes, lizards, and turtles and even a few mammals, including lemurs, nutria, pigs, goats, antelope, kangaroos, and bison.

📍 23231 County Rd 48, Angleton, TX 77515

📞 (281) 595-2232

💻 https://crocodileencounter.com

🦜 Pirates Bay Waterpark

Pirates Bay Waterpark (JPP PHOTOGRAPHY 2021)

This family-friendly resort-style waterpark in Baytown has a 671-foot lazy river, various slide towers, a wave pool, Flowrider surfing machine, NinjaCross obstacle course, and a pirate-themed water play center with a large dumping bucket, spray nozzles, tot slides, and water guns.

Admission is $18-25 per person on weekdays and $23-30 per person on weekends and holidays. Season passes are also available. Family passes, which allow entry for up to four people, are $350, individual season passes are $100, and weekday individual season passes are $60. Weekday season passes are not valid on holidays.

📍 5300 E Rd, Baytown, TX 77521

📞 (281) 422-1150

💻 www.baytown.org

👨‍✈️ Lone Star Flight Museum

Beechcraft BE-18/SNB (Courtesy of Lone Star Flight Museum)

Get an up-close look at historic warplanes, experience the adventure of flight, and learn the history of aviation in Texas at the Lone Star Flight Museum.

The museum at Ellington Airport houses a stunning collection of vintage planes. Here you’ll see an array of iconic aircraft from World War II as well as several vintage civilian and military training planes. When you’re done admiring the planes, explore the museum’s galleries. At The Flight Academy, learn about aircraft design through hands-on exhibits featuring replica cockpits and hang glider simulators, then “meet” famous aviators who are Texans and famous Texans who are aviators at the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.

Before you leave, don’t miss the opportunity to take to the skies yourself. Hop into a flight simulator or book your own flight experience.

📍 11551 Aerospace Ave, Houston, TX 77034

📞 (346) 708-2517

💻 lonestarflight.org

🐔 Old MacDonald’s Farm

Image of goats at Old MacDonald's Farm (Courtesy of Old MacDonald's Farm)

This 15-acre, family-operated farm in Humble, Texas has a petting zoo with an array of farm animals. Expect to see and/or interact with sheep, pigs, horses, llamas, alpacas, goats, rabbits, chickens, Texas Longhorn, donkeys and more.

When you’re done meandering through the petting zoo, head to the OK Corral for a pony ride or hop aboard Old MacDonald’s Express and ride the rails.

📍 3203 Farm to Market 1960 Rd E, Humble, TX 77338

📞 (281) 446-4001

💻 www.oldmacdonaldsfarmtexas.com/

Parents, what would you add to this list? Share your recommendations in the comment section below and we may include them in a future update to this article.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.