Marcy loves to share her wandering adventures, including her home state of Texas and the many places she's traveled.
Top Kid Attractions in Texas
There are fun things to see for every age group in Texas. If you are planning a family trip to the Lone Star State soon, here are some favorite stops to make throughout the state.
Do you like theme parks? Texas has several world-class attractions you won't want to miss. Do your kids love the water? You'll find beaches and water parks as well as plenty of lakes and streams to enjoy.
If you like to add educational features to your vacations, Texas is loaded with history and great learning opportunities at its many museums.
You'll also find some of the best zoos in the country as you tour the state, plenty of outdoor activities and interesting things to see and do indoors, too, if you want to avoid the heat.
Here's a guide on what to see in various parts of Texas.
Places to Take Kids in Texas
Attractions for Kids in Austin
Austin is now one of the most popular destinations in the state, and a mecca for music lovers; you should definitely include a visit to Austin in your Texas itinerary.
The Capital City of Texas is full of history, scenic views of the surrounding Hill Country and many great opportunities for day trips around Central Texas.
Older children and teens will want to learn about the music scene for which the city is known and celebrates; the Austin City Limits Festival and South by Southwest are just two of the annual events in the area. Even smaller children will find Sixth Street an interesting place to stroll; go earlier in the evening, to avoid the late-night crowds and to enjoy a family-friendly atmosphere.
The historic LBJ Library and Museum has displays of the presidency years of Lyndon Baines Johnson as well as a faithful recreation of the Oval Office, which holds the actual desk and other furniture LBJ used while he was president. Aside from a personal invitation to the White House, this is probably the only chance you and your family will have to see what the Oval Office actually looks like, first-hand.
The Texas Capitol is one of the most spectacular in the nation; even though it is huge, you can quickly tour the House and Senate chambers and other features, drop by the gift shop and even grab a snack in the well-appointed dining area, all in just an hour or two.
What Do Your Kids Enjoy?
Where to Take Kids in Houston
With more than 2.1 million people calling Houston home, it's only natural that there are plenty of things to see and do in and around the area.
Don't miss the Johnson Space Center (NASA) if you're in this great city. Easily one of the 'must-see' attractions in the entire state, it includes simulators and exhibits that let visitors experience the look and feel of space. Among the favorites are a Lunar Orbiter simulator, the Feel of Space gallery and a NASA Control Center display.
For more educational opportunities (and another break from the legendary Texas heat), check out the Children's Museum of Houston, where your youngsters can explore and learn about technology, science, culture, history and health through interactive exhibits. The museum's interesting features will keep little hands and minds busy for hours, and they won't even realize they've been learning the entire time.
Does your child like dinosaurs, rocks and other cool things? Drop by the Houston Museum of Natural Science and see models of the space station, a skeleton of a real dinosaur, displays of rocks and minerals and more.
After you tour the Natural Science Museum, go next door to the Cockrell Butterfly Center, for an experience that's almost fairy-like. Thousands of butterflies, imported from all over the world, flutter and dip in an enclosed habitat that also has a rainforest (simulated, of course) for them to frolic in. Because butterfly displays can be seasonal, check ahead of time to see what's playing that day.
The Houston Zoo is just one of several highly ranked zoos in Texas. Because Texas has a warm and (in many areas) arid climate, it offers a perfect environment for natural habitats that resemble those in Africa and other regions of the world known for interesting and exotic animals.
If the kids are ready to get outside and be active for a while, an afternoon at SixFlagsHouston or (during warmer weather) SplashTown will keep them cool while they burn off that extra energy. Schlitterbahn Galveston is also nearby and offers water slides ranging from easy to thrilling.
The Downtown Aquarium in Houston has a massive, two-story, 150,000-gallon tank with more than 400 types of sea life on display. Visitors can also take a safe but entertaining (scary?) Shark Voyage train ride.
Aquarium at San Antonio Zoo
Top Places for Kids in San Antonio
A trip to San Antonio will give your kids an educational experience filled with Wild West history, stories of early Missions and plenty of activities to keep them busy.
No visit to San Antonio is complete without a tour of the Alamo and the River Walk. You'll be surprised at how small the Alamo is (it looks massive when you see it in movies). This historical gem is in the middle of the downtown area, only yards from the entry to the River Walk. Take a boat ride to tour the river and you'll see even more piece of early and modern history (including the outdoor stage where the bathing suit competition in Miss Congeniality was filmed!).
Your kids will likely insist on a visit to Sea World San Antonio and Six Flags' Fiesta Texas. Sea World has marine life attractions as well as its popular shows with trained dolphins and whales. Fiesta Texas is a great way to have fun while learning about the music and history of the many cultures that settled this beautiful state. Both theme parks have rides, and both offer fun activities for all ages.
Be sure to check out the San Antonio Zoo and the nearby Sunken Garden. While you're there, take a ride on the little train (the station is adjacent to the zoo's parking lot), and see the habitats and scenery from a different view. The zoo is known for its enclosed butterfly exhibit (they will land on your arms and shoulders!) and the beauty of its world-class habitats.
Tarantula Steam Train at Fort Worth Stockyards
Attractions for Kids in Dallas and Fort Worth
Although Dallas and Fort Worth are two distinct and separate cities, they are usually thought of together in terms of destinations and things to do.
Six Flags Over Texas is one of the best known theme parks in the state, and is easy to get to from either Dallas or Fort Worth. As with all the well-known Six Flags parks, it has exciting rides, plenty of food, and often has live entertainers at various spots throughout the park. Six Flags is just one of several places to visit in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Your kids will also enjoy the Museum of Nature & Science and the Dallas Museum of Art. Both have educational and entertaining displays as well as some hands-on features to hold the interest of even the most active youngster. They will also learn about the cultures that settled Texas and the geological and natural science history of the state.
The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth has some of the most premier collections in the state (as well as the country).
The famous Fort Worth Stockyards is also a fun place to take the family. The site is fully of history, and has live entertainment, plenty of shops and good restaurants, and you may even see its steam train pull into the area during your visit.
Best Places to Take Kids in Corpus Christi
In addition to its lovely, award-winning beaches, Corpus Christi offers several attractions children will enjoy.
The Texas State Aquarium is known for having premier exhibits of Gulf of Mexico marine life. Kids will enjoy some of the hands-on features (feed the stingrays!) the aquarium offers.
The Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History has a replica of Christopher Columbus' ship, The Pinta, as well as exhibits of alligators, snakes, turtles, guns and other interesting piece of Texas history. With interactive exhibits for even the youngest in your group, nobody will get bored.
No matter where you decide to visit in Texas, you're sure to have fun and you'll soon realize there's not enough time to see everything you want to see in one trip.
Texas can be an educational experience for all ages, an entertaining place to visit, and a good spot for relaxing on a sunny beach. No wonder natives say it's like a whole other country.
Enjoy your visit to this beautiful state, and plan to return - often! As Texans like to say, "Y'all come back, folks, real soon!"
© 2012 Marcy Goodfleisch