MOMS TALK: Not a Laundry List of Things to Do in Houston, with Kids!

Today I’m giving a talk about the things to do in Houston, with kids!  To follow along, here are the highlights!

On BigKidSmallCity, we provide weekly events, a Houston area park review, a family friendly restaurant review and lots of things to do with kids.

It’s not just a laundry list of things to do… but actual parent reviews and recommendations.

Here’s what I mean…

Last Christmas I was at Target, looking for a Bingo game.  I was standing in front of a hundred games and did not see Bingo… but I did see Zingo.

I asked my mom, “If Bingo is good, Zingo must be better, right?”.

Just then, a dad came over and told me that Zingo means there are 10,000 plastic pieces on your rug that won’t fit back into the dispenser and makes everyone angry.

That is not what the box said, but that is a good parent review.

When we provide reviews and recommendations on BigKidSmallCity, we’ve pushed a stroller through the giant crowds, found restrooms in the worst of locations and pleaded with three tired kids to get from the very back of the zoo to the parking lot.

And the recommendations are not just from me… but from Houston parents.  I am lucky to get feedback from parents daily!

So what is there to do?  Well, our very favorite things to do are a little quirky and unique.  (And for Summer Break events, scroll to the very bottom.)


Stay Cool! To make it easier for you to cool off, here are the parks, pools and places we’ve reviewed. Click each link, look at the pictures and decide which is best for you.


Niko Nikos Patio
Niko Nikos at Market Square Park –  This is a Greek café where you order at the window and take your food to the patio.  You can order breakfast, lunch or dinner, coffee and alcohol.  There is a kid menu and a giant park for kids to run through.  Market Square Park is an open space and it is easy to watch your kids from the pergola covered patio!


Button on Preston Street Bridge from Wortham Theater
Mysterious Red Button on Buffalo Bayou – Have you heard about the Big Bubble in the Buffalo Bayou? Have you seen the mysterious red button on the Preston Street Bridge? A friend told us that their 5 year old’s favorite thing to do in Houston was to, “burp the bayou”, and we just had to know what this meant.


Looking at Airplanes at Black Walnut at Conroe Airport
Black Walnut at Conroe North Houston Regional Airport – This is the restaurant where you can watch planes and helicopters land… right next to your table!  See the pictures HERE!


Travis Spark Park Dinosaur Bones1
Travis Spark Park – This Houston park was designed by kids… and has dinosaur bones, a rock wall and very cool play structure.  Travis Spark Park is in the Houston Heights and is open to the public on evenings, weekends and holidays. See the pictures HERE!


Donovan Park Toddler Playground
Donovan Park – This wooden fortress is one of Houston’s coolest playgrounds. Train, castles, ropes, bridges and more at Donovan Park!  This is not a Houston public park… and was built by the Houston Heights Association. The sign at the park and the website says it’s for all kids to enjoy.  See the pictures HERE!


Fire Truck at Fire Truck Park
Fire Truck Park – For kids under 5 years old, there is a new fire truck play structure.  All around the new fire truck is unique equipment, for big kids, that you do not you see at every Houston park. The merry-go-round is made from a tire, there are little “flowers” where the kids sit and spin themselves and there is a very unusual rock wall for the biggest kids.


River Oaks Pumpkin Park Carraige
River Oaks Park (aka Pumpkin Park) – Southside has the Firetruck… but River Oaks has the Pumpkin Carriage!  You really need to see this public park, just off of Westheimer.  There is a royal pumpkin carriage, big playground, small playground and some of the coolest ladders, monkey bars and more!  The park also has a community center, wishing trees, trail, sand volleyball and many more things to do… all under giant oak trees.


Levy Park Houston Splashpad
Levy Park – This remodeled park is AMAZING.  Tunnels, rock wall, spider web, reading carts and so much more.


Slide at Fish Family Play Area Buffalo Bayou Park
Fish Family Play Area at Buffalo Bayou Park – This nature play area is along the banks of Buffalo Bayou.  It has a slide, climbing structures, water features and drums build in to the landscape, but this park has an amazing view of the downtown skyline, access to the Buffalo Bayou trails, has free parking, new restrooms at the Water Works  building… and a newly uncovered historic cistern.  It is as cool as it sounds.


Waugh Bridge at Dusk
Waugh Bridge Bat Colony – Just down the bayou from the Fish Family play area is a bat colony.  Each night at dusk, watch hundreds of thousands of bats emerge in the middle of the city!


Art Car Museum Houston
Art Car Museum – This funky museum is small and free.  Stop by with the kids while you are in the Houston Heights!

Boys at Mounted Patrol Stables
Mounted Patrol Stables – Visiting the Houston Police Departments Mounted Patrol Stables might just be the coolest free thing to do in Houston.  Bring your own carrots, quartered apples and peppermints, and you can stop in to visit the horses, during visiting hours.

Bring a giant bag of carrots… like the ones you get a Costco… because there are nearly 40 hungry horses to feed!


Joe Hermann Park Conductor for a Day
Engineer for a Day – My son counted the days until he was 7 years old and could be Engineer for a Day at Hermann Park. Now 8 years old, he asked to drive the train again as his Christmas gift.

Kids arrive in the morning and help open up the train barn, perform safety checks, wash the train and get the railroad ready for the day. After about an hour of preparations, they sit right next to the conductor and help take the train around to Kinder Station.


Eat Bugs – At the Houston Museum of Natural Science, you can find a vending machine full of bugs.  Some are chocolate coated, some are coated in sour cream and onion flavor… and none are something I want to eat.My kids are much braver and enjoy the black ant chocolate cookies. The ants make them crunchy.  (Yikes!)  If you are bored with the usual Snickers bar, check out the butterfly center!


Magnafying Glass at Swap Shop
Swap Shop – In nature or in a book, find something that interest the kids. Learn about it and bring the item to the Swap Shop at the Houston Zoo. If you don’t have a shell or bone or physical item, you can bring in your “knowledge” or you can bring in a poster, report, diorama… anything to leave at the shop.The kids earn points and get to swap it for items in the shop!  There are stones, shells, bones and more!


For things to do for Summer Break, go HERE.  To get an email with things to do each weekend, go HERE!

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