Rodeo Houston 2018: Beat the Crowds & Save Money

When Rodeo Houston comes to town, we buy the general admission season pass and go every morning.  Do not tell the big kids… but after we drop them off at school, I take the little ones to NRG.

Right at 8:00am we tour the Livestock Show, watch the chicks hatch from their eggs and get to see everything before the crowds arrive.  At 9:00am, the petting zoo and rabbit house opens and at 10:00am we head to Fun on the Farm.

By the time the field trips and crowds are at Rodeo Houston, we’re heading home for naps.  And some days we bring the big kids back after school.

So, how do we pull this off without spending a fortune? It’s pretty easy with these tricks: Season Pass, Value Wednesday, Cheap Transportation, No Carnival and Lots of Free Activities.

 

Discounted Admission:

  • General Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for kids, free for kids under 2 years old.  If you have a concert ticket, you do not need a general admission ticket (so do NOT buy both).
  • Since we go each day, we buy the general admission season pass.  This year it is $35 (up from $25).  Note that this also gets you daily admission to World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (before the Rodeo/Livestock show).
  • On Wednesdays, called Value Wednesdays, there is free general admission for seniors, 60 and over, and children, 12 and under.
  • 2018 Rodeo Houston is February 27 through March 18.

Transportation:

  • Parking lots are around $20… so we take METRORail.  It is only $1.25 for anyone older than 5 and it drops you off right at the rodeo ticket booth.
  • Parking is available up and down the tracks.  We park in the museum district.

Free Activities Inside Rodeo Houston:

  • We go early and skip the carnival.  Even if you go later and do the carnival rides, take advantage of these free things to do!
  • Kids Country opens at 9:00am, Fun on the Farm opens at 10:00am and the carnival opens at 10:00/11:00am, but AgVenture has a lot to do at 8:00am.  While the rodeo is waking up,  the vendors and shops are still getting ready for the day and the field trips are still preparing to take over the park, we have some room to run around the birthing center, rabbits, bees and ant hill.  We can see the baby chicks poking out of their eggs and the baby pigs sleeping.
  • These free activities are open every day at Rodeo Houston:
    • Fun on the Farm – This might be our favorite part of rodeo!  Kids get to plant seeds, feed chickens, collect wool, milk cows and sell their products at market, “buy” a small treat with their earnings and put some “money” in the bank…. and it’s free!  (If you see a field trip going through, give it a minute and you’ll find some space to get through a little quicker!)
    • Statoil Stars Over Texas Stage – All day you can catch kid friendly shows under the tent.  There are sing-alongs, animal acts and more.  We saw our first sloth here!
    • Kids Pedal Tractor Pull – Kids ages 4 to 12 years old compete in a pedal-powered tractor pull. The tractors and pulling sleds are built for fun.
    • Petting Zoo -Feeding the animals costs a few dollars… but the petting zoo is free!  If you go early in the morning, you will probably have the space to yourself.
    • Pig Races – Watch the piglets race around a 150 foot track.
    • Livestock Show – Walk through the rows of cows in the back of the NRG Center or sit and watch the competitions!
    • Horse Show – On the opposite side of NRG Park, away from the Kids Carnival, is the Horse Arena. This is sort of a secret spot at the rodeo because most people are on the other side of the park. The NRG Arena has shopping, stalls of horses to walk through and a competition to watch.
    • AGventure Honeybees – Walk through a hive and watch honey bees!
    • AGventure Milking Parlor – See where milk comes from!
    • AGventure Tour of Texas – Take a tour of Texas… all inside NRG Center.  It’s like a mini-museum inside the Rodeo Houston!
    • AGventure Baby Chicks and Chickens -See chicks hatch, see the newborns and the big chickens.  You can also watch a video on how eggs get to market!
    • AGventure Birthing Center – See the newborn babies at the rodeo!  Many are just a few days old!
    • And all of AGventure… including the We’re Small Y’All Barn, Collector Cards, Sunflower Planting and more!

Carnival:

  • When we go back in the afternoon, my big kids do like to visit the carnival.  The trick here is to by Half Price Packs BEFORE Rodeo Houston starts.  (After Rodeo starts, you cannot get the discounted tickets.)

Food:

  • Outside food is not allowed into the stadium for the concert… but it is allowed on the grounds.
  • We bring in snacks and water each day (and I’ve confirmed with the PR team that this is allowed).
  • The catch is… each year I get reports from people saying food was not allowed.  I think that the security guards were confused… but still… be safe and just bring in a little food so you won’t be sad to throw it out.

Rain:

  • Since we go so much, there is always a few rainy days.  There is still a lot to do!
  • Things to do on a rainy day:
    • Dining: Many of the restaurants are under tents or inside the NRG Center (by the Livestock Show).
    • Rodeo & Concert:  The rodeo and the concert are inside the covered NRG Stadium.  First is the rodeo… followed by the concert.  If you get a ticket for the show, you do not need to buy a separate general admission ticket.
    • AGventure:  Inside the NRG Center, you can do A LOT of things.  See honeybees, learn about milking cows, stop by the petting zoo, see chicks hatching, pet rabbits, see the baby animals, collect animal trading cards, plant a sunflower… and more!!
    • Livestock Show: Walk through the rows of cows in the back of the NRG Center or sit and watch the competitions.
    • Horse Show: On the opposite side of NRG Park, away from the Kids Carnival, is the Horse Arena.  This is sort of a secret spot at the rodeo because most people are on the other side of the park.  The NRG Arena has shopping, stalls of horses to walk through and a competition to watch.
    • Stars Over Texas Stage:  This stage has kid friendly shows all day long.  It’s covered by a giant tent.  If the rain is terrible, you might want to stay inside… but if it’s just wet, find a seat at the interactive shows.

Rodeo and Concerts:

  • We only go to a couple rodeos and concerts each year… so we’re not experts… but I do know…
  • No outside food is allowed in the stadium.  Even if you buy BBQ at the Rodeo, you need to finish it before going to the stadium.
  • Weekday rodeos start at 6:45 p.m. The entertainer takes the stage at approximately 8:45 p.m.
  • Weekend rodeos start at 3:45 p.m. The entertainer takes the stage at approximately 5:45 p.m.

Watch the Video:

 

In a couple of week’s we’ll head back to Rodeo Houston and tell you what else we find for 2018.  If you have more tips, please let us know!

For more things to do in Houston, with kids, over Spring Break, go HERE!


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