By Cynthia Marple
As the fourth largest city in the US, Houston is packed full of diverse activities. The museum district is a shining example of just how much there is to see and do.
The area has nineteen museums organized into four walking zones. Ten of these always have free admission. Thursdays are the best days to visit because seven more museums have set blocks of time for free admission.
Here are some specifics, in reverse “walking zone” order, to highlight the best places for kids.
Zone Four Walking Area
This is the most child friendly zone because it includes the Houston Zoo, Houston Museum of Natural Science and the number one ranked Children’s Museum of Houston. The other official members of this zone are The Health Museum and Rice Gallery.
Children’s Museum of Houston – One the best speciality museums in the country, this dynamic place has fourteen galleries providing jam-packed fun and learning. Admission is free on Thursdays from 5 pm until 8 pm
The Health Museum – Take a tour through the human body and learn all about the science of life. Free admission is offered on Thursdays from 2 pm until 7 pm. Want a summer camp for your child that focuses on health sciences? Check out the museum’s camps at https://www.iquriouskids.com/kids-camps/houston/science/the-health-museum-20160210197696918168-cabgaeafddbbbbaiacj
Houston Museum of Natural Science – Right across from Hermann Park, this amazing place includes a butterfly house, IMAX theater and lots of exhibits. Permanent exhibit halls are free on Thursdays from 2 pm until 5 pm.
The Houston Zoo – This is a terrific place to explore and see lots of cool animals. Free admission is available on the first Tuesday of each month from 2pm until close. Summer camps for kids are still running, see https://www.iquriouskids.com/kids-camps/houston-west-u/nature-outdoors/houston-zoo-30-bjb
Zone Three Walking Area
Containing three museums, this section also has a metro stop and is an easy walking distance from Zone One. Two of these entities, The Jung Center and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, always have free admission.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Contained in two large buildings on Main Street, you can view works from all styles of art, including classical masters, modern artists and sculptures. Admission is free for the entire day on Thursdays and children age twelve and under are always free.
Zone Two Walking Area
Five of the eight museums in this zone focus on specific world cultures or significant past events. The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Czech Center Museum Houston, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Asia Society Texas Center and Holocaust Museum Houston provide in depth exhibits. The other three are devoted to emerging art forms and new artists. Diverseworks, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and the Lawndale Art Center all promote local artists and new works. There is also a brand new museum called the Houston Bicycle Museum which will be hosting a “First Saturday Market” every month in the center of the museum district. Call 713-459-4669 for more details.
The Holocaust Museum Houston – This poignant building and its exhibits are a valuable reminder of one of the darkest moments in world history and celebrates the strength of survival. The subject matter may be too intense for younger kids, it is a powerful museum for any kids learning about World War II.
Asia Society Texas Center – This vibrant place has great summer camps for kids, see https://www.iquriouskids.com/kids-camps/houston/history/asia-society-of-texas-center-51-cabgafbhjechdbhcejg
Zone One Walking Area
There are three museums in this area which is bordered by the streets Richmond, Westheimer, Mt. Vernon and Mandell. Two of the three places, The Menil Collection and Houston Center for Photography, focus on art and the third is a landmark centered on human rights, arts and spirituality named The Rothko Chapel.
Houston Center for Photography – This dynamic space provides “lens-focused” exhibits. Several types of classes are offered for a fee. For kids photography classes at this center, check out https://www.iquriouskids.com/kids-camps/houston/photography/houston-center-for-photography-36-cabgaccebhihgadieaj
Thursday Equals Free Admission
If you and your family are looking for something exciting, head out to the museum district on a Thursday. Here is a sample schedule to see three of the most popular places during free admission times.
- Start at the Museum of Fine Arts since it opens at 10 am.
- Next, check out all the permanent exhibits at the Museum of Natural History since the free admission does not start until 2 pm. There is a McDonalds at this museum for a kid friendly dinner option.
- Last, explore the Children’s Museum since the free admission does not start until 5 pm. As the number one ranked children’s museum in US, it is a must see and explore for your kids.
Many of these noted institutions offer year round classes for all ages. Zones Two, Three and Four are in an easy walking distance with each other. The surrounding neighborhoods have large trees and nice architecture.
Do you find museums to be stuffy or scintillating? Please let us know in the comments below.