Hiding in plain sight: These are the gems of the Children's Museum of Houston

HOUSTON – Considered one of the largest children’s museums in the country, the Children’s Museum of Houston boasts 90,000 square feet of kid-friendly, interactive exhibits, spread out among 14 galleries. Dubbed a playground for the brain, the museum offers kiddos 12 and under foundational learning experiences in the guise of fun, kid-friendly activities.

Stay and explore all day or work through the exhibits one visit at a time. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy the museum. We’ve assembled some tips and need-to-know info to help you plan your visit.

A museum of a different color: Something to remember before your visit

While many in Houston are children at heart, the museum is designed specifically for children up to 12 years old.

That means, to visit the museum, your group must include a child. Adults must accompany children younger than 16. 

A gem for little ones: 

The museum designed its exhibit Tot*Spot exclusively for young children under 3. The popular exhibit offers toddlers an opportunity to play with one another in an engaging, safe environment. 

Museum staffers said several galleries throughout the museum also contain activities engaging for toddlers. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a spin through these galleries: Kidtropolis, Powerplay, Cyberchase, Invention Convention, Flowworks, Ecostation and Matter Factory.    

For kids with energy to burn: 

Head over to PowerPlay, a three-story installation kids can climb up and down from. Along the way, they’ll encounter a variety of physical challenges and discover new ways to get active. Then, make your way over to the Challenge Course, a low-ropes obstacle course for kids 5 through 15 years old. The Challenge Course will open Nov. 5.

For the gamers:

Kids with a love for games (both on and off the screen) will get a kick out of Cyberchase, a math-packed exhibit that takes children on an adventure to defend cyberspace against a dastardly hacker. Then head to S.E.C.R.E.T. Spy Game where you’ll enlist in the Museum's Special Elite Crime Resolution and Espionage Team to solve a mission as a special agent.

For the nature lovers:

Families with kids who harbor a love for all things outdoors should swing by Ecostation, this partly outdoor exhibit offers children the chance to walk through a plant garden, a woodland area and peruse by a pond and learn more about ecology and the environment. Then head to FlowWorks, where kids can harness the power of water through simulated flood plain, stream through an aqueduct maze.

Not a fan of crowds? This is how  to avoid them

Some 799,000 people flock to the museum each year. If you’d like to avoid the hustle and bustle of large crowds, plan an early-morning trip. 

Free Family Night, held each Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., offers free admission but it does come at a price; the weekly events draws huge crowds. The museum also offers special events throughout the year.

How to score free admission:

Admission is $12 per person; $11 for seniors 65 and up; and free of charge for children less than a year old. Every Thursday, the museums offers free admission during its Free Family Night event, held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Do you plan to hit up the museum all year long? The museum offers five membership packages.

This is the most important information of all:

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Tuesday through Saturday, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Sunday, the museum is open from noon to 6 p.m. 

Every Thursday, the museum hosts Free Family Night from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

The museum opens early at 9 a.m. on the second Saturday of every month for members.

The museum opens on select Mondays throughout the summer.

Get a parking deal if you're willing to search for it

For a small fee, guests can park in the museum’s parking garage across the street. Parking costs $7 for a one-hour stay; $8 for a two-hour stay; $9 for a stay three hours or longer; and $10 during special events.

Metered parking spaces are also available nearby.

The museum is located at 1500 Binz in the Houston Museum District.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.