🔒These 15 memberships to Houston, Texas’ best attractions are worth the price for your summer plans

Big Bend National Park (Canva)

HOUSTON – Trying to find something great to do this summer or a gift for someone in your life who’s impossible to shop for?

Consider experiences -- a year of access to great places, fun and adventure that makes sense for entertainment this summer. As a gift item, give something your loved one might not splurge on themselves. Maybe tickets someplace they’ve never been or something they’ve never done.

Here are 15 subscriptions and memberships to Houston’s top attractions that will delight you and even the pickiest present recipients.

Prices listed below are for individual memberships.

🥾 Texas State Parks Pass

A wild alligator lurking in the tangled vines at Brazos Bend State Park (Canva/KPRC 2)

$70 | 👉 Purchase here

A Texas State Park Pass waives entrance fees to more than 80 state parks for you and your same-vehicle guests (card holder must be present) for a full year. Not sure which state parks are near you? Here are nine located in and around the Houston area perfect for a day trip or quick weekend getaway.

Pass holders also receive camping discounts, special discounts for programs, activities, and events, and a 10 percent discount on retail and rental items at state park stores.

Buy a Texas State Park Pass at any state park or online. Note that the person who purchases a pass becomes the pass holder and can not transfer it to someone else. If you want to purchase a pass as a gift, purchase a state park gift card. The gift card recipient can exchange their gift card at anytime.

For more information, call (512) 389-8900.

🌄 National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass

Big Bend National Park (Canva)

$80 | 👉 Purchase here

The pass provides access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person).

Passes are available at participating agency sites or online at store.usgs.gov/pass.

For more information, call 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747, ext. #1) or visit Recreation.gov/pass.

🐘 Houston Zoo

File image of the Houston Zoo (Pixabay)

$139 | 👉 Purchase here

The Houston Zoo got its start in Hermann Park in 1922. Fast-forward a century and the zoo, now a popular 55-acre tourist attraction, cares for some 6,000 animals and draws an estimated two million visitors annually. The zoo has seen several incredible upgrades in recent years, including the Texas Wetlands habitat and the Pantanal habitat. In 2023, the newest habitat - The Galapagos Islands - will open.

Zoo membership perks include free admission for 12 months, early access to the zoo on select mornings, exclusive discounts for additional admission, special event tickets, gift shop purchases, and more, as well as discounted admission at over 100 other zoos and aquariums nationwide.

For more information, call (713) 533-6500 or email membership@houstonzoo.org.

🎨 The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 18: Cullen Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images) (Getty)

$70 | 👉 Purchase here

Established in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the country and features an encyclopedic collection of nearly 70,000 works of art created throughout the world, from antiquity to the present. The MFAH has two cafés and a restaurant, a repertory cinema, two libraries, and two nearby house museums for decorative arts: Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Rienzi.

Membership benefits and discounts vary by membership level. All MFAH members enjoy yearlong free general admission, free tickets to exhibitions, exclusive early access before exhibitions open to the public, discounted parking at MFAH garages, discounted admission at Bayou Bend and Rienzi, and free or discounted admission to lectures, programs and events.

For more information call (713) 639-7550 or email membership@mfah.org.

🦖 Houston Museum of Natural Science

'Body Worlds' exhibit (Houston Museum of Natural Science)

$65 | 👉 Purchase here

Founded in 1909, the Houston Museum of Natural Science houses the Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, and five floors of permanent exhibits spanning astronomy, space, science, Native Americans, paleontology, energy, chemistry, gems and minerals, seashells, Texas wildlife, and more. The museum also hosts traveling special exhibits.

The Museum maintains two satellite facilities: The George Observatory in Fort Bend County, which houses one of the largest public telescopes in the country; and the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land, which has exhibits on dinosaurs, physics and a newly opened Hall of Technology.

Membership benefits and discounts vary by membership level. Perks all members enjoy include 12 months of unlimited admission to permanent exhibit halls at HMNS Hermann Park and HMNS Sugar Land, including the Morian Hall of Paleontology, the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals and the Wiess Energy Hall, discounted admission to all special ticketed exhibitions, like the Cockrell Butterfly Center, the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre and the Burke Baker Planetarium, reduced rates for George Observatory stargazing, and discounts at the museum shops.

For more information, call (713) 639-4629 or email membership@hmns.org.

🐢 Armand Bayou Nature Center

Wildlife seen from the Bayou Ranger II at the Armand Bayou Nature Center. (Image provided by the Armand Bayou Nature Center)

$45 | 👉 Purchase here

Considered the largest urban wilderness preserve in the country, the 2,500-acre Armand Bayou Nature Center in Pasadena consists of wetlands forest, prairie and marsh habitats which are home to more than 370 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. ABNC has five miles of hiking trails, exhibits, and offers field trips, Scout programs, birding, guided night hikes, bat hikes and boat tours.

Members enjoy free admission, discounts on programs, activities, events and gift store merchandise and free admission for at least one guest. Member perks vary by membership tier. Individual memberships start at $45.

For more information, call (281) 474-2551.

🦋 Holocaust Museum Houston

The Houston Holocaust Museum (Copyright 2019 G. LYON PHOTOGRAPHY, Inc.)

$50 | 👉 Purchase here

Opened in 1996 with a mission to educate students and the public about the dangers of prejudice and hatred in society, The Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to remembering the six million Jews and other innocent victims of the Holocaust and honoring the legacy of the survivors. The 57,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s fourth-largest Holocaust museum and consists of a welcome center, four permanent galleries and two changing exhibition galleries, classrooms, a research library, café, 187-seat indoor theater and a 175-seat outdoor amphitheater.

Membership benefits and discounts vary by membership level. Perks all members enjoy include unlimited free admission to the Museum and all special exhibitions for one year, invitations to members-only exhibition previews, programs and events, priority notice and free or discounted admission to discussions, lectures, performances, concerts and other events, subscription to the Museum Member Magazine, 10 percent discount at the HMH Museum Store, and library privileges, including access to the library catalog and new digital collection of e-books.

For more information, call (713) 527-1616 or email membership@hmh.org.

🚀 Space Center Houston

Space Center Houston (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

$55 | 👉 Purchase here

Space Center Houston is a nonprofit science & space learning center and the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center. The popular tourist attraction has more than 400 things to see and do and houses the largest collections of spacesuits and Moon rocks on public display in the world. Highlights include the George W.S. Abbey Rocket Park, where one of only three of the remaining Saturn V rockets is displayed, the iconic Apollo Mission Control Center from which NASA-led Gemini and Apollo missions, including the momentous first lunar landing, and a shuttle replica Independence, mounted on top of the historic and original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft, that visitors can step inside.

Membership benefits and discounts vary by membership level. All members receive free general admission and access to all special exhibits, free parking, early entrance on select peak dates, advanced or discounted access for select presentations, and discounts on Explorer Camps, dining, gifts and souvenirs, photos, and Galaxy Lights.

For more information, (281) 244-2100 or email membership@spacecenter.org.

🎭 Alley Theatre

The Alley Theatre (Copyright: Bill Saltzstein (c) 2009)

👉 Purchase here

Begun in Houston in 1947 as an amateur theatre troupe, the Alley Theatre has grown into a nationally-recognized performing arts company that produces some 400 performances annually. It is the oldest professional theatre company in Texas and one of the oldest operating resident theatres in the country.

Alley Theatre offers three subscriptions packages: a five-play package, an eight-play package and a 10-play flex package. The theatre also sells gift passes which cost $50-75 and can be redeemed at any time for any performance, excluding some summer and holiday productions.

For more information, call (713) 220-5700 or email boxoffice@alleytheatre.org.

🚂 Galveston Railroad Museum

Inside the Galveston Railroad Museum. (Photo provided by Galveston Island)

$50 | 👉 Purchase here

The Galveston Railroad Museum is a railroad museum housed in the former Santa Fe Railroad station, at 25th and Strand in Galveston, Texas. It boasts one of the largest restored railroad collections in the Southwest, displaying 40 rolling stock, including locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, and cabooses. There are also numerous rotating exhibits and weekly opportunities to take open-air caboose rides on the Harborside Express.

Membership benefits vary by membership level. All members receive free museum admission, free train rides on Harborside Express, one-time use guest admissions passes, access to the Polar Express presale and a 10 percent discount at the gift shop.

For more information, call (409) 765-5700 or email info@galvestonRRmuseum.org.

🩰 Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet Principals Karina Gonzalez and Connor Walsh in Stanton Welch's "Sylvia" (2019)

$117 | 👉 Purchase here

Founded in 1969, the Houston Ballet is an internationally renowned troupe and the nation’s fifth largest ballet company. It has a performance space built especially for the company, Wortham Theater Center, and the largest professional dance facility in America, Houston Ballet’s Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Dance. Each season, the company produces six shows and holds nearly 100 performances.

Full-season subscriptions for the 2022-2023 season are on sale now and start at $117. Though perks vary by subscription level, all subscribers have the ability to exchange and swap tickets, and will receive a 10 percent discount on any additional tickets purchased, a one-year subscription to Houston Ballet News, priority seating for “The Nutcracker,” two free seating upgrades and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Center For Dance.

Houston Ballet also offers “mini packages.” These packages consist of tickets to three shows rather than six and are cheaper than a full-season subscription.

For more information, call (713) 522-5538 or email info@houstonballet.org.

🎼 Houston Symphony

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 11: Houston Symphony Orchestra performs at the Andrea Bocelli concert at Toyota Center on December 11, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) (2016 Bob Levey)

👉 Purchase here

One of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, the symphony held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, the full-time ensemble of professional musicians presents nearly 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston.

Houston Symphony offers a selection of curated and create-your-own packages with which you can buy as few as four concerts or as many as 18. Though subscription benefits vary by subscription level, all subscribers receive priority seating and flexible ticketing.

For more information, call (713) 224-7575.

🐬 Moody Gardens

Moody Gardens (copyright 2017 Robie Capps Photography)

$120 | 👉 Purchase here

Moody Gardens began in the mid-1980s with a horse barn, a riding arena with an equine-assisted riding program for people with head injuries. Now, in addition to providing horticultural therapy, education and employment for persons with a wide range of physical and emotional disabilities, it’s one of Galveston’s most popular tourist attractions. Moody Gardens boasts an aquarium, rainforest habitat, discovery museum, theater, a cruising paddlewheel boat, white-sand beach, ropes course, zip line and a golf course.

Membership includes unlimited admission to most Moody Gardens attractions.

For more information, call (409) 683-4287 or email memberships@moodygardens.org.

🌼 Houston Botanic Garden

Houston Botanic Garden (MICHAEL TIMS / HOUSTON BAPTIST UNIVERSITY)

$50 | 👉 Purchase here

Opened in 2020 on the former site of a municipal golf course, the Houston Botanic Garden features 132 acres of horticultural displays, natural ecosystems and 2.5 miles of walking trails. Sims Bayou runs through and around the northern edge of the garden -- creating two distinct spaces, the Island and the South Gardens, connected by a bayou bridge. Outdoor gallery spaces display a collection of tropical, sub-tropical, and arid plants that showcase the biodiversity that thrives along the Texas Gulf Coast. The garden hosts special events weekly.

Membership benefits vary by membership level. All members receive free general admission, a 10 percent discount at The Garden Shop, and early registration for select Garden classes and events.

For more information, call (713) 715-9675.

🧸 Children’s Museum Houston

Children's Museum Houston (Image courtesy of Children's Museum Houston)

$150 | 👉 Purchase here

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.

Member perks include free admission for one year, members-only character meet-and-greets, access to members-only parties and events and early ticket reservations, and a 10 percent discount at Fiddle Sticks Toys. Memberships are also valid at the at Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center. The first membership tier, Achiever, includes admission for four people (at least one must be a child) and costs $150.

For more information, call (713) 535-7212 or email membership@cmhouston.org.

MORE: Got a toddler, Insiders? These are manageable Houston family experiences that won’t make you regret leaving the house


About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.