Visiting museums and numerous attractions in Houston is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, when you have a couple of children, family outings can get pretty expensive. But, family memberships have turned out to be a great investment. Besides saving money, we can relax now.
There’s no need to feel guilty if we don’t spend the whole day visiting a place. Plus, there’s always something we can do, even during extremely hot summer days. Here are our five top memberships that are worth the money.
1. Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the top 10 most visited museums in the country.
They have world-class exhibits, as well as permanent collections such as Morian Hall of Paleontology, Hall of Ancient Egypt, Frensley/Graham Hall of African Wildlife, Wiess Energy Hall, etc. We go to the museum at least six times per year; more often in summer. Furthermore, their summer camp is amazing.
Regular admission for adults is $25, and $15 for kids aged three to 11. Family membership is $115, and it includes two adults and four kids.
When you have the membership, you can enjoy discounts at the Museum Store, reduced rates for summer camps, as well as discounted admission to the Wortham Giant Screen theater, Cockrell Butterfly Center, and the Burke Baker Planetarium.
See also: 10 Houston Parks You Must Visit
2. Children’s Museum of Houston
Their calendar is always packed with something exciting and new, and they never fail to encourage our kids’ imagination. If you have kids aged three or younger, you will love the Tot Spot. Your little ones can run as much as they like there. In addition, there’s a “Mommy Mingle” where you can meet local moms and chat.
The museum really has a lot to offer. Some of our favorites are visiting the baby chicks, the How Does It Work area, water play at FlowWorks, and Kidtropolis. Also, our kids love DIY face painting and the art center.
General admission for everyone older than one is $12. The regular family membership is $120, and it includes four people. Since there is five of us, we paid $140 for the Family Plus membership, which includes up to six individuals.
You can use a members’ express line to get inside quicker. Also, you can visit the museum one hour before it officially opens to the public and have it to yourself. There are birthday discounts and member-only parties around holidays.
3. Houston Zoo
Being the second most visited zoo in the country, the Houston Zoo is really something out of the ordinary. When you have the membership, you don’t have to do it all in a single visit. We make our visits short and enjoyable, without rushing to see everything. Sometimes we just go to swing next to our favorite animals. Other times, we visit the splash pad or check out the petting zoo.
Adults pay $18, and the ticket for kids aged two to 11 is $14. The Family Membership includes two adults and up to three kids, priced at $139. One single guest pass is also included. For additional $20, you can get the Family Plus membership, which covers five kids and two adults.
You can skip lines since there is a members-only area. Carousel tickets are discounted, and you can attend many special events every first Saturday of the month. If you are a member, you will also get discounts on tours and the zoo’s summer camp program. Finally, you can rent pavilions for birthday parties.
See also: Houston Zoo
4. Space Center Houston
We’re so lucky to live near NASA and have a chance to introduce real-life rocket scientists to our kids. There’s so much to see and do at the Space Center; we always want to go back. Two tram tours, the Living in Space and Independence Plaza are our favorite. Moreover, visiting educational centers is a great way to interest your children in science.
Adults pay $29.95 for admission, and kids aged four to 11 pay $24.95. A Family Curiosity membership is for four people, and it costs $129. The Discovery membership for six people is $175.
Admission prices are a bit high, so that alone made us consider the membership. When you’re a member, you’ll get invited to member events. Also, you’ll enjoy discounts on food, and free parking as well. If you buy the Discovery membership, it will get you free admission to exhibit parties, guest passes, birthday cards signed by astronauts, early camp registration, and complimentary Smithsonian Affiliate membership.
5. Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Even though every kid under 12 can get in for free, they can’t go alone. Luckily, there are numerous family-friendly programs at MFAH all year long. They are especially great during summer. Some of the most amusing activities include Little Artist, Family Storybook Circles, and Saturday Sketches.
Thursdays are free, but you still have to pay to see the visiting exhibitions. General admission ticket for adults is $15 while special ones range from $15 to $18. Individual membership is only $60, and your kids can go with you until they start middle school.
The membership will get you shop discounts, as well as discounted movie tickets and invitations to exhibition parties. You will also get discounted admission to the Rienzi House and Bayou Bend collections; they have multiple fun activities for kids.
What else to consider?
A community pool is an amazing choice as well, and we got out first membership last year. During hot summer days, we visited it up to four times a week. Also, if you enjoy the water, consider Houston water parks. The Hermann Park Conservancy membership can also be a lot of fun if your kids can’t get enough of the Hermann Park Train.
If you become a member of the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, you will get discounts on classes, special event tickets, and camps. If you like theater, buy a seasonal ticket for Main Street Theater. You can buy a package that includes three, four, or five shows, as well as the whole season.
Additional Saving Tips
- If your spouse doesn’t often join you on your outings on weekdays, consider buying the cheaper membership which includes fewer people. When you decide to go together on weekends, you can usually buy an additional discounted general admission ticket.
- Bear in mind how old your kids are when you buy memberships. Very young children usually get in for free, so you don’t have to include them in the membership.
- Some larger Houston businesses cooperate with museums. You can always ask if they give discounts to employees, and show where you or your spouse work. You can get up to 20% off at some places.
- Memberships can be great gifts as well. If your or your spouse’s parents ask what you want for birthdays or holidays, tell them to buy you a membership for the whole family.
* Prices are subject to change