Things to do in Houston with teenagers!
I started this website with three little kids... and suddenly two of them are teens. I've been working on a list of things to do around Houston with bigger kids... but have never hit publish.
One reason is that my teens are very busy. With school and sports and extracurriculars, there is not a ton of time for extra activities. The second reason is, teens can be hard to impress. (Not mine, of course. 😉 ) Some things I thought would be great just didn't get the reaction I expected!
Still, to get you started with things to try around Houston... here is my working list of things to do in Houston with teenagers. Please help me add to it!
Art/Quirky Art/Performing Arts
- Mural Tour: Strike a pose all over Houston. Go HERE for the citywide mural map... or head to the Arts District or Houston Graffiti Building for a lot of art in one spot.
- Rice University: Take your teen to see all the hidden (and often goofy) art around Rice University. Or go to the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace and Moody Center for the Arts.
- Art Car Museum: Here you can get your art car fix in the long year between art car parades. This free museum has art cars and contemporary art.
- Beer Can House: When you drive up Malone Street, you think you’re in just any residential neighborhood until you see a shiny silver house with beer can chimes blowing in the wind.
- Orange Show: Experience art so unique you can only find it at a monument celebrating oranges.
- Cistern Tours: Tour the recently uncovered cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park. Kids must be nine or older to tour. The art on display rotates throughout the year.
- Honey Art Cafe: Take your teen to this small cafe to grab a snack, make their own art or take one of the many classes.
- Museum of Fine Arts Houston: This museum has programs for little kids... but it might just be better for the big kids. Go on Thursday for free admission. And be sure to go to the tunnels connecting the buildings. They are my favorite part.
- Performing Arts: There are a lot of options to see shows in Houston... including the Hobby Center, Alley Theatre, Main Street Theater and Miller Outdoor Theatre. Main Street Theater has productions for adults and kids... and some of the kids shows are targeted at teens. Also, Miller Outdoor Theatre is always free!
- Houston Ballet: Take the teens to the ballet all year long... and to The Nutcracker during the holidays.
- Opera: Take your teen to the Houston Grand Opera or to the smaller Opera in the Heights.
- Houston Symphony: The Houston Symphony has programs for both kids and for adults. And some programs, like the music of Star Wars, would be great for teens.
- Houston Museum of Natural Science: This museum is great for all ages. For toddlers through adults (including teens), there is something to see and learn.
- Health Museum: All ages can enjoy the Health Museum, but you have to be older than seven to work in the DeBakey Cell Lab. And you have to be over 13 to do all the experiments.
- Holocaust Museum: This is the museum for older kids and adults. The content is heavy and educational.
- Space Center Houston: All ages can enjoy Space Center, but interested teens can learn a lot.
- Ocean Star Oil Rig Museum: Located on the water in Galveston, this museum is very educational for older kids.
Outdoors/On the Water
- Beach: Take the teens to the beach! Go to Galveston, Surfside or the small Sylvan Beach!
- Margaritaville Watercraft Rentals: Renting a pontoon boat at Margaritaville on Lake Conroe may have been the coolest thing we've ever done. All the kids, from the preschooler to the teens LOVED riding on the tube.
- Kayak Rentals: Bayou City Adventures has kayaks to rent for use on Buffalo Bayou. They also have kayak tours, paddle board lessons and surfing lessons. Riva Boathouse has kayaks and watercraft to rent for The Woodlands Waterway and Woodlands Lake.
- Trails: Houston has a lot of bike/walk/run trails. Some are hikes through the trees (like some Memorial Park Trails and Lake Houston Wilderness Park) and some are paved with views of the city (like Buffalo Bayou Park and Heights Trail with connects to White Oak Bayou). Which Houston trails are your favorite?
- Bike: If you do not have your own bike, rent one from one of the many B Cycle Stations all over the city.
I have noticed that once kids get to their teens, the options for organized sports is more limited. For example, if they did not start baseball as a little kid, they are likely not going to make the all-star travel team in their teens (and the rec teams are harder to find). That said, here are some good options... even for beginners at a sport. (And be sure to share more ideas with us!)
- The Artz: Have you seen Cirque du Soleil? You can try out the silks, trapeze, lyra and more at The Artz. All ages can take classes, take private lessons or try out open gym.
- Iron Sports: Want to be a Ninja Warrior? Take a class or try out open gym at Iron Sports.
- Rock Climbing: Learn to climb at many local gyms, including Momentum. Do you have a favorite gym?
- Golf: Hermann Park Golf Course is open to the public, has lessons and discounted rates for kids under 17. Swanny's is an affordable place to get a bucket of balls for the driving range. Where else do you recommend?
- Gyms: I have spent much of the last year touring around Houston gyms. I'm not talking about the nice fitness centers you see everywhere... but the hardcore body builder gyms. I know that Houston Gym will allow teenagers to train... and there are more. If you want a gym review from my teen bodybuilder, just message me.
- Houston Parks and Recreation: The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) provides programming and recreational sports opportunities for children ages 4 to 18. A variety of free recreational sports are available. Participants receive equipment, uniforms, facility usage and expert coaching free of charge.
- Watch the Game: Cheer for the Astros, Skeeters, Rockets, Texans, Dynamo, Dash, SaberCats or the Houston Polo Club.
We do a lot of park trips for the little kids... but these parks are really good for teens as well.
- Tom Bass Park Houston Ninja Warrior Challenge Course: There is a permanent ninja warrior course at this park!
- Discovery Green: There is a playground and splashpad (which might be the most fun for little kids), but there is lots of room to kick a ball, there is a lake with kayak rentals and there are events all year long (once we fully re-open). From an ice rink to festivals, there is a lot to do at Discovery Green.
- Levy Park: There is a unique playground... but also table tennis, foosball, putting green and outdoor piano. There is a mini library and board games to borrow. Levy Park also hosts a lot of free events, from martial arts lessons, to dancing to movie nights.
- Hermann Park: Right in the middle of the museum district, it's a great place to visit after visiting the museums or zoo. It's also a destination that can stand all on it's own. Teens can walk the trails, ride the pedal boats, visit the Japanese Garden and Centennial Garden, catch a show at Miller Outdoor Theatre and more.
- Margaritaville: This resort on Lake Conroe has pools, restaurants and an impressive fitness center. You can also rent a boat to take out on Lake Conroe, and for us, this was a crowd (teen) pleaser.
- Marriott Marquis: Located in Downtown Houston, next to Discovery Green, is the hotel with the rooftop Texas-shaped lazy river.
- Rent a Beach House: I am sure there are a ton of great options for renting houses on the coast. We rented the Rock House in Surfside and had a good time playing at the beach, barbequing and hanging out on the deck.
- Splashway Waterpark and Campgrounds: It no secret that this is my favorite waterpark around Houston. There is plenty for the big kids and the little kids to do... but it is not so huge you have to worry about the big kids getting lost. Plus, you can rent a cabin and spend the evening playing minigolf, laser tag and more.
- More Waterparks: Typhoon Texas, Schlitterbahn Galveston, Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, Hurricane Harbor, Pirates Bay, Palm Beach
- Houston Public Library: The Houston Public Library has a whole team dedicated to teen clubs, recommendations and events.
- Do you know of more teen book clubs?
My teens and I love to go thrifting. It's a treasure hunt and it's cheap.
- Salvation Army Washington Avenue: The location at 2208 Washington Avenue is well organized, clean and full of good brands. You have to search for it, but we've found Vans, Adidas Ultraboosts, Converse and much more. There are prom dresses and princess costumes and... Plus, they sell furniture and it all looks to be nicer than the stuff I have in my home. They have different specials each week, but go on a Wednesday to get half off all the clothes, shoes and accessories.
- Which thrift stores do you like?
Self Guided Urban Tours
I love to explore Houston, and candidly, it's often easier with the teens than the toddlers.
- Downtown Houston: Tour Downtown! Walk through the tunnels under the city, visit the parks and more.
- Chinatown: Grab lunch, shop at the Asian grocery stores and see something new.
- Montrose: Hang out on the Menil Campus, find murals, grab lunch and more.
More to Do with Teenagers
- Coffee Shops and Bubble Tea: With the busy teen schedules, sometimes this is the easiest thing for us to do together. We just grab our laptops or books and do some work together at the local coffee shops. Or we do one better by finding a new bubble tea shop. (We go to a lot of Teahouses... and U Like Tea might be our favorite.)
- Crocodile Encounter: Feed giant tortoises and see lots of alligators and crocodiles.
- Unusual Things to Do: There are some surprising things to find in the city... and it's often easier to find them with the big kids.
- Rodeo Houston: It only happens once a year, but it's good for all ages. Teens can ride the bigger carnival rides, try all the crazy food, watch the horse show and rodeo and stay up late for the concerts.
Do you have more ideas for things to do in Houston with teenagers? If so, tell us!