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Make Way for Play in Bay Area Houston

Family Fun is Only a Bay Away

By Kris Forrester

When you’re a kid, the whole world is your playground — and when you visit Bay Area Houston, everyone young-at-heart gets to recapture that feeling. Nestled conveniently between Houston and Galveston, the Bay lets families get away to the coast and enjoy splashy on-the-water entertainment. While you’re here, you’ll want to explore the best in family fun that Bay Area Houston has to offer — and as you’ll soon discover, it’s quite a lot! 

Whatever your family members’ ages and activity levels, options abound with seaside attractions, museums you’ll marvel at, outdoor spaces for boating and relaxing, and seafood delicacies so delicious that the kids might come away with a love for oysters and Cajun flair. Kids and parents will agree there’s almost too much to do at the Bay — and no matter how long a trip you’ve planned, you’ll find yourselves wanting a few more days.

Family Fun at the Kemah Boardwalk

Planning a jam-packed family Baycation couldn’t be easier or more customizable to your family’s relaxation needs and whims. Start off at Kemah Boardwalk, a hot spot for festivals, restaurants, and shopping that’s also a year-round destination for amusement park rides, classic treats, and that good old-fashioned carnival atmosphere. Older kids and grown-ups will want to test their bravery on the Boardwalk Bullet, a true-blue wooden roller coaster that will haul you 96 feet in the air only to immediately drop you 92 of them! If the seaside and marina views from that first hill don’t take your breath away, the rest of the ride’s curves and swerves will. 

Other adrenaline-pumping boardwalk attractions cater to all comfort zones, from the Flare (a looping coaster) and the Pharoah’s Fury (a pendulum swing) to rides that will fly, drop, spin, or swing you around to your heart’s content. For the littlest littles (or those who respect gravity), carousels, swings, a train, and other options are plentiful. Those who’ve braved the Bullet will want to take a victory lap around Galveston Bay aboard the Boardwalk Beast, a speedboat thrill ride that will whiz you across the waves at a spray-tastic 40 mph. It’s wet, wild, and sure to make a splash.   

Top off your day at the Midway Games, carnival-style booths where you can win souvenirs and shiny prizes, or head to the ever-festive atmosphere of the arcade. After that sensory overload, head for the amazing up-close-and-personal Stingray Reef, located on the Aquarium Restaurant’s first level, for a more educational experience. Nothing says photo op like seeing your child feed, pet, and make friends with a stingray!

Soar to New Heights

Next up, feed your sense of wonder at Space Center Houston, the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. This out-of-this-world experience invites visitors to be a part of NASA’s mission. Since Houston is where NASA itself began shooting for the stars in 1961, there’s probably no better place in the universe to ask “What’s out there?” but “How will we get there?” With more than 400 attractions ranging from moon rocks and spacesuits to rockets and chats with real live astronauts, every would-be spacefarer in your family will be over the moon with delight. 

Great Times in the Great Outdoors

Whether boating, fishing, splashing, or enjoying the scenery, Bay Area Houston’s abundant waterways make it your family’s personal water park. 

The nearby Nassau Bay Wildlife Peninsula is a popular place for enjoying signposted nature trails and wetland wildlife. For seaside views and well-maintained miles of hiking and biking trails, Pine Gully Park is a dream for explorers young and old. Let the sweet breeze from the Bay wash over you as you wander through woods, look for rare birds in the wetlands, or search for shells along the shore.  

Take a walk along the StoryWalk in Seabrook at Meador Park. The Evelyn Meador Library Story Walk starts behind the library and will take you on a magical story adventure as you walk along the beautiful Seabrook trails.

Go by Water

For families with the sea in their blood, Bay Area Houston offers endless options. One of the most picturesque is the Clear Creek Paddle Trail. Kayakers have six miles of shoreline and multiple launch options to choose from, leaving trip length and difficulty up to you.

For those who don’t want to paddle, set sail on the Capt Kidd, a 55-foot schooner. Captain Kidd Charters launches daytime or sunset sails from the Seabrook Marina. Boarding this dramatic 19th-century replica with its blood-red sails may remind you to ask your children what a pirate’s favorite letter of the alphabet is (arrr!). Or, try the Boardwalk FantaSea, a spacious yacht that launches sightseeing mini-cruises from the convenience of the Kemah Boardwalk. Public tours boast panoramic vistas of not only Kemah but Clear Lake and Galveston Bay. 

Whatever activities and entertainments you opt for, your family’s Baycation is certain to be one for the ages (all ages!). But one trip can really only scratch the surface — once you’ve been to the Bay, chances are, you’ll be back.

Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway or a fun-filled family vacation, the Visit Bay Area Houston website is the place to start.

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