Who doesn’t love the thrill of a theme park? The wind is in your hair as you fly through the air on the fastest rollercoasters in the country.
The smell of cotton candy and donuts? I love the entire experience of the amusement park, and when it comes to amusement parks in Houston, they never let me down.
It’s a tradition for my family and me to visit amusement parks twice a year, once in summer and once in winter, usually around Halloween, as you get some cool-themed rides and events, plus the queues tend to be a little shorter.
I think there is something about the atmosphere at amusement parks that puts everyone in a great mood. So, I decided to compare the amusement parks in and around Houston and see what they all had to offer regarding a great family day out.
Best Amusement Parks in Houston And What They Have to Offer
Throughout this guide, I will be telling everything there is to know and love about some of Houston’s most exciting and thrilling amusement parks.
I have looked at what makes them stand out from the rest, their best rides, what kind of arcades and diners they have, and how much they cost to get in.
Some of these amusement parks may be a bit of a drive away from Houston itself, but I can assure you, they’re worth the road trip.
So, let’s take a look. Oh, and by the way, these aren’t in any particular order. They’re all fab!
1. Grand Texas Theme Park
|Location||Grand Texas, 23065 TX-242, New Caney, TX 77357|
|Opening Times||9:00 am - 6:00 pm|
|Entry Price||$39.00 (kids under 2 go free)|
|Distance From Houston||35 miles|
The Grand Texas Theme Park is probably the most popular and well-known amusement park near Houston. A great day out for the whole family, where you can get some great food while enjoying some of the most thrilling rides in the area.
With over fifty rides, there are plenty to choose from. There are rides for the biggest thrill seekers and anyone who shies away from the big rides.
For anyone who loves water sports and aquatic adventures, why not visit the big river water park while you’re here? This new addition to the theme park has been recently opened and is proving to be a big hit, especially in the summer. Prices for the water park are only $44.99.
If you want to visit during winter, I suggest looking at the Christmas Lights and Winter Nights package. It’s a great event to take the kids to and only costs $19.99, making it an extremely affordable day out.
It includes fairground rides, Christmas crafts, a Santa visit, a petting zoo, archery, axe throwing, a mystic maze, and many other exciting events.
The main attractions in terms of rides are the SPINdletop, Rolling Thunder, and Lafitte’s Fury.
If you want to get into the skies and experience the thrill from the air, I recommend taking a ride on the ultimate zip line ride, the Falcon Flight, which allows you to glide over the wave pool, through a creek, and over a pond.
There are other exciting and challenging activities to participate in, such as the vultures dive and bungee jumping from a seven-story building. There are also rock climbing and obstacle courses.
2. Moody Gardens Amusement Park & Hotel
|Location||One Hope Blvd, Galveston, TX 77554|
|Opening Times||10:00 am - 10:00 pm|
|Entry Price||$60.00 - $100.00|
|Distance From Houston||50 miles|
Get ready for an action-packed day, or even stay and holiday at the Moody Gardens Amusement park, less than an hour’s drive away from Houston’s city center.
There is so much stuff to do here that I highly recommend staying overnight so that you can take advantage of everything they’ve got to offer over the space of a couple of days. If you try to do everything in one day, you’re bound to miss out on some great activities.
I don’t even know where to start with telling you about my favorite things about this fantastic theme park, but one of the stand-out activities for me has to be the Rainforest Pyramid.
I am always drawn to anything with animal exhibitions, so this is always my first port of call when I visit this amusement park.
Inside the rainforest pyramid, you get the chance to experience a treetop journey which shows you everything that happens below the surface of the Rainforest. You can see free-roaming exotic birds and animals such as sloths, bats, lemurs, and lizards.
There is also a discovery museum which makes for a great exploration experience. The museum is focused on music and science and allows guests to immerse themselves in the technology and romance of music. You can get hands-on with Theremin or even get involved in karaoke.
If you’re a massive animal lover like me, this park offers something unique. I haven’t yet experienced these, as they’re pretty pricey, but it’s on my bucket list.
Firstly, there is the penguin experience, which will cost you $425.00 for a group of four people. It includes a 45-minute private penguin encounter, admission to the aquarium pyramid, and a piece of penguin art.
What I have done, however, is the public penguin encounter, which I highly recommend if you don’t want to splash out on the private one, this is only $55.00 – $75.00, so much more affordable.
I could go on and on about this place, as there is so much to see and do that I find something new every time I visit. I simply can’t stress enough what a great day out it will be for you and your family.
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3. Kemah Boardwalk
|Location||Kemah Boardwalk, 215 Kipp Ave, Kemah, TX 77565|
|Opening Times||Monday - Friday: 12:00 pm till 9:00 pm
Friday - Saturday: 11:00 am till 10:00 pm
Sunday - 11:00 am till 9:00 pm
|Entry Price||From $19.99|
|Distance From Houston||20 miles|
Just over half an hour’s drive out of Houston sits Kemah Boardwalk Amusement Park, which offers the whole packages as far as amusement parks go.
If you’re visiting the theme park for the sake of the rides, then you won’t be disappointed at the selection of thrilling rides. They have something for all ages ranging from the wonder wheel and the carousel to the Boardwalk Tower and Pharaoh’s Fury.
The most thrilling ride (which I am still trying to pluck up the courage to have a go of) is Flare.
This intense roller coaster is 73 feet tall, with loops and turns, and has you rotating backward and forward while you fly at high speeds through the air. It’s exciting enough just to watch, as far as I’m concerned, but for you crazy cats who love the adrenalin of a ride, this will be right up your street.
Another intense ride is the Boardwalk Bullet, which reaches speeds of 51 miles per hour and includes a breathtaking drop of 92 feet.
For animal lovers, check out my favorite part, the Stingray Reef and Rainforest Exhibit. It will cost you around $7.00 for entry and includes exhibits with animals such as spiders, turtles, scorpions, piranhas, and snakes, amongst others.
Suppose you’re feeling peckish during your visit. In that case, you won’t be short of places to grab a bit, with diners and restaurants dotted all over the place throughout the amusement park, such as Landry’s Seafood House, The Pizza Oven, Funnel Cakes, Joe’s Burger Bar, and many others.
If you want to bring home a souvenir, you should look at some of the great shops they have, including a build-a-bear workshop and the treasure chest gift shop.
4. Houston Funplex
|Location||13700 Beechnut Street, Houston, TX 77038|
|Opening Times||Monday - Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday - Saturday: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Sunday - 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
|Entry Price||Pay for Credits: $0.50 - $100.00|
|Distance From Houston||18 miles|
Houston Funplex is the go-to center for family fun in the city. I absolutely love this place. Although I have to warn you, it is quite dated. However, personally, I think that is one of the reasons why I love it so much. It takes me back to my childhood days when I visited amusement parks with my parents and grandparents.
Although it could do with a lick of paint here and there, it is still a terrific day out with plenty of activities to keep you and the kids entertained for the entire day.
This theme park uses the old-fashioned ticket style of purchasing credits rather than an entrance fee, so, for example, for $25.00, you can get 50-60 credits, and you then use these credits on the attractions you wish to visit.
If you’re purchasing your tickets online, ensure that you read all the information, as I have heard a few people purchasing deals and then finding out that they have restrictions once they arrive at the park. For the best value, I recommend contacting the park directly.
Regarding the attractions, it’s a bit like heading back to the 90s in terms of the bowling alley and children’s excellent play area by the way. If you’re visiting with little ones, there are ball pits, sky tubes, a treehouse, trampolines, a foam pit, slides, and lots of kids’ arcades. So, there is no doubt that you can keep the kids entertained.
Also, reminiscing from my childhood, I loved the fact that they have a roller park that is open for adults only from 10:00 pm till 1:00 am, where you can dance and skate the night away to some cool tunes from the live DJ.
In terms of rides, this isn’t exactly where you’ll want to head if you’re seeking a thrill on high-flying roller coasters. However, they have some cool little rides, such as go-karts, a Ferris wheel, the fun plex tower, and bumper cars.
For More Great Family Days Out, Have a Read About These: 8 Fun Places to Go With Kids in Houston, TX
5. Downtown Aquarium
|Location||410 Bagby Street, Houston, TX 77002|
|Opening Times||10:00 am - 10:00 pm|
|Entry Price||$22.99 - $24.99|
|Distance From Houston||7 miles|
If you’ve read my guide on the best-themed restaurants in Houston, you will already know how much I adore this place. It has to be one of my favorite spots for a family day in Houston.
In my previous review, I focused on how much I love the restaurant and discussed the dining options, but I didn’t talk much about the other great activities they offer regarding exhibits and activities.
Firstly, as you all have probably realized by now, my favorite part is always the animal exhibits, and there is certainly no shortage at Downtown Aquarium.
Whether you want to explore the Rainforest, investigate a shipwreck and get up close and personal with reptiles in the Discovery Zone, there is something for everyone. They even have a tigers temple where you can learn everything there is to know about tigers.
There is a small collection of rides, mainly aimed at children but still fun for adults, too, such as a Ferris wheel, a frog hopper, and an aquatic carousel.
There is also a really cool train ride that takes you right through the center of the breathtaking 200,000-gallon shark tank giving you a close-up experience of the amazing sharks. It’s quite a spectacle and something I have never experienced anywhere else.
Of course, then there is the fantastic dining set-up. Walls of aquarium tanks surround the seating for the restaurant, so while you’re enjoying your meal, you can watch the fish and other sea creatures swimming right by your table.
Overall, this has to be my all-time favorite for dining and general entertainment. It’s a truly unique experience that will put a smile on anyone’s face.
Bonus Read: A Complete Guide to The 5 Best Museums in Houston, TX
The Last Drop
So, there are my most treasured amusement parks across and around Houston. I hope you manage to get to them all because I honestly don’t know how you would pick just one. Get them all on your bucket list and compare for yourself which you think is the best.
Whether you’re looking for an amusement park with an animal exhibition, scouting for the most thrilling ride, or want to take a train ride through shark-infested waters, hopefully, this guide has got you planning your next exciting day out.
If you’ve found this guide helpful, why don’t you look at some other unique things to do while visiting Houston, such as 9 Exciting Things to Do in Houston on Thanksgiving Day and Top 5 Places For Thrilling Skydiving Near Me in Houston, TX?