Texas Family Vacation Ideas

Texas family vacations offer a variety in recreation for all members of the family. For families who want to vacation and de-stress under the lazy white clouds of Texas, our big state offers theme parks, national parks, camping, guest ranches, and beautiful beaches, all enhanced by the delicious tastes of Southern style foods. A fun family vacation in the Lone Star State can build lifelong memories. You don’t have to look far for fun things to do.

Family Fun Vacation Spots in Texas. Below you’ll find profiles of some of Texas’ major attractions, activities, festivals, museums, and special events. Included is contact information to help you plan your trip as well as photos of each destination.

Houston Family Attractions

Space Center Houston’s interactive exhibits show what life in space is like. Did you ever wonder how astronauts perform simple daily tasks such as eating and bathing in zero gravity? Kids can attempt tricky tasks such as trying to land a space shuttle and maneuvering a robotic arm to pick up a minute object. Where you can you dock a space shuttle, touch an authentic moon rock, and watch an astronaut train for a space mission all in the same day.

Space Center Information
Address: 1601 NASA Pkwy
Houston, TX
Telephone: 281/244-2100
Hours of Operation: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. weekends
Admission: $18.95 adults; $14.95 kids

The Houston Art Car Parade and Festival is a yearly event in Houston, Texas, featuring a display of all types of rolling art. The first and largest Art Car Parade in the world, at any given parade you will see cars, bicycles, motorcycles, roller-skaters, and many other types of motorized and human-powered vehicles all decorated in various themes. It has more than 250 outlandishly decorated automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, and other contraptions. This outlandish event features creative and outright crazy-looking vehicles parading through the city streets.

The event, held the second weekend in May, starts on Friday, when art car caravans travel to schools and hospitals. Saturday is parade day, and by 9:00 a.m. the cars are parked in ready position at a tailgater carnival. This part of the festivities allows families to view the cars while enjoying entertainment and food. In the early afternoon, the zany parade winds its way through the streets of Houston, followed by a big street party.

Houston Art Car Parade and Festival Information
Address: State Routes
Taft St. and Allen Pkwy
Houston, TX
Hours of Operation: Second weekend in May – Parade begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday

Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show is the biggest and best rodeo in Texas. Presenting star-quality bull riders, barrel racers, ropers, steer wrestlers, and bucking bronco riders competing for big cash prizes.

Several events are particularly popular with children. The calf scramble is exactly as it sounds: Picture 28 kids running around after 14 calves. Bronco riders can try their skills on a mechanical bull, or go on pony rides. Kids can also watch pig races and see newborn animals as they attempt their first steps. At Rodeo University, children can meet rodeo athletes who give roping demonstrations and share their experiences. The finest popular entertainers perform every evening after the conclusion of the arena events.

Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show Information
Address: 1 Reliant Park
Houston, TX
Information: 832/667-1000
Hours of Operation: First to third week in March.
Admission: Cost varies

New Braunfels Family Attractions

Schlitterbahn is nestled on the banks of the spring-fed Comal River in New Braunfels, about 175 miles west of Houston, near San Antonio. Its natural setting with towering trees that give it a unique character among water parks. Several of the rides make use of the river and its fresh spring water.

The Ragin’ River Tube Chute transports riders through a tube and into twisting turns, then spills them out into another ride called the Congo River. Three of the park’s water coasters actually shoot riders uphill, including the six-story Master Blaster.

There are six shallow-water playgrounds for younger children, some featuring activities such as padded tube slides, pirate ships with play features, and a five-story water funhouse. Older kids have plenty of thrill rides to sample, including the surfing simulation Boogie Bahn and a tidal wave river. Visitors can stay in lodgings in the park that overlook the river and rides. Schlitterbahn has locations in New Braunfels, Galveston and South Padre Island . The parks also feature restaurants and evening entertainment.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort Information
Address: 305 W. Austin St
New Braunfels, TX
Telephone: 830/625-2351
Hours of Operation: Hours vary
Admission: $38.43 adults; $31.33 kids

Tubing down the river in New Braunfels,Texas is an experience that is fun for the entire family. In fact, there is not just one river to tube in New Braunfels, but two. You can float through the beautiful Hill Country scenery on both the Comal and Guadalupe river.
Texas offers plenty of choices for tubing, rafting, kayaking, or canoeing whether you are looking for a slow easy float or some exciting whitewater to float a 20 mile section of the river between the Canyon Lake Dam and New Braunfels every year.

There are over two dozen outfitters along the river banks where you can rent tubes and canoes and buy concessions. Most outfitters offer a shuttle service to bring you back to your point of entry. Styrofoam and glass are prohibited on the river, and officers patrol the waters for safety. Below are some contacts:

Texas Tubes
250 Meusebach St
New Braunfels, TX 78130
(830) 626-9900

River Sports Tubes
River Sports is located on the Guadalupe River it sits right in the middle of the famous “Horseshoe Loop”, making it simple and quick to get in and out of the river.

Rockin ‘R’ River Rides
(830) 629-9999

Whitewater Sports
(830) 964-3800

Austin Family Attractions

Bat Watching At sunset the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that live under Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge take flight over Town Lake. It looks amazing, like pepper being flung into the sky. The bats migrate to Mexico in November, but until then you can get a good view by heading to the east side of the bridge.

Some think it’s best to stand or even lie down on the riverbank and look up as the sky darkens with the largest urban bat colony in North America. Others like to stand on the bridge for the panoramic view. Many tourists take to the water on Town Lake and reserve a place on a bat-viewing boat tour to watch the event,hopping aboard Capital Cruises’ bat-watching boat (512-480-9264; www.capitalcruises.com). which can take as long as 45 minutes.

Bat Watching at the Congress Avenue Bridge Information
Address: Congress Ave. Bridge
100 Congress Ave
Austin, TX
Telephone: 512/327-9721
Hours of Operation: June to September evenings

Barton Springs Pool is one of Austin’s famous landmarks and easily the most popular swimming hole in the city.

Spring fed and over 900 feet long, the pool was formed when Barton Creek was dammed up, so it has a natural rock and gravel bottom. There are varying depths, diving boards, and stairs and ladders for entry. The water temperature averages 68 degrees F’ throughout the year, so enter the pool gingerly. As you swim across, feel how some spots are colder than others. A more refreshing swim is hard to find.

Out of the water, there’s plenty of room for children to roam. After a refreshing dip, sunbathers and picnickers stretch out on the long, grassy hill. Lifeguards keep watch during the summer, and a playground and concession stand are outside the fence.

Fees ($3.00 per adult, $2.00 per junior 12-17, $1.00 children under 12 and seniors over 62)
A $3 parking fee in Zilker Park also applies on weekends, holidays, and special events.
Pool doors open early at 5 a.m. The pool is closed Thursdays 9am – 7pm for maintenance and cleaning.
Phone (512) 476-9044
2101 Barton Springs Road Austin, TX 78746

Glen Rose Family Attractions

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is more than just another zoo. Drive the nine-and-a-half mile tour through the wildlife park in Glen Rose with a bag of food and watch the animals come running. Animal lovers can get up close and personal with more than a thousand animals of 50 different varieties roaming free across the beautiful vistas, wooded hills and grassy savannahs.

Once a game ranch, the 1800-acre refuge now has a variety of research and captive breeding programs to protect endangered species. Wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts can choose their level of adventure, opting for a guided tour, a scenic self-guided tour, a walking tour or even a more challenging mountain bike tour. Halfway along the drive, stop off for a meal at the Overlook Cafe, with scenic views over Chalk Mountain. The nature store has gifts and souvenirs.

Campers can stay in the rustic, but comfortable Foothills Safari Camp or book a suite at the more luxurious Lodge. Families will also enjoy the nature trail, petting pasture, fossil hunt, wildlife walk, education center and picnic area with playground. Allow approximately 2 to 3 hours for a visit.

Driving Directions
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is located 55 miles southwest of Fort Worth and 75 miles southwest of Dallas, near Glen Rose. The GPS address is 2299 County Road 2008, Glen Rose, Texas, 76043.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
2299 County Road 2008,
Glen Rose, TX 76043

Prices: Mar-Oct: Adults $20.95-$22.95; Seniors $16.95-$19.95; Children (3-11) $13.95-$16.95, (2 and under) free.
Nov-Feb: Adults $15.95; Seniors $11.95; Children (3-11)$9.95, (2 and under) free

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