Houston parents all know the usual roundup of children’s and science museums in the area. But there are also some really cool and lesser known museums that are well off the beaten path. Here are 5 favorites.
Orange Show for Visionary Art—This is not your typical museum. For starters, it’s outdoors. (We recommend getting there in the early morning during summer.) The Orange Show is eclectic, unique and entirely constructed of found objects. Think fused ceramics, figurines, discarded old wheels and even a steam engine of sorts. The display was created by former postal worker, Jeff McKissack, who is a fascinating character and well worth reading about in the $1 guide. The museum is arranged like a maze, much to a kid’s delight. The maze might actually slow your kiddos down and encourage them to explore the many objects, nooks and crannies. When you’ve finished your visit, head next door to the mosaic-decorated Smither Park. Kids can watch local artists practicing their craft and maybe even join in on the fun.
1940 Air Terminal Museum—Housed in Houston’s original airport, this museum is a historical treasure. Back in the day, the airport catered to the rich and famous, and you can see traces of this in its Art Deco façade (not that your kids care about that). But they will enjoy some of the aviation memorabilia like old pilot uniforms. Any fashionista kids should check out the funky Emilio Pucci-designed flight attendant outfits. The highlight for my little one, though, was climbing into the vintage aircraft outside. And you can’t beat the super up-close view of planes coming into land at Hobby Airport.
Houston Police Museum—Tucked away on the ground floor of the HPD in downtown Houston, this museum is small but worth a visit if your kid is at all fascinated by police and sirens. Police memorabilia include a motorcycle, vintage police car, helicopter and police robot. Kids can learn about the history of the mounted patrol and see how police uniforms have changed over time. Importantly, it pays tribute to those who have served as Houston police. Head there outside of rush hour as it’s only open during the week.
Lone Star Flight Museum—This museum is beyond awesome! It is hands down my son’s favorite Houston museum. The vintage airplanes are amazing. My son was awestruck when he saw the enormous B-17. In addition to the museum’s large aircraft collection, there is a fantastic STEM learning center—probably better suited for 6 years and up but still some fun activities for the littles. Definitely check out the hang glider simulator. The museum hosts lots of events, so it’s worth signing up for their mailing list. And if you have any history buffs in the family, visit the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame to learn about Texas’ great aviators.
National Museum of Funeral History—Sounds morbid huh? If your child has ever been intrigued by Dracula, then a tour of coffins, caskets and hearses just might be up their alley. Exhibits detail the funeral ceremonies of U.S. Presidents, Popes and other celebs. What’s even more interesting is how this museum incorporates burial traditions from all over the world. You can see designer coffins from Ghana and a Day of the Dead altar and also learn about mummies. Spooky but awesome!
About our Guest Contributor: Sandy Polu is a native Houstonian, avid reader and enjoys a big glass of red after a long day. She’s also the founder of Plum Spark, a creative learning subscription box for kids. www.plumsparkkids.com