Houston Museum of Natural Science
One of the best places in Houston for a family adventure is the Houston Museum of Natural Science (1 Hermann Circle Dr., 713/639-4629, www.hmns.org, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun., $9–33 adults, $7–26 seniors and students, based on exhibits). The museum features an almost overwhelming array of exhibits and artifacts covering everything from dinosaurs to gems and minerals to ancient Egypt.
Its permanent collection is especially impressive, most notably the Hall of the Americas with its compelling exhibits depicting the stories of how people arrived on the continent (including Native-American, Mayan, and Aztec cultures) and their ways of life once they became permanent residents.
Children will never want to leave the museum’s Discovery Place on the lower level, featuring interactive exhibits dedicated to light and sound waves, machines with levers, pulleys, and gears, and a simulated weather studio.
The museum’s butterfly exhibit is a bit pricey ($6–8), but worthwhile, especially to see the thousands of colorful, lithe winged creatures peacefully meander throughout the towering domed Mayan rainforest habitat. A lengthy waterfall flows gently in the background, and the butterflies occasionally drop by for a personal visit.
The museum also contains a McDonald’s, but be forewarned: At lunch and dinner the scene gets about as crazy as Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition