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While the JW Marriott just barely misses the number one spot in ShermansTravel.com’s current Houston hotel rankings, the property is easily the top pick for families this fall with a package running through the end of the year with rates starting at $189 a night. Two grownups will not only dine at the breakfast buffet free for each day of their stay (kids under 12 eat as well as stay free, too) but will also get free adult admissions to the Children’s Museum of Houston (www.cmhouston.org), one of the better hands-on kids museums anywhere. Being as you’re in a state that makes lots of buildings and energy, two popular exhibits here focus on construction and hydropower. Not as expected are two new interactive areas that’ll give the kids glimpses of what life is like in Hangzhou, China and Oaxaca, Mexico.
As worthy as the Children’s Museum is, there are two places in nearby Hermann Park I like even more, in part because one of them, the Houston Museum of Natural Science (www.hmns.org), has hissing cockroaches – one of the underappreciated joys of parenting, after all, is freaking out your children, and the roaches and other just-plain-weird critters on hand will do the trick. Cleverly, the rogue insect population is offset by a more genteel gathering of butterflies.
Hermann Park’s other big attraction is of course the Houston Zoo, always making strides in differentiating itself from other big city zoos, most recently by developing what promises to be an exceptional African forest exhibit debuting on December 10.
If you can’t get the “Apollo 13” catchphrase “Houston, we have a problem” out of your head (and haven’t yet taken your kids to the singular rocket garden at the Kennedy Space Center outside Orlando, but I digress), a pilgrimage to Space Center Houston, the visitor center for the Johnson Space Center, might be in order if you have half a day or more to spare during your stay.
For general trip-planning information, see our Houston Travel Guide.