Houston Museum of Natural Science

Houston was once home to AstroWorld, amusement park extraordinaire. Sadly, AstroWorld is gone, but we still have a world-class family entertainment facility – the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Wait, wait, yes, it's a museum, but it's not the kind where you have to whisper and the exhibits are safely tucked behind velvet ropes. Here, kids are encouraged to talk and touch, even to squeal with delight, if they are so moved. Blending education with entertainment, the museum presents a variety of permanent shows and a year-round schedule of touring exhibitions, including world-famous (and not particularly cheap) exhibits like Titanic and Body Worlds. The in-house Wortham IMAX theater is worth it for the trip alone -- ditto the Burke Baker Planetarium and the Cockrell Butterfly Center.