Discounts available for purchasing your tickets online.
Be sure to check the website for special events.
Extended hours available during the summer and some holidays.
Don't skip The Johnson Space Center if you are near Houston - it is the only place in the world where you can walk through a space shuttle replica and the actual 747 jet that was retrofitted to carry shuttles across the country. We also got to see the Saturn V - the rocket that launched the Apollo missions - and it is incredible.
There is so much to learn about astronaut life and the history of the US Space missions. There are lots of hands-on exhibits and most everything is very accessible to children aged 7+.
I expected to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the museum, but was pleasantly surprised that while it IS large and there IS tons to do, it isn't SO big that you have no idea where to begin. There are three things you have to do: take the tram tour, walk through the Independence and the Starship Gallery. Beyond that, tailor to your kid's interests and ages.
You can now reserve timed tickets for the tram ride and Independence Plaze online, which I highly recommend since wait times can get very long for those attractions.
My kids and I visited Space Center Houston on a Sunday in July with some friends. Yes, it was a bit crowded on a weekend, but it was one of the most unique and worthwhile stops that we made on a three week summer road trip. If you're in Houston, do not miss the Space Center.
There are two tram tours available. Long lines form quickly. So, head straight to the back where the tours begin when you arrive at the Space Center. We took the tour that went to the training center; of course, on a Sunday we didn't see anyone at work. I'm not sure how many people are working there on a regular basis during the weekday. It felt a bit like a factory tour. We walked through a gallery that overlooked all the training modules - including the international space station (ISS) and the new Orion. Our tour guide gave us a brief description of what we were viewing as we walked. The tour ends at a large hangar that houses a Saturn rocket that was supposed to go into space - but never did. It was huge! I've never seen anything like it before.
Presentations, IMAX movies and tram tours are included in the admission price. (Really, everything you see in the center is included except the simulators.) We enjoyed the IMAX movie; it was a great place to rest for a bit after a long day of exploring the museum. The film that we saw gave a bit of history about the International Space Station and then highlighted the future of NASA (the Orion and landing on Mars.)
There is a children's area with hands-on exhibits and a two story slide. We let the kids play there in between seeing various exhibits. There are some remote control Mars Rovers that we really enjoyed playing with - but many of the exhibits are similar to what you'd find in other museums around the country.
We enjoyed walking through a model of the space shuttle. This is not a space shuttle that ever went into space; I believe it was a training module.
Next to the kids area there is a movie theater. This theater is the gateway to a "museum" that holds all of the important historic artifacts of the US Space program that are held at Space Center Houston. First, a 15 minute video about the history of NASA is shown then doors open. Visitors walk through a corridor viewing various pieces of history from lunar rovers to space suits. Be sure not to miss this section of Space Center Houston.
There is something for everyone at Space Center Houston. The kids can interact with the exhibits and learn about the history of the US space program. Parents will enjoy walking through the model of the space shuttle and sites on the tram tour that will remind them of the shuttle launches that they saw on TV in the 1980s and in the movie Apollo 13.
Our family had a great time at Space Center Houston. I would recommend arriving as early as possible to take advantage of every exhibit. Most of the activities were scheduled and you selected the ones to view. We missed a few I would have liked to have seen. We thoroughly enjoyed the lecture from an astronaut who had actually spent time in the Space Station - his anecdotal record was far more entertaining than the stats/statistics we could have read off of a wall sign. There are activities for all ages and the cafe offers a variety of tasty meal options - very impressed with the lunch options. The tram tours were great for the older kids, but would have been tedious for the younger ones. The Center went beyond rockets and astronauts - there were animals and insects on display. Scientists explained how NASA uses nature to create robots that move smoothly through the rugged terrain of other planets. Very cool! We look forward to going back and spending a full day or 2.
"Houston, we've had a problem"- Jack Swigert, Apollo Mission 13
That has to be the most famous lines in NASA history AFTER Neil Armstrong's landing on the moon. Swigert's. In fact, when many people think of NASA they think of Houston. Why? Well, for a long time this is where Mission control was for many missions and the home base and training center for astronauts. Today, they still are the mission control for the International Space Center and continue to train astronauts in addition to developing new operations for the space program.
So do we get to see mission control?
Well, yes, and no. Space Center Houston is the 'tourist' attractions for all things NASA in Houston. The Space Center is located just off of the Johnson Space Center (which is where NASA really is). You can get a limited tour on their tram from the Space Center. Some days they will offer you two different tours and others I will see they combine them. Usually one tour will take you only to the training facility. While the other will take you to Mission Control. It's nice when you get to do it all at once, however, I've only seen them do this during non-peak seasons.
What's the difference between the tours?
Ok. Besides the obvious? Here is what you get. On the TRAINING facility tour, you JUST go to the training facility. At the time of this writing, this was where the astronauts in training would get familiar with the layout of the International Space Center. Its RARE you will ever see an anyone in training as they usually space their rotations about 6 months to a year depending on their job function. Plus, they will typically send in the same people each time so there is no need to train new people. Bummer. However, on my first trip with the kids we were privilege enough to see the Mars rover BEFORE it went into space. SUPER COOL!
Now Mission Control has been different a few times I have gone. You have a chance of seeing the OLD mission Control from the 60s/70s era OR they will show you the tne REAL Mission Control!! This Mission Control is where they speak with the International Space Center. What is neat about that is there are REAL people in the bubble and you can see what they are doing on the ISC! Everyone sits in the "media" room so you can't talk directly to them without permission from your guide. THIS IS WHERE I WOULD TAKE THAT GROUP PHOTO!!! Just MAKE SURE YOU TURN YOUR FLASH OFF! I took one of the kids here and I like this MUCH better than that cheezy photo they take of you when you get on the tram. (Plus, this was free!) Just be sure to ask your guide first as sometimes they are pressed on time.
With all the tours you will end at the Rocket Museum to see Saturn 5 rocket.
Ok, tour is done? NOW what do we do???
OMG! There is SOOOO much for kids to do here. For kids under the age of 8 there is the Kids Space Place. Its a giant jungle gym towards the front entrance and from what I've seen, very clean. At this time I haven't seen where the kids were overly violent or anything. It seems to be controlled fairly well. There is a metal bleacher for the parents to sit and read or socialize while the kids run their hearts out. Also, there are a few exhibits about space that the kids would like. Such as landing your space rocket, moving your Mars rover, and also finding out what your weight is on other planets.
Next, there is the Blastoff Theater. This is where they talk about what is going on in the NASA space program right this instance. Many times you find out things just as they release them. My recommendation tell your kids to stay REAL close to the screens when your first enter. They will get a kick out of the 'blast off'!
The Astronaut Gallery is honestly only enjoyable if you have that audio tour guide. The first time my kids went through that, they were not too impressed. I found that my kids ages 9-16 really enjoyed this as they were learning a bunch about not only space, but about history as well. (and I have X-box Kids so that says a lot!)
The Feel of Space has recently been updated, but it's still a presentation. Its set on a space small stage, where someone comes and talks about what its like to 'live' in space by picking someone in the audience to demonstrate. We were lucky that on a recent trip my youngest, David, got picked. He still has the present they gave him at the end, a small bottle of water labeled "recycled urine". I'll leave it at that, as I don't want to spoil it for you. I do recommend you going to see it though.
The SCH also has a theater, similar to IMAX. Various documentaries and videos are shown. I saw their DVD-The Planets (musical score) and was so impressed I bought the DVD and watch it at home. Again, it's all educational stuff typically. Two things about it. For some reason it is ALWAYS cold in that room and two, my 9year old never seems to stay awake during it? Judge for yourself if the feature showings are something you would see. Recently, we saw the movies on the shuttle programs. This was good for the kids as they did not know much about the shuttle programs at all and I have found them repeating information they have learned when they see something in the news or on TV.
Looks like we will be there for awhile. Can we bring food or buy food?
You cannot bring outside food. There is a food court and I'll be honest, it gets VERY expensive. Expect to spend about $10 per person for lunch. There IS a little known fact that you CAN leave the Space Center and come back the same day and guess what is across the street. McDonald's. So to save some money, get a stamp on your hand on the way out. Go hit up the dollar menu and then come on back.
Where should we get tickets??
Ok. I will tell you that buying online is the BEST thing to do because not only do you get a discount you also just have to show that ticket to get in. No need to wait in line outside. The only exception to that is if you are showing up for the first time with your City Pass receipt, however, if you already have your City Pass book, just walk on in. Easy and Cheaper. Also, if you plan to come again in the year or live near by to frequent it, like we do. For just a few bucks more you can make it an annual pass. (i.e. we spent $4 per person more to get an annual pass when we got our tickets)
Why to get annual passes?
Discount on food and purchases in the gift shop. Free entry year round. That includes when they have new exhibits or events (like the recent Home and Garden Show!). We live in the area so this works for our family. When the kids want to get out and I'm looking for a free thing for them to do, I will take them here.
It's safe, clean, educational, fun.
This was a fun trip for us, and SO much for the kids to do! I think we were just as wow'ed as they were! It was an all day experience and definitely worth it! We had a lot of fun, and we left feeling really educated. Those don't often go hand-in-hand! One of our favorite things to do was watch the NASA team at work, and actually get to see what they do. Super cool!
We went to visit the Johnson Space Center in Houston the last time we were in the Houston area with my then 4 year old son. He loved it, but I can see him enjoying it even more in a couple of years. We went during the Christmas break and bought tickets for the tram tour right away, but we already needed to wait for a bit. The tour is about 1.5 hours, so plan accordingly because there's no lunch stop during the tour. I've always loved the movie Space Camp, so it was fun for me too!
In the center, there's plenty to see and do. We went up and down the stairs of the rocket ship that's in the building about 25 times. Yes, I had a preschooler.
The kids playspace is really huge and amazing. Like many of those structures those they get pretty dirty since there are tons of kids climbing through everyday. It was nice to do something a bit more physical after all the educational material you were soaking in.
The admission price is definitely hefty. Go here for a $5 coupon off admissions for up to 6 adults. http://www.mapamerica.com/houston/place/spacecenterhouston
We had heard so many mixed reviews about Space Center Houston and after 2 years of living in the area, we finally decided to go. It was a lot of fun and was very educational. I would highly recommend for all ages. There is so much for kids to do and adults will love it just as much. I think the highlight for me was laying on a bed of nails. I never would have thought I would get to do something like that. Worth the trip! Do it!!
Our family absolutely loved visiting the Nasa Space Center. I must warn that there is so much to do, that it probably could not be covered in one day. There is an Imax, a guided tour through the actual space center itself, where you can watch the agents at Nasa work. You cannot miss it!
If you go see anything with your kids in the Houston are, make this the one thing. Absolutely phenomenal displays. Take advantage of the interactive exhibits. Book your tour early to see the Saturn 5 rocket. It fills up fast. Make sure to arrive early, because this museum closes earlier in the day than expected.
Our trip to the Space Center in Houston was a little dissappointing. There not as much space history as we had hoped.
The Space Center was largely dissappointing due to the cost. Many of the exhibits require additional cost to enter. The food was pricely, but that was expected.
The Space Center is Houston is sponsored by Nasa. The Space Center frequently has guest appearances by astronauts!!
The Space Center frequently has special guest and special events-make sure you check the Space Center website before planning your trip.
I am glad that I went to the Space Center, but probably will not go back in the future.
Wish we would have had more time to look around there. It was cool to see the rockets and space stuff. Didn't have little kids with us but think that they would have liked it. Took a long time to get there and we got lost a few times as the road signage wasn't great.
My nephews came down recently and really wanted to do something fun that they could only do here in the Houston area. We were going to some ballgames later in the week so I thought I'd take them here for a quiet afternoon of fun. They absolutely loved Space Center Houston and it brought back memories of when I used to go there on field trips. At first we just walked through the museum part and I let them look around at all the space ships and astronaut gear. Then we took the tram around NASA that shows you mission control, rockets and more. We ended the day with watching an IMAX movie of space exploration. Overall it was a great day and the kids enjoyed it.
Look around at local McDonald's for discount ticket coupons because they'll save you some extra cash which you can use in the gift shop for some "astronaut ice cream."
On a related note about souvenirs, there are a few local businesses in the Clear Lake/Space Center area that sell Space City souvenirs including items for Houston, Space Center Houston, and other local landmarks. They are a bit cheaper but personally I'd buy things from the giftshops on site because it's just more convenient.
We were recommended to jump on the tram ride as soon as we walked in the door. BIg mistake, the tour was much too long for our toddlers. They didn't find it interesting at all, and honestly, I didn't find it too interesting myself. It was neat to see an actual rocket that had been sent in to space, but the tour could have ended there for us! There is a huge play structure inside and we thought that would be great for the kids, but it was too overwhelming and hard to keep an eye on the kids. Older kids were in there too and they were being pretty rough. Lego had an exhibit at the time, and really that was the highlight and what drew us to the Space Center. It was a temporary exhibit though, and over with now. I would not recommend this unless you have older school aged children that are really into space exploration.
This museum is a really fun place to take the kids, but don't expect to get a lot of history out of it. The Space Center is more of an arcade/theme park than a museum. The kids love it, but we took the kids and grandparents and it was a little disappointing. The food is very overpriced, and most of the cool exhibits charge extra to get in.
Went here over Spring Break with 3 boys who are all interested in planets, rocket ships and space. The kids were bored after a couple of hours but luckily enjoyed playing on the playscape for hours afterwards. We felt as though the center could've used some improvements and updating. We could definitely sense the age of the center without much recent updates. Everything felt older but there were still some things that kept our attention for a few hours. They enjoyed the astronaut ice cream and playscape the most.
looks to be less than clean. The large climbing equitment seemed dirty (especially toward the top when I limbed up with my kids). Its also less than ideal for young children because the play structure is so big that small kids can get lost or stuck up there (which is why I was climbing up there in the first place).
It gets three stars because older kids may really enjoy the large scale of this indoor playground as long as they are independent enought to play without a parent near buy.
We just visited the Space Center Houston with our 4 year-old son and 6 year-old daughter. Much fun had by all! We arrived pretty early in the day (10:45am or so) and there was plenty to do until 4pm when we left (hours are 10am-5pm). I had read the review to do the Tram Tour first, which was great advice.
The hour-long movie on the International Space Station in the big theatre was interesting for adults, but my daughter thought it was too loud. Also, in the movie it showed a simulation of what would happen if another meteoroid hit the earth and devastated our cities . . . needless to say a little scary! Our children loved the Flight Simulator where you could sit in a little honeycomb of flight stations and try to land/dock the Shuttle, and our daughter went down the enclosed 3 story-high slide in the kids play area about 8 times!
I would suggest packing a lunch if you can since food and drink is expensive, and no one glared at us as we broke out our sack lunches. You can leave it in the car in a cooler, as they stamp your hand for "re-entry" (we thought this was a great term, given the space environment!).
Last but not least, if you buy your tickets online, through the end of May, they are half off. The ticket you buy online can be used for entry into the Space Center for up to one year from date of purchase (not over and over, just as single entry). So that means you could buy your tickets now and then go during the summer, etc. whenever you are headed for your Space Center family adventure. Have a blast!
We visited here during spring break. There are a bunch of activities for all ages, kid maze play structure for the little ones, interactive exhibits, etc.
Our favorite was the tram tour that took you onto the grounds of Johnson Space Center, next door. We got a commentary of all the different buildings and we actually got to go into the viewing area of the real Mission Control room. There was a longtime employee that talked about NASA, the shuttles, the astronauts (many of which were/are his personal friends), and the work that is done specifically from that room.
It was VERY interesting and we all really enjoyed it.
The only bummer was the cafe, the lunch options were typically overpriced and not very good at all, and there weren't many healthy choices at all.
Overall, it was an enjoyable family outing
It's easy to spend all day here if you do all the shows and tours.
There are two tram tours--one goes to Mission Control and the other to the training facility. Both stop in Rocket Park on the way back, where you can see a huge rocket inside a building. The Mission Control tour was our favorite. Take your tours as soon as you get there before it gets too crowded.
Shows include two IMAX movies about various space topics as well as other films and live talks by NASA personnel. The museum part has lots of hands-on activities. You can touch a real moon rock, and see real and mock-up spacecraft.
Kids will love the huge climbing area and ball pit.
We visited in the winter when only a few of the food lines in the cafeteria were open. Prices were like amusement parks but portions were pretty generous.
I think the 4+ age recommendation is right on. Our almost-four-year-old did fine, but a lot of littler kids had trouble sitting through the tours and movies.
There are also several simulators, etc., that you can pay extra for, but there's plenty to do with the regular things.
Parking is $5 per car.
Space Center Houston is both fun and educational and was our favorite stop on our trip. The admission price is well worth it.
I could spend days upon days in this place. It's a child's dream to be an astronaut and going to the space center gives not only your children but the kid in you a chance to get a taste of what astraunauts do ....
They have a simulator you sit in, tours of the launch sites, control rooms etc. Fun games, entertainment, snacks etc. I highly recommend this not only for educational purposes but for a fun all day outing. Talk about a great time had for all involved!