Texas Living

Parents Guide to Summer Entertainment

By Casey Kelly-Barton 6.1.17

Parents — are you ready for 12 weeks (give or take) of summertime entertainment … for your kids? With summer break just around the corner, prepare for cabin fever and the inevitable “Mom! We’re bored!” with this exclusive guide to summer for parents in the Lone Star State.

Here are a few standout destinations around the state that make for great day-trips, long weekends, and fun memories.

Water Parks

With more than a dozen water parks around Texas, you can take your pick. But these are some of the most popular (and kid-approved!).

  • Schlitterbahn Waterpark — Galveston Island has something for everyone, from tot-size wading pools to multistory water slides, a zip line, and the Boogie Bahn surfing simulator. The park is located between Moody Gardens and the seawall, with several hotels and restaurants a short drive or walk away.
  • Great Wolf Lodge — Grapevine offers resort-style fun with an indoor-outdoor water park. There’s the Cub Paw Pool for toddlers, the thrilling six-story Howlin’ Tornado raft slide for big kids, and lots of rides in between. A ropes course, arcade, and MagiQuest and Compass Quest scavenger hunt games will keep your kids busy out of the water. For grownups, the options include a massage at the Elements Spa Salon and steaks at the Lodge Wood Fired Grill. Can you say date night?
  • Splashway Water Park in Sheridan, halfway between Houston and San Antonio, is an ideal destination for your vacation since it features rental cabins and cottages, RV hookups, and designated areas for tent camping. The Splashway experience ranges from the relaxing Lazy River to the adrenaline-charged 45-foot Pirates Plunge free-fall water slide. Feeling zippy? There are eight zip line routes to enjoy.
  • Aquatica by SeaWorld in San Antonio combines thrill rides and wildlife. Slide fans will love the Kiwi Curl’s 450-foot runs, and body surfers can try 5-foot waves at Big Surf Shores. Wade safely through the Stingray Encounter or float beneath an underwater exhibit in Stingray Falls.

Don’t forget: Texas Farm Bureau members enjoy discount offers on admission to Aquatica, Schlitterbahn, and other select amusement parks! Check out other member benefit perks you can use this summer here.

Walking Tours

Walk off the summer doldrums and learn something new at these popular Texas sites for the history buff in your family.

  • Set sail on one of five self-guided tours of the USS Lexington at Corpus Christi Bay. The flight deck tour puts you up close with 20 different military aircraft, from vintage biplanes to modern fighter jets.
  • Travel back to the days when herds of mammoths roamed the Texas range. Visitors to Waco Mammoth National Monument can see 67,000-year-old mammoth fossils and learn what their lives were like on a 30-to-45-minute guided tour.
  • Make a day in the shade at Fort Worth Botanic Garden, where summer makes for the ideal time to enjoy the Conservatory’s indoor rain forest and the Japanese Garden’s koi ponds. Grab a map and take a self-guided tour or join the public tours on the second Tuesday of each month.
  • Remember the Alamo and learn more about the mission’s role in San Antonio and Texas history. Explore the shrine and grounds on your own or book a guided battlefield tour.


From outer space to the iconic tale of Charlotte’s Web, these children’s museums are an ideal way to get hands-on, out of the house.

  • Imagination takes flight at Space Center Houston, where astronauts-to-be can take tram tours of the NASA Johnson Space Center, walk around the huge Saturn V rocket, and wander through both a replica of the Space Shuttle Independence and an original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft.
  • The Children’s Museum of Houston offers big adventures for kids age 12 and younger. Exhibits include hands-on hydropower, an indoor-outdoor EcoStation, kid-friendly Newtonian physics, and more.
  • Avid readers and artists will find a lot to spark their imagination at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Abilene. This summer’s big exhibit features the work of Garth Williams, illustrator of the Little House on the Prairie series and Charlotte’s Web.
  • Take your mini-engineers and researchers to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas for five stories’ worth of life science, gems and minerals, space exploration, and energy research.
  • For a fun combination of Texas style and science discovery, visit the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City — a family-friendly interactive science center housed in a mill from the 1880s.

With all these options around the state, it’s easy to make this summer one your kids will fondly remember. You might even find yourself wishing the break was a little longer!

To treat your family to the ultimate Texan experience, put on your boots and hit the trail on a Texas dude ranch this summer.