If your preschooler is anything like mine, they are obsessed with things that GO! If it flies, drives or runs on rails, my kids wants to see it. However, because we are not at the point where I can take them to an all day event, I am always on the lookout for quick trips that will be interesting, but over before a meltdown can happen. Here are three smaller Houston museums that cater to your transportation-loving little ones.
The 1940 Air Terminal Museum is a hidden gem. Located next to Hobby Airport, this museum is housed in the original art-deco Houston Municipal Airport Building that served as the receiving point for all Houston flights in the city’s earlier days.
Once inside, you will be greeted by friendly volunteers and staff who will give you a brief history of the building and everything there is to see. The museum hosts an impressive collection of memorabilia from various airlines that have flown our skies including PAM AM and Texas Air. You will see model planes, classic uniforms, and the fantastic glassware and place settings that were standard for high-class air travel. They also highlight some items from the Women Air Force Service Pilot (WASP) program, which had two training practices on site.
After you have perused the interiors of the museum, ask for someone to take you to the 1928 Carter Airmail Hangar. It is a short walk from the main museum and is the highlight of the trip! This hanger holds their airplane collection—a Hawker Business Jet, a St. Louis Helicopter and the Lockheed Lodestar. We were allowed to climb into most of these planes and snap tons of photos. Our guide also took us to two different flight simulators and the kids could not get enough of pushing every knob and button.
The museum itself is located right next to the flight strip for Hobby Airport. We brought a lunch and spent a good 45 minutes plane spotting. As an added bonus, on the third Saturday the museum hosts an event called “Wings & Wheels.” They open up the gate to see the Hobby Airport better and partner with classic car clubs who display their vehicles. Each event has a different theme, so check their website for the latest information.
Know before you go: Prices are very reasonable—$5 for adults and $2 for kids. There is plenty of free parking on site, and the museum is closed on Mondays.
Located just outside of Sugar Land, the city of Rosenberg has been a hub for railroad activity for over 160 years. The Rosenberg Railroad Museum celebrates this devotion to railroad culture with a museum and multiple train exhibits.
The museum building is modeled after the original train depot. We were given a free scavenger hunt and my kids scoured the displays for answers (simultaneously learning a few things) to complete the hunt and earn a small prize.
Once completed, we were given a private tour of the rest of the grounds by a volunteer. We visited Tower 17, learned about how towers function and learned what a towerman’s job is. The 1972 Mopac Caboose gives you a taste of what life is like as a conductor, and the 1879 “Quebec” car gives an inside peak at a three-bedroom business car from the late 1890s. There is also a Model Train display and the Garden Railroad model trains which are both works in progress. Add all this to a education area, which includes a play room and WaWa’s Big Wooden Train and we could have stayed there all day!
There are three active lines right next to the museum and you can see trains come and go throughout your visit. There is also a lookout station if your little ones want to stop and watch the real trains go by. After your visit, walk across the street and visit the old-fashioned restaurant, Another Time.
Know before you go: Hours for the museum are limited and they are only open Wednesday to Saturday. Be sure to check their website so you know that they are open before you make the drive! Prices are good too—adults are $5, children (ages 2-14) are $4 and kids under two are free.
According to the Art Car Museum website, Houston is considered the “Art Car Capital” with more art cars than any other city in the world. Every year I hope to make it to the Art Car Parade and every year I seem to miss it. Luckily for us, some of the wildest creations are housed in this little Heights museum.
While it is not large, this museum has just enough cars and exhibits to give your family a taste of the art car culture in Houston; the space also allows your kids to get up close to some fantastic specimens of art car creativity. The exhibitions rotate through the museum, so this is one you can go back to on several times and see different things. Some of the wildest vehicles include a few covered in Christmas lights, Rex Rabbit (a giant plush bunny on top of the car and a basket of eggs in front) and one covered in metal to look like a giant bug.
Know before you go: The museum, which is free, is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and does not open until 11am the rest of the week. I suggest visiting Donovan Park in the morning to work out the wiggles, then cruising down the street to the museum. (The park has a wooden train that’s a favorite with little ones.)
Photo credits: Amanda Sorena (5), Ann Harithas
Originally Published by: Mommy Nearest