Houston CityPASS: Worth It or Not?

Houston City Pass- NASA Johnson Space Center
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**This post was updated on 8/22/2023.**

Throwing money into travel is hard to do when you’re living on one income. So, I’m always looking for ways to save money. I wasn’t sure if spending $265 on Houston CityPASS for our family of four would be worth it.

And I had so many questions.

What is a CityPASS anyway? Where do I buy it? How do I use it? What does it do?

This is what I found…

What is a CityPASS?

CityPASS is a booklet of discounted tickets to major attractions in participating cities. The Houston CityPASS is available online (www.citypass.com) or can be bought in person at the attractions.

The Houston CityPASS gets you into the NASA Space Center and 4 more of the following attractions:

  • Downtown Aquarium
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science
  • Houston Zoo
  • Kemah Boardwalk
  • Children’s Museum
  • Museum of Fine Arts
sunset in Houston, Texas
(That Texas sky though!)

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How Do You Use the CityPASS?

To use the CityPASS, simply hand the cashier your ticket at the entrance of any of the participating attractions. And you can go in without having to wait in long lines or open your wallet.

Where Do I Get a CityPASS & How Much Does It Cost?

Before our trip to Houston, we ordered our CityPASSes online and got them in the mail within a week. The adult passes are $68 and the kids’ passes are $56.

And at a glance, that sounds expensive, but it gets you into 5 different attractions and saves $65.08 per adult and $48.59 per child.

CityPASS tickets are valid for 9 consecutive days after you use the first ticket. We were only in Houston for 4 days, but we visited 5 different attractions with no problem.

Our 4-day weekend in the Space City looked like this:

Friday

We left our house in Fort Polk, Louisiana after noon and drove the 3 hours and 16 minutes to our hotel in Houston.

After checking in, we used our first ticket from the Houston CityPASS to visit the Downtown Aquarium.

We fed sting rays, visited the white tigers in Maharaja’s Temple, rode the Shark Voyage, goofed off in the gift shop, and had our faces transformed into cartoons. It was a blast!

The restaurant at the Aquarium was crowded, so we walked to the nearby Hard Rock Café for dinner before turning in for the night.

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Saturday

Day 2, with the NASA Johnson Space Center, was truly the highlight of our trip!

I’m not a big space nerd or even really interested in space, but this place was truly incredible! There is so much to see that you could easily spend the whole day here.

Heff loved seeing the Galileo shuttlecraft, but sighed and rolled his eyes when he had to explain to his clueless wife what it was. (It’s the largest prop from the original Star Trek television series.) And the girls loved seeing all of the ‘space guys’. Plus, there were plenty of interactive exhibits to keep them entertained.

We took the Tram Tour across the 1,600-acre grounds. The line was long and we had to wait for almost an hour. It was worth it to see a real rocket, visit the famous Mission Control, and watch the sun rise over the International Space Station.

After leaving the Space Center, we ended our day with a walk from the hotel to the Water Wall. This attraction is in a public park and is completely free!

The Water Wall is a 64 foot semi-circular fountain that pumps 11,000 gallons of water per minute down its front and back walls. You might recognize it from Chuck Norris’s movie Sidekicks or the made-for-tv movie The Preacher’s Mistress.

We stayed an hour or so at the park while the kids ran and played, before walking over to the Galleria Mall for some shopping and dinner.

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Sunday

Day 3 consisted of a visit to the Natural Science Museum. We spent hours looking through the different displays and STILL didn’t get to see them all before we left.

The Morian Hall of Paleontology was a hit! The bugs trapped in amber answered a few lingering questions from my childhood viewings of Jurassic Park and the cavemen displays were pretty interesting too.

However, our favorite exhibit was the Hall of Ancient Egypt. This display contained mummies that were so perfectly preserved that they still had hair!

HAIR!

Which is completely insane, but also freakishly cool.

The girls love, love, LOVED the Cockrell Butterfly Center! Walking through a man-made jungle of vibrant flowers, waterfalls, and finding real butterflies is every little girl’s dream.

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Monday

Our last day in Houston was all about the kids!

Our first stop was the Houston Zoo and it is the best zoo I have ever been to! What truly set this zoo apart from others we have visited was that the animals interacted with us, especially the monkeys.

One of the chimpanzees took a liking to our niece, Lexy, and would tap on the glass to get her attention. A man behind us kept trying to distract the monkey, but the chimp would shake her head no at him and point to Lexy instead.

The bald eagle also took a liking to Lexy and stared at her the whole time she was in view and would watch her walk around. I’m pretty sure she thought she was Dr. Doolittle when we left there!

chimpanzee playing with little girl at the zoo in Houston
(This monkey was just as obsessed with Lexy as she was with him.)

After leaving the zoo, our final stop was the Children’s Museum.

Holy wow, that place is fun! There was a giant Challenge Course, a Kidtropolis town, Power Play, and a craft station where they made their own capes….way too much stuff to list here. You really have to experience it yourself to grasp the magnitude of the number of things to do here.

The kids had a blast and were total whiners when we made them leave. I have to admit that I didn’t want to leave either. It was so much fun!

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Houston CityPASS – Worth It or Not?

As a family of 5, we were able to visit five of the most popular attractions Houston has to offer for less than $300. We would not have been able to make all of these memories without the Houston CityPASS.

I was skeptical about spending so much on these tickets at first, but I’m glad that I did. It saved us nearly $200 and a countless amount of time waiting in line to buy tickets at each attraction.

The CityPASS is a great way to save money when visiting a new city. I recommend it to anyone visiting Houston – it’s worth it!

Check out the Fort Hood and Texas Bucket List for more fun things to do in the Lonestar State!