“That’s a lot of money. I’m not sure it’s worth it.”
Me – when trying to decide if we should buy a CityPASS for our long weekend in Houston. When you’re living on the sole income of an enlisted soldier, throwing money at travel is a hard thing to do.
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?
A 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 at one of the attractions offered in the booklet.
How Do You Use the CityPASS?
To use the CityPASS, simply hand the cashier your ticket at the entrance of the attraction you are visiting and you are granted access without having to wait in line or open your wallet.
Where Do I Get a CityPASS & How Much Does It Cost?
For our family trip to Houston, we ordered our CityPASSes online and got them in the mail within a week. The adult passes are $59 and the kids’ passes are $49. At first, it sounded pricey, considering we were buying 2 adult passes and 3 kid passes. But it ended up saving us money in the long run.
How Much Money Does It Save You?
With the CityPASS you can visit 5 of Houston’s top attractions. Here I’ve listed the attractions offered on the Houston CityPASS and their regularly priced admission fees.[For our choice options, we chose the Houston Zoo and the Children’s Museum. Those are the prices that are shown.]
Our total for two adult passes and three children’s passes was $265. Had we not bought the Houston CityPASS-es, we would have spent $461.64 on the admission prices to the places we visited. CityPASS saved us a total of $196.64! Not only did we save money, but we saved ourselves time by not having to wait in line to buy tickets at each attraction.
CityPASS tickets are valid for 9 consecutive days after you use the first ticket. We were only in Houston for 4 days, so I wondered if we would be able to visit all of the attractions and really get our money’s worth. But all my money-spending-anxiety was pointless, because we DID visit all 5 attractions and it was definitely worth the money spent!
Our 4-day weekend in the Space City looked like this:
We left our house in Fort Polk, Louisiana in the afternoon and drove the 3 hours and 16 minutes to our hotel in Houston. After checking in, we decided to use our first ticket out of the Houston CityPASS booklet and visit the DownTown Aquarium. We spent a few hours wandering around 500,000 gallons of water-filled exhibits!
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!
After all of that fun, we were ready to eat. The restaurant at the Aquarium was crowded, so we walked to the nearby Hard Rock Café for dinner. With full bellies we returned to our hotel and were off to bed!
Day 2 with the NASA Johnson Space Center, which was truly the highlight of our whole trip to Houston. I can’t say that I’m a big space nerd or that I’m even really interested in space, but this place was truly incredible! There was so much to see, you could easily spend two days here.
My husband totally fangirled when he saw the Galileo shuttlecraft….then 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, for those of you ‘Trek-illiterates’ like myself.) My kids loved seeing all of the ‘space guys’ and there were plenty of interactive exhibits to keep them entertained.
We took the Tram Tour across the 1,600 acre grounds of the Johnson Space Center. The line for the Tram Tour was pretty long and we had to wait for almost an hour, but it was SO worth it! We were able to see a real rocket and visit the famous Mission Control. While there, we were lucky to be a part of the group that watched the sun rise over the International Space Station (apparently its a rare experience).
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.
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 fun! I mean…Who doesn’t want their picture taken with a prehistoric beast? The bugs trapped in amber answered a few lingering questions from my childhood viewings of Jurassic Park. And the cave men 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!
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.
On our way back to the hotel, we witnessed some of Texas’s fire in the sky – a beautiful ending to a fun and busy day.
Our last day in Houston was all about the kids! So, our first stop was the Houston Zoo! I must say, 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!
After leaving the zoo, our final stop was the Children’s Museum of Houston. Holy wow! That place is fun! There was giant Challenge Course, a Kidtropolis town, Power Play, a craft station where they made their own capes, too much stuff to list here. You really have to experience it for 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 just too much fun!
Houston CityPASS – Worth it or nah?
For $265, as a family of 5, we were able to visit five of the most popular attractions Houston has to offer. We would not have been able to make all of these memories without the Houston CityPASS.
I was skeptical about spending more than $200 for these tickets at first, but I’m so glad that I did. It ended up saving 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 definitely worth it!
Check out the Fort Hood and Texas Bucket List for more fun things to do in the Lonestar State!