Houston CityPASS – Is it worth buying when visiting Houston?

Having previously used a CityPASS for our trip to New York you quickly realise just how much you can save having this savings book, especially when you start to add up the cost of all of the family attractions that you plan on visiting.

So it was great to learn that you can get a CityPASS at 12 other locations across North America including Houston, one of our stops on our Texas road trip. This meant that we could potentially cut our entrance costs by nearly half with the Houston CityPASS.

So if you want to save money and time for your upcoming visit to Houston then I’m going to share with you why you should look at getting a Houston CityPASS (especially if you are a first time visitor) and how much money we were able to save by using it.

Here is our experience using the Houston CityPASS .

What is the Houston CityPASS

The Houston CityPASS is a pre-paid sightseeing pass into some of Houston’s most popular attractions including the Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science and Houston Zoo at a discounted price – potentially saving you 47% – so in theory it should help you make some significant savings using the pass compared to paying for each attraction individually.

As well as potentially saving you money, a CityPASS also offers other benefits including discounts at gift shops and skipping the line at some of the attractions which is really important especially during peak visitor periods such as Easter when we visited – after all waiting for over an hour in a queue with kids is no fun!

What we liked about the CityPASS was that it provided us with ideas of places to visit when planning our Houston itinerary that we might have typically overlooked. One prime example of this was Kemah Boardwalk, a traditional seaside amusement park that kids and adults will love.

What is included?

The Houston CityPASS includes entry into five of Houston’s most popular visitor attractions.

Three of the attractions are already chosen for you and I have included the cost of entry for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children ages 8 and 10) next to each attraction.

Space Center Houston

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $109.80

At Space Center Houston you get to go behind the scenes to experience what life is like for astronauts and learn about the past and future of American space exploration – it’s a fascinating place to visit whatever your age.

The two NASA tram tour choices of the campus either take you to an Apollo mission control room or learn about how astronauts train.  Both tours provide a behind the scenes look at space exploration before stopping off to see an actual Saturn V rocket.

Tip – Book the tram tour as early as possible as they fill up really quickly

At the main plaza you will find inspiring shows and interactive exhibits to learn about space which are really child friendly and educational.

The finale of a visit is to Independence Plaza, a truly amazing exhibit where you can explore the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft and a full scale replica of an actual space shuttle.

Tip – In your CityPASS booklet is a coupon for 10% off in the huge store here, providing additional savings when your kids want a souvenir of their visit

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $82.00

It would take several days to fully explore all of the 17 permanent exhibitions in this cavernous museum, it’s a must visit when in Houston.  When inside you have to check out the Morian Hall of Paleontology where kids in particular will love the huge prehistoric dinosaur skeletons on display.

Downtown aquarium

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $45.96

Home to 300 different species of marine life from all over the world, the downtown aquarium offers many interactive activities for kids including opportunities to touch sea creatures such as stingrays at stingray reef which was really scary but fun – our kids loved it. Strangely for an aquarium you can also get a chance to marvel at rare white Bengal tigers in the Maharaja’s Temple which offers a unique experience.

The aquarium also features a restaurant and bar with a 50-foot wraparound tank, so you can dine as if you are under the sea.

You also have the choice between the following attractions

Kemah Boardwalk

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $95.21

Kemah Boardwalk provides a good old fashioned seaside amusement park experience like you see in the movies with shops, rides, carnival games and restaurants.

Your CityPASS provides you with an unlimited ride passes so you can choose to ride any of the attractions including a 65-foot Century Ferris Wheel, Double-Decker Carousel, Drop Zone free fall and the Bullet a 96-foot wooden roller coaster as many times as you want. The Kemah train provides a great way to see everything that the boardwalk offers.


Children’s Museum of Houston

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $48.00

What makes the Children’s Museum of Houston stand out is the huge range of fun educational activities on offer across 15 interactive exhibits that kids will love, which is why it is consistently voted as one of the best children’s museums in the country.

Perfect for kids of primary school age (3 – 11 years) a highlight for our kids was Kidtropolis – a city designed for kids to run which is very similar to one of their favourite places to visit KidZania.

Don’t miss the climbing towers at PowerPlay and the water area of FlowWorks outside – not only do you get to learn about the properties of water its also a great way to cool off.

Tip- I would recommend that you use your CityPASS for Kemah Boardwalk over the museum as this will bring greater savings and use the CityPASS coupon for discounted entry into the children’s museum.

You also have the choice between the following attractions

Houston Zoo

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $71.80

This is a must visit for families when in Houston. The zoo is home to over 6,000 animals from across the world including gorillas, lions, monkeys, cheetahs, giraffes and our favourite the Asian elephants.

If you time your visit right you can watch the elephant’s bath which was a really memorable moment. Younger kids will love the John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo and water park area. Don’t forget to visit the Kipp Aquarium and our favourite the reptile house – full of snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies.


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Cost for 2 adults is $34.00 – children under 12 are free

Here you can marvel at the huge variety of artwork (67,000 pieces) from around the world from every era of history across all seven continents with expansive collections of American, Asian, Latin American, European, Islamic and African pieces.

Best place to purchase a CityPASS ?

We found that the cheapest and most convenient place to purchase the Houston CityPASS was directly on their website.

Once purchased the mobile passes are ready to use for up to 12 months from the date of purchase.

Your CityPASS is activated once you have visited your first attraction and you have up to 9 days to use the pass.

How much does a CityPASS cost?

The current price of one adult Houston CityPASS ticket is £50.00 and for children (3-11) its £41.93.

Its worth adding up the cost of the attractions that you plan to visit to see if getting a Houston CityPASS is beneficial to you.

It’s also well worth checking the CityPASS website and signing up for special offers as their prices tend to fluctuate, so look at purchasing during one of their sale events which happen several times a year.

Did we save money getting the pass?

For us the cost of the attractions that we were able to visit was $404.77 (which is equivalent to £313.69 based on 1 United States Dollar equals 0.77 Pound sterling)

The cost of our Houston CityPASS was £183.86 so you can see that we made a significant saving getting the pass.

However, to get the biggest savings you have to plan to visit all five of the attractions and choosing the right ones.

For example to get the maximum savings you need to use your CityPASS for the most expensive attractions such as Houston Zoo and Kemah Boardwalk.

Is a Houston CityPASS worth getting?

For first time visitors to Houston I would highly recommend looking into purchasing a CityPASS especially if you plan on visiting more than four of the above attractions. It allows you to budget and more importantly save on entrance fees on attractions before you arrive in Houston.

As we had used all of our CityPASS allocation on the five most expensive attractions we used the additional CityPASS coupons to get discounted entry into the Children’s Museum.

If you also plan on visiting the Museum of Fine Arts with kids I wouldn’t use a CityPASS for this as kids under 12 get free entry.

As I mentioned earlier in the article, it also provides a ready made itinerary as many of the top attractions in Houston are included which we found really useful.

Compared to other passes what we liked about the CityPASS was that you don’t have to rush to see the attractions within a limited time frame as you have 9 days to use a CityPASS, so it’s perfect if you are spending several days in Houston.

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