Maybe it’s summer and the kids are out of school, already bored, and you’re desperately looking for a way to entertain them. Maybe it’s just a regular weekend and you need a way to entertain the kids on a warm Saturday afternoon. Maybe you don’t have kids at all, and just want to relive your youth. Whatever your reasons, amusement and theme parks are the perfect place to get your adrenaline fix mixed with a dose of good old fashioned fun. These Houston amusement parks are waiting to be explored, from the Typhoon Texas Waterpark to to the rides at Traders Village, and the legendary Kemah Boardwalk.
Twenty miles south of Houston in Kemah, Kemah Boardwalk is not only one of the best amusement parks in the Houston area, but in all of Texas. Overlooking Galveston Bay, the park has a Ferris wheel, a wooden roller coaster, carnival-style midway games, a double-decker carousel, and an entertainment complex with shops and restaurants along the waterfront. Some of the most popular attractions include Stingray Reef, Boardwalk Tower, the Dancing Water Fountains, and the arcade. Apart from the rides, the park is famous for its Aquarium Restaurant, a seafood restaurant with aquarium-like water tanks that make for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Spread over 60 acres, Kemah Boardwalk is also one of the state’s largest amusement parks.
Typhoon Texas Waterpark
Texas is hot. That’s not exactly a revelation. But it’s often easy to forget that with all that adrenaline flowing, running around an amusement park in the hot sun, things can get pretty sweaty and uncomfortable. That’s where waterparks come in. Attractions at Typhoon Texas range from a huge swimming pool with water slides, a lazy river, an activity pool with ropes and stepping stones, and intense rafting rides. There are also dining areas, like the Taco Shack and River Grill, and a variety of cabanas perfect for families to rent.
Funplex has pretty much everything you could possibly want in an amusement park. Primarily: rides, swings, go-karts, arcade games, and a roller coaster. It’s also the only Houston amusement park with a roller rink. Encompassing over 200,000 square feet, Funplex is fun for adults too, with two massive TVs showing live sports, bowling, and a Ferris wheel. There’s even a sports bar to cap off the experience. In addition to the classic attractions you’d find in an amusement park, Funplex raises the stakes with its virtual reality experiences. They’ve got a VR roller coaster – for those who want a thrilling roller coaster experience without actually going on a roller coaster – and a VR car simulator, a racing game that makes you feel like you’re actually speeding down a track.
Galveston Island Pleasure Pier
Located on a dock overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston Island’s Pleasure Pier has 16 rides, midway carnival games, a candy shop, live music venues, and a brew station for adults. There’s also a restaurant with amusement park favorites like hot dogs, burgers, pizza, turkey legs, and funnel cakes. Since the park is located right on the water, many of the rides are also over the water, adding both stunning views and an element of drama. The most adrenaline-pumping rides include the Texas Star Flyer – a swing suspended 230 feet above sea level with a panoramic view of the Gulf – and the Iron Shark Rollercoaster, a 52-mile-per-hour beast with a heart-stopping vertical drop. There are more subdued rides, too, like the carousel, teacups, and kids Ferris wheel.
Rides at Traders Village
Traders Village isn’t a typical amusement park experience, but that’s what makes it worth visiting. Not simply a theme park with rides and snack stands, Traders Village is a huge outdoor flea market – the largest on the Texas Gulf Coast – where you’ll find a wide array of oddities you won’t see anywhere else. In addition to bargain shopping, there are also several rides sure to stoke your adrenaline. The flea-market inspired Fleafall is among the most heart pounding, with guests freefalling 128 feet at speeds of over 45 mph. There’s also the Pharaoh’s Fury, a King Tut-themed pendulum ride, and more relaxing experiences like the carousel, Trackless Family Train, and kids bumper cars.