Family Friendly Cities: More to explore in Houston - United Hub

Family friendly cities: More to explore in Houston

By Bob Cooper

Houston may not seem like an obvious choice for a family vacation, but the city is an underrated destination with fun activities all year round. Even though this city experienced historic flooding last summer, all of the city's attractions are currently open and waiting to be explored. America's fourth-largest city is becoming an increasingly popular, budget-friendly family destination.

Houston Space Center

Space City

Houston earned its nickname, Space City, by putting men on the moon only eight years after the space program was launched there in 1961. Today it's equally well known for Space Center Houston, which hosts one million annual visitors. The Smithsonian-affiliate museum displays artifacts that include past and present Mission Control center replicas; the Apollo 17 module; space shuttles; space station and Mars Rover exhibits; the tallest rocket ever flown (363 feet); and the world's largest collection of space suits. Astronauts themselves make appearances on Fridays and Saturdays, as the NASA Johnson Space Center is right next door, where astronauts are trained and tram tours are given to museum visitors.

Kid-friendly museums

Space is not the only topic kids can learn about in Houston. The city is home to three other family-friendly museums—all walking distance apart in the Museum District—that are among the best of their kind in the U.S. A floor-to-ceiling ribcage and a 12-foot-tall beating heart are part of the Amazing Body experience at The Health Museum, where kids get to know how the human body works. Also appealing to inquiring young minds is the Houston Museum of Natural Science nearby, which includes a planetarium and three-story butterfly zoo, and the Children's Museum of Houston, where tots to teens can learn, create, invent and play.

Kemath Boardwalk in Houston

Waterside attractions

Houston may not be a coastal city, but numerous beaches on Galveston Bay and Galveston Island are within an hour's drive. One big family attraction on the bay is Kemah Boardwalk, which offers classic thrill rides (including a wooden rollercoaster), a Ferris wheel and a double-decker carousel. A bit farther south on the Gulf is Galveston Island's Moody Gardens, where attractions include an aquarium, water park, zip line, ropes course, paddlewheel boat rides, rainforest zoo and 4D Special FX Theater.

Hermann Park in Houston

Houston outdoors

Families who prefer “doing" to spectating also have ample choices in Houston. Average highs from the sixties to eighties through spring make outdoor fun pleasant. This may mean a stop at the Houston Zoo, where the African Forest is the newest major addition, or taking the Hermann Park Railroad two-mile ride and pedal boating at McGovern Lake. All are located near the Museum District in Hermann Park. Families can also rent a bike from a bike shop or at any of the 51 Houston BCycle bike-sharing stations for a spin on the river-hugging Buffalo Bayou Trail near downtown Houston.

Fun festivals

Family-friendly festivals can be enjoyed all year in Houston. Families can take part in a traditional Chinese New Year festival (Feb. 24-25), where seven lion dance troupes will perform, or the American tradition of watching a big rodeo (Feb. 27-March 18), where a parade and horse show are also featured. In April, they can attend America's largest children's festival (April 7-8), with 300 activities and four entertainment stages, or see the world's wackiest-decorated vehicles at the 250,000-spectator Art Car Parade (April 14). Kids of all ages should enjoy Comicpalooza on Memorial Day weekend. Or, looking further ahead, they can visit Houston for the big July 4 weekend festival or Thanksgiving weekend parade.

If you go

United Airlines offers flights to Houston from numerous cities throughout the U.S. and abroad, and MileagePlus® Rewards can help pay for your car rental and hotel room once you arrive. Go to united.com or use the United app to plan your family getaway to Texas.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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