Top Halloween Haunts and Frights Near Houston, Texas

Autumn is the season to start planning the ghost stories you’re going to share with the family on a scary Houston Halloween family break in Texas.

Space Center Houston gets into the Halloween Spirit with astronauts trick or treating.
Space Center Houston gets into the Halloween Spirit with astronauts trick or treating. Photo c. Space Center Houston

Be sure to double check our listings for haunted houses for kids and fun Halloween ideas, below, to make sure they’re open. Although family vacationers can also find a variety of traditional haunted attractions — a scary haunted house for kids, a real haunted house or a haunted house tour perhaps — Houston also programs spooky, scary fun at a space center, local children’s museums, nature exhibits and more.

For more haunted house options across the country, visit our Haunted House and Halloween Weekend Breaks Directory Page.

Grownup Scary Fun in Houston, Texas

If you’re looking for intense Halloween frights, climb up to the 13th Floor Haunted House. For their fifth year, they’re featuring three separate “rooms” packed with fright to keep all spines tingling. The 13th Floor is open select Thursday to Sunday nights through Nov. 4, 2023. Get a Fast Pass or Skip the Line add-on to the general admission ticket if you don’t want to wait your turn.

Make a daytrip out of a time warp visit to the Texas Renaissance Fair in Todd Mission, about an hour’s drive north of center city Houston. Now in its 49th year (or should we say 849th?), the TexRen features medieval peasant, military and regal costumes throughout its run, Oct. 7-Nov. 26. And lots of grogg. They switch gears over the Halloween weekend to focus on character costumes and spooky fun.

Grownups should take advantage of this highly cultured city to do more “edu-cational” than edu-taining” events with their family. Several notable attractions of interest are included on the super convenient Houston CityPASS. It’s not only easier to have e-tickets in hand before arrival, there’s also no wait in line and up to 49% in admission discounts. (Note: the IMAX theater and select exhibits require an additional fee; some require advance reservations.) Many of the destination attractions covered by CityPASS also host all-ages Halloween programming.

Locals and travelers may use their tickets up to 365 days after purchasing, with the CityPASS validity of 9 days after first use.

Haunted Museums for Kids  & More

One Ocean aquairum exhibit at the Houston Zoo
One Ocean aquairum exhibit at the Houston Zoo features a spooky and fascinating underwater world. Photo c. Houston Zoo.

What’s scarier than being strapped into a huge rocket and thrust into outer space? Home of Space Center Houston, Houston offers many opportunities to learn about space exploration and the perils faced by astronauts. If you’re lucky, some space-themed carved pumpkins will be on display. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll be visiting the last two weekends in October. That’s when Galaxy Frights opens with costumes, trick or treating, special Astronaut meet n’greets, robot sightings and more Halloween themed fun.

If your family loves science there are tons of exciting places where you can all stretch your left-hemispheres. The Houston Museum of Natural Science at Hermann Park (and two other locations) has expanded to 16 educational halls. Look for displays of nocturnal insects, dinosaurs and a focus on the body with a Halloween flavor. New halls include the Wiess Energy Hall, the Hamman Hall of Texas Coastal Ecology, and the Morian Hall of Paleontology. Check out their calendar for some spooky events in late October. On Oct. 28, 2023 they’re hosting a “Spirits & Skeletons” event for over-21s in full costume, with props allowed.

Houston Halloween Ideas and Themed Fun for Younger Kids

Here’s a fun Youtube video tour of the Downtown Aquarium and what is offers families.

Need more Halloween ideas? Houston also has the Downtown Aquarium with its own spooky-themed underwater adventure complete with shipwrecks, white tigers, shark voyages, sunken temples and more. Downtown Aquarium is actually the combination of Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks building joining together to house a restaurant, 500,000-gallon aquatic wonderland, 200 species of aquatic life and other displays. There are even amusement park rides for an additional fee. Open daily; plan ahead to make the most of your visit and catch the Halloween events in person. 

The Houston Zoo is proudly hosting Zoo Boo from the end of September to Halloween. There’s daytime activities, an illuminated bug house, and lots of pumpkin play and sculptures for little ones. Zoo Boo After Hours, running Friday nights all October, is still pretty mild but aims to make little hearts beat faster. Advance tickets recommended.

Usually a place for three weeks of fun festivals prior to Dia de los Muertos is the The Children’s Museum. This year, the new Halloween Booseum! takes place daily except Monday from Oct. 10-31.

Houston Halloween Ideas in the Great Outdoors

Sunset on the bayou at Armand Bayou Nature Center in Pasadena, Texas.
Sunsets on the bayou at Armand Bayou Nature Center can be spooky if you remind the kids how many alligators live there! Photo. c. Armand Bayou Nature Center

Another “free” Halloween idea and activity that everyone will enjoy is the Kemah Boardwalk in Kemah, 20 miles south of Houston. The 35-acre carnival of sorts offers restaurants (including the Aquarium, above), shopping, an arcade, carousel, Ferris Wheel and quite a few more rides. Weekends in October, it all becomes Boo on the Boardwalk, with weekend events, kids Halloween costume parades, and evening concerts and movies.

More nature-oriented activities can be found at the Armand Bayou Nature Center in Pasadena, Texas, about 28 miles from Houston. It’s the largest urban wildlife refuge in the United States. Families can walk along the boardwalk through swamps and marshes looking for birds and other wild animals. Check their schedule for Bayou canoe and pontoon boat tours — available by reservation with limited capacity to keep everyone safe and separated — and then make them really scary by mentioning the alligators that might surface unexpectedly. Especially in October, look for Halloween Night hikes and boat tours.

There’s also a butterfly garden, an 1800’s farm site and touch-tables that are perfect for the curious little ones. The modest admission fee (free for 3 and under) supports a great cause. Check the website for the weekly schedule.

Need more Halloween ideas and spooky haunted houses for kids? Find what’s going on across the country right here.

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