I concur - if you have a car, it is a much better option to drive to Space Center Houston instead of taking the bus there. After your tour of NASA, I recommend heading down NASA Rd 1 towards the bay (a left turn out of Space Center Houston) and then taking a right at Cty. 146 to head over the massive Kemah bridge. The Kemah Boardwalk is there, with a large variety of restaruants to choose from for lunch along the bay. T-Bone Tom's (BBQ) and Tookies (Burgers) are two great options. Tookie's is before the bridge however.
If you go to Houston, you have to visit the Space Center! After all, Houston is where NASA-Johnson Space Center is located. That's where the astronauts train and where NASA curates the lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo missions. Space Center Houston is the museum associated with it. Permanent exhibitions are about past and present space programs and the solar system. I particularly enjoyed the "Star ship gallery" and the Moon rock exhibition. there are lots of exhibitions and stuffs for kids.
Do not miss the little train ride! That's where you go as close as you can to the "real" NASA. They change the train path from time to time. Now (2011), you can choose between 2 tours, one to the old Mission Control room and to the rocket park (including a Saturn V, like the ones that sent astronauts to the Moon), and one to the real size shuttle where the astronauts are training and to the rocket park (be prepared to wait in line on week-ends for these tours).
It is ridiculously expensive: $19.95 per person (kids and seniors have reductions, $16 on line), $5 for parking.
Space Center is opened 10-5 weekdays. 10-6 weekends.
Note: there is a detailed tour of 4-5 hours of NASA behind the scene with a guide that you can purchase for $85 called "Level 9 tour". It should be reserved in advance.
For the adult or teen with more that a casual interest in the space program, the JSC Level 9 tour is a must-do. These tours are only available if booked in advance and although a little pricey at $85 for each adult (14 or older, no kids allowed), the price includes access to the shows within the JSC. The tour includes 12 passenger shuttle buses that are air conditioned and a nice way to get around during Houston's hot and humid summers. The tour guides are extremely knowledgable of the workings and history of NASA and the JSC. The tour includes a hot lunch in the cafeteria where the astronauts and NASA technicians eat. This is a wonderful tour that gives one a sense of special treatment only previously reserved for to visiting dignitaries. Thrill seekers would be bored but those who can appreciate how much the space program has benefited mankind and has a keen interest in engineering will not be disappointed. Although you will see many items of historical significance, this is not just another tour. The Level 9 tour brings you to intimacy with the Space Program, and you will let feel the intensity of the fraternal bonds between the NASA team in Mission Control and the astronauts in space. My brother Joe has been following the space program since he was a kid. 5 years ago I surprised him with a level 9 tour for his 50 birthday, when he came to visit. Joe still gets excited every time he recounts his experiences and the special treatment those at Mission Control gave him.
I'd read a little bit about how this is for kids and it is cheap exhibits. So we didn't allow much time. However I felt like there was so much to see and do and though we only got a small glimpse what we saw was interesting and worthwhile. We went right in and stood in line for the trolley ride. We waited at least 45 min. We took the one that would take us to the Historic Mission Control. Since we lived through that Apollo era and were watching on TV when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the moon, we had to see the place where the history really happened. I'm so glad they've left everything the way it was. Besides re-living those amazing memories it helped to see how far technology has come and how life has moved on. We didn't get off at the rocket garden since we had seen the one at Cape Canaveral. I would also have liked to take the other tour...can't remember now where it went. And then we went to the exhibit hall. There was a life size shuttle cockpit, a model of the space station, a demonstration of life on the shuttle, movies, games, and more that we didn't really explore, as well of course as a gift shop and food court.
I had purchased online, from their website, ahead of time a half price ticket. We bought it in May for an August visit. I know part of the reason I felt like this was a good place to visit was because we didn't pay full price. That helped make it a better value.
Mission control is worth a look however this is the most unorganised place ever. You have to wait for 2 separate coach tours to see everything and you can be stuck waiting for ages. the two tours could very easilybe combined into one especially when they both end in the rocket garden. if you have a choose between only visiting here or kennedy, kennedy wins hands up! The whole centre is sponsered byvariuos different companies
The Johnson Space Centre is about an hour's drive from downtown Houston, and can get extremely crowded, especially during the school holidays. Is it worth making the trip? Yes and no. The actual visit to the working NASA offices is only about 45 minutes, where they take you to see the astronaut training site with all the mock-ups of the space vehicles (most times no one is there) and the old mission control room. For the time spent queueing, it's not worth much.
Too bad we only had an hour to glance over the activities offered at the Space Center. I would've loved to take the tram tour that takes you inside the Space Center and to the launch pad.
This is very kids friendly as majority of the actitivies are geared toward children and young at heart and space enthusiasts.
If I ever end up visiting Houston again, I'd like to spend a day here.
Visit NASA space center, I had a wonderful time there. A lot in store if you are a space enthusiasts. Got a ride on their space-age vehicles which kinda "float" on the ground. And also visit the control room where everything happens...
It is impossible to go to Houston without visiting the Space Center.
To say the truth, the center is mainly made for children.
There are :
- two tram tours to visit the Johnson Center beside, with a guide who explains the various space relics
- two movies on the Space quest
- an amusing presentation of the life in the space
- a show : how the center works
- the astronaut gallery
We bought also food conditioned to be eaten in space...
Ticket : 22$50 (less 2$ with a coupon)
Senior : 20$95
Children : 17$95
Parking : 4$
Next year we visited Cape Canaveral to see the other face.
OK...this was very interesting to me....believe it or not, there are actually 2 space centers! So, let me give you a few tips just to help you have a good time; and not get confused and frustrated in the process:
First off, like I said, there are 2 space centers. The first one is run by the government. The other is where all the exhibits are. I accidentally (and purposely) drove into the wrong one thinking they were both the same place. The guard at the gate told me to "proceed to building 110." So I "proceeded" to Building 110 (outside the gate I might add), where I was told I could not enter unless I had a "point of contact." Since I didn't have one, I couldn't talk to HR in person...oh well.
In any case, I drove further down the road and found the space center that had all the fun stuff. It is just past the NASA JSC. The best way to know you are in the right place, is the fact that the front entrance has 2 T-38 planes on display.
Parking is $5 US; and admission is $18.95 (discounted with AAA, Military, or if you work for Southwest Airlines).
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