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Johnson Space Center Review by Destination Editor Jen Holt

Kimberly No Comments

Space Center Houston, located on the southeast side of Houston, is the official visitor center for Johnson Space Center. Space Center Houston is an exceptional facility to support educational and entertainment needs and should be on your must see list when visiting the Houston, TX area. Over 1 million (30% international) visitors visited the facility last year and enjoyed learning about the emphasis that science, technology, engineering and mathematics have on our world in a fun and engaging way.

Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston

Now that you’ve made the decision to visit the Space Center, we’d love to give you some suggestions on how to make the most of your day at the Space Center. The number of hours that you have to spend will determine the things you will have time to see. The astronauts even have suggestions for how to spend your time!

We really feel like the tram tour of the Johnson Space Center is a must do, even if your time is somewhat limited. It’s the only way that you can tour the NASA Johnson Space Center. The 90 minute open air tram tour will take you around the grounds of the NASA facility and will allow you to see the anstorant training facilities which include many full size mock ups so that the astronauts can train for their space missions. One highlight for us was seeing the historic mission control where many famous visitors have been. We even sat in the same row as Queen Elizabeth did!

Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston

The tour will also provide you a look at building 9 and the International Space Station training facilities.

Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston

Once back in the Space Center Houston, it will be time to explore all of the exhibits. Everything is included in the price of admission except for the simulator rides. The Space Center Mock Up is a full-scale replica of the space shuttle orbiter. You can see just how many buttons is takes to pull off such a mission. After touring the space shuttle make sure you then go down to the special exhibit “Be the astornaut” exhibit where you can control your own space shuttle on your mission to Mars!

Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston

There are a variety of movies and theatre experiences for you to take part in. If you only have time for one I would suggest the Starship Gallery. It is a short 15 minute film about the history of the NASA program and you can see the actual podium that JFK declared we would make it to the moon! After the film, the theatre opens and leads you into the gallery where you can see replica space artifacts as well as real moon rocks. There is even one that you can touch! Now, how many other places can you touch the moon?

Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston

If you are there for most of the day, make sure you also catch one of the Blast off Theater shows and you will be able to experience the sounds, sensations and sights of a shuttle launch.

Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston

A lot of the Space Center Houston will be a bit advanced for the younger crowd but they will LOVE the Kid’s Space Place! Its an action-packed area for children (especially the under 10 crowd). There is still plenty of learning here but there is a chance for kids to run around and get out their energy a bit!

Photo: Space Center Houston Photo courtesy of: Space Center Houston

Nuts and Bolts:

Information: Space Center Houston is located at 1601 NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058. You can reach them at 281-244-2100.

Parking: Parking is $6 and the surface lot is huge and easy to park in, even for those you us driving bigger vehicles. There is even Bus/RV parking in case you are just passing through and have your rig with you.

Eating: There is a nice outdoor sitting area with lots of picnic tables and even some under a pavilion just outside Space Center Houston if you would like to pack a lunch. Inside there is a cafeteria style area to eat and you can buy food at the Zero-G diner.

What to bring: Since you will probably be there most of the day, its a good idea to bring some snacks and something to drink (these are allowed inside just no coolers). A stroller might be helpful for the little ones and there is plenty of stroller parking for areas that don’t allow them.

Hours: Monday-Friday 10-5 ; Saturday 10-7 ; Sunday 10-6

Pricing: Save $3/ticket and buy online ahead of time! If you choose to buy at the door: Adults $23.95 (age 12-64); Children $18.95 (age 4-11); 3 and under: Free. If you plan to visit more than once the yearly membership is well worth the small up charge and includes free parking!

The Space Houston Center website is an incredible resource both before and after your visit and I highly recommend you take a “virtual” tour of the facility before you go and make a list of exhibits you don’t want to miss. Enjoy!

This review was created for FulltimeFamilies.com, the resource for Full-time RVing Families by Jennifer Holt of Free2Breathe.com

 

 

Johnson Space Center; See It or Skip It?

Kimberly No Comments

Our verdict for the Johnson Space Center is Houston, TX is… Skip It.

If you are a complete space geek, you might love it. If you are interested in NASA, space and have children younger than 7, then save your money and go to Kennedy Space Center, when you’re in Florida.

We paid $80.00 for our family of six to attend (saved $5 by purchasing online, and the 3yr old was free). Parking was $6.

Upon entering the ticket booths you realize there’s no place for a family photo op… You know, like a sign… That seemed odd.

When we got into the facility itself it had all the appeal of a drug induced nightmare. It was loud, crowded, dark and disorganized.

We sought refuge in the gift shop and that’s when I realized we had just blown $86.00.

When you need to escape to the gift shop to collect yourself, you know it’s going to be long day.

Hint #2 that this place stinks… In the entire facility, which is about the size of two Super Walmarts and was crawling with over 7000 visitors on this particular day, there is ONE set of bathrooms!

We got on the 40 minute line for the tram to no where. We got on the red tram, but in all honesty, I don’t think it matters, they all go no where, but don’t miss it because at least you’ll be able to claim you rode on the very same trams that were used in the Disney World parking lot in 1971 (this was unconfirmed, but the petrified gum stuck to the seat in front of me, looked very familiar to my inner child;).

After the abysmal tram tour, we headed to the food court for lunch. I’ve see better food courts in abandoned malls, seriously Houston, you have a problem!

And the prices… Lunch cost my family of six $55… For 1 Pizza, 1 drink and 1 chicken stir fry plate.

After lunch, the kids made a bee line to the Angry Birds Space Indoor Playground and slide. Seriously! This was the most fun the kids had all day! We could have skipped the 4 hr round trip, and simply headed to Chick-Fil-a.

To sum up, I’ll quote a yelp reviewer who is spot on:

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