Hiking, biking, swimming, hula hooping, dive in movies, or a spa time out for mom. Whether you prefer an action packed weekend adventure or a relaxing stay at a resort and spa, The Woodlands offers plenty of big Texas fun the whole family can enjoy.

The Woodlands Texas

The Woodlands Resort. Photo by Heidi Gollub / Big Family TravelingMom

Family Fun in The Woodlands, Texas

Often overshadowed by its flashier neighbor to the south, Houston, The Woodlands is a vacation destination you may not have considered. But, if you’re on the hunt for an affordable Texas getaway with fun for all ages, The Woodlands is just the ticket.

A master planned community founded in 1974, this family-friendly destination is all about preserving trees and protecting the environment. No urban sprawl here, just playgrounds, parks, pools, lakes, trails galore. Calming tree-lined avenues and wooden signs mark each passing “village.”  In fact, 7,790 of the 28,000-acre community is green space. The 200-acre Lake Woodlands just begs to be explored. With 135 neighborhood parks, 205 miles of hike and bike trails, a nature preserve, and a waterway, you’ll discover plenty of things to do here with your family.

Hiking trails and flock of ducks edge Lake Woodlands and entertained the little ones.

Hiking trails and flock of ducks edge Lake Woodlands and entertained the little ones. Photo by Heidi Gollub / Big Family TravelingMom

Where to Stay: The Woodlands Waterway Marriott

On a recent visit to The Woodlands, my family struck the perfect balance of family fun and parental relaxation at the Waterway Marriott. This centrally located hotel enhanced the first half of our trip, followed by a resort stay for the second half. Our first two nights in The Woodlands we spent right in the Town Center, at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott.


The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. Photo by Heidi Gollub / Big Family TravelingMom.

Located within walking distance from countless restaurants and entertainment venues, The Woodlands Waterway Marriott was incredibly convenient. We enjoyed eating out, shopping, water fun, and more, without ever taking our car out of the parking garage.

An artistic bench along The Woodlands Waterway.

An artistic bench along The Woodlands Waterway. Photo by Heidi Gollub / Big Family TravelingMom

Steps from the hotel is The Woodlands Waterway. We strolled along the banks, passing over and under mosaic-laden bridges, checking out the Koi Garden, resting on artistic benches, and stopping at Waterway Square to cool off in the splash pad.

Splish-splashing in Waterway Square in The Woodlands, Texas

Waterway Square. Photo by Heidi Gollub / Big Family TravelingMom

Half a mile from the hotel, accessible by both Waterway Taxi and the free Waterway Trolley, is the Woodlands Mall in one direction, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the other.

We stayed at The Woodlands over the 4th of July long weekend, when a free patriotic concert by The Houston Symphony was scheduled at the Pavilion. Guests were encouraged to bring a picnic. We walked over to Grimaldi’s to pick up a delicious coal brick-oven pizza, before continuing on foot to the concert. This spectacular evening of free music included Broadway musical performances and canon blasts at its conclusion. When it was over, we simply walked the short distance back to our room! 

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion - The Woodlands, Texas

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Photo by Heidi Gollub / Big Family TravelingMom

The following day, we strolled over to see the community’s nearby Fourth of July parade, followed by the Red, Hot & Blue Festival and evening fireworks in Waterway Square. All of these festivities were close enough to our hotel that we could walk, which allowed for short (air conditioned!) rests in the room between events.

Where to Stay:  The Woodlands Resort

After two days of exploring, and eating our way across town, we moved to The Woodlands Resort and Spa for a few days of relaxing. Well, I relaxed. The kids actually played pretty hard.

The Woodlands Resort and Spa, Texas

The Woodlands Resort and Spa. Photo by Heidi Gollub / Big Family TravelingMom.

Greeting the pool as it opened at 8 a.m. and staying up past dark for the evening Dive In Movie, my children made the most of this hotel’s amazing water park. With two large pools, three waterslides, splash pad, kiddie pool, hot tub, and 1,000-foot lazy river, Forest Oasis Waterscape had plenty to keep them busy!

Dive in Movie at The Woodlands Resort, Texas

Dive In Movie at The Woodlands Resort, Texas. Photo by Heidi Gollub / Big Family TravelingMom

Free activities were scheduled throughout the day, with resident DJ Mike spinning tunes to keep kids moving, dancing the Macarena, and even hula hooping. Friendly staff also made balloon animals, hosted story time, and helped guests make s’mores over the fire pit.

Hula hoop contest at The Woodlands Resort, Texas

Hula hoop contest. Photo by Heidi Gollub / Big Family TravelingMom.

The Resort also had fun for parents, with 21 tennis courts and two golf courses on site. Plus, there’s the spa, with its heavenly eucalyptus-infused steam rooms and dry saunas. I managed to sneak away for a 50-minute Swedish massage and found myself wishing I could stay all day.

Tucked away in an oasis of natural forest, The Woodlands Resort is the perfect place to get away from it all. Just lie back on a pool chaise and order a margarita, and let the kids play on the nearby splash pad. Can you imagine a better way to enjoy summer?

The Woodlands Texas

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For more information on The Woodlands, visit The Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau website. Then start planning your trip to this amazing community in the Texas Piney Woods – you’ll be glad you did!