Moody Gardens theme park, about an hour’s drive from Houston, is a zoo, museum and amusement park — all in one. The complex is made up of three striking pyramids: an aquarium, a tropical rainforest and a discovery center for traveling museum exhibits. These are spread out among hotels, restaurants and gardens on the waterfront at Galveston Bay.
The Rainforest Pyramid is a 10-story building that houses a climate-controlled rainforest. Monkeys, sloths, birds and butterflies move freely through the trees. A waterway system running through the ground floor is home to Chinese alligators and Amazon otters. There are mock Mayan ruins, waterfalls and even a bat cave. Stroll along walkways that wind through the pyramid’s ground floor and on elevated platforms amongst the trees.
The Aquarium Pyramid is the largest of the three pyramids with four separate ocean displays. You’ll find coral reef and tropical fish in the South Pacific exhibit, five different types of penguins in the icy South Atlantic and seals in the North Pacific. Walk beneath sharks, turtles and eels in an underwater tunnel through the Caribbean.
The Discovery Pyramid, located in the middle of the gardens, is constantly changing. A roster of exhibits from around the world, usually involving science and nature, feature informative, interactive activities.
In addition to the pyramids, there’s a host of activities. During summer enjoy the water park with its man-made sandy beach, water slides and wave pool. Play a round of golf at the newly renovated Moody Gardens Golf Course year-round, or go for an idyllic boat ride on the bay. There are 3-D and 4-D cinemas, as well as a RideFilm theater that features an 18-seat ride with a 180-degree wraparound screen.
Buy tickets separately for individual attractions, or purchase a one- or two-day Value Pass. Moody Gardens is a non-profit attraction, so proceeds of ticket sales go to the park’s conservation and research activities.
Moody Gardens is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of downtown Houston by car and there’s plenty of free parking.