Houston, among the heavily populated cities in Texas and North America, is known for its diverse history and culture. This city was called “the American city of the future” and is known to have skilled and soulful residents living a smart lifestyle.
One reason Houston has a big population is the massive number of activities and tourist attractions. This city is a magnet for visitors, primarily since NASA’s Space Center and astronaut training are both based in Houston. However, Houston can offer you many great things to do and unique places to visit aside from this space madness.
Houston provides different attractions for families and friends, art enthusiasts, outdoor enthusiasts, shopaholics – all kinds of people. When you’re in the city, you can visit different museums, shop in one of their most extensive shopping malls, learn about the city’s history, explore zoos, eat different cuisines, and more.
If you want to be prepared and make the most of your visit to Houston, here’s the list of 25 of the greatest things to do in the city.
1. Visit The Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston
Built in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is only one of the many museums in Houston’s Museum District. Inside this, you will see a library, an institute, a sculpture park, and of course, an art museum.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, holds about 64,000 artworks from around the world, and some of these artworks showcase the history of Texas and other countries, which you can trace back even through 6,000 years ago. You can really learn so much from the ceramics, paintings, photographs, and sculptures seen in this museum. Aside from these, the Museum of Fine Arts also showcases furniture, especially antique ones.
You’ll get to see a lot of artworks in this museum. So if you are a lover of culture and the arts, make sure to give the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a visit.
2. Experience Science Exhibits At The Museum Of Natural Science
The Museum of Natural Science is also another museum in Houston’s Museum District. Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) shows a lot of mineral specimens, vintage technology, giant skeletons of instinct animals like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a planetarium, rare artifacts, and so much more from the different branches of science.
This museum is top-rated among locals and tourists because it consists of many permanent exhibits. It is among the most famous museums in North America and is visited by tourists from different places worldwide.
3. Stroll On The Grounds Of Hermann Park
If you want to feel like you’re born and raised in Houston, strolling on the grounds of Hermann Park is undoubtedly effective. Hermann Park is a 445-acre park comprised of so many green areas and amenities such as pavilions, picnic areas, a golf course, and many more. It is also the border of different neighborhoods in the city, several tourist attractions, institutions, and universities.
One of the highlights of Hermann Park is its numerous amenities that are visited by many. In this park, you can picnic in their designated picnic areas and take a walk in their gardens and trails. You may also visit the lakes and enjoy different water activities like pedal boating, play on the park’s golf course, or you can even let the kids play on the playgrounds. However, Hermann Park’s biggest highlight is the Houston Zoo, where you can see bears, giant tortoises, giraffes, lions, sharks, and many more.
Aside from these, you can also find the Miller Outdoor Theater and the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Hermann Park and enjoy everything they offer.
4. Visit Nasa’s Space Center Houston
One of the significant reasons why Houston is famous among many people is because of Space Center Houston. Also known as the International Space Station Mission Control, Space Center Houston showcases over 400 artifacts about the US’ space flight programs and other space-related information. Aside from that, Space Center Houston houses NASA’s Mission Control and also trains astronauts for space missions.
When you visit Space Center Houston, you’ll see a museum that contains interactive consoles and movies, which you can watch with family and friends. Apart from museums and exhibits, you will also see the behind-the-scenes of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where they made all the history.
5. Learn More About Marine Life In The Downtown Aquarium
If you want to experience aquarium exhibits and, at the same time, fun and thrilling rides, then you’d better visit the Downtown Aquarium. Downtown Aquarium is 6-acre big and has a 500,000-gallon aquarium that houses more than 300 species of marine animals. Aside from the aquarium, Downtown Aquarium also has a dining and entertainment area where you can relax and enjoy after a long day of exploring and learning more about aquatic life.
You can enjoy some fun rides in Downtown Aquarium: Aquatic Carousel, Frog Hopper, Shark Voyage, and many more. They are great for kids but are open to all ages. Aside from the rides, this place also has aquatic exhibits, a bar and restaurant, a ballroom area, and a shopping area where you can buy souvenirs and stuff.
6. Watch Ball Games In The Minute Maid Park
When you visit Houston during summer, you might want to catch a game in the Minute Maid Park. This park is known for its retractable roof, allowing fresh air while watching ball games during the cooler seasons. It is also the home of the Houston Astros, the city’s professional baseball team.
When you watch a game in the Minute Maid Park, you’ll enjoy the thrilling ball game while having excellent ballpark food, like nachos and hot dogs. This park has a wide variety of food selections, ensuring that watchers won’t get hungry while cheering for their favorite team.
This stadium’s retractable roof is an excellent feature as it keeps the game running, whether it rains or shines. However, even with a closed roof, you’ll still get a glimpse of Houston’s skyline through the 50,000-sq ft. glass section. Besides all of these, you could also watch a fireworks show if you get a ticket to the game on a Friday night. Indeed, it is worth it to purchase tickets to watch a game in Minute Maid Park.
7. Explore The Buffalo Bayou Park
The 160 acres Buffalo Bayou Park is a municipal park in Houston that offers a vast green space ideal for hiking, biking, or even having a picnic while enjoying the beautiful skyline views. The park also has several art installations that would capture everyone’s attention.
In Buffalo Bayou Park, you’ll enjoy different recreational activities. You may exercise here or go kayaking and still enjoy it because of the refreshing environment around you. The park also has a kids’ playground for children visiting the area.
It is also great to visit the Buffalo Bayou Park at night because of its innovative lighting, ensuring everybody’s safety even after the sunsets. And after a whole day of fun and exhausting activities, you can relax and eat at several restaurants in the area that serve yummy food and excellent drinks accompanied by music.
8. Play Different Games In Fast Track Amusements
Fast Track Amusements is a great place to visit if you want to have a whole day of fun. This place consists of different arcade games, a mini-golf course, go-karts, and a laser tag. What’s nice is that it provides visitors with indoor and outdoor activities where they can show off their skills and abilities and have some fun.
Fast Track Amusements have incredibly great staff, clean and sanitized facilities, and enjoyable games. This place is indeed perfect for family and friends to enjoy.
9. Walk Back In History With The Holocaust Museum Houston
Add an educational tour on your visit to Houston, and consider going to the Holocaust Museum Houston. This museum showcases film footage all taken during WWII, giving you a glimpse of the happenings from inside the camps to transporting the victims of the war.
You will also get to see over 10,000 items from WWII victims and survivors, like the camp uniform of one Houston survivor. However, you’ll also see how the victims and survivors fought for their lives until the end, and you’ll see a Danish fishing boat that rescued over 7,000 Jewish survivors during WWII.
All the Holocaust Museum Houston exhibits are very informative and could quickly spark conversations. Visiting this museum is one of the best things to do in this city because you’ll leave with excellent knowledge and information about the world’s history.
10. Explore The Menil Campus
Among Houston’s crowned jewels, Menil Campus is a 30-acre campus that houses an almost 17,000 art collection of the Menil couple. The campus stands between 20th-century bungalows and Live Oak trees that provide an excellent and refreshing ambiance in the place.
Upon entering the halls of the Menil Campus, you’ll immediately immerse yourself in the beautiful art collections of John and Dominique de Menil. Then when you proceed to Richmond Hill, you’ll be greeted by the Dan Flavin Installation and Cy Twombly Gallery. You can also stop by Rothko Chapel to have a peaceful prayer and meditation. As expected, this chapel is full of murals from Mark Rothko, an American abstract expressionist.
There are also some restaurants and bars around the area if you want to take a break from exploring a whole art-filled campus.
11. Learn More About Bugs In Cockrell Butterfly Center
The Cockrell Butterfly Center is another place to visit in Houston if you want an educational activity during your trip. It homes many species and teaches you all about bugs while providing entertainment for you and your family, especially to the kids.
The Cockrell Butterfly Center also has a living butterfly habitat, showing off different butterfly species, from the most beautiful to the strongest in the world. They also provide you with interactive activities, which are great for kids visiting the center.
As you walk inside the Cockrel Butterfly Center, read about the butterflies’ life cycle and see them in different stages of their lives. It’s also better to wear bright colors when visiting the center, as butterflies are more likely to land on vibrant colors.
12. Explore The Art Car Museum
By the name itself, Art Car Museum is a museum consisting of various decorated cars. The museum first opened to all in 1998, showing some automobiles like vans, car racers, cruisers, low riders, and more.
The cars exhibited in this museum are mostly decorated with jewels, painted with bright colors, and added with different art installations. Aside from the vehicles, you can also see numerous photographs, sculptures, and modern art exhibited in the museum.
The Art Car Museum might be smaller than other museums, but the beautifully designed vehicles are indeed worth the visit. Note that they display a few cars at a time. So if you want to see a lot of cars during your stay, you can schedule your visit for April during the Art Car Parade.
13. Try Out Houston’s Barbecue
Texas is known for its barbecue, so it’s no surprise if Houston is famous for its barbecued brisket. There are numerous barbecue places that you could visit in Houston, one of which is the Corkscrew BBQ in Spring, which gained a spot in the Top 10 Best BBQ Joints in Texas.
You can also visit Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland, which smokes up high-quality large-sized beef that is quite the standard. Aside from this, other excellent BBQ places in Houston are Feges BBQ, Pinkerton’s, Ray’s BBQ Shack, and The Pit Room.
If you visit the city in April, you’ll get the chance to eat the most delicious barbecues in Houston during the annual Houston BBQ Festival.
14. Sing Along At A Live Show
What’s the point of visiting Houston if you do not sing along on one of its live shows?
Houston is famous for its music scene, a combination of local, nationally recognized, and underground artists sharing the music of different genres. Some live performances are held in places like the White Oak Music Hall, which has indoor and outdoor stages. Also, expect jamming out in music shows in the Continental Club and The Heights Theater.
There are also larger live show venues such as the House of Blues in Downtown Houston and The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands. But, wherever venue you go, it is certain that you’ll enjoy singing your hearts out together with the famous and uprising artists in Texas.
15. Shop At The Galleria
Your stay in Houston wouldn’t be complete without a retail therapy in The Galleria. The Galleria is a huge shopping center in the city, about 2.4 million sq ft wide, with over 400 stores inside. It consists of high-end brands like Chanel, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, etc. Aside from these, there are also brands like H&M and Forever 21.
There are also many dining options in The Galleria, so you wouldn’t run out of choices where to eat. Another great amenity is the ice skating rink, which is also visited by many. And just around the neighborhood, you can find high-quality accommodations like The Westin Galleria Houston.
If you plan to shop in The Galleria, make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes because you will do a lot of walking around the mall.
16. Try Out Beers In Saint Arnold Brewing Company
If you and your family and friends are huge fans of beers and breweries, you should visit Saint Arnold Brewing Company. It is one of the oldest craft breweries in the city, and it provides visitors with fun and interesting ideas about brewing beers.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company shows you how a brewery functions – beginning from brewing and filtering until bottling the beers. The fun part is that they allow visitors to drink the beers they brew. Some of the beers they brew are seasonal beers, yet some are available in the market the whole year.
You can find the beers they brew in the bars, local grocery and liquor stores, and restaurants in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.
17. Taste Houston’s Different Cuisines
If you want to taste different cuisines and experience the culture of various cities in America and the world through good food, Houston is one of the best places to go. You’ll find different cuisines – African, Mexican, Persian, Singaporean, and many more. Just walk around town and look for restaurants serving your desired food, then you’re good to go.
Some of the restaurants you can visit are Himalaya, which serves the best Indo-Pak fried chicken. Pho Binh, which serves a nice warm bowl of pho, is also a top-rated restaurant in Houston. Others include Peli Peli, with its best-selling South African bobotie, Polonia’s Polish hunter’s stew and golabki, and many more.
18. Visit Discovery Green & Avenida Houston
Escape the bustling crowd in the city and experience the wonders of Discovery Green & Avenida Houston. It is located in Downtown Houston, between the beautiful live oaks. Discovery Green & Avenida Houston, Houston’s urban landscape, is an eco-friendly park that also became an entertainment district for the whole city.
Here you’ll see seasonal artwork and light installations, which are very pleasing to the eyes. You’ll also experience concerts and festivals on Jonas Lawn and do water activities like paddleboarding and kayaking on the Kinder Lake. During the winter, they offer ice-skating rinks, which attract a lot of locals and tourists to the city.
Aside from these, you can do yoga, attend movie screenings, eat in different bars and restaurants, and more if you visit Discovery Green & Avenida Houston.
19. Visit The Toyota Center
An indoor arena in Houston, TX, Toyota Center is one of the most spacious arenas in the city. They named this arena after Toyota, a Japanese automobile manufacturer, who paid a hundred million dollars to get the naming rights for the arena.
This arena is the home of the professional basketball team of Houston, the Houston Rockets. The Houston Aeros, a former professional ice hockey team in Houston, also once considered the Toyota Center as their home. Aside from the sports teams, events and concerts are also usually held in the Toyota Center.
Locals and tourists like visiting the arena because it is extremely spacious and has clean facilities. There are also several restaurants serving scrumptious food nearby and hotels within walking distance, which could provide excellent accommodations.
20. Immerse Yourself With Great Artworks In Houston Murals
If you love art, especially street art, you should visit Houston Murals. There you’ll see brightly-colored murals and experience the art of the locals, telling different stories and creating an impact on the world. Some of these murals are painted on the walls of restaurants, studios, parking lots, and other places in the city.
Murals are such an impactful and unique kind of art because they vary from simple to complex designs and monochromatic to vibrant-colored paintings. However, despite their diversity, they all share the same goal: to convey a message to the world — it may be political or universal.
Local and international artists painted the murals in Houston, some were for the annual HUE Mural Festival, and others were commissioned paintings.
21. Watch Free Performances In Miller Outdoor Theatre
An outdoor theater with free performances? It’s the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park in Houston. This theater showcases free concerts, dances, and plays suited for all ages. The performances they show in this outdoor theater speak loudly about Houston, Texas’ culture and the arts.
The theater is over 7.5 acres big and is a popular venue among residents. Here you can bring your chair, pack your throw pillows and blankets, and bring your snacks. The Miller Outdoor Theatre operates from mid-March until mid-November, so if you want to experience the fun of an outdoor theater, try to visit the city in between these months.
22. Walk Along The Historic 19th Street In The Heights
Shopping in the 19th Street Shopping District in the Heights is also a great thing to do when visiting Houston. Here you’ll see the coolest and quirkiest shopping center full of antique shops, thrift stores, bars, cafes, and restaurants. This shopping district is famous, especially among thrift-loving people, because you’ll surely leave 19th Street with many great finds at very reasonable and affordable prices.
On the first Saturday of August every year, 19th Street holds a White Linen Night wherein locals and visitors wear the best white linen outfit and enjoy the summer accompanied by good music and great local arts. Aside from this event, 19th Street also celebrates Third Thursdays Sip & Stroll and conducts holiday tours and tent sales.
23. Buy Market Goodies At The Urban Harvest Farmers Market
Experience the farmers market like a local Houston resident at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market. The farmers market opens at 8 am and only until noon at St. John’s School off Buffalo Speedway.
The market has sold farm-to-market goodies from local farmers and local businesses in Houston ever since 2004. Until now, the Urban Harvest Farmers Market still offers fresh and organic crops and other local craftings like soaps, fresh flowers, seasonal jams, and many more.
You can also dine in the market and have your morning coffee and tacos, which is popular among the residents of Houston. Aside from these, you’ll also get to enjoy live music from local artists, great during your Saturday-morning market runs.
24. Experience Skydiving In The Ifly Indoor Skydiving
Among the best things to do in Houston is to try out the iFLY Indoor Skydiving. You’ll experience actual freefall conditions indoors through a simulation inside a vertical wind tunnel. Each flight lasts about 60 seconds, and flying is a bit hard from the start but continues to be such a fun and fantastic experience.
The iFLY Indoor Skydiving provides all the necessary gear and equipment and has knowledgeable guides who give instructions excellently. Hence, rest assured that you’re going to have a smooth flight. And if you are not a fan of the thrilling flight, you can still watch as there are seats for visitors who only want to watch everybody else’s flights.
The price of indoor skydiving starts at $59.95 per person, which is already good for two flights. For family packages, prices may cost about $272.40.
25. Attend The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Your Houston visit would not be complete without watching a single rodeo show. Gear up on your cowboy outfit and watch the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the biggest livestock show and rodeo worldwide.
There are also a lot of entertaining events like the Calf Scramble, wherein participants compete in catching a calf, and a horse show wherein top-notch horses are showcased to the audience. There is also a huge carnival and much delicious food and refreshing drinks. Lastly, almost everybody looks forward to the rodeo concert, which has an excellent lineup every year.
Ever since its foundation in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo has encouraged and promoted the livestock industry in Texas. This event has already gathered over 2 million people and still attracts hundreds and thousands of people worldwide annually.