There is no shortage of things to do in Houston if you enjoy art, fine food, shopping, unusual attractions, and enjoyable activities. This is the fourth-largest city in the country and is home to the famed Space Center Houston, well-known chefs, thought-provoking museums, lovely green spaces, and a bayou that runs through the centre of the city. You might even be able to attend a sporting event or Houston’s premier occasion, the Livestock Show and Rodeo, depending on your vacation dates.
Houston is a fantastic destination for a weekend trip because it has direct flights from all part of North America. For a taste of both the big city and island life, combine a vacation to Houston with a stop in nearby Galveston, which is only about an hour away. See our list of the top attractions in Houston for a comprehensive look at things to do.
1. Go to Houston’s Space Center
Room Center A must-see sight in Houston is Houston, the official visitor centre of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. You can stroll around the vast facility that houses both the large shuttle carrier aircraft it’s placed on and the space shuttle replica Independence. You may explore a copy of Skylab, America’s first space station, and hold a moon rock inside the visitor centre. Additionally, information on upcoming NASA missions, such as a trip to Mars, can be found here. You might even get to meet an astronaut if you visit on a Friday at noon.
You can take an open-air tram journey to Johnson Space Center, the location of mission control, from the visitor centre to witness where astronauts prepare for space missions. On this tour, you’ll also visit Rocket Park, where real rockets are on display. There is no cost if you merely want to visit the Rocket Park. Simply drive up to the gate’s guards and let them know you’d like to visit; they will then let you through.
Enroll in a Level 9 Tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at Johnson Space Center for a really one-of-a-kind experience. You can see locations that aren’t normally accessible on tours, such as the simulation labs, the ISS Mission Control, and the buoyancy lab, and you might even run into an astronaut. There are only 12 tickets available per day for this unique, four to five-hour VIP tour, making it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With the purchase of this ticket, you are free to explore the Space Center Houston, where the tours start.
Houston, Texas address: 1601 Nasa Pkwy
the official website is spacecenter.org.
2. Visit the Museum District in Houston
With 19 museums located in this lovely downtown location, the Museum District is one of Houston’s top cultural destinations. Public access to eleven of these is free. Highlights include, among others, the Holocaust Museum, the Menil Collection, the Children’s Museum of Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The magnificent Hermann Park, home to the Houston Zoo and the Miller Outdoor Theatre, is also nearby.
The Menil and the Rothko Chapel are a little more away, but the most of the museums can be reached on foot. The Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Lawndale Art Center, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Moody Center for the Arts, and the Houston Center for photography are among the museums that are free to enter.
Houston, Texas, 1001 Bissonnet Street
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
One of the best museums of its sort in the country is the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. The 63,000-piece collection is divided between two buildings, the Caroline Wiess Law Building and the Audrey Jones Beck Building, which are joined by the intriguing Wilson Tunnel.
The French and Italian Impressionist Renaissance paintings, superb sculptures, and European and American decorative arts are the museum’s main attractions. Check out the magnificent collection of gold-plated artefacts from the pre-Columbian and African cultures.
You’ll find plenty to keep you interested and entertained here if you love exploring at your own leisure; but, if it all seems a little overwhelming, consider taking a tour to see the highlights.
The Bayou Bend and Collections is a satellite gallery that offers furniture, decorative arts, and paintings if you happen to be near the River Oaks suburb.
Houston, Texas, 1001 Bissonnet Street
Site of origin: https://www.mfah.org
4. Houston Natural Science Museum
One of the city’s most visited museums is the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The museum is a great family adventure and covers a wide range of subjects that are likely to interest everyone in your group.
When you go, be sure to stop by the Hall of Paleontology to see a number of entire dinosaur skeletons. Visit the Cockrell Butterfly Conservatory to see something that is still alive. There, over 1,500 of these sweet butterflies flutter about in the muggy air; if you’re lucky, one might even land on you.
Learn more about Houston’s nighttime skies with a show at the Planetarium, then take a break and let your senses be stimulated at the Wortham Giant Screen Theater.
Houston, Texas, 5555 Hermann Park Drive
Website of official interest: www.hmns.org
5. Go to Houston’s Zoo
The Houston Zoo is one of the city’s top attractions and is well-liked by both locals and tourists. It is situated on 55 acres in Hermann Park. More than 6,000 exotic and native animals may be seen at the zoo, which also has a children’s zoo and an education centre. Highlights include feeding the giraffes, visiting the aquarium to up-close view aquatic life, and observing sea lions and otters playing.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Miller Outdoor Theatre, a Japanese Garden, and McGovern Centennial Garden are some of the many attractions in Hermann Park. Paddle boating on McGovern Lake or taking a stroll along the park’s walking pathways are both enjoyable activities.
Houston, Texas, 6200 Hermann Park Drive
www.houstonzoo.org is the official website.
The Menil Collection, no. 6
Nearly as much of a work of art is contained within the Menil Collection’s building as there is inside of it. The Renzo Piano-designed structure is light-filled because of the large glass windows that gaze out into the pristine gardens. In contrast to many art museums, the artwork is displayed using natural light in many (but not all) of the rooms.
The Menil Collection is renowned for housing the largest collection of Max Ernst works anywhere. The Menil Collection also houses works of art by the masters in the Byzantine, Abstract, and Surrealist styles, as well as modern artwork. These pieces are arranged collectively in rooms designated for display.
Spend some time exploring the Menil Collection campus if the weather is not too hot. The Rothko Chapel, with its mural paintings, is among the most fascinating sights to view.
The museum is no cost.
Houston, Texas address: 1533 Sul Ross Street
Authentic website: www.menil.org
Read more: Houston’s Best Museums
Visit the Houston Children’s Museum with the kids.
The Houston Children’s Museum is one of the top attractions in Houston for families and a fantastic way to escape the summer heat. Everyone is sure to grin when they enter this vibrant, busy environment. With so many interactive and hands-on exhibits, let the youngsters loose and have fun keeping themselves occupied.
The How Does it Work display is among the main highlights. You and your children will discover how things work in daily life here. Another amazing location where you may control the flow of water and observe the results is the FlowWorks wet zone.
Send your kids to the SECRETS Spy Game exhibit if they’ve ever wanted to act like secret spies. They will have to compete against evil characters while putting their talents to the test in order to try and decipher codes and find clues.
Website of official interest: www.cmhouston.org
Discover Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park.
Sheets of water cascade over substantial concrete walls and sculptures in the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park’s magnificent multi-story sculptural fountain. The building’s semi-circular design towers 64 feet above you, and it is surrounded by 46,500 square feet of water and a wide arch.
Photos don’t do this attraction justice; you have to experience it for yourself to fully understand it. This 2.77-acre park in Uptown Houston is home to scores of live oak trees.
9. National Funeral History Museum
You wouldn’t think a museum focused on funerals would be a popular tourist destination in Houston, but it is. This interesting and enjoyable museum is quirky and a little weird, but it’s well worth a visit.
The exhibitions inside the 30,500-square-foot structure include historical information about presidential funerals, exhibits on the embalming process, coffins from throughout the world, including some from as far away as Ghana, and antique funeral hearses.
The colourful overview of Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), which details this Latin American holiday in great detail, is one exhibit you shouldn’t miss.
Houston, Texas, 415 Barren Springs Drive
Website of official interest: www.nmfh.org
10. Examine the Street Art in Houston
Although it is frequently disregarded by tourists, Houston’s street art, also known as graffiti, is exceptional. Here, you may see installations by some of the most well-known street artists in the US and the rest of the world, such COPE2 and Gonzo247 from Houston.
These vibrant murals, which grace the walls of businesses in various parts of the city, are definitely worth the time it takes to drive around and see. The charming artist known as Gonzo247 is regarded as the unofficial curator of Houston’s street art. One of the most well-known street artists in the area, he painted the large “Houston is Inspired” painting at the intersection of Travis and Preston Streets as well as the more compact “Houston” artwork at the intersection of Leeland and St. Emanuel Streets.
Off Leeland Street at Chartres Street and St. Emanuel Street, this latter region is also home to a significant concentration of stunning installations that adorn the walls of various one- and two-story buildings. But artwork may be seen on a variety of sized walls all across the city.
11. Houston Holocaust Memorial
Visit the Holocaust Museum for a sombre reminder of how a man can inflict unimaginable cruelty on another human being. Since it was opened in 1996, the museum has been recounting the tale of the Holocaust during World War II.
The museum reopened in 2019 following an enormous $30 million expansion. The Holocaust Museum Houston is now 57,000 square feet in size, which is twice as big as it once was. It has a café, an outdoor amphitheatre with 175 seats, and a theatre with 187 seats.
Four galleries are skillfully designed with fascinating and thought-provoking exhibits and interesting stories from survivors. The museum houses an authentic railway that was used to carry victims as well as a Dutch fishing boat that was used to transport fugitives. Two more galleries host a steady stream of transient exhibitions.
Houston, Texas address: 5401 Caroline Street
Official website: hmh.org
12. Explore Buffalo Bayou Park by foot, bicycle, or canoe.
Buffalo Bayou Park is a stunning 160-acre green space that runs through the city and is centred on the Buffalo Bayou’s leisurely waters. In addition to numerous shady spots for relaxation, this urban park has miles of walking and bicycling routes, a dog park, and sculptures.
Rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard and enjoy a paddle along the bayou if you’re seeking for enjoyable activities in Houston, especially if you want to spend time outside. The park offers a variety of rentals and tours that last anywhere between one and three hours. Similar to that, outfitters in the city provide guided bike tours as well.
The Cistern, a former underground drinking-water reservoir from 1926 that currently exhibits varying art works, is one of Buffalo Bayou Park’s more unusual locations. Today, tourists can have a quick guided tour.
A sizable colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that lives on the Waugh Drive Bridge also calls the park home. Every evening after sundown, about 250,000 of them take off from the bridge.
Visit the official website at buffaloyou.org.
The Health Museum 13.
A visit to the Health Museum is necessary if you’ve been splurging on Texas’ delectable cuisine and are wondering if that may be why your jeans feel a little snug when you put them on. You can figuratively enter your own body at one of Houston’s most cutting-edge museums.
Walking inside a 10-foot-high brain, investigating a 12-foot-high pumping heart, and getting up close to a big eyeball are just a few of the family-friendly activities available. You may see how many calories you’ve been consuming at each of your visits to the renowned Texas BBQ booths with the Calorie Crank!
Houston, Texas address: 1515 Hermann Drive
Website of the organisation: https://www.thehealthmuseum.org
Art Car Museum 14.
Try the Art Car Museum if you don’t like Old Masters and Impressionists. Every kind of automobile used here serves as a canvas for original and fascinating artwork. Additionally, frequent automobile-themed works of art are hung on exhibit walls.
Since its debut in 1998, the Art Car Museum, often known as the Garage Mahal in Houston, has become a well-liked tourist destination. You’ll never exactly know what you’ll see because the exhibits and cars frequently change because artists try their best to turn something rather ordinary into a statement or a message.
Houston, Texas, 140 Heights Boulevard
Website of the organisation: https://artcarmuseum.com
15. Browse the vintage shops in The Heights on 19th Street
The Heights’ 19th Street is the place to go for retro furnishings, retro apparel, and antique items. There are a variety of strange stores in this hip neighbourhood that sell anything from formal attire to casual clothing, as well as jewellery, shoes, household appliances, and other unusual goods.
This is a great location to buy presents as well. Some stores sell new items or a combination of new and old items, so the goods is not all vintage. The entire neighbourhood is interesting to view and provides a distinctive shopping experience, even if you have no intention of making a purchase.