As a mega multicultural metropolis, Houston has no shortage of things to see and do. You’ll find your fill of museums, tours, and even outdoor activities in its vast parkland, which is almost double the average space for other cities.
Take off to the Johnson Space Center to see Mission Control, get up-close to a Saturn V rocket, learn about the International Space Station and the future of NASA, and even meet an astronaut!
Take in over 56,000 works at the Museum of Fine Arts, the largest fine art museum in the southwest. Van Gogh, O’Keefe, Rembrandt, Warhol and Picasso are just a few names you’ll find in the collections.
Hop on a pontoon boat tour or rent a kayak on the 26-mile Buffalo Bayou paddling trail to see Texas’ native flora, fauna, and wildlife. There’s even a mobile app to guide you including maps of hiking trails and public art installations.
Find a spot near the Waugh Drive Bridge in late afternoon to see a quarter-million bats take flight around sunset in search of dinner. Houston’s Mexican free-tailed bat colony is second in size only to Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge. Don’t forget to stay quiet, don’t get too close, and bring a hat and bug spray!
Houston is the top ranked city for parkland, with almost 50,000 acres of park space. One of these great spaces to visit is Hermann Park, just a short few miles from downtown, adjacent to Rice University. Take in the rose garden, butterfly exhibit, outdoor theatre, and lake. Then visit the best-in-class Houston Zoo. There are many discounts, including free admission after 2 PM from September-May.
There are over a dozen museums in Houston that offer free admission every day, and many other museums that let you in for free on Thursdays. Visit the unique and extensive Menil Collection for antique art from the Stone Age, surrealist and modernist art from the 20th century, and Medieval art dating to the 6th century, to name a few collections.
Go to Sea
Enjoy smooth sailing on the Sam Houston Boat Tour, a 90-minute narrated tour of the Port of Houston. From the industrial wonder of the Houston Ship Channel to the wildlife and environment of the area, the tour is enjoyable and informative. Tours are offered Wednesday – Saturday at 10 AM and 2:30 PM, plus a 2:30 tour on Sundays.
Right in the middle of downtown, Discovery Green is a park full of activity and excitement that you can feel good about – it was built to the highest environmental standards and is powered entirely by renewable energy. Many park activities are free, such as dog runs, playgrounds, performance spaces, gardens and public art installations, but there are also paid things to do such as ice skating in the winter, dance lesons, workout groups and visiting the two restaurants.
The Houston Greeters are a group of locals that love their city and want to share it with visitors. They volunteer their time to explore areas you’re interested in – you tell them what you want to see, and they take care of the rest. This isn’t an average tour of just historical facts (though you can get those too) – you can be accompanied to baseball games, nightlife, live music, rodeos…the list goes on. Just visit their website to schedule a tour.
Hubcap Grill Unassuming shack with the best burgers in town – cash only
Downtown (the original): 1111 Prairie, Houston, TX 77002
Houston Heights (with beer yard): 1133 W 19th, Houston, TX 77008
Chacho’s Best margaritas and nachos in town, 24 hours a day
6006 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
5350 North Freeway (I45 @ Tidwell), Houston, TX 77022
James Coney Island Serving up both classic and original hot dogs for 90 years
3607 S. Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX 77098 (plus 14 other Houston locations)
Natachee’s Supper ‘n Punch Home cookin’, strong drinks and live music in Midtown
3622 Main Street, Houston, TX, US 77002
Hickory Hollow BBQ and Southern-style cooking with Texas-sized portions
Northwest Houston: 8038 Fallbrook Dr., Houston, TX 77064
Central Houston: 101 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX 77007
The Buffalo Grille Huge hotcakes and awesome omelets at this counter-service café
Near Rice University: 4080 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005
Uptown Houston: 1301 S. Voss Road, Houston, TX 77057
Treebeards Classic Cajun cuisine for the Bayou City
5 Houston locations, including:
Market Square: 315 Travis St., Houston, TX 77002
The Shops near Discovery Green: 1200 McKinney St., Houston, TX 77010
Café Mawal Well-hidden and authentic Middle Eastern fare with late-night hookah
6006 Fairdale Ln., Houston, TX 77057
Cordua International Festival of Flavors Week (January)
MLK Parade (January)
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (late February – early March)
Bayou City Arts Festival (March and October)
Houston International Festival (April)
Art Car Parade (May)
Free Press Summer Fest (June)
Juneteenth Celebration (June)
Freedom Over Texas (July)
World Series of Dog Shows (July)
Houston Shakespeare Festival (August)
Ballunar Liftoff Festival (September)
Nutcracker Market (November)
Houston Holiday Thanksgiving Day Parade (November)
Discovery Green Ice Skating (December)