best things to do in houston best things to do in houston

20 Best Things to Do in Houston for a Sizzling Summer

Houston, Texas, is the fourth largest city in the United States and is extremely popular for its rich and diverse culture, tourist spots, dining options, and one-of-a-kind experiences! If you’re planning a trip around this area, Houston is a must-visit, for the city has something for everyone!

Planning a trip to such a big city filled with tourist attractions and fun places can be overwhelming.

In this guide, you will find many exciting things to do, including various museums, aquariums, monuments, parks, and much more!

So, without further ado, let’s hop into the 20 top attractions in Houston, Texas!

Amusement Park in Houston TX
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1. Houston Museum District

The key museums to visit here are the Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Children’s Museum of Houston, the Menil Collection, the Holocaust Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

This area also consists of Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo, and the Miller Outdoor Theatre. A visit to this area is a must if you’re looking to spend a fun day learning cool stuff about everything on the face of the earth!

2. Midtown

Midtown is situated directly to the southwest of Downtown Houston and is known for its happening nightlife. It is also popular for its vibrant art and culture and a theatre center and is thus an amazing place to spend the day!

From zoos and convention centers to galleries and parks, you will find tons of entertainment options and fun things to do for you and your family. This is an ideal place for people of all interests and ages and everyone will find something to enjoy.

If you are a baseball fan, you can visit the stadiums for a baseball game! NRG Stadium and Minute Maid Park are fun to visit during baseball season; you shouldn’t miss that experience. George R. Brown Convention Center is also a must-visit.

3. Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo is located in Hermann Park and is also one of the best places to visit. The zoo is home to around 6,000 species and is widely popular among locals and tourists. They have approximately 1.84 million footfalls every year!

It houses various exotic animals, from gorillas to tortoises, and will ensure a memorable visit. You can feed the giraffes and experience marine life closely through their wonderful aquarium.

The zoo also has exciting elements for children, like the children’s zoo and an education center! Through these features, the Parents magazine recognizes the Houston Zoo as one of the top 10 school zoos!

A picture of a metal- outlined hippo in a zoo in Hawaii.
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4. Space Center Houston

The Space Center Houston is the official visitor center of the Johnson Space Center, NASA. One of the most popular tourist attractions here, the space center comprises several replicas of space shuttles and labs you can view from the inside.

Key attractions include touching a rock from the moon and even meeting an astronaut if you’re lucky!

You may also visit the Rocket Park, where rockets are displayed for visitors. There’s also an open-air tram tour available to the Johnson Space Centre, where you can check out the places where astronauts train.

The Level 9 Tour is also something you do not want to miss. They provide you with the chance to experience the real functioning of a Space Centre. You’ll visit the Buoyancy and Simulation Labs, The ISS Mission Control, and many other important and reserved places! However, a VIP tour is available for a limited number of people.

This place thus offers a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.

5. Children’s Museum of Houston

The Children’s Museum of Houston is yet another primary tourist attraction in Houston. It is the best spot to visit with kids and a great way to beat the heat!

This museum includes several fascinating exhibits and activities to ensure your child has fun while learning.

The most popular exhibit here is the “How does it work” exhibit, where you learn the interesting ways things work. You can also check out the FlowWorks wet zone, where you’ll learn about water through activities. The Secrets Spy Game exhibit is also an intriguing and super fun part of the museum that you should experience.

The museum also has a cafe serving delicious food and a toy shop for the kids! All these cool things and elements make the museum a must-visit.

6. Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is located in Hermann Park and is one of the most visited museums in Houston. This place has something for people of all ages and is thus widely popular amongst tourists.

You’ll find everything from space stuff to dinosaurs in this large facility. One of the prominent spots here is the Hall of Palaeontology, where you’ll find dinosaur bones, fossils, and much more! There are also numerous precious artifacts from North America and countries like Egypt.

Apart from all this, the museum also has a planetarium that hosts a variety of shows, which will ensure both entertainment and learning for you and your family.

You can also visit the fascinating butterfly center and walk admiring beautiful butterflies in their habitat!

Thus, the Houston Museum of Natural Science ensures learning about a wide range of topics and a super fun time with your loved ones.

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Source: Shutterstock

7. Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is a must-visit for all art lovers. This museum comprises artworks from America, Europe, Africa, and other far eastern countries; some of the art even dates back to 6,000 years ago!

The key attractions here are the French Impressionist and Italian Renaissance paintings. Other highlights include pre-Colombian and African gold and various other stunning sculptures.

The Museum has two buildings – the Audrey Jones Beck Building and the Caroline Wiess Law Building- connected underground by the Wilson tunnel. The Wilson tunnel is an attraction of its own! Multiple tours, including an audio tour, are available to learn more about the exhibits.

The Museum has a vast diversity of art and is, therefore, a must-visit for people who are into art and sculptures!

8. Hermann Park

Hermann Park is the first public park in Houston and is popular for its relaxing and good vibes, making it one of the best things in Houston!

You can come here for a picnic, for biking and running and you are even allowed to bring your dogs!

There is also an outdoor theatre where various plays and live music are usually played for you and your loved ones! You can also visit the Japanese garden and the train ride available here. It’s a fun and one-of-a-kind experience you must have!

You can check out the many restaurants and cafes around the Park.

9. San Jacinto Monument

The San Jacinto Monument is the tallest war memorial in the world! It was built to honor those who fought in the Battle of San Jacinto, which won Texas independence from the Mexicans.

There are inscriptions on the monument that tell the story of the birth of Texas! There is also a museum where you can learn about the story of Texas’ independence in detail. The museum also has several tours available! There is also an observation deck from where you can enjoy 489 feet above the ground view of this site.

Therefore, if you’re into history and want to learn about the history of this state, you should check out the monument and the museum!

Amusement Park in Houston tx
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10. Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park is a popular spot where one can come for biking or just to relax. There are even running trails here. It is spread over 160 acres of land and also houses the slow-moving waters of Buffalo Bayou in the center. It was an underground drinking water reservoir in 1926 and is now available as a tourist attraction with guided tours, too! This place is thus perfect for a fun time with family or some quiet time with yourself.

You can rent a kayak or canoe and enjoy paddle boating through Buffalo Bayou. The cistern is also a spot that you can check out.

You may also get to witness Mexican free-tailed bats that fly around the Waugh Drive bridge every evening. Sometimes there are even as many as 25,000.

11. Galveston

Galveston is a beach town located very close to Houston, TX. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Houston and is perfect for a break from the city!

You can visit the beaches, the strand historic district, the 1892 Bishop’s Palace, and the Galveston Island Pleasure Pier in this Historic town!

Other popular attractions are the Moody Gardens, Aquarium Pyramid, and the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum. The Elissa and Texas Seaport Museum are also worth stopping by.

You can also visit many other museums like the Bryan Museum, the Moody Mansion, and the Grand 1894 Opera House!

Galveston is thus a must-visit and, because of the short distance, deserves to be on the list of the best things to do.

12. Downtown Aquarium

If you and your loved ones are into aquariums, this is the place for you!

The Downtown Aquarium is a 500,000-gallon aquarium that also boasts a restaurant! The Aquarium has several fascinating exhibits to ensure a fun day for you and your loved ones. The food here is also impeccable and is very popular amongst the tourists. This place is thus fun for people of all ages and interests and stores great for them.

The major exhibits include the Louisiana Swamp, the Shipwreck, the Rainforest, the Sunken Temple, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Check out the White Tigers of the Maharaja’s temple and the Shark Voyage too!

The food here is a must-try, making this place a must-visit on your list! You might also glimpse some scuba divers feeding the fish inside.

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Source: Shutterstock

13. NRG Stadium

The NRG Stadium, home of the NFL’s Houston Texans, is another extremely popular spot here in Houston. They have a tour available in which one is shown around the stunning stadium, the team’s locker rooms, premium seating areas, the stadium press box, and much more!

You can even catch a game if there’s one happening during your travel for-of-a-kind experience! The staff is super friendly, and food and beverages are also available. You can also check out the Toyota Center in downtown Houston, home to the Rockets and the Astros, who play at Minute Maid Park.

Houston is home to many other sports teams like the Houston Astros, the Houston Dynamo, and more.

You must check out this stadium, for it will be an experience worth remembering.

14. Chinatown

Did you know Houston has the second-largest Chinese population in the US? This large area in greater Houston is, therefore, a must-visit! You’ll find a variety of food, stores, and more!

Some of the most popular food joints are Fung’s Kitchen, Arco Seafood, and Pho Binh. You may check out the Six Ping Bakery and 85C Bakery Cafe for bakeries.

You must also stop by Yes KTV, a karaoke bar with lots of fun, music, and food!

There are also many stores for all the shopaholics to shop their hearts out! You can visit Harwin Drive, Super H Mart, and the Hong Kong City Mall. You can also go for some relaxing massages!

All these diverse features make this place a must-visit.

15. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodea are two of the most popular events in Houston! It’s celebrated in February or March for 19 days. You can enjoy many things here, from rides and games to food stalls.

It’s a perfect way for people of age to have fun, making it much more than just a livestock and rodeo show. You can also watch cowboys performing stunts and musical performances in the evening. There are farm animals on display at the livestock, too!

This is thus an event that you should not miss. The carnivals, the games, the great foods, and the shows will ensure an unforgettable stay experience for you.

16. Twilight Epiphany Skyspace

The James Turrel Twilight Epiphany Skyspace is situated on the Rice University campus. It usually hosts musical performances and has a super cool LED light sequence projecting on the ceiling.

This surreal piece of architecture with incredible lights is certainly a must-visit! The light sequence here can be visited on all days except Tuesdays.

Amazing colors are projected on the roof, and it is known to be quite a breathtaking sight. So don’t miss this absolutely beautiful experience.

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Source: Shutterstock

17. Brazos Bend State Park

The Brazos Bend State Park is one of Houston’s most popular and diverse tourist attractions. This place is just for you. It’s just an hour’s drive from Houston and offers an authentic old Texas experience!

Brazos Bend State Park is a 5,000-acre park with swamps, marshes, lakes, and coastal tallgrass prairie. It also has pristine bottomland hardwood forests, a scenic haven for animal enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

You will find more than 270 species of birds, and the prehistoric-looking American alligator is the park´s key attraction. Hiking and biking trails are available throughout the park, and several lakes are also there for fishing.

For stargazers, they have the George Observatory, which is situated in the park. The Observatory also has a Challenger Learning Center for Space Science Education, which takes visitors on space missions, completed with a mission control center and a spacecraft simulator.

They also have three domed telescopes at the George Observatory: the largest is the 36-inch Gueymard Research Telescope, one of the largest telescopes in the nation open to the public regularly.

Most of the park is in the Brazos River floodplains, but there are also flat, upland coastal prairies. People who visit the Brazos Bend come here for nature, and that makes Brazos Bend a paradise for nature lovers and a must-visit for them.

paradise for nature lovers
Image Source: brazos-bend

18. East End

East End is a famous neighborhood in the Space City area of Houston which used to house Houston’s old Chinatown. Popularly known as Eado, it’s increasingly getting recognition as a fun tourist spot amongst both locals and foreigners. Eado is between Downtown and the Port of Houston, filled with rich history and culture.

The district is home to the Harrisburg community, an early Texas trading post that was immensely well-known and credited for the initial development of Houston by the Allen brothers. It is also home to two of Houston’s oldest Hispanic neighborhoods, Magnolia Park and Second Ward.

From art to the Brays Bayou trails and light rail, delicious foods, and authentic culture for you to experience, this neighborhood should surely be on the list.

19. Market Square Park

Market Square Park is a popular area in Downtown Houston’s Historic District. Tourists often visit the neighborhood for its scenic views and greenery. There is a lawn in the center, the same place the City Halls used to be! You will also find a crescent-shaped dog park, which is perfect for your fur friends! You will also be able to explore the historic aspect of the area and the city of Houston in a walkway arc here.

We have the Houston classic and extremely popular Niko Niko’s for foodies and their wonderful outdoor performances.

You may also stop by Lauren’s Graden for some quiet time. The Lauren’s Garden memorial honors Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, a passenger on United Flight 93. It’s also a memorial for the people lost on September 11 and is filled with beautiful sculptures, flowers, and leaves.

The key attraction of Market Square is its public art exhibits. Local and national artists like Richard Turner, Paul Hester, James Surls, Malou Flato, and Ketria Scott collaborate with the Houston Arts Alliance to update and move older pieces and install new pieces that have elevated the overall aesthetic.

Art installations are all over the park, but the highlight is Surly’s ‘Points of View sculpture. The striking black metal and yellow spires are somewhat in contrast to the area’s historic vibe.

20. The Menil Collection

If you’re an art lover, you will love this place! The Menil Collection opened in 1987, was initially for exhibiting the works of John and Dominique de Menil. The collection is important and exhibits approximately 15,000 works from the Paleolithic era to today!

There are several exhibits present here. The key ones are – Antiquity, Byzantine, Medival, Tribal, and 20th Century Art. All art lovers must visit this diverse and fascinating place.

THE MENIL COLLECTION HOUSTON

The de Menils started collecting and putting artworks in exhibitions around the 1950s. Some 25 years later, they decided to set up this collection for the public to visit permanently.

There are many other tourist places surrounding the museum. You can visit the Cy Twombly Gallery, Richmond Hall, and the Rothko Chapel.

The Menil Collection is filled with countless fascinating pieces of art.

Closing Thoughts

Now, there you go. The city is a mixture of entertainment options for people of all ages and interests.

If these aren’t enough! Other notable places you can check out our;

  • art car museum
  • houston arboretum
  • city center cafe
  • Houston ship channel
  • Houston Zoo, located at Hermann Park,
  • Sam Houston park

No matter who you are, you’ll find something for yourself here. It’s also perfect for a short weekend road trip with family and friends.

Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Sathi Chakraborty

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