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 multiple tourist attractions and fun places can be a bit overwhelming. Therefore, we have curated this list of the best things to do in Houston just for you!
In this guide, you will find a bunch of exciting things to do in Houston which even includes a variety of museums, aquariums, monuments, parks, and much more!
So without further ado, let’s hop into the 20 top attractions and the best things to do in Houston, Texas!
1. Houston Museum District
The Houston museum district has 19 museums and out of which 11 are free to the public! 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, with 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! It is suitable for people of all ages and makes it one of the best things to do in Houston!
Midtown is situated directly to the southwest of Downtown Houston and is known for its happening nightlife. It is also popular for the vibrant art and culture and a theatre center and is thus an amazing place to spend the day as well!
From zoos and convention centers to galleries and parks, you will find tons of entertainment options and fun things to do in Houston 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 even visit the stadiums for a baseball game! NRG Stadium and Minute Maid Park are super fun to visit during baseball season and you shouldn’t miss that experience at all. George R. Brown Convention Center is also a must-visit.
3. Houston Zoo
The Houston zoo is located on Hermann Park and is also one of the best places to visit and one of the best things to do in Houston! The zoo is home to around 6,000 species and is widely popular amongst both the locals and the tourists. They have approximately 1.84 million footfalls every year!
It houses a variety of exotic animals from gorillas to tortoises and will ensure you 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! It is through these features that the Parents magazine recognizes the Houston zoo as one of the top 10 zoos for kids!
4. Space Center Houston
The Space Center Houston is the official visitor center of Johnson Space Center, NASA. One of the most popular tourist attractions here, the space center comprises several replicas of space shuttle and labs that you can actually view from the inside.
Key attractions include being able to touch a rock from the moon and if you’re lucky, even meeting an astronaut!
You may also visit the Rocket park where there are rockets on display for the 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 get to visit the Buoyancy and Simulation Labs, The ISS Mission Control, and many other important and reserved places! However, it is a VIP tour and is available for a limited number of people.
This place thus offers a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience and is one of the best things to do in Houston!
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 as well!
This museum includes several fascinating exhibits and activities that will make sure 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 foods and a toy shop for the kids! All these cool things and elements make the museum a must-visit and one of the best things to do in Houston.
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, making it one of the best things to do in Houston.
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 all of 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 have a walk admiring beautiful butterflies in their habitat!
Thus, the Houston Museum of Natural Science not only ensures learning about a wide range of topics but also ensures a super fun time with your loved ones.
7. Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts in the city of Houston is a must-visit for all art lovers. This museum is comprised of artworks from America, Europe, Africa, and other far eastern countries and some of the art even dates back to 6,000 years ago!
The key attractions here are the French Impressionist and the 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 that are connected underground by the Wilson tunnel. The Wilson tunnel is an attraction of its own! There are multiple tours available including an audio tour to learn more about the exhibits.
The Museum has a vast diversity in art and is, therefore, a must-visit for people who are into art and sculptures! This museum is thus also one of the best things to do in Houston, Texas.
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 to do 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 a variety of plays and live music are usually played for you and your loved ones! You can also visit the Japanese garden along with 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 that won Texas independence from the Mexicans.
There are inscriptions on the monument that tells the story of the birth of Texas! There is also a museum here 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 definitely check out the monument and the museum! It’s a must-visit and again one of the best things to do in Houston.
10. Buffalo Bayou Park
The 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 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 available 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 a chance to witness Mexican free-tailed bats that fly around every evening around the Waugh Drive bridge. Sometimes they are even as many as 25,000.
Galveston is a beach town located very close to Houston, TX. It’s a less than hour 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 here are the Moody Gardens and 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 in Houston.
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 of a restaurant! The Aquarium has several fascinating exhibits that will 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 things to do in Houston for them.
The major exhibits here include the Lousiana Swamp, the Shipwreck, Rainforest, Sunken Temple, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Make sure to check out the White Tigers of the Maharaja’s temple and the Shark Voyage too!
The food here is a must-try and makes this place a must-visit in your list of best things to do in Houston! You might also catch a glimpse of some scuba divers feeding the fishes inside.
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 locker rooms of the team, premium seating areas, the stadium press box, and much more!
It surely is one of the best things to do in Houston!
You can even catch a game if there’s one happening during your travel for one of a kind experience! The staff is super friendly and there are food and beverages available as well. You can also check out the Toyota Center in downtown Houston that is home to the Rockets along with the Astros who play at the Minute Maid Park.
The city of Houston is home to a lot of other sports teams like the Houston Astros, Houston Dynamo, and more.
You must check out this stadium for it will be an experience worth remembering.
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. For bakeries, you may check out the Six Ping Bakery and 85C Bakery Cafe.
You must also stop by Yes KTV, a karaoke bar with features 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 and one of the best things to do in Houston!
15. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodea is one the most popular events in Houston! It’s celebrated in February or March for 19 days. There are many things that you can enjoy here from rides and games to food stalls. No wonder it is one of the best things to do in Houston!
It’s a perfect way for people of age to have fun and this makes it much more just a livestock and rodeo show. You can also watch cowboys performing stunts and some musical performances in the evening as well. 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 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 is equipped with 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 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 as it truly is one of the best things to do in Houston!
17. Brazos Bend State Park
The Brazos Bend State Park is one of the most popular and diverse tourist attractions of Houston. If you are a nature lover looking for things to do in Houston, this place is just for you. It’s just an hour’s drive away from Houston and offers an authentic old Texas experience!
Brazos Bend State Park is a 5,000-acre park and has got swamps and marshes to lakes and coastal tallgrass prairie. It also has pristine bottomland hardwood forests which is 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 that 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 areas of 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.
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 the locals and the foreigners. Eado is located between Downtown and the Port of Houston and is 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 of best things to do in Houston.
19. Market Square Park
Market Square Park is a popular area in Downtown Houston’s Historic District. The neighborhood is often visited by tourists for its scenic views and greenery. There is a lawn in the center and it’s the same place where the City Halls used to be! You will also find a dog park that’s crescent-shaped and is a perfect place 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.
For foodies, we have the Houston classic and extremely popular Niko Niko’s and their wonderful outdoor performances. It is truly one of the best things to do in Houston.
You may also stop by Lauren’s Graden for some quiet time. The Lauren’s Garden is a memorial that honors Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, a passenger on the 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 exhibits of public art. 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 as well as install new pieces that have elevated the overall aesthetic of the space making it one of the best things to do in Houston.
There are art installations all over the park but the highlight is Surl’s sculpture by name of ‘Points of View’. 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 looking for things to do in Houston, 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 of the important ones and exhibits approximately 15,000 works from the Paleolithic era to the present day!
There are several exhibits present here. The key ones being – Antiquity, Byzantine, and Medival, Tribal, and 20th Century Art. All art lovers must visit this diverse and fascinating place.
The de Menils started collecting and putting artworks in exhibitions around the 1950s. Some 25 years later they decided to permanently set up this collection for the public to visit.
There are many other tourists places surrounding the museum. You can visit the Cy Twombly Gallery, the Richmond Hall, and the Rothko Chapel.
The Menil Collection, filled with countless fascinating pieces of art is thus one of the best things to do in Houston TX!
Now there you go, our list of the best things to do in Houston. The city is a mixture of entertainment options for people of all ages and interests. No matter who you are, you’ll definitely find something for yourself here. It’s also perfect for a short weekend road trip with your family and friends.