The city of Houston plays host to a wide variety of fun spots and side attractions. With a growing population of about 2.5 million residents, the city is a seething hub for tourism. Houston is named after the famous General Sam Houston, who won the city’s independence from Mexico in 1836.
Taking a trip around Houston, you are immediately welcomed by sights and sounds from all around. The city remains one of the most unique cosmopolitan centers in the United States and North America. Houston has a lot in store for its esteemed visitors, from science, arts, architecture, and nature.
So if you’ve been on a long search for that fun away from the hassles of modern life, look no further. Houston is your best bet for the perfect holiday getaway.
(featured image via Houston Tips)
15. Tour de Brewery Houston
(image via Tour de Brewery)
If you want to get a local sense of some of Houston’s neighborhoods (and have a few brews in the process), there’s no better way to explore than by bike. Tour de Brewery Houston offers tours for 2 to 10 people of four different neighborhoods: Downtown and the East End, Historic Houston & the Arts District, Museums & Montrose, and the Buffalo Bayou & Historic District.
Bikes and helmets are provided, as well as beer at each brewery. Thankfully, Houston is fairly flat so all routes are easy and comfortable.
14. Downtown Aquarium
(image via Secret Houston)
Downtown Aquarium Houston is a mini destination all rolled into one. Firstly, as the name implies, it’s an aquarium complete with exhibits of The Texas Bayou, a shipwreck, a sunken temple, and a rainforest environment.
Each section has its own animal inhabitants from alligators to sharks to stingrays. There’s even a tiger habitat! Beyond the aquarium portion, there is also a separate restaurant (which features its own large aquatic tanks) and attraction rides like a large Ferris wheel, carousel, and drop tower.
13. Water Wall
The official name is Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, but if you just asked around for the Water Wall, Houstonians will know what you’re talking about. Located near the Galleria in the Uptown neighborhood, you can’t miss this 64-foot tall waterfall in the middle of an urban park.
The semicircular wall has cascading water on both sides. One side faces the park while the other has a plaza. It’s a great place for pictures, and all the relaxing falling water drowns out the noise of the city. Best of all, it’s free!
12. Cockrell Butterfly Center
(image via HMNS Cockrell Butterfly Center)
Hundreds of butterflies in a rainforest setting, as well as insect exhibits in Brown Hall. The Cockrell Butterfly Center and Brown Hall of Entomology fascinate and educate the entire family.
Explore a real butterfly habitat, marvel at amazing live and preserved specimens of some of the world’s largest and strangest arthropods, and participate in interactive activities and quizzes.
Update: Currently, the center is closed for renovations. However, it will emerge from its cocoon better than ever in early 2023!
11. Houston Graffiti “Park”
This cluster of buildings is a famous site for photography and is home to a variety of graffiti and street art. This collection of murals, affectionately termed “graffiti park” by locals, is just the latest in a citywide push to embrace the genre and give color and beauty to Houston’s downtown.
Many of the pieces on display were made as part of the Houston Urban Experience (HUE) Mural Festival, a yearly meeting of artists that began in 2015.
10. Space Center Houston
(image via Space Center Houston)
Space Center Houston is a scientific museum that serves as the NASA Johnson Space Center’s official visitor center in Houston. In 2014, it was designated as a Smithsonian Affiliate institution.
At Space Center Houston, there is always something new to see. Touch a Moon Rock, Discover Real Spacecraft, and Explore Historic Space Suits, among other things. Space Center Houston is a premier scientific and space exploration educational facility.
9. Visit the Museum District
(image via J-a_x)
The Museum District is Houston’s cultural hub, with exhibits spanning from natural science to the African-American experience. The Museum of Fine Arts’ extensive collection includes Egyptian antiquities, Impressionist art, and American sculpture, while the Houston Zoo is home to rhinos and cheetahs.
Hermann Park is well-known for its miniature train and pedal boats, as well as its Japanese garden. You can also find the Museum of Natural Sciences here!
8. Catch a Pro Sports Game
(image via George Springer)
If you are a lover of sports and are visiting Houston, you have a lot of options available, including baseball at the Houston Astrodome, football at the NRG Stadium, basketball at the Houston Toyota Center, and soccer at the PNC Stadium.
You can be sure to find passionate fans because sports are taken seriously in the city. With the wide variety of options available, you can be sure to find a game happening during your stay.
7. See the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
(image via Livestock Show & Rodeo)
The Livestock Show and Rodeo is a big annual event in Huston; to be precise, it is the biggest yearly event in Houston. This celebration involves the whole city and goes on for 19 days.
This event usually occurs during February or March, so if you plan on attending this show, you should plan your holiday or break during this period.
6. Take a Day Trip to Galveston
(image via Galveston Island)
Holidays are for relaxation, and what is a holiday without visiting the beach? Well, Galveston has some beautiful beaches, and it is less than an hour away from Huston.
Check out Dash Beardsley’s Ghost Tours of Galveston. There are a lot of activities there that could take your mind away from the stress.
5. Shopping Excursions
(image via Susanne Jasmine)
This is not just the usual shopping, but shopping for vintage clothing. If you are a lover of vintage clothing and you happen to be in Huston, then you should visit 19th street in The Heights for all your needs.
You will find everything you are looking for from casual wear to evening wear and all the accessories you would need at Historic Heights 19th Street.
4. Dinner at La Carafe
(image via La Carafe)
Looking for a quick stop away from your trip’s itineraries, La Carafe is your sure bet at any time. Its intimate ambiance has been home to many of the locals in the Greater Houston area for over 100 years. It is a dim, old-style tavern complete with lit candles to maintain that ancient touch.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. While sipping on your drink, check out or ask after the “resident ghost.” The resident ghost is a funny, elderly bartender whose real name is Carl. Carl has been around the block for a really long time and really loves his job, but he can get really serious – until you leave him a weighty tip! As a tourist, your visit to this establishment will be eternally memorable, just as you get a twist of great tunes coming from the jukebox.
3. Explore Hermann Park
(image via Hermann Park)
Experience the thrill of Hermann Park, a 445-acre stretch of land that has a lot to offer. There are no restrictions here as you are free to wander, explore, and bask in its picturesque ambiance. Hermann Park is located south of the Museum District and is notable for its landmark structures to including the beautiful statue of Sam Houston and the Mecom Fountain.
There are so many special attractions to keep you occupied throughout your trip here. To take it up a notch, visit the McGovern Centennial Gardens, where you will find a sprawl of nature’s greatness. Here, you will find a well-designed Rose Garden, a spacious lawn, and a parade of sculptures and art collections. Hermann Park is free and open to all and sundry all days of the week.
2. Experience the Twilight Epiphany Skyspace
(image via Skyspace at Rice University)
Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music is home to one of the most iconic structures in the city: the Twilight Epiphany Skyspace. This edifice was designed by famous artist James Turrell and erected in 2012. Turrell is also popularly known for The Light Inside the tunnel, exhibited at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
The Twilight Epiphany Skyspace is a pyramid structure with built-in LED lighting which is projected to the roof. The facility is open to the general public, and you can catch a display of special lighting and sound at both sunrise and sunset.
1. Hike & Bike the Buffalo Bayou
(image via Buffalo Bayou)
If you are looking for something that speaks nature in volumes, you should certainly try a visit to the Buffalo Bayou. The Buffalo Bayou is an expansive land area made up of running trails and parklands and is one of the city’s most prolific nature hot spots.
But you cannot fully see the Buffalo Bayou for its true beauty unless you take a kayak trip on the water. While on your next trip to the Buffalo Bayou, book a spot with one of the boat tours (there are various types with different themes). Or, if you love to do things yourself, you can rent a kayak and row westwards beginning downtown just at Allen’s Landing.
As you can see, Houston has a lot to offer everyone. If you want to do more in the area, check out other weekend trips from nearby Houston.
These locations are great for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore some of our favorite activities or read through some pre-planned itineraries.