Houston is famous for its cultural diversity, a lively arts scene, a vast literary body, and international communities. What attracts people to Houston? The Houston Ship Channel complex houses over 200 public and private facilities, is 50 miles long, and the busiest and largest sea port for ship tonnage in the U.S. Houston’s port and Hobby International Airport has long fueled Houston’s economic engine.
What Things Is Houston Known For?
Houston’s best-known attractions are Market Square Park, Space Center Houston, SplashTown, The Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Galleria, Sam Houston Park, Ninfa’s, iFly, The Music Box Theater, and Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar. Its arts scene has left museums and theaters scattered all over the city.
Free Things to Do in Houston
Is Houston a good place to travel? You betcha! There are even free things to do in Houston. These six museums have free days, all on Thursdays: Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Children’s Museum of Houston, The Health Museum, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
More Free Activities
More free activities include: Houston Zoo on the first Tuesday of each month, the Art Car Museum is always free, Miller Outdoor Theatre is free for all performances except for covered seating, Market Square Park and Discovery Green park, Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park in Uptown, and Houston Arboretum And Nature Center, free on Thursdays with $5 parking.
Boat tours are rarely free, but the Sam Houston Boat Tour is free, but reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis and must be made 24 in advance. It happens on a 95-foot vessel with capacity for 100 passengers, with an air-conditioned lounge and outside standing areas, is ADA accessible, plus refreshments, and it tours the Houston ship channel. This tour operates under most weather conditions.
The Urban Harvest Farmers Market offers free food samples and live music, and it is a nice family place, but you will want to spend some dough. The Twilight Epiphany Skyspace is free, but not parking. This attraction is for watching sunrises and sunsets that change colors on a flat-topped pyramid at Rice University.
The Magic Button is on Houston’s Preston Street Bridge. When you press it, you’ll hear a sound of water gurgling on nearby Buffalo Bayou. You see a dense ripple as, if more water is pushing from underneath. No one knows how it works. Project Row Houses is a neighborhood of 22 refurbished shotgun-style dwellings dedicated to art. For example, one house features a life-size Monopoly game and life-size dice that you may play with.
Things to Do in Downtown Houston
Why is Houston, Texas, so popular? Besides being an entirely exciting city, Downtown Houston is spectacular. It is full of little shops and eateries, plus some of Houston’s major attractions. Houston’s Metro bus system is reliable, has three light rails with 66 cars, and a downtown system of tunnels connects 95 blocks with retail services and restaurants.
The major attractions downtown include: Theater District with nine performing arts theaters, Discovery Green and Market Square parks, Minute Maid Park, Downtown Aquarium, concerts at the Toyota Center, Houston Zoo, Museum of Natural History, The Galleria, and Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
Fun Things to Do in Houston with Kids
We have already mentioned a few things to do with kids in Houston, like its plethora of museums. The Children’s Museum of Houston is rated the Number 1 children’s museum in the U.S. by Parents Magazine, one of the top 12 children’s museums in the country by Forbes. It features 12 huge permanent exhibits that entertain and teach children from tots to teens with a vast diversity of activities and is ADA accessible.
To start, outdoor adventures for kids include: Houston Zoo, Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown, Buffalo Bayou, The Mad Potter, a paint-your-own-pottery studio, The Galleria Play Area in The Galleria, Kemah Boardwalk on the coast 20 minutes south of Houston, and Schlitterbahn Water Park on Galveston Island.
Space Center Houston
The Space Center Houston is a must visit for kids and adults for an unprecedented and amazing experience with exhibits, space travel history, and an extensive movie collection. Check out the Cockerell Butterfly Center next-door to the Houston Museum of Natural Science for a glass-enclosed butterfly garden with a model rainforest and dozens of multi-colored butterflies. At Dino’s Alive, kids with walk alongside replicas the massive creatures that roamed our world millions of years ago.
Houston Memorial Indoor Skydiving
The Houston Memorial Indoor Skydiving facility offers a thrilling and safe skydiving experience without the expense of an airplane. The Express Children’s Theater and Main Street Theater features engaging and stimulating children’s performances. It offers a range of residencies and workshops for kids of all ages, with many that are free.
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center comprises a 155-acre center that protects the native flora and fauna and educates all ages. You can walk 5 miles of trails, see the interactive exhibits at the Discovery Room, browse and shop the Nature Shop, and explore the Wildlife Garden and the Carol Tatkon Sensory Garden.
The Chocolate Bar
Kids never forget The Chocolate Bar. The Chocolate Bar will have you thinking Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It satisfies sugary cravings in its restaurant that honors all things chocolate. The Kemah Boardwalk features favorites like the Ferris Wheel, Carousel, Boardwalk Bullet, and Tower, and exhibits like its rainforest and stingray reef, where kids can touch and feed live stingray.
Fun Things to Do In Houston for Couples
We know how girlfriends and wives love romantic getaways where their man is all theirs for a short time, and that comes with bed and breakfast adventures. Houston has no shortfall of B&Bs. Like all over the city. The Houston B&Bs are located from downtown to ranches. They are uniquely Houston B&Bs.
Some of Houston’s most popular B&Bs in Houston include La Mansion Downtown, Messina Hof Winery & Resort, BlissWood Bed and Breakfast Ranch, Texas Ranch Life, Modern Bed and Breakfast, Sara’s Bed & Breakfast Inn, Oak Tree Manor, Cedar Oaks Inn, The Palms on West Main, Clipper House Inn, Lost Bayou Guest House Bed & Breakfast, and so many more.
Candlelight concerts operate in Houston and over 100 other cities. These concerts offer an intimate experience in Houston in beautiful concert halls and historic venues lit with hundreds of candles. Well trained, talented musicians perform a broad variety of musical genres, from classical to many modern genres in a peaceful and soothing ambiance.
Bars and some restaurants close earlier than pubs and nightclubs, at 2.00 a.m. Nightclubs stay open until dawn and offer music and performances. Houston is home to oil millionaires, and these millionaires love fine dining, BBQ, and Tex-Mex cuisine. Ninfa’s is one of Houston’s best known Tex-Mex eatery. But no worries, there are so many romantic dining options in Houston, like the Rainbow Lodge in a historic log cabin on White Oak Bayou.
Dining in Houston
Trattoria Sofia in the Heights features oversized banquettes, a softly-lit dining room, and a live olive tree on the covered, climate-controlled terrace. It serves up dishes like whipped ricotta, prosciutto pizza, and cacio e pepe, plus more hearty entrees like veal Milanese.
Mastrantos in the Heights features a low-key ambiance with a global menu that changes with the seasons. Diners can expect fresh made pasta from its dough lab and artfully plated dishes with a chef’s flair.
Tribute is an all-day restaurant located inside the luxurious Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa. Couples can reserve its exclusive wine room that serves only four guests. Its wine room showcases 4,000 bottles of premium wine stored at 57 degrees. It is a bit chilly, and ladies are gifted cashmere pashminas to take home. This invites you to snuggle up after dining.
Étoile is a romantic bistro headed by chef Philippe Verpiand. With vintage chandeliers, rustic art, and French décor, guests can believe they are dining in the heart of Paris. Chef Philippe Verpiand serves up haute French cuisine.
At Turner’s, a pianist controls the romantic mood every evening, which fills the dining room. Turners also feature exclusive outdoor bungalows with cozy seating and attractive décor and serves elegant cuisine with a European flair and Texas-Cajun flavors.
Musaafer offers modern regional Indian fare in uniquely styled dining rooms. The Palace of Mirrors room, with over 220,000 mirrors, is eye candy as the sunset bounces off of mirrors and chandeliers.
Le Jardinier will serve sophisticated French cuisine a la carte or in a five-course seasonal diner inside the Museum of Fine Arts with tapestries of an abstract forest providing a soothing ambiance. Or choose a table outside and dine with views of the romantic Sculpture Garden.
Fun Things to Do in Houston for Adults
Houston boasts over 20 gentlemen’s clubs and cabarets plus four ladies clubs’. Oh, there is so much more than that for all adults in Houston. This includes the Rooftop Cinema Club Uptown, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo once a year, kayaking on Buffalo Bayou, golfing on one of 36 courses, with two of the best being Hermann Park and Memorial Park, with a lot of history, and are located near downtown.
Loads of places in Houston offer horseback riding. If you are new to riding you can take an adult horseback riding lesson. Cypress Trails Ranch, Bay Area Equestrian Center, and North Houston Horse Park are great facilities to start at. The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is one of the most interesting places in Houston to hike. With five miles of trails that wander through four habitats of native prairie, woodland, wetland, and meadow, it offers night hikes for viewing nocturnal nature.
Houston serves up incredible food, from Barbeque to Tex-Mex, and tons in between. Houston food tours teach you about Houston culture and history. The Astroville Food Tour offers 8 to 9 food samples and private limited access to Houston’s downtown tunnel system. The Howdy H-Town EADO Food Tour shows you EaDo (east of Downtown). It includes a bakery, a taco stand, a BBQ restaurant, and more. You learn about the neighborhood’s street art scene, architecture, and green spaces.
Fun Things to Do in Houston at Night
Houston wakes up with a lively nightlife on the weekends, with Midtown being the center of its nightlife. Midtown is popular with downtown oil tycoons, artists from Montrose, UH students, young professionals from Midtown, people from all walks of life for entertainment. Downtown is home to Houston’s most vibrant nightlife neighborhood with a variety of adult entertainment choices. You find country to disco to rap dance halls, and much more in Houston’s nightlife scene.
Best Things to Do in Houston
The best things to do in Houston are activities you enjoy, and Houston offers almost everyone something they love to do. Whether it is city life, suburban life, outdoor life, or eclectic quirky outlets, Houston has it. Does Houston have a beach? No, but Galveston Island on the Gulf of Mexico and the Kemah Boardwalk is only 30 minutes south of Houston.
Cool Things to Do in Houston
Cool things include the hanging out at the Project Row Houses or at its interactive art exhibits. You can also spend a day exploring Houston’s downtown underground tunnels. In Houston’s east end, The Orange Show is an epic work of folk art built by Jefferson Davis McKissack, which took him nearly 25 years.
You can tour Houston’s Beer Can House, located in the residential neighborhood of Rice Military, by Bayou Bend. It is a house built entirely of beer cans. You can sign up for the sloth meet and greet, the alligator feeding, the cheetah walk, or the sea lion painting session at the Houston Zoo. Lunch or dine at Spindletop restaurant, on the 34th floor of the Hyatt Regency. It’s on a revolving rooftop with unobstructed views of the skyline.
See WW2 planes at the Lone Star Flight Museum. For a bit of a dark experience, visit the afterlife at the National Museum of Funeral History, one of the most unique museums in the country. Several companies offer Amazing Race styled games/scavenger hunts operated from your smartphone. They skirt around Houston to see some of its most well-known landmarks and include underrated hidden gems.
Houston Traveling FAQ
Driving is the best and easiest way to get around Houston, especially outside of the downtown center. The city has other transportation options, including buses, a light rail system, and a bike-share service. Houston has heavy traffic at certain times of the day. However, the Houston TranStar live interactive map can tell you the best times to sport around Houston in a car, taxi, or Uber.
Houston Hobby and Houston Bush airports have shuttle buses to get you to and from your hotel and other places. The Bush airport operates a rail system that connects you to its five terminals. Both Airports have a variety of ground transportation services available to and from the airport.
The best time to visit Houston is November to April, when the temperatures are milder and the hotel prices drop. Temperatures can drop to quite cool at night in December and January. Houston is extremely hot and humid in the summer months, and locals head to cooler, drier places for vacationing or to Mexico’s resorts. But if you are traveling to Houston, always check its weather forecast. Hurricanes make national news, but squalls do not.