Best Things to Do in Houston, Texas: 12 Must-Visit Attractions

by Emil Backup
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Are you planning a trip to the Lone Star State? If so, Houston, Texas, should be at the top of your list. Here are some of the most fun, picturesque, and unique things to do in Houston. This bustling metropolis, the fourth largest city in the United States, is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and experiences that are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation.

The best things to do in Houston range from the awe-inspiring NASA Space Center to the tranquil beauty of the Buffalo Bayou. Each offers a distinct blend of high-energy city life and serene nature retreats. Known for its world-class museums, vibrant food scene, and thriving arts district, Houston is a city that never fails to impress.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an art lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, Houston has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll explore the top 12 things to do in Houston, Texas, that you won’t want to miss. So buckle up and get ready for a Texas-sized adventure in the heart of the Lone Star State!

Houston things to do are fun for all types of travelers
With its diverse array of attractions, Houston guarantees an unforgettable experience for every visitor.

Best Places to Visit in Houston, Texas

Ready to go right into all the coolest things to do in Houston? As mentioned above, there’s something for everyone in this bustling city. So read on to discover all these unique Houston places to visit.

Whether you are looking for city attractions and cultural sites or for a relaxing and tranquil getaway in nature, Houston has something to meet your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Houston that you should know about.

Journey through Space-Time at Space Center Houston, one of the coolest things to do in Houston
Journey through Space-Time at Space Center Houston.

1. Space Center Houston

For an experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in Houston. If you’ve ever dreamed of venturing into the cosmos, Space Center Houston is the place to start your journey. As the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, this world-class facility offers an unparalleled glimpse into the world of space exploration.

From the moment you step inside, you’ll be transported to a universe of discovery. Marvel at the flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, standing tall at over 156 feet. Explore the extensive collection of space artifacts, each with its own story of human ingenuity and courage. And don’t miss the NASA Tram Tour. This behind-the-scenes journey takes you to the heart of the Johnson Space Center. As such, it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Houston.

But the Space Center Houston experience goes beyond just exhibits. It’s about inspiring the next generation of explorers. Through interactive displays, live shows, and hands-on learning opportunities, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the science and technology that make space travel possible.

So whether you’re a budding astronaut, a science enthusiast, or just curious about the cosmos, Space Center Houston offers an out-of-this-world experience that you won’t soon forget. As one of the top Houston attractions, you’ll definitely want to add this to your travel itinerary.

Vibrant colors, rich culture, and endless delights await in the heart of Chinatown.
Vibrant colors, rich culture, and endless delights await in the heart of Chinatown.

2. Chinatown

As far as Houston things to do go, this activity is among the coolest! Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and flavors of Asia right in the heart of Houston. The city’s bustling Chinatown is a melting pot of diverse traditions. It offers a rich tapestry of experiences that are sure to delight all your senses.

Stroll through the lively streets and you’ll find a plethora of shops selling everything from traditional Chinese medicine to the latest Asian pop culture trends. The Hong Kong Food Market is a must-visit, offering a vast array of exotic fruits, vegetables, and other Asian delicacies. It’s a foodie’s paradise, with countless restaurants serving up dishes from various regions of China, as well as Vietnam, Korea, and more.

But Chinatown is not just about food and shopping. It’s also a cultural hub, home to the beautiful Jade Buddha Temple. This tranquil sanctuary, with its lotus ponds and stunning statues, offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Whether you’re sampling delicious dim sum, shopping for unique souvenirs, or soaking in the serene beauty of the temple, a visit to Houston’s Chinatown is a feast for the senses that you won’t want to miss. Is this one of the coolest things to do in Houston? You bet!

Houston Museum of Natural Science: Exploring Earth's wonders - a must-do in Houston.
Houston Museum of Natural Science: Exploring Earth’s wonders – a must-do in Houston.

3. Houston Museum of Natural Science

Science lovers will love this top thing to do in Houston. Unleash your inner scientist at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, a treasure trove of knowledge and discovery. This renowned institution is a must-visit for anyone with a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity about the world around us.

Step inside and you’ll find a vast array of exhibits that span a multitude of disciplines. Marvel at the towering dinosaur skeletons in the Paleontology Hall, journey through the cosmos in the Burke Baker Planetarium, or explore the mysteries of ancient Egypt in the Hall of Ancient Egypt.

One of the museum’s standout features is the Cockrell Butterfly Center, an indoor rainforest filled with thousands of colorful butterflies. It’s a magical experience that’s sure to delight visitors of all ages.

And don’t miss the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, home to a dazzling array of precious stones and crystals. From glittering diamonds to luminous opals, it’s a visual feast that’s sure to leave you in awe.

With its diverse exhibits and interactive displays, the Houston Museum of Natural Science offers a fascinating journey of discovery that’s fun for the whole family. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best things to do in Houston!

Unearthing wonders at Houston Museum of Natural Science - a top Houston attraction.
Unearthing wonders at Houston Museum of Natural Science – a top Houston attraction.

4. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Get in touch with the artist in you at this unique place to visit in Houston. Art enthusiasts will find a haven in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, one of the largest art museums in the United States. With a collection that spans more than 6,000 years of history, it’s a place where you can travel the world and journey through time, all under one roof.

The museum’s collection is truly global, with works from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. You’ll find everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to cutting-edge contemporary art. Highlights include the Beck Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, the Arts of Asia galleries, and the Latin American art collection.

But the museum isn’t just about looking at art. It’s also a place to engage with art in a deeper way. Through a variety of programs, including artist talks, workshops, and film screenings, you can gain new insights into the art and artists that shape our world. Many regard this as one of the coolest things to do in Houston.

Whether you’re an art connoisseur or a casual observer, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston offers a rich, immersive experience that’s sure to inspire and enlighten, making this Houston attraction one of the most popular sights in Texas.

Marvel at the vibrant flamingos at Houston Zoo - one of the top-rated activities in Houston.
Marvel at the vibrant flamingos at Houston Zoo – one of the top-rated activities in Houston.

5. The Houston Zoo

Looking to visit one of the best places in Houston? Add this to your bucket list! For a fun-filled day that’s perfect for the whole family, head to the Houston Zoo. Home to over 6,000 animals from 900 species, this beloved institution offers a fascinating journey into the world of wildlife.

Explore the African Forest, where you’ll come face-to-face with majestic gorillas and playful chimpanzees. Venture into the Kipp Aquarium, home to a dazzling array of marine life from around the world. Or take a walk on the wild side in the Carnivores exhibit, where you can see lions, tigers, and bears up close.

But the Houston Zoo is more than just a place to see animals. It’s also a leader in global conservation efforts. Through its various programs, the zoo is actively involved in protecting wildlife and their habitats around the world.

With its diverse exhibits, educational programs, and conservation initiatives, the Houston Zoo offers an engaging and inspiring experience that’s sure to delight visitors of all ages. There’s so much to see at the Houston Zoo, that it’s no wonder this is among the coolest things to do in Houston.

Immerse in nature's beauty at Buffalo Bayou Park
Immerse in nature’s beauty at Buffalo Bayou Park – a must-visit spot in Houston.

6. Buffalo Bayou Park

This is one of the best things to do in Houston, hands down. Escape the hustle and bustle of city life at Buffalo Bayou Park, a 160-acre green space in the heart of Houston. With its lush landscapes, scenic waterways, and extensive trail system, it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Take a leisurely stroll along the park’s many trails, or rent a bike for a more active exploration. The park also offers kayak rentals, allowing you to experience the beauty of the bayou from the water.

But Buffalo Bayou Park is more than just a place for outdoor activities. It’s also a hub for art and culture. The park is home to several unique sculptures and installations, as well as the Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area and Picnic Pavilion, a popular spot for families.

Whether you’re looking to get active, enjoy some quiet relaxation, or simply soak in the beauty of nature, Buffalo Bayou Park is one of the top places to visit in Houston.

Experience world-class art at the Menil Collection, a Houston cultural treasure.
Experience world-class art at the Menil Collection, a Houston cultural treasure.

7. The Menil Collection

Art lovers should not miss visiting one of the coolest attractions in Houston. The Menil Collection is a world-renowned art museum located in the city’s Montrose neighborhood. Founded by John and Dominique de Menil, the museum houses an impressive collection of approximately 17,000 works of art. Don’t miss to include this to your list of the best things to do in Houston.

The Menil Collection is known for its wide-ranging collection, which spans the prehistoric to the present day. It includes significant holdings of Surrealist art, African and Pacific Islands art, and Contemporary art, among others. Notable artists represented in the collection include Max Ernst, René Magritte, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollock.

The museum’s main building is surrounded by a leafy neighborhood campus, which includes several satellite galleries and the beautiful Menil Park. The campus is also home to the Rothko Chapel, an interfaith space for contemplation that houses 14 monumental paintings by Mark Rothko.

With its diverse collection and serene campus, The Menil Collection offers a truly special and enriching cultural experience making it one of the best places in Houston you should know about.

Dive into the culture at the Houston Museum District.
Dive into the culture at the Houston Museum District.

8. The Houston Museum District

Experience Texas in style at this unique place to visit in Houston. For a concentrated dose of culture, head to the Houston Museum District. This vibrant area is home to 19 institutions, all within a 1.5-mile radius of the Mecom Fountain. From art and science to history and culture, the district offers a wealth of exploration and discovery.

Start your journey at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, one of the largest art museums in the country. Then, dive into the wonders of the natural world at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Don’t miss the Health Museum, where you can explore the human body’s intricacies. Also, check out the Children’s Museum of Houston, packed with interactive exhibits for the little ones.

The district is also home to s

everal cultural institutions. This includes the Asia Society Texas Center, the Czech Center Museum Houston, and the Holocaust Museum Houston.

With so much to see and do, the Houston Museum District is a cultural powerhouse that offers something for everyone and is definitely one of the fun things to do in Houston.

9. The Houston Heights

Looking for the best things to do in Houston? Don’t miss this one! Experience the charm of small-town living in the heart of the city in the Houston Heights. This historic neighborhood, one of the city’s oldest, is known for its vibrant dining scene, unique shops, and Victorian architecture.

Stroll down 19th Street, the neighborhood’s main shopping district, where you’ll find a variety of boutiques selling everything from vintage clothing to locally made jewelry. The Heights is also home to some of Houston’s best restaurants, offering a range of cuisines that reflect the city’s diversity.

Don’t miss the Heights Boulevard Sculpture Project, a rotating outdoor sculpture exhibit that showcases the work of local artists. And be sure to check out the neighborhood’s many beautifully restored Victorian homes. Each adds a touch of old-world charm to the area.

With its eclectic mix of shopping, dining, and culture, the Houston Heights offers a distinct slice of city life that’s sure to delight. As such, I recommend this thing to do in Houston to everyone I meet.

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is a unique Houston landmark.
Witness the captivating spectacle at Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park – a unique Houston landmark.

10. The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

Attractions in Houston come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is among the best! For a moment of tranquility amidst the city’s hustle and bustle, make your way to the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. This urban park, located in the Uptown District of Houston, is home to the stunning Waterwall, a multi-story sculptural fountain that is a city landmark.

The Waterwall, which recirculates 11,000 gallons of water per minute, creates a breathtaking spectacle that is both soothing and mesmerizing. The park itself is a lush oasis, with over 180 live oak trees providing ample shade for a relaxing picnic or a leisurely stroll.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic spot, a serene space for reflection, or a unique photo opportunity, a visit to the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is one of the best things Houston to do in Houston.

Experience the excitement of the Livestock Show and Rodeo
Experience the excitement of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston Texas.

11. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Looking for Houston things to do? Look no further than the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It offers a true taste of Texas culture. Held annually in March, this event is the world’s largest livestock show and richest regular-season rodeo.

The event kicks off with a downtown parade featuring trail riders, horses, and floats. Over the next few weeks, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including livestock competitions, horse shows, and live music performances by some of the biggest names in country music.

But the highlight of the event is the rodeo itself, where cowboys and cowgirls compete in events like bull riding, barrel racing, and steer wrestling. It’s a thrilling spectacle that’s sure to get your heart racing.

Whether you’re a rodeo fan, a country music lover, or just looking for a fun and unique experience, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the best things to do in Houston and an event you won’t want to miss.

Discovery Green is one of the best things to do in Houston, Texas.
Discovery Green, where nature’s serenity meets Houston’s vibrant city life, is one of the best things to do in Houston, Texas.

12. Discovery Green

A visit to Houston would be incomplete without a trip to Discovery Green. End your tour of Houston at Discovery Green, a vibrant 12-acre park located in the heart of downtown. This urban oasis offers a wide range of activities and events, making it a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.

Take a leisurely stroll along the park’s tree-lined promenades, enjoy a picnic on the Great Lawn, or rent a kayak and paddle around Kinder Lake. The park also features a playground, a jogging trail, and a putting green, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

But Discovery Green is more than just a park. It’s also a hub for community and cultural events. From free concerts and movie nights to fitness classes and art installations, there’s always something happening at the park.

With its beautiful green spaces and dynamic programming, Discovery Green offers a refreshing break from the city’s concrete jungle. With so much to offer, Discovery Green is one of the top places to visit in Houston.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Houston, Texas

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Houston? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Houston:

What is Houston city famous for?

Houston, the fourth-largest city in the U.S., is renowned for several key attributes:

  1. Space Center Houston: As the visitor center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center, it offers a deep dive into space exploration, showcasing the history and future of America’s manned space flight program.
  2. Energy hub: Often dubbed the “Energy Capital of the World,” Houston is a major hub for the oil and gas industry.
  3. Medical center: The Texas Medical Center in Houston is the world’s largest medical complex, providing patient care, research, and education.
  4. Cultural diversity: With a vibrant mix of cultures and communities, Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. This diversity is reflected in its culinary scene, festivals, and neighborhoods.
  5. Arts and culture: The city boasts a thriving arts scene with theaters, galleries, and the Museum District, which includes the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Museum of Fine Arts.
  6. Rodeo: The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the largest rodeo events in the world, drawing millions annually for concerts, competitions, and entertainment.
  7. Sports: Houston is home to several major sports teams, including the Houston Astros (MLB), Houston Rockets (NBA), and Houston Texans (NFL).

Rich in history, diversity, and modern innovation, Houston offers a blend of southern charm and cosmopolitan flair.

What is the best time to visit Houston?

Houston can be visited year-round, but the best time to go is during the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November) when the weather is more comfortable.

An empty train station at night, echoing the tranquility of nocturnal serenity.
An empty train station at night, echoing the tranquility of nocturnal serenity.

Is it worth visiting Houston Texas?

Absolutely, Houston, Texas, offers a unique blend of experiences that make it well worth a visit:

  1. Space exploration: Space Center Houston provides a thrilling journey into the world of space exploration. It lets visitors touch a moon rock, see astronaut training, and explore the history of NASA missions.
  2. Cultural attractions in Houston: Houston’s Museum District comprises 19 institutions. This includes the Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
  3. Culinary scene: Reflecting its multicultural population, Houston’s food scene is a melting pot of global flavors. It offers everything from upscale dining to authentic food trucks.
  4. Arts and performance: The Theater District, with venues like the Wortham Theater Center and Jones Hall, showcases world-class ballet, opera, symphony, and theatrical performances.
  5. Nature and parks: The Houston Zoo, Hermann Park, and Buffalo Bayou Park offer green spaces for relaxation and recreation.
  6. Shopping: From the upscale Galleria Mall to unique boutiques in the Heights, shopping enthusiasts will find a plethora of options.
  7. Festivals and events: Throughout the year, Houston hosts various events. This includes the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and diverse cultural festivals that celebrate its multifaceted population.

While Houston might not always top tourist charts like some other U.S. cities, its eclectic mix of educational, cultural, culinary, and recreational activities ensures a rewarding experience for travelers of all interests.

How many days do I need to explore Houston?

You can see the main attractions in Houston in about 3-4 days. However, if you want to explore the city more thoroughly, including its museums, parks, and neighborhoods, a week would be ideal.

Is Houston a family-friendly city?

Absolutely! Houston offers a variety of attractions that are suitable for all ages, including the Houston Zoo, the Children’s Museum of Houston, and numerous parks and green spaces.

What are some must-try foods in Houston?

Houston’s food scene is incredibly diverse, but some must-try dishes include Texas barbecue, Tex-Mex cuisine, and Vietnamese pho, a nod to the city’s large Vietnamese community.

Final Thoughts on Exploring Houston, Texas

From its world-class museums and diverse food scene to its vibrant neighborhoods and lush parks, Houston offers a wealth of experiences that cater to a wide range of interests. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an art lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest in this dynamic city. So why wait? Start planning your Houston adventure today!

Eyeing Houston, Texas on your bucket list? Feel free to pin this!
Eyeing Houston, Texas on your bucket list? Feel free to pin this!

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