9 Very Best Things to Do in Houston, Texas
With a wide range of world-class tourist attractions, Houston is one of the top travel destinations in the US. Ranked as America’s fourth largest city, Houston offers something for every type of traveler whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly vacation.
Come learn about Houston and see all that you’ve been missing out on. Sample delicious Tex-Mex cuisine, enjoy year-round warm weather, and book tickets to big-name events. Enjoy plenty of shopping and dining options, visit some of the best museums in the US, relax on nearby Gulf beaches, live it up with a bit of nightlife, relax in the city’s splendid green spaces, and even go beyond this world with some space exploration.
With so much to choose from, we thought we’d help you out by showcasing the nine best places that you should check out during your next visit to Houston.
Museum of Fine Arts
Individuals interested in art and culture will want to be sure to check out one of America’s largest art museums. Holding the title as the oldest art museum in Texas, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts ranks in the top 10 largest museums in the US.
The museum’s collection showcases 6,000 years of art from every corner of the globe and across just about every kind of medium. All up, some 70,000 works of art await visitors. Highlights include the Bayou Bend house museum which features American art created between the early 1600s up until the late 19th century, including textiles, paintings, sculptures, metal work and more.
Other notable exhibits include early gold art from Africa’s Gold Coast region in the form of swords, jewelry, sculptures, and staffs. There is also an extensive collection of Islamic art as well as Latin American art from both Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
The Menil Collection
Discover even more art at the world famous Menil Collection in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood. Featuring the massive art collection of John and Dominique de Menil who were philanthropists and obvious avid art collectors, the collection consists of 17,000 works of art that the couple had started collecting in the 1940s.
Visitors can gaze upon the paintings of Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Picasso. The museum specializes in pop, contemporary, and surrealism art, with a bit of an affinity for modern European art. Considered to be one of the world’s finest privately assembled collections of art, the works are spread out across multiple buildings which include Rothko Chapel and the Cy Twombly Gallery.
Buffalo Bayou Park
Situated in the northwestern corner of downtown Houston, the 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park is a wonderful green space to get some fresh air and spend a day with the family outdoors. There are a number of hiking and biking trails as well as two canoe and kayak launches that will allow you to get out on the slow-moving body of water for which the park is named for
Kids will love the playgrounds which feature things like a tree house with climbing net, climbing walls, a disc golf course, and a giant 30,000-square-foot skate park that hosts various events and competitions throughout the year. You can even bring your beloved dog as there is a great dog park within the larger park.
The outdoor recreation jewel of Houston, Hermann Park is a 450-acre urban park that abounds with opportunities. Whether you enjoy golf, animals, flowers, or the performing arts, Hermann Park has something for you.
For over 100 years, Hermann Park has been enjoyed by visitors and its 18-hole golf course was the first public course to allow all races to play. The Houston Zoo is regarded as one of America’s finest and home to more than 500 species of animals. Meanwhile, McGovern Lake is a great place for kids to do a bit of catch and release fishing.
Get your exercise by running on the park’s jogging tracks or stop to smell the roses of McGovern Centennial Gardens. Depending on the time of year, you may even be able to catch a bit of Shakespeare or ballet at the Miller Outdoor Theatre.
If you’re into beaches, you’ll be delighted to know that Houston is just a short drive from a number of beaches due to the city’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. As a bonus, you can enjoy beach fun all year round thanks to ever-present warm temperatures
One of the closest beaches to Houston is the white sands of Sylvan Beach in La Porte. Just 30 minutes from downtown, Sylvan offers up a skate park, playground, and tennis courts in addition to the beach, as well as plenty of amenities that include restrooms, showers, and picnic grounds. It’s also a great spot for fishing thanks to the beach’s pier where a simple low-cost permit will allow you to cast a line.
El Jardin is another beach just over 30 minutes from Houston. It features nice shallow water, tranquility, and fewer crowds than the other nearby beaches of Galveston. And speaking of Galveston, you’ll find many of the region’s most popular beaches here such as the lively East Beach and Stewart Beach. Stewart Beach is great for families due the presence of lifeguards and its close proximity to other notable attractions like Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn Waterpark.
A bit further afield, head to Surfside Beach if you wish to drive your vehicle on the beach or enjoy a bonfire while watching the waves and sunset. There’s even the opportunity to camp here.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Situated on Hermann Park’s northern border, the 4-floor Houston Museum of Natural Science deserves a special separate mention of its own. The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the most popular in the US, with around two million visitors passing through its doors annually.
This natural history museum is a great place to learn about the varied wildlife of Texas through its native Texan Fauna exhibit which features specimens from around 250 separate species. The museum’s dinosaur exhibit is also a major highlight since it features a number of large skeletons like its terrifying T-Rex skeleton.
There are also artifacts from pre-Columbian cultures and ancient Egypt, the Burke Baker Planetarium, and the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre. The museum even features a Butterfly Center where you can enjoy watching dozens of colorful exotic butterflies flutter around you.
Holocaust Museum Houston
Regarded as one of the largest Holocaust museums in the US, the Holocaust Museum Houston is a thought-provoking museum that highlights the many horrors that Jewish people lived and died through during WWII.
The museum is spread out across three floors with numerous galleries that not only focus on the Holocaust, but also genocide, human rights, and war throughout the world. There are artifacts such as a Danish fishing boat that had rescued over 7000 Danish Jews as well as a WWII railcar. You will also learn stories about Holocaust Survivors that eventually would end up settling in the Houston area.
Children’s Museum Houston
The Children’s Museum Houston consistently ranks as America’s best children’s museum. Roughly 90,000 square feet worth of interactive galleries await kids, mainly designed for ages up to 12. Through fun and engaging exhibits, kids learn about everything from math and science to how to navigate life as an adult.
In Kidtropolis, children will learn about how businesses operate, the process of getting loans and how credit works, the ins and outs of employment, and about government. Meanwhile, in Cyberchase they will focus on fine-tuning their math skills.
There is a section that focuses on health and physical education that encourages children to get active as well as an exhibit that details the importance of caring for our planet and the steps they can do as a kid and later as an adult to minimize their impact on their environment.
Other areas of the museum will see your kids learn about invention and innovation, express their artistic side, learn how various processes and machines work, and work towards solving various puzzles and challenges.
They say everything’s bigger in Texas and that definitely holds true for The Galleria which ranks as one of the top ten largest shopping malls in the US and easily the largest in Texas. Three million square feet of space await visitors who can shop from hundreds of stores and dine at countless restaurants. The Galleria even includes two Westin hotels for travelers.
Skate on the giant indoor ice rink that sits beneath the mall’s central glass atrium or take to the roof to enjoy the jogging track above. There’s also a great play area to take kids in-between shopping at stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Chanel.