Top Attractions in Houston
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States (no big deal), so expect to find an overwhelming list of cool stuff to do, as well as world-class parks, street art, and museums—like the Menil Collection and the, um, National Museum of Funeral History.
1601 NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058, USA
Who hasn’t daydreamed about being an astronaut at least once? Thankfully, Space Center Houston makes it easy to learn about the great beyond. It’s the area’s No. 1 attraction for international visitors and the first Smithsonian Affiliate in the greater Houston area. The center features more than 400 space artifacts and several exhibits related to the past, present, and future of America’s human spaceflight program. It’s also home to the world’s largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples for public view, and offers guests the opportunity to go behind the scenes to see NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
3816 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77004, USA
Founded in 2000 with a mission of preserving the legacy of the African American soldier, this nonprofit museum is filled with memorabilia, historical artifacts, prints, and film documenting the importance of the Buffalo Soldiers—a contingent of African American men and women who fought bravely during American wars between 1866 and 1951, from the Civil War to the Korean War. Exhibits focus on everything from artillery used by African-American soldiers to the role of the soldiers in the Vietnam War. Admission is $10 for adults, free for children five and under. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
1502 Sawyer St, Houston, TX 77007, USA
Houston has always had a bustling art scene, and that’s well represented at the Silos at Sawyer Yards, a 60,000-square-foot warehouse flex space where many of the city’s artists show their work. You can explore a revolving door of exhibits throughout the year, as well as special events like the Summer Series Art Stroll & Sale, featuring live music, food trucks, cocktails, and pieces from hundreds of artists. The Silos at Sawyer Yards and its sister studios—Silver Street, Spring Street, Summer Street, and Winter Street—also offer open studios between noon and 5 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month, where you can spend an afternoon searching the warehouses for everything from jewelry to photography to mixed media.
5085 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056, USA
Want to go shopping? Want to spot some celebs? Want to go ice skating? You can do all three—and much more—with a visit to the Houston Galleria. This sprawling mall is an international shopping destination that draws 24 million visitors every year and is home to almost 400 stores ranging from Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Neiman Marcus to Forever 21, Gap, and Claire’s. There are more than 30 restaurants here, too, including Kona Grill, Peli Peli, the Oceanaire Seafood Room, and the Cheesecake Factory. Don’t miss a visit to the Galleria at Christmastime, when the holiday decorations are stunningly beautiful.
5401 Caroline Street, Houston, TX 77004, USA
Providing a vital reminder of why it’s essential to remember the past, the Holocaust Museum Houston is at once fascinating, educational, and sobering. With a mission of educating students and the public about the dangers of prejudice and hatred in society, the museum is filled with artifacts, photographs, text panels, and film reels from the Holocaust. Among the must-see items: a Danish rescue boat that was used to save 7,000 people from execution; a World War II railcar similar to what was used to transport millions of people to their deaths; and the Eric Alexander Garden of Hope, created in memory of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and closed Mondays except on MLK Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. General admission is $19.
3523 Independence Parkway
Located about 30 minutes from downtown Houston in La Porte, this site is sure to fascinate any Texas history buff. Start at the San Jacinto Museum of History, which is located in the base of the San Jacinto Monument and covers more than 400 years of early Texas events, including the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto—in which Texas revolutionaries launched a surprise attack on the Mexican army and defeated them in just 18 minutes. Then, take the elevator up 489 feet to the monument’s observation deck, where spectacular views of downtown Houston await. Wrap up your visit at Battleship Texas, which was part of some of the most significant naval battles of the 20th century. Admission is free, although some fees are required for tours. The site is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, USA
You just never know what you’re going to see when you walk through the doors at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where everything from corpse flowers to terra-cotta warriors have graced the exhibit halls. Permanent exhibits here include the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, which showcases 750 sparkling pieces; the Cockrell Butterfly Center, where creatures in every color of the rainbow flit about; and the Paleontology Hall, complete with a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. There’s also an IMAX theater, a Texas exhibit, and a planetarium here. Admission is $25 for adults, $15 for children and seniors. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
6501 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77007, USA
Runners flock to Memorial Park to run its 3-mile loop one, two, or five times. But there’s so much more to discover here, like 30 miles of hiking trails, a golf course, a swimming pool, and facilities for tennis, softball, croquet, and volleyball. Cyclists will fall in love with the biking trails, which range from beginner to expert levels. Originally opened in 1924, the park, located in Houston’s Memorial neighborhood, spans 1,466 acres, making it one of the largest urban green spaces in the United States.
1717 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056, USA
Houston may be an international, cosmopolitan city, but it’s also in Texas—which means no visit is complete without browsing some cowboy boots. For a true taste of Texas fashion, head to Pinto Ranch, one of the city’s most popular spots for Western lifestyle apparel. Visitors can pick up true Texas staples like handmade cowboy hats and belt buckles, or shop the wide selection of fashion-forward womens and mens apparel. In an ideal world, time a visit to Pinto Ranch with the Houston Rodeo, another Houston bucket-list item—it’s the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world.
3900 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005, USA
Opened in 1940, Bering’s Hardware sells more than drill bits and hammers. Grab memorable keepsakes and gifts here, everything from fine china and crystal to personalized coasters and napkins. This is also a smart place to order custom invitations—there’s a wide selection of card and paper products. Even if you’re not looking for anything in particular, Bering’s is fun to wander. The service is old-fashioned and excellent, and chances are very good that you’ll find something you love.
540 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008, USA
If you’re in Houston on the first Saturday of the month, don’t miss this arts market. It was founded in 2004 by artist Mitch Cohen with a mission of providing an outlet for area artists to showcase their work on a monthly basis. Expect to find more than four dozen booths offering paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry, and other handcrafted items at this family-friendly event, not to mention live music and gourmet food trucks. The market is held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. September through May, and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. June through August.
1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010, USA
Since opening to the public in April 2008, this 12-acre park has quickly become the heartbeat of downtown. Here you’ll find a playground, a man-made lake, a dog park, and the Grace Event Lawn, which frequently hosts events like yoga classes, concerts, movie screenings, art shows, and farmers’ markets. The new adjacent Marriott Marquis Houston even features a lazy river in the shape of Texas! It may look familiar from TV: Discovery Green was one of the main event zones during 2017’s Super Bowl LI.
2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056, USA
It might not be Niagara Falls, but as you pass through the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, the mist that brushes your cheeks is sure to cool your body and settle your spirit on even the hottest summer day. Created nearly 25 years ago, this public park covers 2.77 acres and features a 64-foot architectural fountain pumping 11,000 gallons of water a minute. It’s a wonderful place to take pictures (or people-watch: You’ll frequently catch engagement shots being snapped here). Bring a blanket and soak in the atmosphere! It’s a stunning and uniquely Houston experience.
6001 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030, USA
No matter how old you are, you’re bound to find something to do at Hermann Park, which is located near downtown Houston and is bustling with activity any time of day. Pack a picnic or rest a while on a wooden bench to watch the miniature train that chugs through the park. There’s also the Japanese Garden, pedal-boat rentals, and the McGovern Centennial Gardens. The Miller Outdoor Theatre features a variety of shows, from Houston Symphony performances and concerts to plays and musicals, throughout the year. The Houston Zoo and the Houston Museum of Natural Science are also located just a short walk away.
105 Sabine St, Houston, TX 77007, USA
This is the site of a former drinking-water reservoir built in 1926 and decommissioned in 2007 after a leak was discovered. The site, which spans 1.5 football fields and once could hold 15 million gallons of water, lay dormant for nearly a decade until the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, with help from the Brown Foundation, decided to reopen it as a public space. Its stunning and sometimes haunting visuals make it among the new must-see attractions in Houston—don’t miss the nearby art installation, Down Periscope, which offers a peek into the cistern from aboveground. Schedule a tour to see it up close—tours last 30 minutes and are held from 11 a.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations required.
909 Fannin St #1650, Houston, TX 77010, USA
Unless you work in downtown Houston, you might not know about the intricate system of air-conditioned skywalks and underground walkways connecting the downtown area and filled with restaurants, businesses, and shopping—you can grab lunch and get your hair cut without ever seeing sunlight (or breaking a sweat in the Texas summer heat). The system, known simply as the Tunnel to Houstonians, spans seven miles and links 80 buildings. It’s open regular business hours Monday through Friday; closed on weekends. Phil Stewart with Discover Houston Tours leads regular excursions through the Tunnel.
222 Malone St, Houston, TX 77007, USA
What started as one man’s simple hobby has turned into a Houston landmark that attracts visitors from across the country: The Beer Can House. Back in 1968, owner John Milkovisch, a retired upholsterer for Southern Pacific Railroad, realized he really enjoyed drinking beer but was tired of throwing his cans away. Instead, he decided to recycle them as decorations for his house, from aluminum beer-can siding to beer can garland that hangs from the roof’s edge. Now, 50,000 cans later, it’s a stunning work of art that stands as a testament to, well, beer. Admission is $5; children 12 and under are free. From June through August, the Beer Can House is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 12-5pm. From September through May, it’s open Saturdays and Sundays from 2-6pm. The Beer Can House is closed on most major holidays.
415 Barren Springs Drive
When you hear the name of this unusual museum—the National Museum of Funeral History—you can’t help but have a little morbid curiosity about what’s inside. The motto here is “Any day above ground is a good one,” and the inside is filled with death-related artifacts and exhibits that have included a “fantasy coffin” collection with casket shapes including a shallot, a Mercedes, and a chicken; a re-creation of a 1900s casket factory; a tribute to Batman star Adam West; a diorama on embalming practices during the Civil War; and a full-scale replica of Pope John Paul II’s crypt. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and veterans, $7 for children under 12, and free for children five and under.
501 Crawford St, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Go ’Stros! Any visit to Houston during baseball season should include a visit to Minute Maid Park to see the Astros. Thanks in part to its design, which includes a retractable roof, a train, and an uphill slope on the playing field, Minute Maid Park is unlike anything you’ve seen before. In addition to watching great baseball, you’ll be able to sample some local noshes—some of Houston’s favorite restaurants have outposts here. Not baseball season? You can still check out the park. Tours are offered daily at 10 a.m. and noon throughout the year. Cost is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and members of the military, and $10 for children ages three to 12.