35 Things to Do in Houston

By Janet Benoir – May 20, 2024

Houston, a dynamic mosaic of culture, history, and innovation, beckons travelers with its unique blend of Southern charm and cosmopolitan flair. Known as “H-Town” by locals and “Space City” by enthusiasts, Houston’s vast landscape is dotted with an array of activities that cater to every interest.

Here’s your ultimate guide to the top 35 things to do in Houston, each promising an unforgettable adventure in the Lone Star State’s most exhilarating city.

Houston Museum District

Nestled in the heart of Houston, the Museum District invites visitors to embark on a journey through 19 world-class institutions. Each museum, with its own story to tell, offers a kaleidoscope of experiences. You’ll love the ancient echoes of civilizations at the Museum of Fine Arts and the futuristic ventures into space at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Houston Museum District

As you wander from one museum to the next, the seamless blend of architectural marvels with the lush, green landscapes of Hermann Park nearby offers a visual feast. The district is an essential pilgrimage for art lovers, history enthusiasts, and families looking for an enriching experience.

Hermann Park

Hermann Park offers a tranquil retreat with its sprawling lawns, meandering trails, and serene Japanese Garden. It’s a place that offers endless opportunities for relaxation and recreation. From the gentle paddle boats on McGovern Lake to the enchanting miniature train ride, the park is a playground for the young and young at heart.

Hermann Park

Beyond its recreational allure, Hermann Park serves as a cultural cornerstone, housing the Houston Zoo and the Miller Outdoor Theatre. As the sun sets, casting a golden glow over the park, it becomes a gathering place for families, friends, and solo wanderers alike, all finding their own piece of peace in the heart of Houston.

Johnson Space Center

Houston’s Johnson Space Center offers a rare glimpse into the extraordinary endeavors that have pushed the boundaries of exploration and science. The center’s exhibits, such as the Space Shuttle replica and the Saturn V rocket, are not mere artifacts. They tell stories of courage, innovation, and dreams that reach beyond the stars.

Johnson Space Center

From touching moon rocks to experiencing the thrilling sensation of a simulated space flight, the center encapsulates the awe and wonder of space exploration. It’s a place where every corner holds a new discovery, inviting you to embark on an interstellar journey that ignites the imagination and fuels the desire to explore the unknown.

Buffalo Bayou

Buffalo Bayou is the lifeline of Houston’s natural landscape, offering a picturesque setting for adventure and relaxation. Kayaking down the bayou, one can’t help but feel a sense of connection to the city’s pulse, with each paddle stroke revealing stunning views of the skyline, lush parks, and historic sites.

Buffalo Bayou

The bayou’s paths and parks invite joggers, cyclists, and strollers to explore its natural beauty. As the sun dips below the horizon, the bayou transforms into a tranquil haven, where the hustle of city life fades into the gentle sounds of flowing water and rustling leaves. Buffalo Bayou is a reminder of Houston’s harmonious blend of urban energy and natural serenity.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

A trove of knowledge and discovery, the Houston Museum of Natural Science opens to both ancient and contemporary learning. Its halls are filled with the mysteries of the universe. Each exhibit invites you to embark on a journey through time and space, offering insights into the forces that shape our planet and beyond.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

The museum’s engaging displays and interactive exhibits make science accessible and exciting, appealing to curious minds of all ages. Whether you’re gazing at the stars in the Burke Baker Planetarium or encountering the vibrant biodiversity of the Cockrell Butterfly Center, the Houston Museum of Natural Science ensures that your visit will be both enlightening and unforgettable.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Immerse yourself at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, an event that encapsulates the spirit and heritage of the Lone Star State. From the thunderous excitement of bull riding to the melodic rhythms of country music stars, this spectacle is a celebration of Western culture. The air is thick with the aroma of smoked barbecue, and the grounds teem with activities and exhibits that pay homage to rural life.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

As the rodeo dust settles, the event unfolds into a family-friendly festival with something for everyone. Engage in interactive educational exhibits, shop for Western attire, or enjoy carnival rides that light up the night. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a vibrant showcase of agriculture, education, and entertainment, drawing people from all walks of life into a communal celebration of Texas pride and joy.

Minute Maid Park

Nestled in the heart of downtown Houston, Minute Maid Park stands as a modern coliseum. This iconic ballpark melds the nostalgia of America’s favorite pastime with state-of-the-art facilities, offering fans an immersive baseball experience. Whether it’s the crack of the bat or the roar of the crowd over the outfield, Minute Maid Park captures the essence of baseball’s timeless charm.

Minute Maid Park

Beyond the excitement of Major League Baseball, Minute Maid Park serves as a communal hub, hosting a variety of events throughout the year. From concerts to international sporting events, the park becomes a venue where memories are forged. Families and friends gather, united by their shared passions, making every visit to Minute Maid Park a chapter in their Houston story.

The Galleria

Step into The Galleria where luxury and leisure converge, offering an unparalleled shopping experience in Texas’ largest mall. The Galleria hosts a curated selection of over 400 stores, from high-end designers to mainstream favorites, making it a paradise for fashion enthusiasts and casual shoppers alike. Here, shopping is not merely an activity but an indulgence, surrounded by the splendor of its architecture and the vibrancy of its atmosphere.

The Galleria

The Galleria goes beyond retail, offering a multitude of experiences under its vast roof. Families, friends, and solo adventurers alike can find joy in the simple pleasure of a day spent exploring its depths. Whether you’re hunting for the latest trends, enjoying a gourmet meal, or gliding across the ice, The Galleria encapsulates the dynamic spirit of Houston.

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is a sanctuary of American decorative arts and lush landscapes nestled in the River Oaks neighborhood. Each room tells a story, a narrative of style and craftsmanship that spans from the colonial period to the late 19th century. It’s a journey through time, where history’s beauty is preserved and celebrated amidst the elegance of Ima Hogg’s former residence.

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

The enchantment of Bayou Bend extends beyond its walls into the gardens that surround the estate. These gardens are meticulously designed to reflect the harmony between art and nature. It’s a place of tranquility and reflection, where the bustling city seems a world away. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens stands as a testament to Houston’s cultural richness inviting all to explore its beauty and history.

Children’s Museum Houston

Children’s Museum Houston is a vibrant playground of learning and discovery, where children are encouraged to explore, imagine, and create. This award-winning museum is a kaleidoscope of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities designed to spark curiosity and ignite a love of learning in young minds. It’s a place where learning is disguised as play, and every visit is an adventure, filled with new challenges and discoveries.

Children's Museum Houston

Beyond the exhibits, Children’s Museum Houston is committed to fostering educational growth, offering programs and workshops that extend learning beyond the classroom. In the heart of Houston, the museum stands as a beacon of inspiration, nurturing the next generation of innovators, artists, and leaders.

Holocaust Museum Houston

At the Holocaust Museum Houston, visitors are invited to journey through one of history’s darkest periods with a sense of reverence and reflection. The museum not only narrates the harrowing tales of survival and loss but also serves as a beacon of hope. It’s a place where each corner holds a story, a lesson in empathy, and a call to action against hatred and intolerance.

Holocaust Museum Houston

The museum’s architecture itself, solemn and respectful, sets the tone for an experience that is both educational and emotional. Interactive displays, personal testimonies, and art installations offer visitors a comprehensive understanding of the Holocaust’s impact, not just on those who lived through it, but on generations that followed.

The Menil Collection

Nestled in the Montrose neighborhood, The Menil Collection is an oasis of art that feels more like a sanctuary than a museum. Within its walls, visitors can explore an eclectic mix of works spanning from the prehistoric to the present day, with a particular focus on surrealism and contemporary art. The serene atmosphere and curated spaces invite quiet contemplation, making it a haven for art lovers seeking inspiration and solace.

The Menil Collection

Beyond the main gallery, The Menil Collection’s campus includes a variety of specialized buildings and outdoor spaces that further enrich the visitor experience. The museum’s commitment to accessibility and community engagement shines through its free admission and lively schedule of events and programs, embodying the de Menils’ belief that “art is for everyone.”

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

In the bustling Uptown district of Houston lies the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, a serene enclave that captivates visitors with its monumental 64-foot waterwall. This architectural marvel, set against a backdrop of towering oaks and manicured greenery, offers a moment of awe and tranquility amidst the city’s dynamism.

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

The park, surrounding the Waterwall, is an urban oasis where people come to relax, take photographs, and enjoy the outdoors. Whether it’s families picnicking on the grass, couples sharing a quiet moment, or individuals seeking a peaceful break, the Waterwall Park serves as a communal gathering space for all walks of life.

San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site

The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site stands as a hallowed ground where Texas clinched its independence from Mexico. Visitors can explore the towering San Jacinto Monument, which rises majestically to commemorate the battle and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area from its observation deck. The battleground invites exploration and reflection on the bravery and strategy that shaped the course of Texas history.

San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site

Beyond its historical significance, the site is a place of natural beauty and leisure, offering a variety of activities for history buffs, nature lovers, and families alike. The adjacent Battleship Texas, the last of the battleships to participate in both World Wars, offers a fascinating glimpse into naval history.

Vibrant Murals

Houston’s streets are a canvas, vibrant murals, and street art transforming the urban landscape into an open-air gallery that celebrates the city’s diversity, creativity, and spirit. Embarking on a tour of Houston’s murals offers a visual feast, where every corner reveals bold colors, striking images, and thought-provoking messages.

Vibrant Murals

Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a photographer looking for the perfect shot, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of expression, exploring Houston’s vibrant murals is an adventure that connects you to the heart of the city. It’s an opportunity to see Houston through the eyes of its artists, who use their talent to beautify the urban environment, engage with the community, and spark conversations.

Houston Zoo

Step into the wild heart of Houston at one of the most beloved zoos in the United States, where conservation meets education in an enchanting display of nature’s diversity. The Houston Zoo is a vibrant ecosystem unto itself, home to over 6,000 exotic animals from around the globe.

Houston Zoo

Beyond its role as a sanctuary for wildlife, the Houston Zoo stands at the forefront of conservation efforts, dedicating resources and expertise to protect animal species and their natural environments worldwide. Visitors are invited to not only observe but also engage with the zoo’s mission through interactive experiences and educational programs.

Discovery Green

Nestled in the heart of downtown Houston, Discovery Green is an urban park that offers a refreshing escape from the concrete jungle. This vibrant green space is a community hub, buzzing with activity throughout the year. From tranquil mornings to the electric atmosphere of evening concerts and movies, Discovery Green provides a green oasis for relaxation and recreation alike.

Discovery Green

The park also features a playground that captivates younger visitors, a dog run for four-legged friends, and a variety of dining options to refuel after a day of exploration. Discovery Green is a testament to Houston’s commitment to urban green spaces, inviting locals and tourists to connect and create lasting memories.

Memorial Park

Memorial Park, a sprawling oasis of green in Houston, stands as a testament to the city’s dedication to preserving natural spaces amidst urban development. This vast urban park serves as a green lung for the city. With over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, a renowned golf course, tennis courts, and vast open spaces for picnics and kite flying, Memorial Park is a playground for all ages.

Memorial Park

The park’s diverse ecosystems, from dense forests to open prairies, provide a habitat for local wildlife and a classroom for environmental education. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, a seasoned trail runner, or someone seeking a moment of serenity in nature, Memorial Park offers a slice of wilderness in the heart of the city.

Marriott Marquis Houston

Here is a slice of Texas pride with a unique twist at the Marriott Marquis Houston, where luxury and leisure meet in the form of a Texas-shaped lazy river. Floating atop the hotel’s rooftop, this novelty pool offers guests an unparalleled view of the Houston skyline while basking in the Texan sun. The lazy river is complemented by a heated infinity pool, ensuring year-round enjoyment for visitors.

Marriott Marquis Houston

Whether you’re a guest of the hotel or just visiting for the day, the Texas-shaped lazy river at the Marriott Marquis Houston offers a memorable experience that blends fun, relaxation, and a touch of Texas charm. It’s a must-see destination that captures the imagination and provides a unique way to cool off in the heart of the city.

Post HTX

Post HTX is a multi-use complex that breathes new life into downtown Houston, offering a dynamic space where art, cuisine, and entertainment converge. Visitors can explore an ever-changing lineup of cultural exhibitions, feast on culinary delights from local and international chefs, and enjoy live music that spans genres and generations. Post HTX is more than a venue; it’s a vibrant community gathering place that celebrates the city’s diversity and creativity.

Post HTX

With its expansive rooftop park offering stunning views of the city, Post HTX invites locals and tourists alike to engage with the arts, indulge in gourmet food, and revel in the energy of live performances. It’s a testament to Houston’s vibrant cultural landscape, promising unforgettable experiences that capture the essence of this dynamic city.

Galveston Island

Galveston Island’s soft, sandy beaches and the gentle whisper of waves are a serene escape from the city’s hustle. This island city, with its charming Victorian architecture and storied past, invites explorers to wander its streets, discovering hidden gems and tales of yore at every corner.

Galveston Island

A visit to Galveston is incomplete without indulging in the local seafood, where the day’s catch becomes a culinary masterpiece in the hands of skilled chefs. As the sun sets, painting the sky in hues of gold and pink, a stroll along the Seawall offers panoramic views of the horizon. Galveston, with its blend of natural beauty and historic intrigue, promises lasting memories.

Armand Bayou Nature Center

Nestled in the heart of urban sprawl, Armand Bayou Nature Center offers a sanctuary for wildlife and a haven for those seeking solace from the city’s clamor. Within its expansive acres, visitors can meander through diverse ecosystems from dense forests to delicate wetlands. It’s a place where the air is filled with the songs of birds and the rustle of leaves.

Armand Bayou Nature Center

Guided tours and paddling trips provide intimate encounters with the center’s inhabitants, from majestic birds of prey to the elusive alligator, each sighting a thrilling reminder of the wildness that surrounds us. As you explore the trails, the stresses of daily life seem to fade. The Armand Bayou Nature Center is not just a visit; it’s an immersion into the heartbeat of nature itself.

George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Dedicated to the legacy of the 41st President of the United States, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum exhibits his presidency and the values that guided his service. Within its walls, visitors are invited to journey through history and see the humanitarian efforts that defined Bush’s term. It’s where the challenges and triumphs of the past shed light on the present and inspire future generations.

George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Located on the picturesque campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, the museum also offers a personal glimpse into the life of George H.W. Bush. The tranquility of the surrounding grounds, including the serene Barbara Bush Rose Garden, provides a space for contemplation. This makes the museum not just an educational experience, but a deeply moving one as well.

Cockrell Butterfly Center

Step into the lush, tropical world of the Cockrell Butterfly Center, a vibrant oasis where the air is alive with the flutter of wings. This living exhibit invites visitors to walk among hundreds of the world’s most beautiful butterflies. It’s an enchanting experience, where the boundaries between humans and nature blur, and the wonder of life’s diversity is celebrated.

Cockrell Butterfly Center

Beyond its beauty, the center educates on the importance of conservation and the role butterflies play in our ecosystem. Interactive displays and knowledgeable staff provide insights into the life cycle of these fascinating insects and the challenges they face in a changing world. For families, nature enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a moment of beauty and tranquility, the Cockrell Butterfly Center is a must-visit destination in Houston.

National Museum of Funeral History

Houston’s National Museum of Funeral History offers an unparalleled exploration into the rituals and traditions that cultures around the world have developed to honor the dead. With exhibits that range from the history of embalming to the art of the coffin, the museum provides a unique perspective on how humanity confronts mortality.

National Museum of Funeral History

Among its many fascinating displays, the museum features a replica of the crypt of Pope John Paul II, a collection of hearses through the ages, and an exhibit on the funerals of the American Presidents. While the subject matter may seem somber, the museum approaches it with sensitivity and a depth of knowledge that enlightens rather than overwhelms. For those with an interest in history, culture, or the simply unique, the National Museum of Funeral History offers an experience unlike any other.

Rice University

Nestled in the heart of Houston, Rice University’s campus is a verdant haven that merges intellectual vitality with serene beauty. Stroll through the shaded pathways lined with majestic oak trees and be inspired by the harmonious blend of Byzantine-inspired architecture and modern design.

Rice University

Whether you’re walking around the Turrell Skyspace or lounging by the reflection pool, the university’s grounds provide a perfect backdrop for a leisurely day of exploration. Beyond its aesthetic allure, the campus embodies a spirit of innovation and discovery, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to capture the essence of Houston’s intellectual and architectural grandeur.

Miller Outdoor Theatre

Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre is a cultural gem where the arts come alive under the open sky. Located in the picturesque Hermann Park, this beloved venue hosts an array of performances that span genres and cultures, from exhilarating concerts and ballets to captivating plays and musicals. Admission is always free, making high-quality entertainment accessible to all.

Miller Outdoor Theatre

The magic of Miller Outdoor Theatre lies not only in its diverse programming but also in the communal experience it fosters. It’s a place where families, friends, and strangers come together, united by the universal language of art. As the sun sets and the stage lights up, the theatre offers unforgettable experiences that highlight the vibrancy of Houston’s cultural landscape.

James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace

James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace, situated on Rice University’s campus, is an architectural marvel that offers a transcendent experience of light and space. The Skyspace not only showcases Turrell’s mastery of perception but also serves as a quiet sanctuary for contemplation, drawing visitors into a meditative engagement with the cosmos.

James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace

The Twilight Epiphany Skyspace invites viewers to sit in silence and witness the sky through an aperture in the ceiling, as light transforms the space into a canvas of vibrant hues. This dynamic interplay between the light within and the celestial expanse beyond offers profound connection and wonder. It’s a must-see for art lovers and seekers of beauty.

Houston Farmers Market

The Houston Farmers Market is a bustling epicenter of local agriculture and artisanal craftsmanship, where the community gathers to celebrate the bounty of the region. Here, farmers and makers share their passion and produce. The market is more than a place to shop; it’s an opportunity to connect with the source of your food, learn the stories behind the stalls, and support the local economy.

Houston Farmers Market

As you wander through the vibrant stalls, each vendor offers a unique story and a taste of Texas’ rich agricultural heritage. Whether you’re a foodie in search of the finest ingredients or a visitor looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, the market offers a genuine taste of Houston’s heart and soul.

Houston Botanic Garden

The Houston Botanic Garden is a green sanctuary that offers a peaceful retreat and a celebration of plant diversity. Through meticulously curated gardens, visitors embark on a botanical journey around the world, from tropical rainforests to arid deserts, each area telling a story of adaptation, survival, and beauty.

Houston Botanic Garden

Interactive exhibits and educational programs bring the world of flora to life, making it an ideal destination for both budding botanists and seasoned garden enthusiasts. As you explore the tranquil ponds, exotic collections, and vibrant blooms, the garden invites you to slow down, breathe deeply, and reconnect with the earth.

Downtown Aquarium

Submerge yourself in the enchanting world of the Downtown Aquarium, an aquatic wonderland in the heart of Houston. With a spectacular array of marine life from around the globe, this aquatic and entertainment complex offers an immersive experience that captivates both the young and the old.

Downtown Aquarium

Beyond the mesmerizing tanks and exhibits, the Downtown Aquarium offers an array of entertainment options. Dine under the sea as fish swim by in the aquarium restaurant, enjoy the thrill of amusement rides like the Shark Voyage Train, or test your bravery with a touch pool. Dive in and discover an underwater world where adventure and wonder await at every turn.

Kemah Boardwalk

The Kemah Boardwalk, nestled on the shores of Galveston Bay, is a vibrant destination where thrills and spills meet the beauty of the waterfront. This bustling amusement complex brims with excitement, offering everything from heart-racing roller coasters to leisurely carousel rides. Stroll along the boardwalk, savor the salty sea breeze, and indulge in the joy of endless games and attractions.

Kemah Boardwalk

Dining at Kemah Boardwalk is an experience unto itself, with a variety of restaurants offering mouthwatering dishes and stunning bay views. As the sun sets, the boardwalk comes alive with vibrant lights and live music, crafting an atmosphere of enchantment and fun. Whether you’re seeking a day of family-friendly amusement or a romantic evening by the water, Kemah Boardwalk delivers unforgettable moments and joyous memories.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown

Cool off from the Texas heat at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown, a water park oasis that promises a splash-tastic experience for visitors of all ages. With a wide array of slides, rides, and pools, this water park is the perfect retreat for thrill-seekers and families alike. From the adrenaline-pumping Tornado to the lazy river’s tranquil flow, there’s an aquatic adventure waiting for everyone.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown

Enjoy the wave pool’s gentle rhythms, relax in a private cabana, or participate in one of the many events and activities that fill the park’s calendar. It’s a place where laughter echoes, splashes abound, and every visit feels like a mini-vacation. Pack your sunscreen and get ready for a day of wet and wild fun in Houston’s favorite water park.

Houston Theater District

Step into the limelight of Houston’s Theater District, a dazzling cultural place that showcases arts in all their glory. Home to an impressive array of venues, this district plays host to world-class performances ranging from Broadway shows and ballets to operas and symphonies. As the curtains rise, stories unfold on stage. It’s a celebration of creativity, where every performance shows the talent and passion that define Houston’s vibrant arts scene.

Houston Theater District

Wandering through the Theater District, with its striking architecture and buzzing atmosphere, is an experience in itself. Whether you’re a seasoned arts enthusiast or a curious first-timer, the Houston Theater District invites you to be part of a night where entertainment and culture converge.

Astroville Food Tour

Embark on a gastronomic journey through the heart of Houston with the Astroville Food Tour, an experience that tantalizes the taste buds. This culinary odyssey takes you through Downtown Houston’s historic streets, unveiling the city’s rich tapestry of flavors. From savory Tex-Mex delights and succulent barbecue to innovative fusion dishes and beyond, each stop is an opportunity to savor the diverse culinary landscape that makes Houston a food lover’s paradise.

Astroville Food Tour

As you explore hidden gems and local favorites, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the city’s culinary scene and the people who shape it. Whether you’re a local foodie or a traveler seeking authentic experiences, the Astroville Food Tour is your ticket to a world of delicious discoveries and unforgettable moments in the heart of Texas.

Whether you’re drawn to the allure of space exploration, the tranquility of nature, or the thrill of live entertainment, Houston promises an array of experiences that will leave you enchanted and yearning for more. So set your sights on the Lone Star State, and prepare for an unforgettable journey through the exciting, eclectic, and ever-welcoming city of Houston.