7 Fun Things to Do in Houston, Texas (and 1 to Avoid!)

Houston Skyline
Houston Skyline

Houston is the largest city in Texas, and the fourth-largest in the US. Anchoring a sprawling metropolis of over 7 million people, Houston is today one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, known for its prominence in both the energy and space command industries. 

Anyone visiting Houston and expecting the cowboy pace of life will be pleasantly surprised to find a cosmopolitan area offering a multitude of big city amenities and attractions.  

Note: Anyone who’s unfamiliar with American cities west of the Mississippi should be aware that Houston’s pretty spread out. There is some public transportation in the form of buses and light rail, but walkability is restricted to certain pockets here and there. It is a very car-dependent city.

Read on for 7 Fun Things to Do in Houston, Texas!

1. Museum of Natural Science

Museum of Natural Science, Houston, Texas
Museum of Natural Science, Houston, Texas

The Museum of Natural Science anchors Houston’s Museum District, by many metrics second only to New York’s. I’ve been to this museum many times over the years and they always have excellent exhibits, such as the actual bones of “Lucy” to an entire floor dedicated to the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. I’ve been several times over the years and loved it each time.

Current exhibits include Pompeii, Gaia, and Body Worlds

Pro Tip: No trip to the museum is complete without going through the Cockrell Butterfly Center. The massive glass structure houses many species of vibrant butterflies and other insects. Adult tickets are $12, $10 for kids. 

Cockrell Butterfly Center, Houston, Texas
Cockrell Butterfly Center, Houston, Texas

5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030

2. Space Center Houston

Apollo 17 Command Module
Apollo 17 Command Module / Photo courtesy of SpaceCenter.org

“Houston, we have a problem.”

They don’t call it “Space City” for nothing. NASA Space Center Houston is the museum branch of the Johnson Space Center, and a Smithsonian Affiliate institution. Their extensive collection contains the actual Mercury 9, Gemini 5, and Apollo 17 command capsules, as well as several lunar rovers and various rocks taken from the moon’s surface. 

Furthermore, right outside the space center is Independence Plaza, which features the world’s *only* full-size replica of the Space Shuttle, perched atop a Boeing 747 shuttle carrier.

This one’s a little ways out there, and tickets are pricey at $30 per adult (kids get in free). However, if you or your child has a keen interest in outer space, Space Center Houston is definitely worth the drive and the price. 

1601 NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058

3. Museum of Fine Arts

Persian ceramic dish from 15th century
Persian ceramic dish from 15th century / Photo courtesy of MFAH.org

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is arguably the foremost art museum in the state of Texas. At 300,000 square feet, it’s also among the largest in the country (second-largest, in fact, trailing only The Met in New York City). It’s 70,000 artifacts come from six different continents and span thousands of years of history. 

General admission is free, although tickets to special exhibits like Van Gogh cost $25 for adults.

1001 Bissonet St, Houston, TX 77005

4. The Galleria

Houston Galleria shopping mall

For the shoppers out there, the Houston Galleria offers over 3 million square feet of retail space. Located in the Uptown district, the Galleria is the largest shopping mall in Texas and is anchored by Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, among others. 

5085 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056

5. Delicious and Diverse Dishes

Genji's Restaurant, Houston, Texas
Genji's Restaurant, Houston, Texas

Most people may not think it, but Houston is among the most diverse cities in the whole country. Massive job opportunities and low costs of living have attracted huge numbers of Latino and South and Southeast Asian immigrants. You can find excellent Mexican, Indian, and Vietnamese food all over the city, as well as top-notch Greek and Ethiopian food. 

Greek

Mexican

Xochi

Caracol

Hugo’s

American

Pappas Burger

Backstreet Cafe

Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Deli

Italian

Vietnamese

Huynh Restaurant

Hughie’s

Pho Saigon

Chinese

Genjis (has karaoke!)

Ethiopian

Indian

Bombay Pizza Company

Maharaja Bhog

Khyber North Indian Grill

6. Buffalo Bayou Cistern Park

Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

The Buffalo Bayou Cistern Park is a former underground cistern now open for tours! These tours run 30 minutes and teach you about the history and significance of the cistern. Admission is $7 per person BUT Thursdays are free! Just be sure to make a reservation due to COVID limitations. 

There is currently an immersive art installation in the cistern called “Time No Longer.” Tickets to this art installation are $12, but still are free on Thursdays.  

Pro Tip: Surrounding the cistern is the actual Buffalou Bayou Park, a large community greenspace that offers wonderful respite from the city. 

105b Sabine St, Houston, TX 77007

7. Montrose

Montrose, Houston, Texas
Montrose, Houston, Texas

Montrose is a neighborhood in central Houston that centers along Westheimer Boulevard. It’s a fun, quirky place very similar to Richmond’s Cary Street. If you’re looking for tattoo parlors, vape shops, consignment stores, any other kind of neat and trendy shop, or some awesome nightlife, Montrose will have what you need. It’s also known as the LGBT epicenter of Houston.

What NOT to Do: Rothko Chapel

Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas
Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas

The Rothko Chapel is located in the Montrose neighborhood, and looks unassuming enough from outside. It’s inside where things get…odd. 

The interior is black. All black. Black floor, black walls, black ceiling. The room is octagonal, and each wall has a piece of “art” (a large black canvas) hung up on it. Before each canvas is a black cushion. Throughout the interior of the room are also benches. 

Rothko Chapel is a completely non-denominational place of worship, and so upon entering you will find Bibles, Qu’Rans, Bagavad Gitas, Buddhist texts, Torahs, and other religious literature on a table by the door. 

The one quality about this place that will forever stick in my mind is just how *QUIET* it is. It is deathly silent. The act of sitting down on a bench was a raucous event that distracted the worshippers present. Every little movement is amplified a hundredfold. It was so quiet it actually made me uncomfortable. I can only imagine that this is what it’s like to be in one of those soundproof chambers that’s so quiet you end up hallucinating before long. I felt like if I stayed in that black room a minute longer I would have started hearing things that weren’t there. Relaxing and tranquil are NOT words I would use to describe it. 

Conclusion

What did you think of this list of Fun Things to Do in Houston, Texas? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below!

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