You know the old saying. “Everything’s bigger in Texas” has become a blanket statement of sorts that can be applied to pretty much anything in the Lone Star State. More often than not it’s true. So what happens when you visit the largest city in the state where everything is well, larger? Your trip itinerary gets filled with a nearly impossibly long list of attractions, that’s what. To help you navigate that long list, we’ve done some digging and come up with our picks for the top 8 things to do in Houston. Because bigger really can better, but you don’t have forever to explore.
1. Explore the Johnson Space Center
Ever wonder why astronauts say “Houston, we have a problem” even though the shuttles launch in Florida? That’s because everything runs through NASA’s Space Center Houston. Luckily for you, some of it’s open to the public. From artifacts from real space missions to information on the astronauts themselves to exhibits on programs designed to enhance our ability to operate and problem solve in space, the museum has it all. You can walk through Astronaut training modules, view real space shuttles and even touch a rock from the moon. This is the kind of museum you can spend an entire day and still wish for a little more time at closing.
2. Walk among dinosaurs at the Houston Museum of Natural Science
The star attraction of Houston’s Museum District, the Museum of Natural Science casts an extremely wide net and is sure to have something for every member of the family. Whether it’s checking out dinosaur fossils (walking through a room full of dinosaurs is quite the experience), strolling through a mini rainforest at the Cockrell Butterfly Center, or solving mysteries at the Sherlock Holmes exhibit, the museum is captivating from entrance to exit. It’s frequently mentioned among the top science museums in the U.S. and is a must-see on any vacation to Houston.
3. Chill out on Discovery Green
Discovery Green is one of the best ways to see what’s going on in the Houston community. It’s a 12-acre oasis in downtown and was designed to be a getaway from the beating Texas sun and the hustle and bustle of downtown Houston. Walking beneath the trees you can check out sculpture exhibits, outdoor concerts, yoga classes and food festivals. There are even storytime groups for toddlers. You can also grab a kayak and paddle around the lake, or in the winter the city sets up an ice skating rink to glide around. We recommend hitting the park in the evening after a day of museum-going to watch the city transform into night time mode.
4. Catch a game at Minute Maid Park
It’s hard to beat catching a midsummer baseball game in the evening. Home to the city’s beloved Astros, Minute Maid Park is a great place to see a game. After a long day in the Texas heat, sit back, grab a beer (or a lemonade) and listen to the crack of the bat and the peanut vendors making their way up and down the aisles. It’s a timeless experience and Minute Maid Park is a great place to take it in.
5. Stroll through Buffalo Bayou
Buffalo Bayou is a waterway that begins 52 miles West of Houston and winds its way into the city. The space in Houston is lined by outdoor recreation areas, dog parks, memorials and the natural outdoors, being a refreshing break from the city’s high rises. Take the family for a stroll in the evening here as a great way to wrap up the day.
6. Shop til you drop at The Galleria
If all the educational experiences and outdoor activities are a little too much for you, you can always hit The Galleria and indulge in a little (or a lot) of retail therapy. With over four hundred stores matching all budgets, the mall has pretty much everything.
7. The Art Car Museum
Checking the “quirky” box on our list, the Art Car Museum is what it sounds like. All sorts of cars are painted and decorated in ways you can’t imagine. It might not be quite as educational as some of the city’s other great museums, but it certainly entertains the curious and artistically inclined. Be sure to catch the Art Car Parade in April.
8. The Downtown Aquarium
With 500,000 gallons of tanks and over two hundred species of fish and other marine creatures, you can get pretty creative. And that’s exactly what Houston’s Downtown Aquarium has done. Kids can hop on a train that passes through a tunnel surrounded by a massive fish tank. Sharks pass overhead as you move along. You can even sit down to dinner surrounded by fish tanks. It’s quite the underwater experience.