Once upon a time, as a young reporter at the Houston Chronicle in the days where video was just becoming a respected medium in the journalism profession, I proposed the idea of doing a daily video blog about fun things to do in Houston.
Although as an Austin native I was new to the area, I figured that since Houston was the fourth biggest city in the nation, there had to be plenty to see and do.
The vlog allowed me unrestricted access to the city’s gems, hidden and otherwise. And although Houston sometimes gets a bad rap due to issues such as traffic and sprawl, what I discovered was a fascinating town filled with friendly people, world-class art, amazing food and delightful quirks.
Whether you’re heading to Houston for Taylor Swift’s upcoming concert or planning a summer getaway, here are 10 uniquely-Houston destinations and attractions to consider in the Bayou City.
A Houston Astros game
Fresh off a 2022 World Series win, now is the perfect time to catch a Houston Astros game at Minute Maid Park, which is nicknamed the Juice Box and has a seating capacity of 41,000. Whether you’re munching on a hot dog under the stadium’s retractable roof, which opens on cooler days, or taking in a ballpark tour that gives visitors unparalleled access to areas such as the press boxes, the Astros’ dugout and stadium’s luxury suites, a day spent at Minute Maid Park is sure to be unforgettable. https://www.mlb.com/astros
When downtown Houston needed a heartbeat, several philanthropists got together to do something remarkable – they took a sprawling concrete eyesore and turned it into a lush and bustling 12-acre urban park called Discovery Green. Opened in 2008 across from the George R. Brown Convention Center, park features include restaurants, a fountain, a playground, a dog park, a putting green, bocce courts and multiple stages. The park also hosts hundreds of free events each year, ranging from fitness classes to concerts to movies on the lawn. https://www.discoverygreen.com/
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Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
With an art scene as incredible as the one in Houston, it’s only fitting that there would be unexpected places to see it – including underground inside a former drinking water reservoir that was first built in 1926. Now, the Cistern, located at 105 Sabine St., has been transformed into a public space that houses changing art installations and is open for tours, including the 30-minute history tour, which focuses on the architecture of the space and its past. https://buffalobayou.org/visit/destination/the-cistern/
The Beer Can House
When people talk about Houston’s art scene, that talk isn’t just limited to museums – there’s also a quirky, experimental and unexpected vibe here that surprises you when you least expect it. Case in point: the Beer Can House. Started one drink at a time in 1968 by John Milkovisch, a retired upholsterer for the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Beer Can House is now adorned with an estimated 50,000 beer cans and stands as a monument to recycling. It’s open for tours on Saturdays and Sundays; reservations are required and admission is $5. Children under 12 are free. https://www.orangeshow.org/beer-can-house
The Art Car Parade
There’s no denying that Houston is a creative town, and that creativity is on full display during the annual Art Car Parade, which features more than 250 cars that have been decorated by their owners to suit a particular aesthetic, personality or creative inspiration. The 36th annual parade will take place this year at 2 p.m. on April 15 and is free to the public. https://www.thehoustonartcarparade.com/
Sure, Galveston isn’t technically part of Houston, but the fact that you can make a jaunt to the beach in less than an hour from downtown deserves a mention. Featuring a lovely mix of wide, calm beaches, perfect for kite-flying or sandcastle-building on a sunny day, and top-notch attractions and restaurants, Galveston has a “something for everyone” vibe that’s perfect for multigenerational families. Highlights here include ice cream at La King’s Confectionary in the historic Strand District, enjoying a ride or two at the Pleasure Pier and taking a free, self-guided driving tour of the tree sculptures that dot the island. https://www.visitgalveston.com/
Miller Outdoor Theatre
Located on 7.5 acres within Hermann Park, the Miller Outdoor Theatre is home to some of the most spectacular – and free – shows in Houston. From jazz music to musical theatre to classic films, seeing a show at the Miller Outdoor Theatre is an unforgettable experience. Even better? All performances are family friendly. https://www.milleroutdoortheatre.com/
Space Center Houston
You can’t go to Houston without stopping by Space Center Houston, which features more than 400 space artifacts, permanent and traveling exhibits and much more related to America’s human space-flight program. Home to NASA Mission Control, International Space Station Mission Control and astronaut training, guests can also go behind the scenes of NASA Johnson Space Center for a tour designed to delight children and adults alike. https://spacecenter.org/
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Houston is known for its enticing blend of shopping, dining and luxurious lodging, and no place combines those three things better than City Centre in the Memorial City district. During my family’s recent visit, we stayed at The Moran, which features stunningly modern architecture, a sparkling outdoor pool and delicious free breakfast daily. Just steps from the front door, you’ll find dozens of boutiques and restaurants, ranging from national favorites like Lululemon and Free People to delightful Houston-only bakeries like SWEET. https://www.themoranhotel.com/
The food scene
Houston has one of the most wonderful and innovative food and beverage scenes in the nation, so when you’re there, be sure to eat and drink it all in. Some favorites include Saint Arnold Brewing Company, where the beer garden is ever-inviting; Brett’s Barbecue Shop, where, yes, barbecue is the order of the day; and the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, mecca for Tex-Mex fare. https://ninfas.com/
Learn more about Houston at https://www.visithoustontexas.com/.