Historic Houston: Exploring the City’s Richness

Read In: 12 minutes

Houston is one of the biggest cities in the United States, with a population of almost 2.3 million. It’s a hub of industry and an important location for U.S. space and science developments. Home to the NASA Johnson Space Center, “Houston” was the first word spoken from the moon and will be forever in the history books. 

Due to its size and commercial draw, Houston has a lot to offer both residents and visitors. Downtown is usually packed full of a variety of people, from commuters to tourists. Whether you enjoy city nightlife, sports, parks, museums, or food, you’ll get your money’s worth in the Bayou City. 

We love Houston composition Texas USA - Texas View

What To Do In Houston Texas: A Guide

Whatever your reasons for visiting Houston, there’s no end to the list of entertaining things to do. Even people-watching on Main Street is fun. While it holds true to its Texan roots, Houston is a cultural melting pot and a very diverse city. 

Houston’s multicultural makeup ensures there is a wide variety of great food, interesting bars and clubs, and fascinating people. In addition to the welcoming locals, you’ll find that Houston is very accessible and the METRORail is a low-cost and fast way to get around. 

Among the towering skyscrapers, the city boasts pretty architecture, especially in the Theater District. If you enjoy city parks, you won’t be disappointed. Green grass and pedestrian walkways are plentiful throughout. Houston is bursting with life from dawn until well after sundown.

As the largest city in Texas, it’s important to do some research ahead of your trip to make the best use of your time. Moreover, with a seemingly endless number of amenities to choose from, you’ll have to prioritize activities. Below, we’ve outlined our top picks for what to do in Houston Texas for different types of trips. 

Downtown Houston skyline in Texas at twilight. - Texas View

Things To Do In Houston For Adults

Houston is a lot of fun for the grown-ups out there. It has an amazing nightlife with a lot of variety because of its diverse population. You can two-step, salsa, rave, or rock out to live music on any given night of the week. For a more cultural trip, sample theater, top-tier museums, and phenomenal cuisine.

We’re certain you’ll discover the parts of the city you love after a couple of hours of exploration. However, here are four great options for adult visitors. Although these ideas are better with a group, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy them on your own. Besides, with over 2 million people in the city, you’re bound to meet some new friends.

Explore The Quirky Houston Nightlife

We could write an entire article on Houston’s eclectic nightlife. But today, we’ll keep it simple and give you some of our top picks. Deciding where to go comes down to your personal preferences. Of course, when you’re in Texas, country music and beer houses are great, but Houston definitely has more to offer. 

If you’re in the mood for a swanky night in the city, there are cocktail bars aplenty. Our pick of the bunch is Diversion. It’s not your average cocktail establishment, it’s a full mixology experience. All mixologists are highly trained and use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients to craft the freshest and most authentic drinks in the city. 

Fancy cocktails aren’t your thing? Not a problem. Make your way to Montrose, to the west of downtown to sample the city’s hipster district. It’s the perfect place to bar hop, allowing you to experience different types of music and entertainment, from live bands to slam poetry. This is also the go-to area for coffee lovers. 

If you’re a wine drinker, check out Bacco, 13 Celcius, and Stella’s Wine Bar. Late-night party-goers will enjoy Houston’s vibrant club scene, including hotspots like Babylon, Clé, Rise Rooftop, Space, and Heart. You’ll be glad to learn that much of Houston’s nightlife is focused in tight clusters so you generally don’t have to travel far. 

Glassell Junior School at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston - Texas View

Marvel at Houstons Finest Museums

Even though it’s a state with some of the richest history in the country, visitors are often surprised at the number of quality museums in Texas. Every major Texas city has several world-class historical and art exhibitions year-round. In Houston, they’re scatted all around but the Museum District is the hub. 

This is a quaint neighborhood situated right between Rice University and the Texas Medical Center. There are 18 excellent museums in this 1.5-mile radius. If you want to spend the day museum-going, then this is the place to set up shop. When you want a break, grab a bite from a local cafe and hit Hermann Park.

READ   Experience the Wild West: Your Guide to Texas Dude Ranch Adventures

If you’re with the family, consider visiting the Children’s Museum. It has a nice balance of fun and education, with interactive displays, play areas, and a fun-sized city named Kidtropolis. The museum also hosts a plethora of events and exhibitions geared specifically toward kids so check their calendar ahead of time. 

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFSA) is home to one of the top art collections in the country, with more than 50,000 pieces of work from six different continents. If you’re a real art buff, we recommend allocating several hours or a full day to get a real sample of what’s on show. You won’t be disappointed. 

Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum is one of the most iconic and eye-catching buildings in the city. It showcases fascinating works from local and national artists. For over 70 years, the museum has put on consistently excellent exhibitions, including live performance art.

Other fun museums outside of the district include: 

  • National Museum of Funeral History
  • Space Center Houston 
  • The Menil Collection
  • Art Car Museum
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science
May 30 2020 Houston Texas USA Minute Maid Park is a ballpark in Downtown Houston Texas as the home stadium of the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball MLB. - Texas View
May 30, 2020 – Houston, Texas, USA: Minute Maid Park is a ballpark in Downtown Houston, Texas, as the home stadium of the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Catch a Ball Game

Like most Texas cities, Houston has a big sporting culture with many residents actively participating in amateur, collegiate, and professional sports as fans and players. One of the most exciting things you can do with a group of friends catches a game at one of the famous sports venues.

The best thing about this is that Houston teams tend to be strong in several different sports. Basketball fans can head to the Toyota Center to watch the Rockets. The arena is easy to access and has plenty of parking. Although they haven’t won a championship since the 90s, the Rockets generally have some top NBA stars on their roster. 

The Houston Astros are one of the hottest baseball teams in the MLB, having recently won World Series in 2017 and 2022. Their home stadium, Minute Maid Park, is a top venue with a retractable roof. Games are typically well-attended and tend to be a fun experience even for non-baseball fans. 

Houston’s NFL team, the Houston Texans, holds an unfortunate title as being one of only four franchises to never appear in a Superbowl. That said, the team has been competitive over the past decade. Their NRG Stadium has a capacity of over 72,000, creating a phenomenal atmosphere in every game. 

Houston Dynamo FC and Houston Dash are popular men’s and women’s soccer teams that are also worth watching. There are several NCAA Division 1 collegiate teams that perform in front of packed arenas throughout the year. Check the calendar and choose the game that appeals to you the most. 

The House of Blues is a Premier Venue in Texas - Texas View

Listen To Music At The House At Blues

The House of Blues is one of the most iconic music venues in Texas. It’s a multistory hall of music that features a range of local and national artists, delivering world-class music to your ears. In keeping with the authentic feel, general admission is standing only. But trust us, it adds to the vibe. 

House of Blues shows are a unique experience with each performance holding true to the musicians behind it. Over the years, world-renowned artists have performed here. While there are several of these venues around the country, Houston is the original venue and is etched in the history books. 

Regardless of who you see perform, you’re in for a show. It lives up to its reputation as a venue for top-level artists. That said, check out the calendar ahead of your visit and keep an eye out for some familiar names. In addition to outstanding music, you’ll also find great food and drinks at The House of Blues. 

Things To Do In Houston For Free

Travel can be expensive, even short trips. While Houston isn’t known for being an excessively pricey city, sightseeing and eating out can take a toll on your funds. Fortunately, there are a host of free things to see and do around the city. 

Traveling on a budget in Houston is easy, you just need to be prepared. Packing a picnic and taking advantage of public spaces are key to lowering your spending. Here are some of the best things to do in Houston for free. 

Miller Outdoor Theater - Texas View
Miller Outdoor Theater – Image by GeoffreModco reModco

BYOB At The Miller Outdoor Theater

The Miller Outdoor Theater is one of the city’s gems. It’s an outdoor venue in the middle of Hermann Park and offers a unique relaxing way to enjoy a variety of entertainment. The best part about it is that the theater is free to enter, aside from the reserved seating area where you may have to pay. 

The park also has a bring your own bottle (BYOB) policy so you can pack up a cooler and enjoy whatever beverages you please. This can save you a lot of money as venue drink pricing is always on the rise. Just remember that glass is prohibited so opt for plastic or canned containers instead. 

There is a wide variety of entertainment on show at the theater. Depending on the date, you can find classical music orchestras, jazz bands, Shakespeare, ballet, or even classic movie showings. It’s important to note that large crowds gather for popular events. Since it’s first come, first served, be sure to get there on time for a big show. 

READ   Lost Maples State Natural Area (San Antonio, Texas)
Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Houston Texas. - Texas View
Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Houston, Texas. – Image by Another Believer

Walk Around The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Memorial Park is a wonderful and free place to walk in Houston. Just a stone’s throw from downtown, it’s also home to arguably the best free attraction in the city, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. A bright and colorful escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown, it’s a fantastic place to learn about nature. 

Within the 155-acre site, you can find a motley of tree species, plants, and flowers. There are multiple trails that take you all around the park, through dense areas and over streams. It’s extremely well maintained so no matter where you go, there are beautiful places to take photos and observe the wildlife. 

If you’re lucky, you might also come across some animals in the preserve, such as the easter mole, the gray squirrel, or the eastern red bat. After exploring the arboretum, be sure to spend some time in the Nature Center where you can learn about the park and the work being done to conserve nature in the region. 

The center has received significant investment in recent years and has several interactive learning exhibitions. These provide a fun learning experience for kids. The all-new Nature Playscape is also a delightful place for children to explore. Keep an eye on the arboretum website for events and tours around the time of your visit. 

Houston Texas Downtown Skyline at Night - Texas View

See The Sights Via The Buffalo Bayou

If you’re looking for a scenic route for exploring the city, there’s no better way than via the Buffalo Bayou. The Bayou has been an important part of the city since it was founded in 1836 and has been transformed over the past few decades by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership. 

Today, there are several modern hiking and biking trails along a 10-mile stretch from Shepherd Drive to Downtown that allow you to take in the city on foot. Along the route, you are surrounded by nature and water with perfect views of the city skyline. There are also several places to rent paddleboards if you fancy getting in the water.

One of our favorite spots on the Buffalo Bayou is Johnny Steele Dog Park. Whether you have a pet or not, the two-acre park is a site to behold, and the energy among the dogs and their owners is infectious. There are even water features, the Kinder Pond, and multiple washing areas for pets. 

A sculpture by James Turrell built at the Rice University in Houston Texas where you can enjoy spectacular sunsets along with the play of colors. - Texas View
A sculpture by James Turrell, built at the Rice University in Houston, Texas, where you can enjoy spectacular sunsets along with the play of colors.

Enjoy The Twilight Epiphany of Rice University

The Twilight Epiphany was installed at Rice University in 2012 as part of James Turrell’s artistic structures series. These unique features combine art and science, using light and space to give onlookers a different perspective of the sky. It’s well worth a visit, and what’s more, it’s free. 

Essentially, the Twilight Epiphany is a pyramid, covered in grass, with gently sloping sides. Sitting on top is a 72-square-foot roof that’s illuminated by LED lights. From certain angles, the roof appears to be almost floating above the structure. The lights change color which changes the mood throughout the day. 

If you’re lucky, your visit might coincide with a performance by the Rice University Shepherd School of Music. However, we recommend visiting at sunrise or sunset when you can experience a free light show. These tend to be busy but there are approximately 120 seats available, including wheelchair-accessible areas. 

Free Entry Dates At Houston Museums

Although several museums and galleries have an entry fee, many of them are free on certain days of the week (usually Thursdays). If you want to visit several of these venues but don’t fancy paying out at every stop, we’ve researched the best times to hit some of the top museums. 

  • Children’s Museum of Houston: Thursday, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science: Thursday, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm (or 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm during the summer holidays
  • Buffalo Soldiers National Museum: Thursday, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
  • Health Museum: Thursday, 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm
  • Museum of Fine Arts: All day Thursday

What To Do In Houston Texas With A Family 

Houston is a family-friendly city and is known for having affordable housing, high-level education, and a host of top amenities. If you’re visiting with family, you’ll be glad to hear that you can get involved in a wide range of activities that won’t break the bank. 

We’ve outlined four excellent activities that blend fun and education. In Houston, there are opportunities to learn around every corner so why not create an itinerary that will last in the memory and the mind for years to come? Here are our top four picks.

The Meerkat or Suricate Posing and Keeping Watch for Predators at Houston Zoo - Texas View

Interact With Animals At Houston Zoo

Visiting the zoo is one of the best family activities in any city. However, in Houston, it’s an absolute must. With over 6,000 animals, special exhibits, and interactive zones, it’s one of the best zoos in the U.S. In fact, it’s the second most visited zoo in the country. 

READ   Texas Sparrow (Birds Eye View - 35 Types!)

Houston Zoo has virtually every animal you can imagine. Its well-kept gardens, beautiful displays, and attentive staff ensure it’s a pleasure to walk around but the real selling point is the attention to detail for kids. The zoo is designed in a way that encourages exploration and each exhibition is carefully arranged for optimal viewing and enjoyment. 

There is a nature play area where kids can build, dig, climb, and explore. Our favorite exhibition is the Masai giraffe area where visitors participate in their feeding routine. Under supervision, kids may hand feed giraffes and ostriches lettuce leaves, making for unforgettable experiences and fantastic photo opportunities. 

Houston TX USA Jan. 23 2015 International Space Station at Johnson Space center mockup facility in Houston TX. - Texas View

Visit The Space Center

As we mentioned earlier, Houston is perhaps best known for being the home of NASA in the U.S. Its official visitor center, called the Johnson Space Center, has been one of the most popular tourist spots in the city since it was opened in the early 90s. 

The Johnson Space Center attracts approximately 1.1 million visitors every year, which is a testament to the amazing artifacts, high-level technology, and educational displays it holds. The 180,000-square-foot complex mixes a variety of attractions, including authentic moon rocks, permanent historical exhibitions, plus topical temporary displays.

The center is being continually improved and invested in, ensuring the state-of-the-art features are always up to date. Our favorite part of the center is the Mission Mars exhibit. Step inside a simulated Orion capsule, watch the virtual Mars sunset, and feel the texture of the planet’s rock for an amazing space experience. 

Triceratops Specimen at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. - Texas View

Have An Educational Experience At The Museum Of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is a national treasure. It’s essentially a combination of multiple science exhibitions, spanning a range of areas, from space to chemistry, and from astronomy to Texas wildlife. The museum also hosts several temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

There are few better places to spend an afternoon in all of Texas, especially with kids. In addition to interactive astronomy exhibitions, there are life-size dinosaur skeletons on display. Kids can view the pieces, read about them, and learn their history through different mediums, like touchscreen devices and video screens. 

The scale of the museum is enormous. We recommend doing some research beforehand to ensure you get to see your preferred presentations. Moreover, you may discover that there is a temporary experience on show that piques your interest. We also advise visiting on Thursdays to avoid an entry free, but be warned, it’ll be busy. 

Learn To Horse Ride

When visiting Texas, who doesn’t want to embrace the cowboy lifestyle, at least a little? Taking family horse riding lessons is a wonderful activity to do in Houston and presents the perfect opportunity to explore the beautiful countryside and soak in some sun. 

You may have to venture slightly outside of the city to take the whole family horse riding. However, it’s well worth the journey and gives you a more authentic feel for what Texas is all about. There are scores of ranches that offer horseback riding tours and various lessons for riders of different skill levels. 

Many of the ranches are part of much larger plots of land. Typically, owners take exceptional care of the facilities and the extended land, ensuring a wonderful experience. You’ll likely get to visit the stables and learn a little bit about ranch management and its historical importance to the state. 

Some ranches and horse riding schools worth checking out are:

  • Centerline Training, inc. 
  • Southern Breeze Equestrian Center
  • Sam Houston Equestrian Center
  • Huntsville State Park (horse rentals)
  • Magic Moments Stable
  • The Spread
  • Cat Spring Ranch

References

Author Profile

Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.

Share me 🙂

Read these ...