Wide shot of Houston's modern skyline and paved bicycle/walking path in Buffalo Bayou Park on a summer afternoon

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Laid-back, pick-up truck and boot-scooting town meets high-powered, high-cultured and high-heeled metropolis. Houston enjoys a high standard of living and isn't shy about showing it off.

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Rothko Chapel

Rothko Chapel

Commissioned by Dominique and John de Menil (also founders of the Menil Collection) in 1964 to create a nondenominational chapel, American abstract…

Hermann park in Houston.

Hermann Park

This 445-acre park is home to playgrounds, a lake with paddleboats, a picturesque Japanese Garden, the Hermann Park Miniature Train and the Houston Zoo…

Houston, Texas, United States, North America

Menil Collection

The Menil Collection is considered one of the most important privately assembled art collections of the twentieth century and is a Houston highlight…

Urban Buffalo Bayou Park offers downtown Houston a green oasis for recreation and beautiful views of the skyline.

Buffalo Bayou Park

This sinuous 160-acre city park follows Buffalo Bayou west from downtown, with easy pedestrian access and plentiful parking en route. Sweeping views…

HOUSTON,USA ON 21 JANUARY 2017: Houston Museum of Natual Science in a crowed day; Shutterstock ID 585408035; Your name (First / Last): Alexander Howard; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: Texas POIs

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Don’t even dream you’ll see the whole of this colossal and absolutely stellar museum – the most popular in Texas – in a single visit. The permanent…

TEXAS: HOUSTON'S MUSEUM OF FINE ART IS EXTENDED (Photo by F. Carter Smith/Sygma via Getty Images)

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

This nationally renowned palace of art starts its displays with ‘Splendors of the Ancient World’, and has a fine collection of pre-Columbian golden…

The Holocaust Museum Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston

A superbly curated and presented museum offers an in-depth education on the context, history and aftermath of not only the holocaust itself but of Nazi…

McGovern Centennial Gardens in Houston, Texas.

McGovern Centennial Gardens

These recently opened gardens have a spiral climbing hill that affords views of the construction cranes poking up through the skyline. It also has…

Top picks from our travel experts

The 12 can't-miss things to do in houston.

FW82M3 Houston, Texas, USA. 31st Mar, 2016. Founded in 1992, and housing America's largest collection of historical funeral service items in a 20,500 square-foot facility, the National Museum of Funeral History celebrates the heritage of the funeral services industry with 13 permanent and additional special exhibits. © Brian Cahn/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

National Museum of Funeral History

'Any day above ground is a good one.' That's the trademark of the National Museum of Funeral History. If you've ever wanted to see a coffin collection…

Health Museum

Health Museum

Future surgeons will like checking out the huge organs on display in this very interactive museum. Other exhibits explain DNA and more.

Houston, Tx, USA - April 14, 2016: The Children's Museum of Houston illuminated at night. Texas, United States

Children's Museum of Houston

An activity-filled museum, where little ones can learn how stuff works, create inventions, play games or draw in an open-air art studio. Admission is free…

HOUSTON, US-JUN 25, 2016: Visitors entering the Houston Zoo, a 55-acre zoological park located in Hermann Park, Houston, Texas. It houses over 6,000 animals, and receives 1.8 million visitors per year

Houston Zoo

Gorillas, elephants and moon jellyfish are a few of the 6000 residents of the 55-acre Houston Zoo. Activities include wildlife talks catering to different…

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

One of Houston's epicenters of what's cool, new and cutting edge. Immerse yourself in ongoing special exhibitions at a museum whose strength is its lack…

Top 15 free things to do in Houston

Lillie & Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden

Lillie & Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden

Admire the talents of luminaries such as Rodin and Matisse in this tranquil sculpture garden, on the north side of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Houston, TX - April 22, 2018: View of downtown skyline from Discovery Green Houston Texas.

Discovery Green

Your place to frolic downtown. This 12-acre park has a lake, playground, fountains to splash in, outdoor art, restaurants and a performance space. The…

Juneteenth Emancipation Celebration

Juneteenth Emancipation Celebration

This celebration of African American culture, with plenty of gospel, jazz and blues, takes place at Emancipation Park around June 19 – the day in 1865…

Miller Outdoor Theatre

Miller Outdoor Theatre

Hermann Park's outdoor theater is a great place to lay out a blanket on a balmy night and enjoy a free concert, play or ballet.

Houston, TX - 2016:  Art Car: Houston lays claim to the worlds largest collection of art cars, like this mirrored vehicle, on display at The Art Car Museum. (Kate Silver For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Art Car Museum

You never know which wildly decorated autos you’ll see in this small indoor museum, which honors the annual, not-to-be-missed Houston Art Car Parade…

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Best Neighborhoods

Use our list of the best Houston neighborhoods to curate a travel itinerary that perfectly aligns with your interests and see Houston like a local.

If you are in Houston for a few days, a day trip to some of the exceptional cities, museums, beaches, lakes and wildernesses nearby will make your time here a…

Free Things to Do

The gorgeous parklands are all free-of-charge, as are some of its premier cultural institutions and religious buildings, but focusing on doing the fee-less…

Traveling with Kids

The city, one of the top family destinations in Texas, has museums, sports, food - and NASA.

Latest stories from Houston

Wide shot of Houston's modern skyline and paved bicycle/walking path in Buffalo Bayou Park on a summer afternoon

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TOPSHOT - Football fans take photos in front of a graffiti-covered building in the Old Chinatown section of downtown near the  NFL Experience at the George R. Brown Convention Center on February 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas, one day before the New England Patriots play the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY        (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

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20 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Houston

Written by Lana Law Updated Dec 27, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

If you are looking for culture, dining, shopping, unique attractions, and fun experiences, you'll find no shortage of things to do in Houston. This is the fourth largest city in the United States and home to the famous Space Center Houston, renowned chefs, inspiring museums, and beautiful green spaces, complete with a bayou running through the heart of the city. Depending on your travel dates, you may even be able to take in a sports game or enjoy Houston's signature event, the Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Houston makes a great place to visit for a weekend getaway, with direct flights from all over North America. Combine a trip to Houston with a visit to nearby Galveston , less than an hour away, for a mix of big city and island life. For a complete look at things to do, see our list of top attractions in Houston.

See also: Where to Stay in Houston

1. Visit Space Center Houston

2. explore houston's museum district, 3. the museum of fine arts, 4. houston museum of natural science, 5. visit the houston zoo, 6. the menil collection, 7. take the kids to the houston children's museum, 8. experience the gerald d. hines waterwall park, 9. national museum of funeral history, 10. discover houston's street art, 11. holocaust museum houston, 12. walk, bike, or paddle in buffalo bayou park, 13. the health museum, 14. art car museum, 15. shop the vintage stores on 19th street in the heights, 16. day trip to galveston, 17. attend the houston livestock show and rodeo, 18. see a sports game, 19. discover unique dining experiences in houston, 20. walk through rice university campus, where to stay in houston for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to houston, map of tourist attractions & things to do in houston, houston, tx - climate chart.

Space Shuttle mounted on Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at Johnson Space Center

Space Center Houston, the official visitor center of NASA's Johnson Space Center, is a must-see attraction in Houston. This is a huge complex, where you can walk through the space shuttle replica Independence and the enormous shuttle carrier aircraft it's mounted on. In the visitor center, you can wander inside a replica of America's first space station, Skylab, and touch a rock from the moon. This is also the place to learn about NASA's upcoming missions, including travel to Mars. If you are here on a Friday around noon, you can even meet an astronaut.

From the visitor center, you can take an open-air tram tour to Johnson Space Center , home of mission control, to see where astronauts train for space missions. This tour also takes you to Rocket Park to see actual rockets on display. If you'd like to only visit the Rocket Park, there is no charge. Just drive to the guarded gate, inform them that you'd like to visit, and they will let you in.

To experience something truly unique, sign up for a Level 9 Tour and enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at Johnson Space Center. You can see the Buoyancy Lab, the ISS Mission Control, and simulation labs, along with other areas off limits on regular tours, and possibly even encounter an astronaut. This is a one-of-a-kind experience, and only 12 tickets are sold per day for this exclusive, four- to five-hour VIP tour. Tours begin at the Space Center Houston, which you are free to explore with the purchase of this ticket.

Address: 1601 Nasa Pkwy, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://spacecenter.org/

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum District is one of Houston's greatest cultural attractions, with 19 museums residing in this beautiful area of downtown. Eleven of these are free to the public. Highlights include the Museum of Fine Arts , Houston the Houston Museum of Natural Science , the Children's Museum of Houston , the Menil Collection, the Holocaust Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, to name just a few. Also in this area is the lovely Hermann Park , with the Houston Zoo and the Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Most of the museums are within easy walking distance of each other, although the Menil and the Rothko Chapel are a little farther out. Museums that are free of charge include: The Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Lawndale Art Center, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Moody Center for the Arts, and the Houston Center for photography.

Address: 1001 Bissonnet Street, Houston, Texas

The Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is one of the top museums of its kind in the United States. The collection of 63,000 pieces are spread out over two structures: the Audrey Jones Beck building and the Caroline Wiess Law Building, both connected by the unique and interesting Wilson Tunnel.

The museum's focus is on French and Italian Impressionist Renaissance paintings, fine sculptures, and European and American decorative arts. Be sure to check out the wonderful collection of pre-Colombian and African items made of gold.

If you enjoy wandering at your own pace, you'll find lots to keep you interested and entertained here; however, if it all seems a bit overwhelming, sign up for a tour to see the highlights.

If you find yourself in the River Oaks suburb, the Bayou Bend and Collections is a satellite gallery, and features furniture, decorative arts, and paintings.

Official site: https://www.mfah.org/

Cockrell Butterfly Conservatory in the Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the most popular museums in the city. A fun outing for all ages, the museum covers a wide array of topics sure to please everyone in your group.

Be sure to swing by the Hall of Paleontology during your visit to see several complete dinosaur skeletons. For something that's still alive, tour the Cockrell Butterfly Conservatory, where nearly 1,500 of these gentle insects flutter around in the humid air, if you are lucky enough, one might even land on you.

Brush up on what's in the night skies over Houston with a show at the Planetarium then later on, rest your legs and engage your senses at the Wortham Giant Screen Theater.

Address: 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://www.hmns.org/

Visit the Houston Zoo

Set on 55 acres in Hermann Park , the Houston Zoo is one of the city's star attractions, popular with locals and visitors. The zoo is home to more than 6,000 exotic and indigenous animals and contains an education center and children's zoo. Some of the highlights include feeding the giraffes, seeing marine life up close in the aquarium, and watching sea lions and otters frolicking about.

Other attractions in Hermann Park are the Houston Museum of Natural Science , the Miller Outdoor Theatre , a Japanese Garden , and McGovern Centennial Garden . Also fun is a paddle boat trip on McGovern Lake, or a stroll along the park's walking trails.

Address: 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas

Official site: www.houstonzoo.org

The Menil Collection

The building that houses the Menil Collection is almost in itself as much of a work of art as the pieces housed within it. Designed by the renowned architect Renzo Piano, the building is light-filled, owing to the massive glass windows that look out onto the immaculate grounds. Unlike many art museums, the art in many rooms (but not all) is showcased using natural light.

The Menil Collection is especially known for having the largest number of Max Ernst pieces in the world . In addition, the Menil Collection is home to contemporary works of art, along with pieces from the masters in the Byzantine, Abstract, and Surrealism themes. All these works are grouped together in dedicated display rooms.

If it's not too hot, take a bit of time to explore the campus of the Menil Collection. One of the most interesting things to see is the Rothko Chapel with its mural canvases.

The museum is free.

Address: 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://www.menil.org/

  • Read More: Top-Rated Museums in Houston

Houston Children's Museum

A great way to beat the heat in summer and one of the best places to visit in Houston for families is the Houston Children's Museum. This colorful, noisy place is guaranteed to plaster a smile on everyone's face. Let the kids run wild and have a fun time getting busy will all the hands-on and interactive displays.

One of the major highlights is the How Does it Work exhibit. Here, you and your kids will learn how things in everyday life operate. The FlowWorks wet zone is also a fascinating place where you can turn water on, off, and adjust the flow and watch the effects.

If your kids have ever wanted to pretend they are secret agents, send them over to the SECRETS Spy Game exhibit. They will put their skills to the test to try and crack codes and locate clues while competing against nefarious characters.

Official site: https://www.cmhouston.org/

Waterwall Park

The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park showcases an impressive multi-story sculptural fountain that sees sheets of water cascading over large concrete walls and sculptures. The structure's semi-circular shape towers 64 feet above you and is fronted by a large arch and 46,500 square feet of water.

Photos don't do this attraction justice, it's something that needs to be seen to truly be appreciated. This 2.77-acre park, covered with dozens of live oaks, is located in Uptown Houston.

National Museum of Funeral History

You wouldn't think that a museum devoted to funerals would be a popular attraction in Houston, but that is indeed the case. Quirky and somewhat strange, this engaging and fun museum is well worth a visit.

Inside the 30,500-square-foot building are displays ranging from antique funeral hearses, exhibits on the embalming process, coffins from around the world from as far away as Ghana, the history of presidential funerals, and others.

One display not to miss is the colorful overview on Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), where this Latin American celebration is explained in great detail.

Address: 415 Barren Springs Drive, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://www.nmfh.org/

Houston Street Art

While it is often overlooked by tourists, Houston's street art, or what many people know as graffiti, is outstanding. Installations by some of the top names in street art throughout the US and around the world, including COPE2 and Houston's own Gonzo247, can be found here.

These colorful murals adorn the walls of establishments in various locations throughout the city and are well worth taking the time to drive around and see. The unofficial curator of Houston's street art is the charismatic artist known as Gonzo247. He is one of the city's most famous street artists and the creator of the giant "Houston is Inspired" mural at the corner of Travis and Preston Streets and the smaller "Houston" mural at Leeland and St. Emanuel Streets.

This latter area is also home to a large concentration of impressive installations that grace the walls of numerous one- and two-story buildings off Leeland Street at Chartres Street and St. Emanuel Street. But works can be found scattered all over the city on walls of various sizes.

Holocaust Museum Houston

For a sobering reminder of how man can inflict untold cruelty on another human being, stop by for a contemplative visit to the Holocaust Museum. The museum has been telling the story of the WWII Holocaust since its opening in 1996.

In 2019, the museum reopened after a massive 30-million-dollar expansion. Now the Holocaust Museum Houston, at 57,000 square feet, is twice the size it used to be, with a 187-seat indoor theater, 175-seat outdoor amphitheater, and a café.

Interesting stories from survivors along with exhibits are thoughtfully presented in four galleries in a way that is both engaging and thought provoking. The museum has an original railcar used in the transport of victims along with a Dutch fishing boat used to shuttle escapees. Two additional galleries are home to a regular procession of temporary exhibits.

Address: 5401 Caroline Street, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://hmh.org/

Biking at Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park is a beautiful 160-acre green space running through the city, with the slow-moving waters of Buffalo Bayou as its centerpiece. This urban park is home to extensive walking and biking trails, a dog park, sculptures, and plenty of shady areas to relax.

If you are looking for fun things to do in Houston, especially if you want to get outdoors, rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard and enjoy a paddle along the bayou. Rentals are available at the park, and various tours are offered, ranging from one to three hours in length. Similarly, guided cycling tours are also available from outfitters in the city.

A particularly unique site in Buffalo Bayou Park is the Cistern , an old underground drinking-water reservoir from 1926, which now hosts changing art installations. Today, visitors can go on a short guided tour.

The park is also home to a huge colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that inhabit the Waugh Drive Bridge. Approximately 250,000 of them fly out from the bridge each evening at sunset.

Official site: https://buffalobayou.org/

The Health Museum

If you've been indulging in the great food of Texas and wondering if that has caused your jeans to be a bit tight when you put them on, a stop at the Health Museum is in order. At one of Houston's most innovative museums, you can literally step inside your own body.

Some of the fun for the whole family involves walking through a 10 foot-high brain, exploring a 12-foot-high beating heart, and getting up close and personal with a giant eyeball. With the Calorie Crank, you can take a look at how many calories you've been taking in at all your stops at Texas' famous BBQ stands!

Address: 1515 Hermann Drive, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://www.thehealthmuseum.org/

Art Car Museum

If Impressionists and Old Masters art is not your thing, give the Art Car Museum a try. Here, you'll find cars of every type used as the medium for unique and interesting artworks. In addition, regular works of art featuring cars are mounted on display walls.

The Art Car Museum, also known locally as the Garage Mahal, has been a popular Houston attraction since it first opened in 1998. The cars and exhibits change regularly, and you'll never quite know what you will see, as artists do their best to transform something quite pedestrian into a unique statement or message.

Address: 140 Heights Boulevard, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://artcarmuseum.com/

Stores on 19th Street

For vintage clothing, retro décor, and old collectibles, 19th Street in The Heights is the place to go. This funky area has all kinds of quirky shops selling everything from evening gowns to casual clothing, as well as jewelry, footwear, household gadgets, and all kinds of unique items.

This is also a good place to shop for gifts. The merchandise is not all vintage; some places sell new pieces or a mix of new and old. Even if you are not looking to buy anything, the whole area is worth seeing and offers a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

Pleasure Pier in Galveston

The beautiful beaches of Galveston are less than an hour away from Houston. If you are looking for a quick break from the city, head out to Galveston for a little time soaking up the sun, wandering through the historic downtown, and dining at a seaside restaurant. Miles of endless beaches and shallow, turquoise water stretch along the oceanfront. At the heart of the beach action is Pleasure Pier .

Other attractions to visit include the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, the Texas Seaport Museum, and the Strand Historic District. If you are traveling with the family, head to Moody Gardens.

If you don't have your own car or want to keep things simple, you can also take an organized tour to the island. One option that combines some sightseeing in Houston is the Houston Sightseeing Tour and Galveston Day Trip . This includes a 90-minute double-decker bus tour of Houston and transportation to and from Galveston, where you'll have free time to explore on your own.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions in Galveston

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Houston's biggest annual event, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, is a fun-filled, 19-day event that brings the whole city out to celebrate in February or March. If you are going to be here during this time, you are in luck, and if you are wondering when to visit Houston, this might be the time to plan your trip. This is an activity the whole family can enjoy, and it's so much more than just a rodeo and livestock show.

If this is your first time to an event of this kind, you will be pleasantly surprised by the diversity of things to do. On the grounds are carnival rides, games, and food stands, and enough entertainment to keep you busy indefinitely. At the rodeo events, which you will need tickets to attend, see the cowboys showing off their skills in a variety of areas. In the evening, some of the biggest names in music perform on stage. Check out the concert listing in advance and secure tickets.

If you only have one day to attend this fantastic show, spend a morning or afternoon wandering the grounds and enjoying the carnival, see some of the finest farm animals on display at the Livestock Show, then take in a rodeo event or two to see the cowboys in action, and spend the evening at a concert. Another not-to-be-missed event is the Downtown Rodeo Parade.

Official site: www.rodeohouston.com

Outside of NRG Stadium in Houston

When it comes to seeing a game in Houston, sports fans have plenty of options, and whether it's football, baseball, basketball, or soccer, the city takes its sports seriously. Houston is home to the Houston Texans (NFL), the Houston Astros (MLB), and the Houston Rockets (NBA).

The Texans play at the NRG Stadium , the Toyota Center in downtown Houston is home to the Rockets, and the Astros play at Minute Maid Park , also in the city center.

For Soccer fans, Houston is home to the Houston Dynamo (MLS) and Houston Dash (NWSL), who play their home games at the BBVA Compass Stadium.

There's a good chance of at least one of these teams having a home game during your stay.

Houston Cuisine

Chefs in Houston have put this city on the culinary map of America, and dining here is an attraction in and of itself. Possibilities are almost endless, ranging from traditional southern dishes to Latin American, Asian, Mexican, and countless other cultural specialties. The number of wonderful dining options is too extensive to list, but some places are too unique not to mention.

For high-end Mexican cuisine, discover the flavors of Oaxaca at Xochi , located on the first floor of the Marriott Marquis Houston in downtown Houston. The menu offers a full range of dishes, and includes some exotic options to stir your imagination.

A long-term Houston favorite, La Griglia has been serving up some of the city's finest Italian food for decades. Being so close to the Gulf of Mexico makes Houston an excellent spot to enjoy fresh seafood. One of the city's best is Eddie V's Prime Seafood , with three locations throughout the city.

For health-conscious eaters, Vibrant offers healthy meals from breakfast to dinner. Dishes are all gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, and non GMO.

Rice University Campus

The Rice University Campus is an oasis in downtown Houston and a favorite outdoor space for many Houstonians. Walking and running trails, thousands of mature trees, and lovely old buildings are spread over this 300-acre campus.

Also on the grounds are a large number of impressive contemporary artworks that lend to the tranquil atmosphere. Many of these installations are equally, or even more, impressive in the evening when they are lit.

To be close to major attractions and sports venues, it's best to base yourself in or close to downtown. You can find a good selection of luxury and mid-range hotels in the city center, but budget hotels are generally located a short drive away. Below are some highly rated hotels we recommend.

Luxury Hotels:

  • One of Houston's oldest hotels, the luxury boutique The Lancaster Hotel reopened in late 2018 following a massive and beautifully executed renovation. The stylish design and elegant décor, combined with outstanding service and a prime location in downtown Houston, make this one of the best places to stay in the city.
  • Also in a fantastic location in downtown Houston is the Four Seasons Hotel Houston , with always exceptional customer service and a variety of room designs and sizes. The hotel offers Topgolf, where small groups can entertain themselves with some virtual golf and order tasty snacks.
  • Another downtown luxury hotel is the Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District , popular for its high-end spa and fantastic location close to the city's top attractions.
  • The Hilton Americas - Houston is a large, modern hotel that is connected to the George R. Brown Convention Center. Toyota Center and Discovery Green Park are easily walkable, making the hotel an ideal place to stay when the Houston Rockets are playing.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • At the top end of the mid-range section but usually quite good value is The Whitehall Houston . This hotel is centrally located and features contemporary, Southern-style rooms.
  • An easy walk from the city's convention and sports facilities, the renovated Embassy Suites by Hilton Houston Downtown is an excellent choice for those vacationing with families thanks to its large outdoor pool.
  • The Best Western Plus Downtown Inn & Suites is popular for its outdoor pool and proximity to attractions, including the Downtown Aquarium. It's an ideal place to stay if you'd like to do some self catering, as some rooms have complete kitchens.

Budget Hotels:

  • The best budget hotels are located outside the city center but are only a short drive away. Just a few kilometers west of the downtown core, the Red Roof PLUS+ Houston - Energy Corridor offers pet-friendly options along with free Wi-Fi and breakfast,
  • Those who like to shop 'til they drop should check out La Quinta Inn & Suites By Wyndham Houston Galleria Area (named after the adjacent shopping mall). It boasts a swimming pool and hot tub.
  • Another good option is the Comfort Suites Northwest Houston at Beltway 8 . This hotels offers a pool, free breakfast and Wi-Fi, and rooms come with microwaves and refrigerators.

Save Money with a Pass :

  • If you're planning a busy schedule of sightseeing, consider purchasing the great-value Houston CityPASS , which gives you free admission to five of the city's top attractions, including Space Center Houston, the Downtown Aquarium, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The pass is valid for up to nine days, allowing you maximum flexibility when planning your itinerary.

Sightseeing:

  • Explore the city on a Hop-on Sightseeing Tour of Houston . This 75-minute tour on an open-top double-decker bus will take you past the highlights while you listen to an audio commentary and learn about the history.

Texas Maps and Info:

  • If you are planning a road trip through Texas, you can order away for a free copy of the Texas Travel Guide and Official Travel Map at www.TravelTexas.com .

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

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Texas Cities: Each of the metropolitan areas in Texas offers their own unique sites and character. Use our travel guides to explore the attractions of San Antonio , Dallas , and Austin .

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West Texas: To experience a completely different side of the country, head to West Texas. Due to the vastness of the area, this is best done as a road trip. You can begin by hitting Amarillo and Lubbock and then make the drive down to beautiful Big Bend National Park , where you'll find an incredible desert landscape, along with outstanding hiking trails and campgrounds . On the edge of the park, you can find some luxury accommodation with the help of our list of the Best Places to Stay near Big Bend National Park . When you're done here, head over to El Paso .

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Houston Travel Guide

There are cities that claim to be melting pots, but they can't compare to Houston. There is no single racial or ethnic majority here, and 25 of every 1,000 refugees in the world settles down to stay. Each community in this sprawling, highway-riddled metropolis brings its own flavor to Texas' "by your bootstraps" spirit, meaning you can get Ethiopian kifto, Vietnamese pho, Mexican mole, and good ole' Texas barbecue within a 10-mile radius. There's culture at every turn here, with more than 150 museums throughout the city—and a March rodeo that puts the rest to shame. Ever heard the saying, "Everything's bigger in Texas"? They were talking about Houston.

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Houston, TX

The best things to do in Houston right now

Houston’s big city activities, restaurants, events and culture mean there’s so much to experience—you’ll have your pick

Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, and it celebrates its melting pot reputation while staying true to its Texan roots. That means that yes, everything is bigger here, but you’ll also be met with small-town warmth and hospitality. Whether stepping into quirky museums or stepping it up to award-winning, fine dining restaurants, you’ll get the same, downhome Texan welcome Houston is known for.

With 25 distinct neighborhoods, each with its own personality, you could spend a year exploring and still not see everything Houston has to offer. So take our advice and check out the best things to do in Houston on your journey through Space City (more on that below!).

This guide was updated by Houston-based writer Rebecca Deurlein . At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines . 

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Best things to do in Houston

Space Center Houston

1.  Space Center Houston

  • Science and technology

The first word spoken on the moon was "Houston," so it is fitting that the city is home to one of the finest interstellar museums on planet Earth. NASA’s Space Center Houston boasts masses of permanent displays and attractions, including a flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket over 156 feet long. Plus: an extensive artifact collection, live shows, and a NASA Tram Tour that takes visitors behind the scenes at Johnson Space Center.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

2.  Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science boasts several world-class exhibits, including fossils in action. Most major paleontology exhibits feature dinosaur skeletons lined up one after the other, but this museum tried something entirely different; it recreates actual encounters between dinosaurs as they might have occurred millions of years ago. The results are fantastic, with skeletal dinosaurs eating, chasing, and fighting. The breathtaking jewelry vault and indoor rainforest are also not to be missed.

MaKiin

3.  MaKiin

When MaKiin , the finest of Thai dining restaurants, opened in 2023 under the helm of two multi-award-winning Thai chefs, it became the talk of Houston. The restaurant is at the base of the prestigious Hanover in River Oaks, but you might as well be in Bangkok when you step inside. Between the architectural details, the supremely unique cooking methods, and the over-the-top presentation, this is not your typical Thai restaurant. And you don’t have to go nearly as far as Bangkok!

Chinatown

4.  Chinatown

Houston boasts the second-largest Indochinese population in the U.S. (after Los Angeles), so it is only fitting to visit Chinatown , which (authentically and deliciously) brings together delights from all over Asia. Head to the thriving district in the southwest for an epicurean adventure. Savor the rich (and tempting) tastes, sights, and smells of the bustling  Hong Kong Food Market .  After that, nibble on dim sum at  Ocean Palace  or a steaming bowl of vermicelli soup at  Tan Tan .  Finish your afternoon with a peaceful stroll around  Jade Buddha Temple 's serene lotus ponds, statues, and gardens. The district is vast; visit  Chow Down in Chinatown  for the latest events and recommendations.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

5.  The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

  • Art and design
  • Museum District

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is one of the largest museums in the United States, so expect exhibitions and installations galore. On Thursdays, admission is free all day. Bonus: Happy Hour Thursdays means you can check out everything from Renaissance art to rare African sculptures with a cocktail in hand before enjoying the resident DJ and grabbing a bite from one of the curated food trucks usually parked outside. Plus, if you can tear your eyes away from the Matisses and Rodins in the museum’s sculpture garden, you’ll find yourself in the perfect position to enjoy the sunset over the city skyline, too.

The Altitude Rooftop & Pool at the Marriott Marquis

6.  The Altitude Rooftop & Pool at the Marriott Marquis

You may have heard that it gets hot in Texas, and we’ve got the perfect place for you to cool down. The Marriott Marquis sits right next to Minute Maid Park and Discovery Green and offers a day pass to its Altitude Rooftop and Pool . The 550-foot lazy river in the shape of Texas is flanked by your choice of lounge chairs, cabanas, pergolas, and day beds. A festive bar and live music create a party atmosphere, but the giggles of kids ensure that the space is family-friendly. Set the kids up by the poolside grill Hive Dive and enjoy a mahi mahi sandwich. Be sure to check out the infinity pool, where you can snap photos of yourself swimming with the Houston skyline as your backdrop.

Montrose

7.  Montrose

From neon-lit tattoo parlors to tree-covered bungalows and quaint coffee shops, this four-square-mile neighborhood is a pocket of eccentricity like no other on this side of  Austin . Spend an afternoon perusing its experimental art galleries or find a one-of-a-kind treasure at one of the offbeat boutiques along Westheimer Curve. Of course, the food scene is stellar, and our pick is  Kâu Ba 's Viet-Cajun restaurant and bar, an exceptional brunch spot.

The Hobby Center

8.  The Hobby Center

This non-profit showcases Houston's thriving performing arts scene with a mission to expand the city's reputation as a world-class center for culture. The complex has two performance chambers and an upscale restaurant for those looking to make an evening of it. If you're looking for the perfect excuse to dress up and see some performing arts, think of The Hobby Center as Houston's own Broadway—all of Broadway squeezed into  one building , that is. Featuring hits like  Tootsie ,  Hadestown , and  Hamilton , not to mention drag shows, parodies, and seasonal goodies, this place has it all.

The Menil Collection

9.  The Menil Collection

One of the most significant art assemblages of the 20th century, the Menil Collection is housed in a magnificent purpose-built gallery designed by none other than Renzo Piano (the same architect behind NYC's  Whitney Museum of American Art ). Displayed in spacious, naturally lit white-walled sections, the superb works are the collection of John and Dominique de Menil. The nearly 15,000 pieces range from Paleolithic carvings to Surrealist paintings, and many prominent artists—including Picasso and Rene Magritte—have entire rooms to themselves. With free admission and parking, it would be a crime not to spend time here.

Ninfa's Original on Navigation

10.  Ninfa's Original on Navigation

  • Second Ward

Legend has it that the fajita was invented in Houston—and the restaurant that had the bright idea is still serving the treat today. Original Ninfa’s has been around so long that its slogan is  the best Mexican food in Texas since Texas was in Mexico . It is not all hot air either; the food here is incredible, especially when ordered with the famous 'off the menu' toppings. They also serve some of the finest margaritas in town. Win-win!

Waugh Drive Bat Colony

11.  Waugh Drive Bat Colony

Houstonians flock to this weird nighttime ritual, but most visitors know nothing about it. Head to the Waugh Drive Bridge in Buffalo Bayou Park, where every night at sunset, 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from their slumber. Even the locals who have witnessed this site countless times still gasp at the flaps of the wings, the chirping and squeaking, and the sheer mass of the blanket of black as the bats head out to explore the city. It’s the perfect way to end a day at the park or kick off an evening in the city.

Rothko Chapel

12.  Rothko Chapel

  • Attractions

This octagonal building in the Museum District is an oasis of peace and calm where religion, art, and architecture intermingle. The 'Chapel' (a misnomer given that the venue is without denomination) is decorated with 14 mural canvasses painted by celebrated Russian-American artist Mark Rothko shortly before his death in 1970. Rothko considered them his most important works, and their power in this tranquil space is undeniable.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership

13.  Buffalo Bayou Partnership

  • Greater Houston

Considered Houston's most significant natural resource, Buffalo Bayou has hundreds of acres of parkland and running trails. One of the finest ways to enjoy the bayou’s beauty is from the water, starting downtown at Allen’s Landing and working your way west. Rent a kayak from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership or join one of the boat tours, which include history tours and the popular twilight tours.

National Museum of Funeral History

14.  National Museum of Funeral History

Visitors can discover everything from the mysterious traditions surrounding the burial of a Pope to the recreation of Abraham Lincoln’s state funeral at this morbidly curious museum. Alright, a trip to this museum may not be the most upbeat adventure, but it is certainly engaging. The real must-see is the enormous 1916 Packard graveyard bus, created to eliminate funeral processions. It could carry a coffin, pallbearers, and 20 mourners but was hastily retired after the weight caused it to tip over on a San Francisco hill, sending bodies (both living and dead) bouncing down the street like a real-life version of  Coffin Flop .

Diversión Immersive Cocktails

15.  Diversión Immersive Cocktails

Diversión isn't simply a cocktail bar. It's an immersive experience and one of the coolest things to do in all of Texas. Enter an unassuming grey building to a  Harry Potter  world of boozy fun. They use the finest ingredients, home or locally grown and crafted from scratch. Watch your mixologist work their magic in the laboratory-style bar ahead; it is an art. All cocktails (especially the ones from their immersive menu) are outrageously creative and make for excellent social media content if that's your thing.

Miller Outdoor Theatre

16.  Miller Outdoor Theatre

One of Houston’s brightest cultural gems, Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park, has staged free outdoor performances since 1923. With eight months of free arts programming every year, the sloping lawn in front of the stage gets packed with locals toting blankets and picnics. Where else can you enjoy everything from drama to the symphony, free of charge? Just check the event calendar before your visit (and book tickets in advance, if necessary). Besides, it is a great way to lay back and enjoy toasty Texan weather without being accused of laziness.

The “Houston is Inspired” mural

17.  The “Houston is Inspired” mural

"Inspired, hip, tasty, funky, savvy" shouts the famous mural at 520 Travis Street, which has become a photographic flag-bearer for the city. This wonderfully vibrant, colorful image is more than just Instagram bait; it is an homage to local pride, drawing attention to Houston's best characteristics in the heart of the Market Square District. Its message is clear: Houston, we  don’t  have a problem.

San Jacinto Monument and Museum

18.  San Jacinto Monument and Museum

Towering over the Houston Ship Channel, the San Jacinto Monument is the tallest war memorial in the nation, standing 15 feet higher than the Washington Monument. The 570-foot obelisk—topped by a massive 220-ton Lone Star of Texas—pays tribute to those who fought for Texas' independence from Mexico in 1836. The outstanding San Jacinto Museum at its base contains several fascinating artifacts from the Texas Revolution and subsequent Republic and serves as the access point for the all-important elevator to the summit. The San Jacinto Museum also houses the Albert and Ethel Herzstein library, where you'll discover rare books and delicate manuscripts.

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

19.  Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

  • Parks and gardens

Formerly, the Williams Waterwall and the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall are two of Houston’s most popular spots to relax (naturally, it is also one of the most photographed sites in the city). A dramatic 64-foot semicircular fountain, the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall recycles a ferocious 11,000 gallons of water per minute in what has become liquid Instagram gold. Once you’ve taken your mandatory snap, grab some lunch to-go from the neighboring  Galleria  before returning to the oak glades in the Waterwall’s three-acre park for picture-perfect picnicking.

Minute Maid Park

20.  Minute Maid Park

The home of the Houston Astros can keep as many as 40,000 fans cool through all nine innings thanks to its 242-foot-high retractable roof and surprisingly effective air conditioning. If the promise of relief from the Texas heat isn't enough to entice you, Minute Maid Park's food will do the trick. Besides, even if you aren't a baseball fan, the atmosphere alone is worth the ticket price. You'll be rooting for the home team before you know it.

More great things to do in Houston

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Houston   Travel Guide

houston usa tourism

Courtesy of joe daniel price | Getty Images

houston usa tourism

Why Go To Houston

Give this Texas city a chance. Yes, Houston's history is sticky with oil, and its contemporary landscape climbs with skyscrapers belonging to Citgo, Shell and many, many more. But what you might not know is that Houston has grassy parks, eclectic galleries, a burgeoning art scene and Tex-Mex restaurants that all vie for attention downtown. And outside of Dallas-Fort Worth , Houston is one of the greatest places in Texas to shop: Ever heard of the Galleria ? There are also plenty of nice hotels to lay your head and a variety of fun things for the kiddies to see, such as the zoo and the children's museum . Those with a keen interest in space can learn all about NASA's program at Space Center Houston and science nerds can check out the comprehensive Museum of Natural Science . So, yes, it's a huge sprawling city of more than 2.3 million, but with pleasant weather pretty much year-round, an abundance of entertaining festivals and plenty of things to do, you should give it a chance.

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  • # 8 in Best Food Cities in the U.S.
  • # 11 in Best Places to Visit in Texas

Best of Houston

Best hotels in houston.

  • # 1 in The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston
  • # 2 in Hotel Granduca Houston
  • # 3 in The Lancaster

The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston

Best Things to Do in Houston

  • # 1 in Houston Museum District
  • # 2 in Hermann Park
  • # 3 in Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston

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Popular Tours

Trill On Wheels (2-Hour Hip-Hop Party Bike Tour in Houston)

Trill On Wheels (2-Hour Hip-Hop Party Bike Tour in Houston)

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Space Center Houston Admission Ticket

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NASA's Space Center Admission Plus Houston City Tour

NASA's Space Center Admission Plus Houston City Tour

(588 reviews)

from $ 98.95

Houston Travel Tips

Best months to visit.

The best time to visit Houston is from February to April or from September to November. Thanks to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Houston experiences warm weather (as well as affordable hotel prices) pretty much year-round, but come spring and fall the temperatures are pleasant and there are a variety of festivals to enjoy. You may be able to score a deal in the summer since Houston residents head elsewhere as temperatures climb, but you'll have to contend with the heat and oppressing humidity. Houston also experiences mild winters and snowfall is rare, but temperatures drop when the sun goes down so make sure to pack layers if you're traveling in December or January. 

Weather in Houston

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

Bring on the barbecue Texas is known for its barbecue and Houston won't let you down. Try Killen's BBQ , which has two locations, or Gatlin's BBQ .

Embrace the arts Houston has plenty of museums, but it's one of just a few U.S. cities with professional companies in the four performing arts disciplines: ballet, opera, symphony and theater.

Rent a car The Houston metro area encompasses 665 square miles, and while you won't have to travel too far to see the top attractions, you'll want your own set of wheels to get around.

Humidity reigns Houston is an incredibly humid city year-round.

How to Save Money in Houston

Buy a CityPASS This booklet of admission tickets offers major discounts on Houston's most popular sights like the Children's Museum Houston , the Downtown Aquarium, the Houston Zoo and Space Center Houston .

Check for coupons Visit Houston and its Houston Experience Marketplace offer deals and discounts on everything from hotel rooms to restaurants.

Find a food truck Houston is home to hundreds of food trucks dishing out affordable eats all around town. Check Street Food Finder 's food truck locator to see what trucks will be near you.

What to Eat

Considered one of the Best Foodie Cities in the USA , Houston has always produced excellent eats. But in recent years, the rest of the country (and the world) has finally started to take notice. 

Ask any local and you'll find strong opinions of where to find the best Tex-Mex fare, a staple in the Houston diet. But most agree The Original Ninfa's on Navigation is a great place to start. If you're exploring the Museum District and the Houston Zoo , you can try the upscale Hugo's or the M & M Grill that offers fajitas and burritos with halal meats. You could also check out a Pappasito's Cantina location, where Beyoncé has been spotted. 

Another popular food found in Houston? Barbecue, baby. From baby back ribs smothered in sauce to slow-roasted tender brisket, this city has no shortage of BBQ joints. Locals and experts say some of the best spots to visit are Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack , Killen's Texas Barbecue , helmed by renowned chef Ronnie Killen (who also opened a restaurant combining a steakhouse with a barbeque joint, Killen's STQ ), Gatlin's BBQ and The Pit Room . 

While any first-timer to Houston has to sample Tex-Mex and barbecue, travelers would be remiss to ignore the city's other culinary offerings. Houston's diverse population contributes a wide variety of flavors to its restaurant scene. Sample the lamb kabobs and grape leaves at Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine ; find Creole cuisine at Brennan's of Houston ; try sushi and sake at one of the two Izakaya Wa locations; or pick Aria Suya Kitchen to dine on Nigerian fare. If you're in the mood for a fine dining experience, visit Caracol , helmed by James Beard Foundation Award winner Hugo Ortega, or dine on classic French dishes at Etoile Cuisine et Bar . Those in search of elevated southern comfort food can't skip Lucille's . For Vietnamese fare, visit The Blind Goat or Roostar Vietnamese Grill . No matter what you're in the mood for, you won't go hungry in Houston. 

Soul food is another one of Houston's specialties. Located in midtown, the breakfast klub is an award-winning restaurant founded by radio host and motivational speaker Marcus Davis. Opened in 2001, this Houston institution is famous for two dishes: its signature catfish and grits, and its first-rate wings and waffles. Other soul food spots that come highly recommended by travelers include Mikki's Soul Food Café , Houston This is It Soul Food (a family-owned restaurant serving up specialties like oxtails, mac and cheese and gumbo) and Esther's Cajun Café & Soul Food .

Aside from its foodie roots, Houston is also known for its excellent nightlife. From classic honky-tonks with live music to hip-hop dance clubs with well-known DJs, the city supplies an almost endless stream of options for night owls. If you're looking to two-step, head to Stampede Houston . Hoping to dance along to hits from the 80s and 90s? Try  Numbers Nightclub (it's been around since 1978). Meanwhile, travelers who are still kids at heart shouldn't skip a visit to Cidercade Houston . In addition to more than 275 classic arcade games such as Mario Bros. and Ms. Pac Man, Cidercade also serves a wide variety of hard ciders, hard kombuchas, hard seltzers and hard smoothies.

Getting Around Houston

The best way to get around Houston is by car. Having your own set of wheels will make it easier to explore all of the city's top attractions , especially those that are located beyond the downtown core, such as the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum . Driving may be the easiest way to get around Houston, but the city, like most major metropolitan areas, has numerous other transportation options, including buses, a light rail system and a bike-share service. In contrast to its inexpensive public transportation, the city's taxis can be pricey beyond the downtown area.

To get to and from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), you'll probably want to take a cab or a rental car to make the approximately 30-minute drive south to downtown Houston. To save some coin, consider taking the METRO bus No. 102, which costs just $1.25 and takes travelers from the airport to the downtown METRO station in about 50 to 90 minutes.

Houston's picturesque skyline is framed by the miles-long Buffalo Bayou waterway.

Explore More of Houston

Hermann Park

Things To Do

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19 Best Things to Do in Houston, Texas

houston usa tourism

Jon Hicks / Getty Images

Houston is home to NASA's astronaut training and flight control complex, a buzzing Historic District full of 19th-century architecture and upscale restaurants, and some world-class museums and art spaces, to boot. The Texas metropolis maintains its warm climate year-round, making mid-winter outdoor movie screenings and off-season strolls through the Buffalo Bayou entirely possible. There's always something to do in the Bayou City, for first-time visitors and lifelong Houstonians alike.

Cheer on a Home Team

If there's one thing Texas is known for, it's the sports. While Houston's teams fail to measure up to Dallas' Cowboys in terms of cult favoritism, the city is still incredibly sports-centered. It's the home of the Astros , who won the 2017 World Series and play every summer at Minute Maid Park. Other times of year, you can catch the Rockets playing basketball at the Toyota Center, the Houston Texans tossing the pigskin at NRG Stadium, or the men's and women's soccer teams, Dynamo and Dash , playing at BBVA Stadium.

Indulge in the City's Thriving Music Scene

Austin isn't the only Texas city with a flourishing music scene. Houston has a wealth of iconic concert venues—some massive enough to host international acts, others small but acutely hip and under-the-radar. For big events, check the schedule at the Bayou Music Center (formerly the Revention Music Center) by Live Nation, the Smart Financial Centre  at Sugar Land, or the House of Blues downtown. But for something more intimate, don't skip Satellite Bar, a hip dive showcasing local bands, and The Heights Theater .

Tour 19th Street in the Heights

And speaking of the Heights, this neighborhood's 19th Street is an eccentric strip ideal for thrift-store hopping and cafe dining. Strolling amid its retro buildings, whose storefronts are adorned with vibrant antiques and vintage clothing, will teleport you to a simpler time. The district is a hub for local arts and culture, frequently holding community events like Third Thursdays Sip & Socials. Check the 19th Street Facebook page for upcoming happenings.

Catch an Outdoor Movie, Any Time of Year

Rooftop Cinema Club

Even throughout the winter, Houston's highs remain in the 60-degrees range, meaning: Movies in the park are a year-round tradition. Green spaces around the city— Discovery Green , Market Square Park , Sugar Land Town Square , and the Lawn at Memorial City , to name a few—keep the al fresco flicks streaming on their big screens regardless of the season. For a more upscale, date night-worthy experience, try the Houston Rooftop Cinema Club , which screens classic films on various iconic rooftops around the city.

Tour the Johnson Space Center

Robyn Correll / TripSavvy

The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, home of the NASA astronaut corps, occupies 1,620 acres in Southeast Houston, consisting of roughly 100 facilities. The sprawling estate is not just for astronauts, either; tourists can experience a zero-gravity simulation in the Living in Space exhibit or encounter a virtual rocket launch, complete with exhaust, at the Destiny ("Blast Off") Theater.

Visit the Houston Zoo

Sheltering more than 6,000 animals and 900 species, the Houston Zoo is one of the most visited zoos in the nation. Spend the day strolling through the facility’s impeccably landscaped grounds, or get more hands-on by scheduling a guided tour—experiences range from feeding a giraffe to shadowing a staff veterinarian for an entire day.

Stroll Around the Museum District

The Houston Museum District is where a number of museums, galleries, and cultural centers are packed into a mile-and-a-half radius of Hermann Park. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which also houses the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, boasts a collection of roughly 60,000 pieces, and just a few blocks away is the Health Museum , home to Houston’s first 4D theater. Other area attractions include the Holocaust Museum , Houston Center for Photography , and the Lawndale Art Center.

Have a Little Fun at Kemah Boardwalk

Richard Cummins / Getty Images

Spanning 60 acres on the Texas Gulf Coast waterfront, Kemah Boardwalk has grown from a dining destination to Houston’s largest theme park, featuring a Ferris wheel, train, and carousel (all available for rides and individually priced). Packed with hotels and restaurants like Landry’s Seafood House and Saltgrass Steakhouse , this amusement hub makes for a fail-proof family outing, only 30 miles from downtown.

Go on a Walking Tour of Montrose

One of Houston’s most demographically diverse regions, Montrose has become the city’s centerpiece of vintage shopping, live music, and LGBTQ+ activism. Restored mansions and bungalows, tree-lined boulevards, and an antique mall make the neighborhood a unique, pedestrian-friendly tourist spot. Stop at Rudyard's , a neighborhood dive bar, for a cold beer and a meal—you might even catch one of its famous comedy shows.

Eat Delicious Tex-Mex

Patrick Feller / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Houston might not have invented the fajita, but it sure has mastered it. Between its hundreds of Tex-Mex restaurants, there's certainly no shortage of tortillas in this city. Check out the Original Ninfa's on Navigation —a hotspot for fajitas since the early '70s—for a lesson on the area's culinary history, or El Tiempo Cantina , the franchise launched by Mama Ninfa's own grandchildren, for a sprawling collection of quesos. And don't forget to sample the breakfast tacos while you're in town—they're a Houston specialty.

Hang Out at Discovery Green

A splash of vegetation in Houston's otherwise concrete and glass-laden downtown, Discovery Green is more than just a pretty park. It's also a common venue for open-air concerts, exercise classes, summer picnics, and more. The 12-acre green space is worth visiting just for a stroll, but check the park's events calendar for special events.

See Sharks at the Downtown Aquarium

Discover 400-plus species of marine life and dine alongside a 150,000-gallon, two-story tank at the Downtown Aquarium. Here, you can pet a stingray or go on an exhilarating train ride through the Shark Voyage, then wrap up the evening with a seafood feast followed by decadent desserts in the aquarium restaurant.

Go Shopping in the Galleria Mall

The Galleria Houston is an upscale shopping mall centrally located just outside the 610 Loop in Houston’s Uptown District. The retail center is anchored by Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue, and occupies such high-end tenants as Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent. It's especially handy for escaping the summer heat or rainy days.

Take a Bike Ride Down Buffalo Bayou

Vincent Mercer / TripSavvy

The Buffalo Bayou stretches from just outside the 610 Loop all the way into the center of the city, and the park—beginning at Shepherd Drive—offers some breathtaking views of the downtown skyline. Don't have a bike? You can rent one using the city's bike-share program, Bcycle . Docking stations are located near the trail at Jackson Hill and Memorial Drive and the Sabine Bridge. 

Admire the James Turrell Skyspace

Head to the Rice University campus for one of the most impressive art installations you may ever see. Artist James Turrell has created an acoustically-engineered light and sound installation next to the campus' Shepherd School of Music, and it happens to be one of the best things to see in H-Town. Dubbed Twilight Epiphany, the show is projected onto the building's roof at sunrise and sunset. The show is free, but reservations are required. 

Make Your Own Craft Beer Pub Crawl

Houston is home to Texas' oldest craft brewery, Saint Arnold , which is open for tours Monday through Saturday. After visiting the original, you can keep the momentum going at 8th Wonder Brewery , known for its massive backyard, or Brash Brewing , a tucked-away warehouse-style brewery with a low-key atmosphere. 

Float Along a Texas-Shaped Lazy River

Marriott Marquis Houston

Everything's bigger in Texas—even the swimming pools. Houston's massive Marriott Marquis might top them all with its truly impressive Texas-shaped lazy river. While the pool is primarily open only to guests of the hotel, non-guests can book a spa treatment at the hotel's Pure Spa for day access. Floaties and towels are provided.

Go See the Bats at Waugh Bridge

If you thought Austin was the only city with a famous bat population, think again. Houston has its very own colony of 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats, which reside under the Waugh Bridge, near Buffalo Bayou. While Austin's colony is larger, Houston's bats live under the bridge year-round and are not migratory. The bats emerge nightly to feast on insects, often eating up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour. 

Meditate at the Modern Rothko Chapel

This one-man museum is one of Houston's most popular attractions—an impressive feat given that it only houses 14 works of art. Rothko Chapel opened its doors in 1971 as a monument to the work of abstract artist Mark Rothko. Today, the main room of the interfaith chapel is a quiet octagonal room filled with the artist's massive, single-color canvases. Other than simple wooden benches and a few meditation mats, the chapel has no furniture or decoration.

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Download GPX file for this article

  • 1 Districts
  • 2.1 Visitor information
  • 2.2 Climate
  • 3.1.1 Private aviation
  • 3.2 By train
  • 4.2 By public transportation
  • 4.3 By taxi
  • 4.4 By limousine
  • 4.5 By bicycle
  • 7.3 Events & festivals
  • 7.4.1 Professional sports
  • 7.4.2 College sports
  • 7.5 Theater
  • 9.1 Groceries and other basics
  • 10.1 Eating local
  • 11.1 Local beer
  • 11.2 Local coffee
  • 13.1 By phone
  • 13.2.1 WiFi
  • 13.3 By mail
  • 14.2 Natural disasters
  • 14.3 METRO Rail
  • 15.1 Consulates

Houston is a sprawling port city in Southeastern Texas . An oil boom and continuing international immigration has brought explosive growth to the city, and it is now the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States . While at first glance, the city appears to be a 9-5 central business district surrounded by a sea of suburbs and strip malls, there are many hidden gems to be discovered.

Districts [ edit ]

Until 1915 the city was subdivided into "wards" and they tended to have distinct populations; the names survived in neighborhoods centered around similar areas. Since 1915 continual sprawl has created new districts and neighborhoods, some with distinct characters.

houston usa tourism

Understand [ edit ]

houston usa tourism

Houston has a character that, while very "Texan," is also a great melting pot of many cultures and socio-economic groups. You'll find well-to-do suburban mansions, LA-style shopping strips, Latin-American neighborhoods, towering skyscrapers, historic African-American neighborhoods fighting off gentrification, massive refinery complexes, large Asian communities, and pockets of artist communities. From October to May, the weather is relatively pleasant, and many restaurants and bars take advantage of it with plenty of outdoor seating and beautiful lighting. Houston's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico also makes it a lush, tropical paradise compared to the rest of Texas.

In a sense, Houston is the gritty step-cousin of wealthy Dallas and middle-class hippie Austin. You won't see many cowboys or giant hairdos in downtown Houston (outside of Rodeo season), but you will see a quite diverse mix of people servicing the oilmen, petroleum engineers and high-end doctors.

Houston is the largest city in the United States without any appreciable zoning. While there is some small measure of zoning in the form of ordinances, deed restrictions, and land use regulations, real estate development in Houston is only constrained by the will and the pocketbook of real estate developers. Traditionally, Houston politics and law are strongly influenced by real estate developers; at times, the majority of city council seats have been held by them. This arrangement has made Houston a very sprawled-out and very automobile-dependent city. The benefit of this lack of zoning is that some neighborhoods like Montrose contain a plethora of hidden bars and art galleries nestled among historic neighborhoods - an arrangement not possible in zoned cities across the country.

For one desiring a walkable visit, the areas close to downtown are gradually becoming more dense and walkable as islands of trendy mixed-use developments pop up. Many areas can be downright hostile to pedestrians and bikers as sidewalks are privately built (if at all) and roads are littered with massive potholes. The city is primarily built on the energy industry and nearly everyone owns a car and drives everywhere they go, even to a destination less than a mile away.

With a few exceptions, almost everything to see or do is in Houston's urban core inside the 610 Loop and more specifically in between downtown, the Galleria, and the Texas Medical Center.

Visitor information [ edit ]

The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau operates the Houston Visitors Center . The center is in the heart of downtown Houston at 901 Bagby (corner of Bagby and Walker St.), on the first floor of the historic City Hall. Find information on Houston's history, attractions, restaurants, hotels, directions, maps, purchase Houston merchandise and watch an 11-minute film on Houston. You'll find over 10,000 brochures and magazines to help plan your visit to the Houston area. The center is open Monday - Saturday, 9AM to 4PM

Climate [ edit ]

Houston's climate generally ranges from a hot humid summer to a mild winter. The months of October to April make for fantastic times to visit to avoid the heat. Visitors from areas with mild summers or dry climates should be extremely careful if planning to travel there in the summer months, especially around August. The combination of high heat and thick humidity can result in stifling and oppressive weather. It's by no means "a dry heat"! Even some lifelong residents of Houston complain about the August weather. If visiting in the summer, stay hydrated and try to limit outdoor exposure during the hours between 10AM and 7PM. The nights are very hot too, but not as dangerously hot as during the day. Visitors from cooler, drier places will be amazed at the tolerance levels of some of the locals. You can see people wearing long sleeve shirts, boots and jeans when the temperature is above 100°F (38°C) and dew points above 70°F. But it can not be stressed enough: this place is extremely hot and if you're not prepared or used to this type of heat, you're in for one rude awakening. But have fun!

Get in [ edit ]

By plane [ edit ].

Houston is served by two major commercial airports and two smaller regional airports ( QHO  IATA ) (IATA code for all Houston area airports).

The large airports for commercial traffic are:

  • METRO bus line 102 departing from Terminal C runs to downtown, which it reaches in 1 hr 10 min for $1.25. From downtown, the easiest place to catch the bus is the Downtown Transit Center station of the METRORail. During the day, the bus runs approximately every 30 minutes. Be aware the bus stop at terminal C is exposed to the elements and subject to extreme heat, sun, and rain. The stop is on a traffic island three lanes from the door. Check the schedule and then wait indoors by the window for your bus. Step outside 5-7 min before the scheduled departure time.
  • Rental cars are off site at the IAH Car Rental Center. Frequent dedicated buses shuttle passengers, taking 5-7 minutes to travel between a given terminal and the IAH Car Rental Center.

Private aviation [ edit ]

Houston offers 27 airports within 50 miles, and although William Hobby is the most popular choice for private charter flights, there are several airports that focus on serving the business and luxury aviation community. Air charter companies including Tavaero , Houston Private Jet Rental , and Houston Jet Charter offer access to planes based at airports across Houston, ranging from twin-engine aircraft and light jets to luxury Gulfstreams and executive airliners.

  • 29.62716 -95.65279 3 Sugar Land Regional Airport , ( SGR  IATA ). It's 25 mi (40 km) southwest of downtown on TX 6, just north of U.S. 59. It is a popular choice among the well-heeled corporate aircraft set.
  • 29.603 -95.1691 4 Ellington Airport , ( EFD  IATA ). It's 19 mi (31 km) southeast of downtown, just off I-45. This former air force base is now used for general aviation, non-passenger commercial traffic, and government aviation (NASA, Texas Air National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard).
  • Houston Executive Airport ( FAA LID : TME ). It's about 28 miles directly west of downtown Houston in Brookshire, Texas. Primarily caters to executives jets in the Energy Corridor area of Houston.
  • David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport ( FAA LID : DWH ). It's on the north side of Houston just off the Grand Parkway in Spring, Texas. It's the busiest general aviation facility in the state, and consistently ranks as one of the busiest general aviation airports in the United States.
  • Pearland Regional Airport ( FAA LID : LVJ ) It's 17 miles (27 km) south of Downtown Houston just south of the Sam Houston Tollway and just east of US 35 in Pearland, Texas. The airport, formerly known as Clover Field, is managed by Texas Aviation Partners, LLC.
  • Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport ( FAA LID : CXO ). It's about 37 miles north of downtown Houston near I-45 and U.S. 105 in Conroe, Texas. Formerly known as Lone Star Executive, CXO is popular for international business jets, with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Station on-site to serve international business travelers.
  • Houston-Southwest Airport ( FAA LID : AXH ). It's 15 miles (24 km) southwest of downtown Houston in Arcola, Texas, near State Highway 6 (SH 6), the South Freeway (SH 288), and the Fort Bend Parkway.
  • West Houston Airport ( IWS  IATA ). 15 miles west of downtown Houston on TX 6, just north of I-10. About 100,000 flight operations per year.

By train [ edit ]

  • Amtrak , 902 Washington Ave. Amtrak's Sunset Limited line is the only passenger train route with a stop in Houston on its way between New Orleans and Los Angeles (via San Antonio) three times a week. There is a daily Thruway Bus (operated by Lone Star Coach) that provides a direct connection from the Houston Amtrak station to the Texas Eagle in Longview .

By car [ edit ]

Houston's major highways include:

Approximate distance from nearby cities (in miles):

  • Austin : 160
  • Baton Rouge, LA : 270
  • Beaumont : 90
  • Dallas : 240
  • El Paso : 745
  • Galveston : 50
  • Lake Charles, LA : 140
  • New Orleans, LA : 350
  • San Antonio : 200

By bus [ edit ]

Buses connect Houston to Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Baton Rouge and other cities in the southeastern U.S. to as far as North Carolina, Chicago and Florida in the U.S. Northbound buses from Mexico typically cross through Brownsville/Matamoros, Laredo/Nuevo Laredo or McAllen/Reynosa. Bus companies have many terminals and stops in different parts of the city. Several companies have terminals, one next to the other, along Harrisburg Blvd between 65th St and 75th St in the Magnolia Park neighborhood, in the eastside of town in addition to other locations. Some companies have multiple stops/stations in different parts of town. Check your tickets and reservations closely regarding your stop as their buses do not stop into all of the company's stop or stations in town:

  • Arrow Trailways of Texas ( Southwestern Stagelines ), (Greyhound Bus Terminal) 2121 Main St ( Main & Webster St in Downtown ), ☏ +1 254 634-3843 . From Killeen to Temple, Waco, Round Rock, Austin and Houston in Texas. ( updated Jun 2016 )
  • Autobus Los Chavez , 915 Collingsworth St , ☏ +1 713 222-7543 , +1 713 237-8227 . Buses from Morelia, Michoacan, through San Felipe, Texas; San Luis Potosi, SLP; and Celaya, GTO in Mexico. ( updated Feb 2018 )
  • Harrisburg (southeast) , 7100 Harrisburg Blvd , ☏ +1 713 670-3263 .  
  • Company Headquarters & Terminal , 800 Lockwood Dr , ☏ +1 713 928-5500 .  
  • Flixbus , (bus stop) 605 Gray St ( Bus will board in the parking lot at 605 Gray St. Wait for the bus at the east side of the parking lot closest to the intersection of Smith St. and Gray St. ). Connects Houston to San Antonio, Lafayette, Baton Rouge along the I-10 corridor; up to Dallas & Ft Worth via I-45 and to Austin on US Hwy 287. ( updated Jun 2019 )
  • Baytown Travel Center (East) , 1901 I-10 East, Baytown
  • Handi Plus 42 Chevron (Southeast) , 17230 Hwy 6, Manvel
  • Katy Food Mart (West) , 653 Pin Oak, Katy
  • Southeast Bus Terminal , 7000 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston
  • Agencia de Autobuses (Southwest) , 6590 Southwest Freeway, Houston
  • Hillcraft METRO P&R , 6220 Southwest Freeway
  • Katy Mills Mall Entrance #8 (Katy) , 5000 Katy Mills Circle, Katy, bus stop at south entrance (#8) of the mall by AMC 20 movie theater.
  • Northwest METRO P&R , 18502 Northwest Freeway

Buses do not stop in all three stops listed in above. Check reservations and tickets closely as to which stop you bus will stop in.

  • Southwest , 5800 Bellaire Blvd
  • Hillcroft Terminal (Southwest) , 6580 Southwest Freeway , ☏ +1 713 785-0035 .  
  • [dead link] Pegasso Tours , 6614 Harrisburg , ☏ +1 713 923-7383 . Buses from Monterrey through Rosenberg, El Campo, TX; Victoria,Tx; McAllen, Reynosa and Cadereyta ( updated Feb 2018 )
  • Greater Heights (North) , 1829 Airline Dr

Get around [ edit ]

Houston's major highways make getting around the city fairly easy. (See list of freeways under the "Get in" section.) Obstacles, however, can make driving in Houston a less than pleasant experience. One is construction, which seems to be ever-present, and the other is traffic. Evening rush hour in Houston begins as early as 4PM and can last more than 2 hours. Morning rush hour is between 7 and 9AM. During rush hour, traffic on the highways can come to a halt. The strip of the West Loop near the Galleria, between IH-69 and IH-10, is an area you should definitely avoid during rush hour if possible.

  • Houston Traffic Map
  • The outstanding freeways system

Some of the freeways have an H.O.V. (High-Occupancy Vehicle) lane , which are limited-access lanes in the median strip of the highway. The HOV lanes are operational Monday - Friday in the morning hours (5AM - 11AM) in the inbound direction and in the outbound direction in the afternoon and evening (2-8PM). The HOV lanes are restricted to cars with 2 or more passengers, however some HOV lanes require 3 or more passengers during peak travel periods (6:45-8AM and 5-6PM, for IH-10 west; 6:45-8AM only for US-290). The HOV lanes are marked with signs bearing a white diamond on a black background. Highways with HOV lanes are: IH-45 North, IH-45 South, IH-69 North, IH-69 South, IH-10 West (Katy Freeway), and US-290. The Katy Freeway HOV lanes have been expanded into the Katy Toll Road, a 24-hour multi-lane HOV with paid Single-Occupancy Vehicle access cost-adjusted based on HOV usage.

  • HOV lane map & schedule [dead link]
  • Katy Managed Lanes on Harris County Toll Road Authority website

By public transportation [ edit ]

Public transportation in Houston is operated by METRO , which runs light rail lines called METRORail [dead link] , as well as bus lines. The cost to ride is $1.25 each way (Feb 2017).

If you pay using your METRO Q Fare Card, METRO Day Pass, or METRO Money, you get free transfers in any direction for up to three hours. METRORail provides 23 miles (37 km) of light-rail service to some of the region’s most popular destinations:

  • Red Line (North Line) - Travels from NRG Park to the Texas Medical Center, Museum District, Downtown, Northline and numerous stops in between.
  • Green Line (East End Line) - Travels along Harrisburg from the Magnolia Transit Center through the Historic East End to a variety of downtown and entertainment and business destinations.
  • Purple Line (Southeast) - Travels from downtown along Capitol and Rusk to popular destinations such as Texas Southern University and the University of Houston.

There have been some extensions of the rail network in the 2010s and more are planned for the coming years.

By taxi [ edit ]

  • Taxis are easily found in Downtown, Uptown, Midtown, the Medical Center, the suburb of Galveston and both airports. Taxis in Houston are generally dispatched by various companies the largest being Yellow Cab , ☏ +1-713-236-1111 or from their web page.

By limousine [ edit ]

Many Houston limousine companies offer full ground transportation options such as town cars, classic cars, stretch limos and luxury vehicles that can be utilized for special occasions like airport transportation, parties, school dances, business functions and weddings. Consider hiring a limousine service to handle your travel needs.

By bicycle [ edit ]

Houston is so spread out and (most of the time) hot and humid that bicycles are often best used for exercise or to get to somewhere that is close by. On the other hand, if you have a little bit of stamina and perseverance, Downtown, Midtown, Rice, Uptown and the Medical Center/Hermann Park/Museum District area are within a 30-minute ride. Multi-modal transportation is also possible, since most city buses have easy to use racks in the front that can get traveler and bicycle near to a final destination.

Houston has 290 miles (460 km) of marked bike routes, plus another 80 miles (130 km) of hike and bike trails in city parks, with concrete plans for even more expansion. For more information on the Houston Bikeway program, including a complete map of all marked bike paths, visit the City of Houston Bikeway Program website [dead link] .

Talk [ edit ]

Houston is home to more than 100 languages. Signs can be found in Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese, among others, but English is the lingua franca. Knowing some Spanish may help in certain neighborhoods, but most people will speak English.

See [ edit ]

houston usa tourism

Travelers planning to visit multiple attractions may benefit from the Houston CityPASS , which grants admission to 6 Houston attractions within 9 days of first use for a much reduced rate and includes expedited entry in some cases. The included attractions are: Space Center Houston; Downtown Aquarium; Houston Museum of Natural Science; Houston Zoo; Option Ticket One with choice of either Museum of Fine Arts or the Children's Museum of Houston and Option Ticket Two with choice of either George Ranch Historical Park or the Health Museum.

  • Astrodome . Dubbed the "8th Wonder of the World," it was one of the world's first fully indoor stadiums and the birthplace of astroturf (that was vacuumed by people in astronaut suits between innings). It was abandoned when the Astros threatened to move unless Minute Maid Park (formerly Enron Field) was built. The stadium is no longer open to visitors, but it is still a spectacle.  

Do [ edit ]

houston usa tourism

Golf [ edit ]

  • Wildcat Golf Club .  
  • Houston Country club .  
  • River Oaks Country Club .  
  • Redstone .  

Parks [ edit ]

  • Eleanor Tinsley Park - The beautiful city skyline backdrops this scenic portion of the park. It remains one of the most popular outdoor spaces for recreation and relaxation.
  • Lost Lake - At this location, visitors can rent kayaks and discover the water trails.
  • Discovery Green
  • Houston Arboretum
  • McGovern Centennial Gardens - Home to a diverse collection of gardens including an arid garden, a rose garden, a woodland garden, an interactive family garden, and more. Visitors can also enjoy walking the spiral path to the top of a 30-foot (9 m) mount.
  • Memorial Park - A large park near Uptown and I-10 Freeway. Many running and walking trails, fields, and more. A Smoothie King can also be found within the park.

Events & festivals [ edit ]

  • Houston CaribFest . Celebrating Caribbean/West Indian Cultures.  
  • Art Car Parade , Runs along Allen Parkway . April . A parade that must be seen to be believed. For example, in 2010, there were cupcake motorcycles, fire breathing chicken cars, and many other spectacular cars. There are vendors nearby selling water, hats, and food as well. It can get very hot! Free . ( updated Mar 2024 )
  • Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo , Reliant Park. March . HLSR is one of the largest live entertainment and livestock exhibitions in Texas. It runs for 20 days and includes activities for everyone. The rodeo in Houston is considered the city's "signature event" akin to "Mardi Gras" in New Orleans, the Texas State Fair in Dallas, Comic-Con in San Diego, and the "Ball Drop" in New York City.
  • McDonald's Houston Children's Festival , April . Quite possibly the largest children's festival in the United States. It runs for 2 days and includes activities for kids of all ages, including face painting, stage shows, and a whole lot more. The festival is usually held on the first weekend of April.
  • Houston Gay Pride Parade [dead link] , Downtown. June . The Houston Gay Pride Parade and Festival is an annual event that celebrates the city's LGBT community. The parade is a colorful and campy affair. You see people of all ages and ethnicities including families, drag queens, and people dressed in campy, kitch, or costumes. Free
  • Texas Renaissance Festival , Todd Mission, October & November . An hour outside of Downtown Houston, the Texas Renaissance Festival ("Ren Fest") runs during the weekends from the months of October to November. Guests are welcomed to attend in costume. Tickets run from $20-40.

Sports [ edit ]

Professional sports [ edit ].

  • Houston Astros - the city's Major League Baseball team, playing at Minute Maid Park in Downtown .
  • Houston Texans - the city's National Football League (NFL) team, playing at NRG Stadium in the South Inner Loop area, next to the now-vacant Astrodome.
  • Houston Rockets - the city's NBA (basketball) team plays at the Toyota Center in Downtown .
  • Houston SaberCats - the city's Major League Rugby team (rugby union) plays at Aveva Stadium at the Houston Sports Park just west of the South Freeway (SH-288) between 610 and the Beltway .
  • Houston Dynamo (Major League Soccer/MLS) and Houston Dash (National Women's Soccer League/NWSL) play in Shell Energy Stadium, in Downtown across from Minute Maid Park.
  • The Houston Roughnecks (United Football League) play football in the spring at Rice Stadium on the campus of Rice University in the South Inner Loop area.
  • Houston Motocross , reliant . May 22 . Factory motocross racers from all around the world. to race once a year. Free .  

College sports [ edit ]

Houston has four universities whose sports teams play in the top-level NCAA Division I:

  • 29.72149 -95.34935 1 Houston Cougars . The teams representing the city's largest school, the University of Houston, compete in the Big 12 Conference. Most athletic venues are on campus, with the best-known being TDECU Stadium (football) and Fertitta Center (basketball). These venues are marked in the "South Inner Loop" page.  
  • 29.71523 -95.40875 2 Rice Owls . Rice University, the city's most prominent private school, remained in Conference USA during the near-constant conference changes in the early 2010s, but moved to the American Athletic Conference in 2023 (ironically, at the same time UH left The American for the Big 12). As with UH, Rice's main venues are on campus, among them Rice Stadium (football), Tudor Fieldhouse (basketball), and Reckling Park (baseball). These venues are marked in the "South Inner Loop" page.  
  • 29.72093 -95.36249 3 Texas Southern Tigers . Especially of interest to African American visitors, or those interested in African-American culture, are the teams representing Texas Southern University, the city's historically black university. The Tigers compete with other HBCUs in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Unlike Houston and Rice, whose football teams play in the top-level FBS, Texas Southern football is in the second-level FCS. Most venues are also on campus; the football team has an on-campus stadium, but occasionally uses Shell Energy Stadium and (less often) NRG Stadium.  
  • Houston Christian Huskies . Houston Christian University (renamed from Houston Baptist University in September 2022), a relatively new addition to Division I, is in the Sharpstown area along the Southwest Freeway. The Huskies joined the FCS-level Southland Conference in 2013, and started a football program at that time.  

Theater [ edit ]

Houstonians like theater and the community supports many types of performing arts companies. Most professional theater is centered in the Theater District , but other companies are in different districts around town. The lively culture of Houston also includes numerous community theater organizations and several well regarded university programs.

The major downtown performing arts venues include The Wortham Center The Hobby Center Jones Hall and the Alley Theater .

Learn [ edit ]

Houston is home to one of the top universities in the country, Rice University . Its beautifully wooded campus is ideal for an afternoon stroll or jog with loved ones. Baylor College of Medicine is one of the nation's top medical schools, though it does not admit undergraduates. It is also home to the University of Houston, St. Thomas University, Texas Southern University, and Houston Christian University.

Buy [ edit ]

Many of the shopping malls are concentrated to the west of downtown in Uptown .

In general, prices in Houston are lower than in other major US cities.

A very popular place to go shopping in Houston is the Houston Galleria. The Galleria is the largest mall in Texas and the ninth largest in the United States. At the Galleria you can find people shopping at high end stores such as, Bebe, Coach, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Gucci, Macy's, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, The Sharper Image, Ralph Lauren Collection, Louis Vuitton and Houston's only Nordstrom. You can also find people ice skating in the ice rink on the bottom floor. Also, you will find nail salons, 375 stores, restaurants, and two Westin hotels.

Groceries and other basics [ edit ]

The major supermarket chains in Houston are Kroger, Randall's (which is owned by Albertsons), H-E-B, and Fiesta Mart. In addition the nation's largest discount store chain, Walmart, has several stores in Houston most of which are also open 24 hours and most Kroger stores in Houston are also open 24 hours as well. In addition many specialty and organic supermarkets such as Whole Foods Market, Central Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Trader Joe's can also be found throughout the area.

Due to its huge expat and immigrant population, Houston also features a large variety of ethnic grocery stores, including Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and of course, Mexican.

Eat [ edit ]

Houston has outstanding dining options, and is widely considered the most restaurant-oriented city in the United States, with a thriving community of ethnic restaurants, superb Tex-Mex, classic Texas steakhouses and Gulf Coast seafood, as well as chain restaurants. Houston's fine dining scene has exploded, with Downtown, Montrose, Midtown, and the Heights (including the Washington Corridor) as the epicenter of what's hot-and-happening now.

Although high-quality, authentic Mexican food can be found just about anywhere in the city (for some of the best surprises, stop by any nondescript taqueria and order nearly anything at random), the best ethnic dining is generally found in West Houston - in particular the area west of Highway 59 and south of I-10, with everything from Middle Eastern to Ethiopian to Bosnian. The bustling Mahatma Gandhi District around Hillcroft St. is the place to go for top-notch Indian and Pakistani cuisine. In years past, you'd go east of Downtown or to Midtown for your Chinese or Vietnamese fix (respectively); nowadays the new Chinatown (or sometimes "Asiatown") is the new one-stop shop for your cravings. Lying just north of I-10, Long Point Drive and North Gessner sport crowded Korean joints, fantastic taco trucks, and hidden Thai gems.

With hometown stars such as Monica Pope (T'afia) and Bryan Caswell (Reef, Little Big's, El Real) making their debut on TV shows such as Top Chef and on the Food Network, and more and more chefs and restaurants getting name-checked in media (such as the GQ magazine, Best Of lists, or the declaration by Bon Appetit of Houston as the best food city in Texas) and earning award nominations (Randy Rucker's Bootsie's Heritage Cafe was up for the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant - the "Oscars of the restaurant world"), Houston's dining scene seems slowly but surely to be staking out room on the national stage.

Eating local [ edit ]

Like any city with a respectable, trendy food scene, Houston's top restaurants seem to be all about what's seasonal and local these days (oh, and Houston is just now getting into gourmet food trucks), as well as becoming increasingly prominent in stores as well. Fresh produce to seek out include tomatoes, sweet "1015" onions (not as sweet as the Hawaiian variety, but pretty impressive), watermelon, strawberries, peaches, corn, carrots, and squash blossoms. Look for local cheese from the Houston Dairymaids - who make just about any variety you can think of - and bread baked daily and shipped to restaurants from the Slow Dough Bakery. Houstonians are just as crazy for crawfish (no "crayfish" down here, Yankee) as Louisianans are, as well as catfish and Gulf seafood such as red snapper, blue crab, and shrimp; gaining in popularity are local species that were previously overlooked, such as blackfin tuna, tilefish, grouper, almaco jack, and black drum. Houston has always had a steady supply of oysters from Galveston Bay, but the program of oyster "appellations" has been revived, meaning high-quality specimens are labeled with their reef of origin, just like the well-known varieties from the east and west coasts - look for varieties such as Ladies Pass and Pepper Grove.

Drink [ edit ]

Local beer [ edit ].

  • 29.77116 -95.34854 1 The Saint Arnold Brewery . Billed as Texas' oldest microbrewery. Their brews are often sold in local bars. Very popular beers are the Texas Wheat, Oktoberfest (August through October), and Christmas Ale (November through December). The brewery tour is open Monday through Friday from 3PM to 4:15PM, and Saturday 11AM to 2PM.  
  • Karbach Brewing Co , 2032 Karbach St . Beer Garden/patio is open M-F 2:30-9PM, Sa noon - 9PM, Su noon - 5:30PM . It is building an expansion of the brewery and a restaurant/brewpub.  
  • Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company , 5301 Nolda St . In the Washington Corridor. Focused on their Witbier recipe and interesting variation of that. Tours/tasting hours Saturday Noon to 3PM.  
  • 8th Wonder Brewing Company , 2202 Dallas St ( In EaDo near BBVA Stadium ). Taproom open Th F 5-10PM, Sa noon-8PM, Su noon-8PM . Great for a few beers before a Dynamo game away from the crush at Lucky's and Little Woodrow's.  

Local coffee [ edit ]

  • Xela Coffee Roasters , 4409 Canal St , ☏ +1-713-640-5189 . 8AM-2PM (closed Tuesday) . Coffee roaster serving freshly roasted coffee via batch brew and pour overs (single origins) as well as espresso drinks. Front porch and back patio make it a great place to enjoy a fresh drink when the weather allows for it. Black coffee: $2.00; single origin pour over for 2 people: $5.00; breakfast tacos $2.50 . ( updated Dec 2019 )
  • Blacksmith , 1018 Westheimer Rd, , ☏ +1-832-360-7470 . Daily 7AM-5PM . Coffee shop serving freshly roasted coffee (batch brew and pour overs), espresso drinks and mix of breakfast and lunch options. Coffee drinks range in price from $3.00 (daily batch brew) to ~$5.00 for lattes. All food options are $15.00 or less. . ( updated Dec 2019 )

Sleep [ edit ]

Connect [ edit ], by phone [ edit ].

Houston has several telephone area codes and mandatory 10-digit dialing . For any number, even within your own area code, you need to dial areacode + number . For local calls, you do not dial a 1+ or a 0+ before the number. Some calls within Houston are considered long distance, and for those you need to dial 1 + areacode + number .

Houston's area codes are: 713, 281, 346 and 832.

By internet [ edit ]

Wifi [ edit ].

At the George Bush International Airport, the wireless connection is paid and organized by Boingo (wireless network Boingo Hotspot). From the Boingo welcome page, one can also choose (slow) sponsored free internet connection, which is good for an hour. Sometimes, after one hour the next sponsored connection could be opened.

By mail [ edit ]

Stay safe [ edit ], crime [ edit ].

While not as infamous as Detroit, Baltimore, or Memphis, the crime rate in Houston is high and the city has a reputation among Texans as a dangerous city. Houston is the largest hub for human trafficking into the United States and is also a major hub for drug and weapons trafficking. Certain areas of Houston are more dangerous than others, including the area within Loop 610 on the east side and some areas in Southwest Houston near Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Tollway).

As a general rule, the areas of or portions of Spring Branch, Alief, Fondren Southwest, Sharpstown, Hiram Clarke, and Gulfton should be avoided during the night. Even during the day time, it is best that you exercise special caution in these areas as they have relatively large homeless populations and moderate levels of gang activity. The Third & Fifth Wards, and Southeast/South Central (South Park, Sunnyside, South Acres, Yellowstone) areas should be avoided during the day and night as violent crime is common in these areas. Criminal elements in Houston are known to target random people. The city center is relatively safe during the day time, but special caution should be exercised in the early morning and evening hours, and it is best to avoid the city center during the night, especially if you are alone.

Travelers to Houston should follow common safety procedures: stay away from deserted areas in the middle of the night, keep your valuables stored out of sight, keep purses and wallets in a secure location, and always put valuables in a car trunk. Call 911 for emergency assistance or report a crime in progress. For non-emergency assistance and for crimes not in progress such as minor assault, car theft, home invasion, property damage, and theft, dial 713-884-3131 and request police assistance. The Houston Police Department also allows citizens to file online reports for minor property damage and theft if they are under $5,000 in damages. Residents of Texas are allowed to carry concealed firearms after completing training and a thorough background check

Natural disasters [ edit ]

Like much of the Gulf Coast, Houston is very vulnerable to hurricanes. If a hurricane is forecast to make landfall anywhere near Houston, listen to officials and heed mandatory evacuation orders if applicable. Even if there isn't a mandatory evacuation order, consider avoiding the city if a hurricane is coming—officials may be hesitant to order an evacuation, even in severe situations, because the city is so huge. The last major hurricane to hit Houston was Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which caused historic flooding and widespread damage. Even tropical depressions and storms can pose a real threat, as Tropical Storm Imelda made landfall in September 2019 and brought flooding that rivaled or even exceeded that of Harvey in some areas. Hurricane season is June through November, peaking in September.

Houston is very hot and humid in the summer, with temperatures around 31-38°C (87-100°F), similar to tropical cities like Manila or Panama City during the summer. However, in the winter, Houston can be mild with temperatures ranging from -1-18°C (30-64°F), and winter climate is usually similar to winters in the rest of the Southern United States or in Southern California .

METRO Rail [ edit ]

Be careful when coming near the METRO Rail track, especially at intersections.

Follow the signs since the trains move very quickly and run at almost all hours of the day and night. It runs almost silently. At many streets, left turns are not permitted. Also watch the signs and signals, because some will change as trains approach. Do not drive on the tracks as there are large raised white domes that separate the roadway and the rail line. In some areas signs may indicate driving (or walking) on the tracks is permitted (only in the Texas Medical Center) but make sure it is safe to do so.

Drive across the tracks only when you are sure it is safe to do so, especially at night as an oncoming train may not be heard by a driver inside a car.

Cope [ edit ]

  • Meditation Classes for Beginners . Relaxation meditations and meditation classes to increase inner peace.

If that isn't your thing. try the simple thing most Houstonians do when they need to release tensions of big city madness: take a walk in the beautiful parks or go walking and shopping downtown. If you know someone who lives in Houston, you can have a lunch on a gorgeous spring day outside. Sometimes the most relaxing and peaceful things don't always involve money.

Consulates [ edit ]

Houston is home to many people of different nationalities and language backgrounds. Therefore, many countries have established full-service consulates (Consulate-General) in Houston to provide consular services for their nationals living in Texas and in the adjacent states in the southeast part of the U.S. as well as visa services for others seeking to visit their respective countries (if required). The Honorary Consu0ates are there for commercial and business purposes and offer limited or no consular services except in emergency situations. Most of the consulates are in or around the Galleria/Uptown area and the West Inner Loop neighborhoods, west of downtown. They can also be in other parts of town too:

  • VFS Global , 1001 Texas Ave, Suite #550 , ☏ +1 800 320-9693 (consular services), +1 800-320-9625 (passport services) . M-F 9AM-4PM By Appointment only . They accept and process applications for Indian passports, visas, OCI cards, PIO cards and applications for the renunciation of Indian citizenship. ( updated Jul 2020 )

Go next [ edit ]

  • Galveston — Only about an hour's drive southeast from the city, Houstonians go to Galveston island for its beaches, the Strand, Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston, and Moody Gardens.
  • Surfside — Another beach, less crowded than Galveston. About an hour from Houston.
  • Webster , southeast of the city, is the location of Space Center Houston, the visitor center of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
  • Schlitterbahn , in New Braunfels (about 174 miles west of Houston). Huge waterpark, rated #1 waterpark in America by the Travel Channel.
  • Kemah — Nice boardwalk with great restaurants and amusement rides that is south of Houston and on the way to Galveston Island.
  • Blue Bell Creameries — See the Texas countryside in Brenham and tour the creamery. About one hour (75 mi) north west of Houston along US 290.
  • A Taste of Coastal Texas — An itinerary leading you through sights along the Texas Coast down to Corpus Christi .

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The fourth largest city in the United States, HOUSTON is an ungainly beast of a place, choked with successive rings of highways and high on humidity. Despite this, its sheer energy, its relentless Texas pride and, above all, its refusal to take itself totally seriously, lends it no small appeal. For visitors, its well-endowed museums, highly regarded performing arts scene and decent nightlife mean there is always something to do.

Brief history

If you have just a short time, concentrate on the superb galleries of the Museum District and Hermann Park, which are linked to downtown, some five miles northeast, by tram (trolley). The city’s human face is most evident in the Montrose area, which lies west of downtown and overlaps with the Museum District.

Uptown, also called the Galleria district after its massive upscale mall, is three miles west. Just outside the Loop, the Galleria’s 300 or so shops and restaurants spread north along Post Oak Boulevard; there is little to do around here except shop and eat.

The city’s very existence has always depended on wild speculation and boom-and-bust excess. Founded on a muddy mire in 1837 by two real estate-booster brothers from New York – their dream was to establish it as the capital of the new Republic of Texas – Houston was soon superseded by the more promising site of Austin, even while somehow developing itself as a commercial centre.

Oil, discovered in 1901, became the foundation, along with cotton and real estate, of vast private fortunes, and over the next century wildly wealthy philanthropists poured cash into swanky galleries and showpiece skyscrapers. That colossal self-confidence helped Houston weather devastating oil crises in the 1980s, and more recently it endured the Enron corporate scandal. Houston has also developed a growing workforce eager to bring alternative energy to scale. Solar and wind projects offer the most promise in Texas; more than 25 percent of Houston’s energy load, for instance, comes from wind.

Several megachurches headquartered downtown – with smooth-talking celebrity pastors like Joel Olsteen – have become powerful social, cultural and political forces, drawing as many as fifty thousand people to their Sunday services, which are open to the public.

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Here are the top 16 things to do in Houston this weekend

T his weekend, we have a bevy of anniversary parties, with a brewery celebrating its 30th anniversary and a monthly soul party celebrating its first. We also have the grand opening of a new cocktail lounge in River Oaks, another monthly block party in Midtown, Broadway shows starting up downtown, and movies about jazz coming out of the Museum District. Plus, some of the golf world's biggest stars will be driving for show and putting for dough.

And if you feel like downing some rosé and taking a brief trip to the moon, you can also do that this weekend.

Here are this weekend's best bets.

Continue reading this article from our ABC13 partners at Houston CultureMap .

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Two dozen United Airlines passengers fell ill on flight, had been on cruise

houston usa tourism

Around two dozen passengers fell ill on a United Airlines flight from Vancouver, Canada to Houston, Texas on Friday.

Approximately 25 people traveling in a group of 75 had nausea, according to Capt. Sedrick Robinett of the Houston Fire Department. HFD evaluated three passengers upon the plane’s arrival at George Bush Intercontinental Airport but none were transported to the hospital, he said.

“Several passengers who had been on the same cruise and did not feel well were on United Flight 1528 from Vancouver to Houston Friday night,” United told USA TODAY in an emailed statement. The airline did not answer a question about what cruise line or ship the flyers had been traveling on before their flight.

“United Airlines is actively coordinating with health authorities to address the situation,” the airline’s statement continued. “As a precautionary measure, the aircraft will be removed from service and go through a deep cleaning before returning to service. Ensuring the health and safety of our passengers and crew remains our top priority.”

Is there a doctor on board?: Usually, yes. Here's why.

The Houston Health Department referred a request for comment to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Public health officers from CDC’s Houston Port Health Station worked with EMS to evaluate ill passengers on board," a CDC spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "Most of the ill passengers reported mild GI symptoms. No passengers were noted to have a fever during the flight or upon public health assessment at landing. No passengers met CDC criteria for further public health follow-up. Passengers from the flight continued with their travel plans."

The news comes after dozens of passengers on a Condor flight from Mauritius to Frankfurt, Germany mysteriously became sick with nausea and vomiting last month.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].

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