As the fourth largest city in the U.S., the sprawling Metropolis of Houston has become a top destination for young professionals moving up in their careers. Among other places in Texas, Houston stands out as a sophisticated and thriving city that’s undergoing a cultural transformation and making waves on the culinary scene. A trip to Houston involves much more than just seeing old oil fields, as some of the region’s best arts and culture experiences can be found right here in the city.
Perfect for a weekend trip or a vacation getaway, Houston is easy to get to by plane or car and offers a little bit of everything for friends and families traveling together. These are some of our favorite ways to enjoy a trip to Houston.
And if you’ve already settled on the dates for an upcoming Houston trip, now’s a great time to start looking at hotel options in the area!
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Houston History at San Jacinto State Park
A short drive from Houston lies this historic park, where you can explore the battleground complex from 1836 when Texas troops surprised the Mexican army camped here. Check out the exhibits at the San Jacinto Museum of History, and ride the elevator to the monument’s observation deck for an awesome view of Houston.
Tour the Downtown Tunnels
Something that you might not know about Houston if you’ve never been there before is that there are six miles of underground tunnels that connect many of the city’s buildings and are just waiting to be explored. Dozens of shops and restaurants are down here, and you can even take a tour to get to know this unique part of the city. This is also a great way to get around if it’s raining or excessively hot and humid, like summer days tend to get in Houston. Just grab a map so you don’t end up taking a wrong turn and walking way more than you bargained for.
Visit the Houston Space Center
Without a doubt, one of the top attractions to visit in Houston is the Space Center. It’s about 25 miles southeast of the city, and the best place to start is NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center visitor center. When you visit, you can see historic artifacts from various space missions and lots of interactive adventures with rotating exhibits. This place is very kid-friendly and will definitely keep the young ones entertained. You’ll spend your time watching short films, trying on astronaut helmets, steering a space craft in a simulator, and maybe even having lunch with an astronaut if you plan your visit in advance!
Shop at the Galleria
Houston is known as one of the top places to shop in the American South, and the Galleria is a classy establishment with hundreds of shops. This is a place where you’ll find high-end stores like Gucci and Tiffany & Co., so it’s a great destination for window shopping even if you can’t afford to splurge. There’s an ice skating rink here and lots of restaurants to stop by as well. The shopping areas are indoors and air conditioned, to give you a nice break from the summer heat as well during your visit.
Concerts & Festivals at Discovery Green
A visit to Houston is definitely a city experience, but there are some wonderful parks in the city to relax in and spend time among the region’s native trees and flowers. Discovery Green is in the middle of downtown and flanked by towering skyscrapers in all directions. You can often find free festivals, concerts, and film showings here, so check local events calendars before your trip to see if anything fun is going on during the days you’ll be in town.
Hang Out at Market Square Park
Another green space worth visiting in Houston is Market Square Park. This is a great place to catch a concert or attend a festival while in the city, and there’s even a dog park here if you’re traveling with a four-legged friend. Some of the older buildings in the city form the perimeter of this park, so it’s also an interesting place to take a walk for travelers interested in architecture. And inside some of those buildings are eclectic restaurants and bars worth stopping by as well.
Explore the Museum District
Like all major American cities, Houston has a museum district that’s worth taking some time in to explore. Many of the museums are centered around Main and Bissonnet Streets, and there are a lot of different ones to choose from. The Houston Museum of Natural Science is great for learning about artifacts from around the world, fossils and dinosaur bones, butterflies, and the planets. Meanwhile, the Museum of Fine Arts is one of the largest art museums in the country and has a huge collection of works from various civilizations. The Contemporary Arts Museum and the Children’s Museum of Houston are also excellent.
Get Your Crawfish Fix
The food scene in Houston might make you think of barbecue in giant-sized portions, but crawfish are another local specialty worth trying while you’re here. Crawfish season runs from February to May in Houston, and its location close to the Gulf Coast makes it a wonderful place to get your crawfish fix. Popular crawfish restaurants to try include Danton’s, Crawfish & Noodles, and LA Crawfish. Crawfish pairs quite well with local craft beer, and there are many breweries in Houston to cool off your tongue after all that spicy seafood. For example, there’s Buffalo Bayou Brewing, Karbach Brewing, Southern Star Brewing, Saint Arnold Brewing, and 8th Wonder Brewing, just to name a few.
Shop for Authentic Western Wear
How better to see Houston than while wearing a cowboy hat and boots, right? Fortunately, there are still lots of places where you can shop for Western wear in Houston in a variety of price ranges. Some of the top shops in Houston are Outback Western Wear Store, Pinto Ranch, Leon Western Wear, and Cavender’s Boot City. Anyone who’s ever shopped for cowboy boots knows that they often run at least $400 or more. If dressing to a theme is out of your budget, consider stopping by the Texas Junk Co., which has used pairs of boots for sale as low as $30.
Experience the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
It would be a shame to visit Texas and not attend at least one rodeo! You might not see cowboys around town as much as you used to, but the world’s largest livestock show still comes to town once a year. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo takes place over several weeks in March and is worth at least one full day to explore everything going on. This is a Texas tradition where you can experience bull riding, cow roping, country dancing, barrel racing, authentic local cuisine, and many events scheduled across multiple days.