Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
As the fourth largest city in the U.S., the sprawling Metropolis of Houston has become a top destination 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 cultural experiences can be found right here in the city.
Perfect for a weekend trip or a vacation getaway, Houston 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.
Houston History at San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
What Is It? A short drive from Houston lies San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.
Why Do It? You can explore the battleground complex from 1836 when Texas troops surprised the Mexican army camped here. It’s one of the most popular historic sites in Texas.
Good to Know: 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
What Is It? 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.
Why Do It? 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.
Good to Know: Just grab a map so you don’t end up taking a wrong turn and walking way more than you bargained for.
Visit Space Center Houston
What Is It? Without a doubt, one of the top attractions in Texas is the Space Center.
Why Do It? It’s about 25 miles southeast of the city, and the best place to start is at Space Center Houston, the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space 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.
Good to Know: You’ll spend your time watching live presentations and films, walking underneath a flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, steering a spacecraft in a simulator, exploring an interactive Mars exhibit, and much more. Check the Space Center website for up-to-date information on exhibits, hours, and tickets.
Shop at The Galleria
What Is It? 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.
Why Do It? 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.
Good to Know: 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
What Is It? 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.
Why Do It? Discovery Green is in the middle of downtown and flanked by towering skyscrapers in all directions.
Good to Know: 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
What Is It? Another green space worth visiting in Houston is Market Square Park.
Why Do It? 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.
Good to Know: Inside some of those buildings are eclectic restaurants and bars worth stopping by as well.
Explore the Museum District
What Is It? Like all major American cities, Houston has a museum district that’s worth taking some time to explore.
Why Do It? Many of the museums are centered around Main and Bissonnet Streets, and there are a lot of different ones to choose from.
Good to Know: The Houston Museum of Natural Science is great for learning about artifacts from around the world, fossils and dinosaur bones, butterflies, and the planets. 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
What Is It? 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.
Why Do It? 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 Crawfish & Noodles and LA Crawfish.
Good to Know: 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
What Is It? What better to see Houston than while wearing a cowboy hat and boots, right?
Why Do It? There are 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 Pinto Ranch, Leon Western Wear, and Cavender’s Boot City.
Good to Know: For authentic cowboy boots, expect to pay at least $400 or more.
Experience the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
What Is It? It would be a shame to visit Texas and not attend at least one rodeo!
Why Do It? 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 normally takes place over several weeks in March and is worth at least one full day to explore everything going on.
Good to Know: 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.