Whether you are a local, passing through for vacation or work, or are a new resident, there are plenty of fun things to do in Houston, Texas. Visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center, catch a free show at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park, explore the Houston Museum of Natural Science, or go to a baseball game at Minute Maid Park. However you decide to fill your day trips or weekends, there is no shortage of interesting attractions and things to do in Houston for people of all ages.
15 Things to Do in Houston, Texas
1. Visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center
One of the most popular things to do in Houston is to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Between a zero-gravity environment simulation and exploring the flight deck and astronaut living quarters of a full replica of the Independence space shuttle, the visitor center has something of interest for all curious minds. Hop on the open-air tram for a tour of the Johnson Space Center and see where astronauts train for space missions as well as check out actual rockets on display in Rocket Park.
2. Cheer on Houston’s Home Teams
A weekend spent in Houston can readily be filled with cheering on the home team all year long. Watch the NFL’s Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in the fall, see the NBA’s Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in the Spring (and look for hometown star Beyonce in the courtside seats), and spend warm weekends with the MLB’s Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. If you’d rather be amongst the masses, there are endless amounts of sports bars inside The Loop where you can grab a drink with local fans.
3. Explore the Museum District
Houston has a thriving museum district that spans a 12 block radius. Some of the city’s favorite museums are the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Holocaust Museum Houston. Between the twenty different museums that are clustered together, there are interesting things to do for people of all ages in the museum district.
4. See the Cowboys at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
If you’re looking for more traditional Texan things to do in Houston, visit the city in February or March for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which runs for 19 days. The whole family can enjoy the carnival and farm animals before checking out the cowboys at the big-ticket rodeo events. Cap off the evening at Goodnight Charlie’s in Montrose, where live music and two-stepping complete the fun-filled honky-tonk day.
5. Shop Until You Drop at The Galleria
Everything is bigger in Houston, Texas, including shopping! The Galleria, Texas’ largest shopping center at 2.4 million square feet, sits on the west side of the Loop within the Houston neighborhood Uptown. It attracts over 30 million visitors a year and boasts over 400 stores and 50 dining options, making it easy to spend the whole day here. While you’re in the neighborhood, head over to the Rooftop Cinema Club on BLVD place. Put on some wireless headphones and check out a classic or modern film from the comfort of a deck chair with snacks, wine, and friends.
6. Houston is a Green City: Visit it’s Parks
Amongst it’s a vast urban setting, Houston is home to many locally loved green spaces. Catch a free show at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park or rent a bike for amazing views of the downtown Houston skyline from the trails of Buffalo Bayou Park. Discovery Green has several free exercise classes that are open to the public if you’re interested in yoga, HIIT, Thai Chi, or parkour. Between these parks, Brazos Bend State Park, and Memorial Park, there are plenty of trails and waterways throughout Houston to help you escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
7. Spend the Day with Animals
Have an animal-filled day in Houston! Head over to Hermann Park to visit the Houston Zoo to see the 6,000 exotic and indigenous animals that call the zoo home. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at feeding the giraffes. Want a close look at life under the sea? Visit the Downtown Aquarium and have lunch alongside a 150,000-gallon, two-story tank, pet a few stingrays, and hop on the train for a ride through the Shark Voyage. The whole family is guaranteed an educational and fun day.
8. Explore the Streets of Montrose
Spend the afternoon walking through the streets of Montrose, a progressive Houston neighborhood that is the city’s hub for live music, vintage shopping, and political activism. As you walk through the tree covered streets, pop into a tattoo parlor or a quaint coffee shop. Have dinner at the hipster favorite spot, UB Preserv, which is home to James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd. This 4 square mile neighborhood offers the best eccentric experience in Texas outside of Austin.
9. Eat Your Way Through Chinatown
Did you know that Houston has the biggest Chinese population in America outside of Los Angeles? That being said, one of the best things to do in Houston is to have a meal in Chinatown. Tasting your way through the bustling Hong Kong Food Market is an absolute must. And taking a peaceful stroll around Jade Buddha Temple’s gardens with a full belly is a wonderful way to cap off the meal.
10. Explore Family-Friendly Attractions
There are plenty of things to do in Houston that will entertain the whole family. Play a few rounds at Topgolf, or try iFLY Indoor Skydiving if you’re looking for a safe yet thrilling adventure. If you really want to treat the family, stay the night at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Houston and beat the heat on the rooftop Texas-shaped lazy river.
11. Go On a DIY Craft Brewery Tour
Houston boasts a vast array of craft breweries inside The Loop, and it’s easy to take your friends on a DIY craft brewery tour. Start off strong at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, the oldest brewery in Texas, and then head to 8th Wonder Brewery and Eatsie Boys. If you want to hit a few microbreweries on your tour as well, check out Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co., Brash Brewing, Eureka Heights, and Under the Radar. Many of these are walkable, but make sure to have Uber ready on your phone!
12. Eat the Best Texas BBQ
Houston, Texas takes their barbecue very seriously. In fact, three out of the elite list of Top 10 Barbecue Joints from Texas Monthly were located in Houston. Make sure you visit at least one of these barbecue spots while you’re in town: Chocolate Craftory, Corkscrew BBQ, and Truth BBQ.
13. See the Bat Colony at Waugh Bridge
Another fun thing to do in Montrose is to walk over to the Waugh Bridge to see the Mexican free-tailed bats. Before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, there were over 300,000 bats living under the bridge, and while they certainly were affected by the devastation, the bat colony remains. The best time to catch them flying about together is on a warm night around sunset.
14. Tour the Underground Cistern
If you’re headed to Buffalo Bayou Park, go on a short historical tour of the Cistern, an underground drinking-water reservoir from 1926 that now hosts rotating art installations. The cavernous structure boasts 200 25 foot columns and 87,5000 square feet of open space. If you happen to be there on a late Sunday morning, don’t miss the special opportunity of joining a meditation session in the Cistern.
15. Get a Breathtaking View of Houston
Houston is such a beautiful city and one of the best ways to get a great view of it is from above. The JPMorgan Chase Tower is the tallest building in Texas at over 1,000 feet tall and it offers free rides to their observation deck for a breathtaking view of the city. Another view worth braving heights for is to ride to the top of the San Jacinto Monument, which is about half the height of the JPMorgan Chase Tower at 567- feet tall.