As the largest city in Texas and the forth largest city in the US, Houston is teeming with places to go and things to do. With dozens of parks, an outdoor enthusiast could spend weeks just exploring the many green spaces. And Houston is a major foodie city. Whether you want Mexican with a twist, sushi, health food, vegan or vegetarian, international cuisine, or down-to-earth American fare, you'll find it in Houston! This guide merely scratches the surface of the vibrant restaurant life, while offering ideas for a mix of paid and free things to do in Houston.
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1. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts
One of the largest art museums in the country, this elegant museum features multiple levels of art and artifacts from around the world. With over 64000 pieces of artwork to view, plan to spend a couple hours touring the collections.
Location: 1001 Bissonnet Street
Tip: Visit on Thursday for free admission, but be prepared for crowds.
2. Tour the Menil Collection.
This beautiful art gallery differs from typical art museums in their desire to allow the art to speak for itself to each individual viewer; therefore, no didactic, educational panels exist in the galleries. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Location: 1533 Sul Ross Street
3. View fishes and tigers at the Houston Downtown Aquarium.
In addition to its fantastic displays of aquatic life, including its touch pools, the aquarium is also home to four stunning white Bengal tigers. Feed the stingrays, have lunch at the restaurant, and ride the 100-foot-tall ferris wheel for great views of the city.
Location: 410 Bagby Street
Tip: Enjoy the view from the balcony during Happy Hour (Monday-Friday from 3-7) to take advantage of food and drink specials.
4. Take a stroll through Hermann Park.
This large park on the southwest side of Houston features a golf course, reflecting pool, and kiddie train. Watch a show at the Miller Outdoor Theater, tour the Museum of Natural Science, and visit the furries and fuzzies at the Houston Zoo.
Location: 6001 Fannin Street
5. Explore the Houston Heights neighborhood.
This super-funky, hipster area of Houston features an eclectic array of restaurants, bars, and second-hand stores. Stop by Heights Vinyl on White Oak for a huge selection of vintage tunes, or indulge in gourmet Deviled Eggs and a Rodeo Rueben at Liberty Kitchen on Studewood.
Location: Northwest-Central Houston
7. Walk along Buffalo Bayou.
Buffalo Bayou Park stretches from Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street and features hiking and biking trails. You'll see several pieces of artwork along the way and get some great views of the Houston skyline.
Location: Between Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway, from Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street
8. Take in the Downtown Houston skyline from Eleanor Tinsley Park.
As you walk along Buffalo Bayou, stop off at Eleanor Tinsley Park to view the Houston skyline. The park also features a volleyball court and jogging trail. Take a picnic and sit in the grass or at one of the provided picnic tables. Each year, the park hosts a number of events, including the annual 4th of July music concert and fireworks show.
Location: Allen Parkway at Sabine
10. Watch a show in the Theater District.
Whether you crave dramas, comedies, or musicals, ballet, orchestra, or opera, Houston's Theater District has it all!
Location: Downtown Houston
Tip: Enjoy dinner before your show at Artista Restaurant, located inside the Hobby Center for Performing Arts at 800 Bagby Street.
11. Take a bus tour.
Get the layout of the city on the Double-Decker, Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour. See Hermann Park, the Convention Center, Market Square Park, the Houston Aquarium, and much more!
Location: Walker and Bagby (or any of the other five stops)
Tip: We have found that it's easy to find parking on Walker Street, so we would suggest that location as your starting and ending point. Plus, you can wander around Tranquility Park or pop into Houston City Hall to pick up some free literature while you wait.
12. Visit the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.
You don't have to go to India to see a beautiful Hindu temple. A drive down I69 will take you into Stafford, TX, a suburb southwest of Houston. There you'll find this stunning architectural wonder. The buildings themselves are amazing, and the grounds well-kept. Be respectful and take time to appreciate the details.
Location: 1150 Brand Lane, Stafford
Tip: If you plan to go inside, please note that you cannot take photography equipment indoors.
13. Get your daily exercise in Memorial Park.
Walk, jog, or bike around Memorial Park. Located in West-Central Houston, this park covers over 1400 acres and features a number of trails. Every weekend, hundreds of people exercise in the park. Grab a friend or take the whole family and work those muscles while you bond.
Location: Memorial Drive, from Crestwood to West Loop
14. Grab some eats on Washington Ave.
After working up a sweat in Memorial Park, run up to Washington Ave and find some grub. We love Velvet Taco, a new age hipster taco spot with outdoor seating, Max's Wine Dive (try their fried chicken sliders), and benjy's, with their chic decor and bold flavors. For a quick bite, try W Grill (psst... they even have margaritas you can pick up in the drive-through) or El Rey (their salads are legit!).
Location: Washington Avenue, from Westcott Street to around Studemont (though you will find a handful of respectable restaurants beyond Studemont)
15. Ride the Houston METRORail just for kicks.
Tired of walking? Drive downtown, park somewhere near Market Square Park, and hop on the METRORail at Main and Preston and just ride. For less than $2, you can get a tour of the city while blending in with the locals.
Location: Main Street at Preston Street
Tip: Once you finish your METRORail journey, stop by Batanga for tapas or El Big Bad for new age Mexican eats.
Having lived in Houston for over two years, we pinpointed a number of our favorite H-Town activities and restaurants and compiled them here. We hope you find this list useful as you plan your trip to Houston or explore the city you call home.
What have I left off this list? What are you favorite things to do and places to see in Houston?
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