20 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Houston

20 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Houston

Houston has no shortage of things to do when it comes to culture, food, shopping, distinctive attractions, and exciting experiences. The famed Space Center Houston, renowned chefs, fascinating museums, and gorgeous green areas, as well as a bayou flowing through the heart of the city, make this the fourth biggest metropolis in the United States. You could even be able to see a sporting event or attend Houston’s iconic event, the Livestock Show and Rodeo, depending on your trip dates. You have many Things to Do in Houston. Let’s see what are they.

Houston is an excellent weekend vacation destination, with direct flights from all around North America. Combine a vacation to Houston with a stop in nearby Galveston, which is just about an hour away, for a taste of both the major metropolis and the island life. See our list of top attractions in Houston for a comprehensive list of things to do.

1. Visit Houston’s Space Center

Things to Do in Houston
At Johnson Space Center, the Space Shuttle is placed atop a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft

Center for Space Exploration Houston is home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s official visitor center, which is a must-see destination in the city. You may go around the space shuttle replica Independence and the massive shuttle carrier aircraft it’s placed on at this massive facility. You may go inside a recreation of America’s first space station, Skylab, and touch a moon rock in the visitor center. This is also where you can find out about NASA’s prospective missions, such as a trip to Mars. On a Friday at noon, you could even get to meet an astronaut.

You may take an open-air tram journey from the visitor center to Johnson Space Center, the headquarters of mission control, to witness where astronauts prepare for space missions. This tour also includes a visit to Rocket Park, where you can view real rockets on exhibit. There is no payment if you just want to go to the Rocket Park. Simply drive up to the guarded gate, explain why you want to visit, and they will let you in.

Sign up for a Level 9 Tour and get a behind-the-scenes peek at Johnson Space Center for a totally unique experience. You may see the Buoyancy Lab, ISS Mission Control, and simulation labs, as well as other locations not open to the public on regular tours, and maybe even meet an astronaut. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with only 12 tickets available every day for this four- to five-hour VIP tour. The tours begin at the Space Center Houston, which you are welcome to visit as part of your ticket purchase.

Address: 1601 Nasa Pkwy, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://spacecenter.org/

2. The Museum District in Houston is a must-see

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 

With 19 museums in this gorgeous section of downtown, the Museum District is one of Houston’s most popular cultural destinations. Eleven of them are available for free to the general audience. The Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Children’s Museum of Houston, the Menil Collection, the Holocaust Museum, as well as the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, to mention a few, are all worth visiting. The gorgeous Hermann Park, which includes the Houston Zoo and also the Miller Outdoor Theatre, is also in this region.

Address: 1001 Bissonnet Street, Houston, Texas

3. The Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts

Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best museums of its sort in the country. The 63,000-piece collection is split between two buildings: the Audrey Jones Beck building and the Caroline Wiess Law Building, which are linked by the Wilson Tunnel.

The museum’s concentration is on Impressionist Renaissance paintings, exquisite sculptures, and European and American decorative arts by French and Italian artists. Check out the amazing collection of gold objects from pre-Columbian and African cultures.

If you like to explore at your own leisure, there’s plenty to keep you engaged and entertained here; but, if it all seems a little overwhelming, sign up for a tour to see the highlights.

The Bayou Bend and Collections is a satellite gallery in the River Oaks area that includes furniture, decorative arts, and paintings.

Address: 1001 Bissonnet Street, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://www.mfah.org/

4. Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Cockrell Butterfly Conservatory

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the city’s most visited attractions. The museum is an enjoyable adventure for people of all ages, and it covers a wide range of themes that will appeal to everyone in your company.

During your stay, stop by the Hall of Paleontology to see numerous entire dinosaur skeletons. Tour the Cockrell Butterfly Conservatory for something still alive, where approximately 1,500 of these lovely butterflies flit around in the humid air, and if you’re lucky, one could even land on you.

With a show at the Planetarium, learn about what’s in the night skies over Houston, then relax and engage your senses at the Wortham Giant Screen Theater.

Address: 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://www.hmns.org/

5. Visit the Houston Zoo

Visit the Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo, located on 55 acres in Hermann Park, is one of the city’s most popular attractions, drawing both locals and visitors. The zoo has about 6,000 exotic and native species, as well as an education center and a children’s zoo. Feeding the giraffes, viewing marine life up close at the aquarium, and seeing sea lions & otters frolic are just a few of the highlights.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Miller Outdoor Theatre, a Japanese Garden, and the McGovern Centennial Garden are among the other attractions in Hermann Park. A paddle boat cruise on McGovern Lake or a stroll along the park’s walking trails are also enjoyable.

Address: 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas

Official site: www.houstonzoo.org

6. The Menil Collection

The Menil Collection

The Menil Collection is housed in a structure that is almost as much of a work of art as the artifacts it holds. The structure is light-filled, thanks to the large glass windows that look out into the pristine gardens, which were designed by famous architect Renzo Piano. Unlike many other art museums, the art in many (but not all) of the rooms is illuminated by natural light.

The Menil Collection is notable for possessing the world’s biggest collection of Max Ernst works. The Menil Collection also has modern works of art as well as works by masters in the Byzantine, Abstract, and Surrealism genres. All of these pieces are shown together in special spaces.

If the weather permits, spend some time exploring the Menil Collection’s campus. The Rothko Chapel, with its mural canvases, is one of the most intriguing things to view.

The entrance to the museum is free.

Address: 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://www.menil.org/

7. Visit the Houston Children’s Museum with the kids

Houston Children’s Museum

The Houston Children’s Museum is a terrific way to fight the summer heat and one of the greatest places to visit in Houston for families. This vibrant, boisterous environment is sure to put a grin on everyone’s face. Allow the youngsters to run wild and get busy with all of the hands-on and interactive displays.

The How Does It Work display is one of the attractions. You and your children will discover how things work in everyday life. The FlowWorks wet zone is also a fun location to play with water, switch it on and off, change the flow, and see the results.

Send your kids to the SECRETS Spy Game exhibit if they’ve ever wanted to pretend to be secret spies. While fighting against malicious individuals, they will put their abilities to the test by attempting to crack codes and discover clues.

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

8. The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is a must-see

Waterwall Park

The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park has a multi-story sculptural fountain that cascades water sheets over enormous concrete walls and sculptures. The semi-circular form of the construction rises 64 feet above the ground and is surrounded by a massive arch with 46,500 square feet of water.

Photos do not do this attraction justice; it is something that must be experienced in person to really understand. This 2.77-acre park in Uptown Houston is surrounded by hundreds of live oak trees.

9. National Museum of Funeral History

National Museum of Funeral History

You may not expect a museum dedicated to funerals to be a big tourist destination in Houston, but it is. This fascinating and interesting museum is quirky and unusual, but it’s well worth a visit.

Antique funeral hearses, embalming exhibitions, coffins from across the world from as far away as Ghana, the history of presidential funerals, and other exhibits can be found inside the 30,500-square-foot facility.

The vivid overview of Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), where this Latin American tradition is discussed in great detail, is a must-see exhibit.

Address: 415 Barren Springs Drive, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://www.nmfh.org/

10. Take a look at some of Houston’s street art

Houston Street Art

Houston’s street art, or what many people refer to as graffiti, is remarkable, despite the fact that it is frequently disregarded by tourists. Here you’ll find installations by some of the most well-known names in street art from across the world, like COPE2 & Houston’s own Gonzo247.

These vibrant murals cover the walls of businesses all across the city, and they’re definitely worth a trip around to see. Gonzo247, a dynamic artist, is the unofficial curator of Houston’s street art. He is the author of the large “Houston is Inspired” mural at Travis and Preston Streets, as well as the smaller “Houston” mural at Leeland & St. Emanuel Streets, and is one of the city’s most well-known street painters.

Off Leeland Street at Chartres Street and St. Emanuel Street, there is a huge concentration of stunning installations that adorn the walls of various one- and two-story buildings. But artwork may be seen strewn all around the city on walls of varied sizes.

11. Holocaust Museum Houston

Holocaust Museum Houston

Stop into the Holocaust Museum for a somber reminder of man’s ability to inflict unspeakable evil on another human being. Since its inception in 1996, the museum has been portraying the narrative of the Holocaust during WWII.

After a significant 30-million-dollar expansion, the museum reopened in 2019. With a 187-seat indoor theater, 175-seat outdoor amphitheater, and a café, the Holocaust Museum Houston has grown to 57,000 square feet, more than doubling its previous size.

12. Buffalo Bayou Park is a great place to walk, bike, or paddle

Biking at Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park is a lovely 160-acre green space that runs across the city and is centered on the slow-moving waters of Buffalo Bayou. There are several walking and bicycling routes, a dog park, sculptures, & shady spaces to rest in this urban park.

Rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard and go for a paddle along the bayou if you’re seeking for exciting things to do in Houston, especially if you want to go outside. There are rentals available in the park, as well as trips ranging from one to three hours in length. Similarly, there are outfitters in the city who provide guided bike trips.

The Cistern, a historic subterranean drinking-water reservoir from 1926 that currently features changeable art exhibits, is a particularly interesting landmark in Buffalo Bayou Park. Visitors may now have a short guided tour of the museum.

The Waugh Drive Bridge in the park is also home to a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. Every evening after sundown, almost 250,000 of them take off from the bridge.

Official site: https://buffalobayou.org/visit/

Let’s see some more Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Houston.

13. The Health Museum

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Houston
The Health Museum

If you’ve been enjoying the delicious cuisine of Texas and are wondering why your trousers are too tight when you put them on, a visit to the Health Museum is in order. You may practically walk inside your own body at one of Houston’s most creative museums.

Walking through a 10-foot-high brain, examining a 12-foot-high pumping heart, and getting up up and personal with a big eyeball are just a few of the family-friendly activities. With the Calorie Crank, you can keep track of how many calories you’ve consumed when visiting Texas’ famed BBQ joints!

Address: 1515 Hermann Drive, Houston, Texas

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

14. Art Car Museum

Art Car Museum

Try the Paintings Car Museum if Impressionists and Old Masters art aren’t your thing. Cars of all kinds are employed as the medium for unique and intriguing artworks in this gallery. Additionally, frequent pieces of art involving automobiles are shown on the walls.

Since its inception in 1998, the Art Car Museum, commonly known as the Garage Mahal, has been a popular Houston destination. The automobiles and displays change on a regular basis, so you never know what you’ll see, as artists try to turn something mundane into a distinctive statement or message.

Address: 140 Heights Boulevard, Houston, Texas

Official site: https://artcarmuseum.com/

15. In The Heights, visit the vintage stores on 19th Street

Stores on 19th Street

19th Street in The Heights is the place to go for vintage apparel, retro décor, and ancient artifacts. This eccentric neighborhood is home to a variety of odd stores selling anything from evening dresses to casual clothes, as well as jewelry, footwear, household gadgets, and other unusual products.

This is also an excellent area to do gift shopping. Some shops sell fresh or a combination of new and old items, so the stuff isn’t exclusively vintage. Even if you have no intention of purchasing anything, the entire neighborhood is worth viewing and provides a unique shopping experience.

16. Galveston Day Trip

Galveston’s Pleasure Pier

Galveston’s magnificent beaches are less than an hour away from Houston. If you’re looking for a quick getaway from the city, come to Galveston for some sun, a stroll around the historic downtown, and a meal at a beachside restaurant. Along the oceanfront, miles of endless sand and shallow, blue sea extend. Pleasure Pier is located in the middle of the beach activity.

The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, the Texas Seaport Museum, as well as the Strand Historic District are among the other places to see. Moody Gardens is a great place to visit if you’re traveling with your family.

You may also join an organized excursion to the island if you don’t have your own car or want to keep things simple. The Houston Sightseeing Tour and Galveston Day Trip is one option that combines some sightseeing in Houston with a trip to Galveston. This package includes a 90-minute double-decker bus tour of Houston as well as transportation to and from Galveston, where you will have free time to explore.

17. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a must-see event

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston’s largest annual event, is a fun-filled 19-day event that draws the entire city out to celebrate in February or March. If you happen to be in town at this time, you’re in luck, and if you’re wondering when to visit Houston, now is a good time to do it. This is a fun activity for the entire family that is much more than a rodeo and cattle show.

If this is your first time attending such an event, you will be pleasantly surprised by the variety of activities available. There are enough carnival rides, games, and food vendors on the grounds to keep you entertained endlessly. See the cowboys show off their abilities in a number of categories during the rodeo events, which require tickets to attend. Some of the biggest names in music take the stage in the evening. Check out the concert schedule ahead of time and get your tickets.

Spend a morning or afternoon strolling the grounds and enjoying the carnival, see some of the best farm animals on display at the Livestock Festival, then watch a rodeo event or two to see the cowboys in action, and spend the evening at a concert if you only have one day to visit this magnificent show. The Downtown Rodeo Parade is another must-see event.

Official site: www.rodeohouston.com

18. Attend a Sports Event

Outside of Houston’s NRG Stadium

When it comes to viewing a game in Houston, sports fans have lots of alternatives, and the city takes its sports seriously, whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, or soccer. The Houston Texans (NFL), Houston Astros (MLB), and Houston Rockets are all based in Houston (NBA).

The Texans play at NRG Stadium, the Rockets play at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston, as well as the Astros play at Minute Maid Park, which is located in the city center.

The Houston Dynamo (MLS) and Houston Dash (NWSL) are both based in Houston and play their home games at BBVA Compass Stadium.

At least one of these clubs is likely to have a home game during your visit.

19. Discover Houston’s Unique Dining Experiences

Houston Cuisine

Houston’s chefs have put the city on the culinary map of the United States, and dining here is a draw in and of itself. Traditional southern cuisine, as well as Latin American, Asian, Mexican, and numerous other cultural delicacies, are all possibilities. There are far too many fantastic dining alternatives to name them all, but some are too unusual not to include.

Discover the tastes of Oaxaca at Xochi, located on the first level of the Marriott Marquis Houston in downtown Houston, for high-end Mexican food. The menu provides a wide variety of foods, as well as some uncommon selections to pique your interest.

La Griglia has been a long-time Houston staple, offering out some of the best Italian food in the city for decades. Houston is a great place to eat fresh seafood because it is so near to the Gulf of Mexico. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, which has three locations around the city, is one of the best.

Vibrant serves healthful dishes from breakfast to dinner for health-conscious diners. All of the dishes are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and GMO-free.

20. Take a stroll around Rice University’s campus

Rice University Campus

The Rice University Campus is a green oasis in the heart of Houston and a popular hangout spot for locals. This 300-acre site is home to walking and running routes, thousands of mature trees, and charming ancient buildings.

A significant number of stunning contemporary artworks are also on the grounds, adding to the serene mood. When lighted up at night, many of these installations are just as striking, if not more so.