Things to do in Houston, TX
Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States. Known for its art and theater scene, the diversity of its neighborhoods, and its connection to NASA, Houston has something for everyone. In this guide, we'll take you through the top things to do in Houston, Texas, whether you're looking for adult-oriented fun or family-friendly options. The diversity of the area and the variety of things to do are some of the best things about living in Houston; you'll be sure to find fun things to do in Houston this weekend that fit your family and your interests.
Top Attractions in Houston, TX
Perhaps the most famous attraction and one of the most unique things to do in Houston is Space Center Houston, the official visitor center and museum for NASA's Johnson Space Center. The Johnson Space Center is home to NASA's human spaceflight training center and Mission Control. You can learn all about the Johnson center at Space Center Houston, located on Clear Lake in the Houston suburbs. The site features the Starship Gallery, where you can view flown spacecraft, a replica of Skylab, and moon rocks. In the Independence Plaza, you can tour Independence, a full-scale replica of a space shuttle. You can take a tram tour for a behind-the-scenes look at the facilities and view spacesuits and other artifacts in the astronaut and International Space Station galleries. The center also includes several educational film screenings and live shows, a dedicated section for young children, and a motion simulator ride.
Sports are high on the list of cool things to do in Houston, as the city has many professional and collegiate teams. Football is, of course, very important to Texans, and Houston natives are no exception. NRG Stadium is home to the Houston Texans NFL team and hosts the annual Texas Bowl for college football. NRG Stadium is also known for hosting popular music concerts, the annual Houston Auto Show, and the world-famous Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the largest of its kind. Other football stadiums in the area are devoted the city's Division I college football teams. TDECU Stadium hosts the University of Houston Cougars, while the Rice University Owls play at Rice Stadium. For basketball, head to local college campuses to watch the Cougars, Owls, and other Division I schools play, or check out the NBA's Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center. For baseball, join the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Head to the BBVA Compass Stadium to watch the Houston Dynamo men's soccer team or the Houston Dash women's team take to the pitch. NASCAR fans can catch a race at Houston Motorsports Park as well as drag racing and other auto events throughout the year.
Downtown's Museum District is the home of some of the best things to do in Houston, Texas. While Houston has a number of small museums and art galleries as well, the city's biggest museum attractions are located all in one place! In the southern portion of the district, near Hermann Park, you'll find the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Children's Museum of Houston, Health Museum, and Rice University's Moody Center for the Arts. In the northern part of the district, called Museum Park, you'll find lots of smaller museums clustered together. These attractions include the Museum of Fine Arts and its associated Cullen Sculpture Garden, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston Museum of African-American Culture, Czech Center Museum, Asia Society Texas, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and Lawndale Art Center.
Free Things to Do This Weekend
Looking for things to do in Houston for free? Look no further! There's plenty of fun to be had in Houston without breaking your budget. Many of the area's parks and greenspaces rank highly among the best free things to do in Houston, TX. In particular, we recommend checking out Miller Outdoor Theatre and Discovery Green, both of which frequently host free events and concerts throughout the year. Market Square Park is also popular, featuring free movie nights in the summers. One of our favorite free outdoor activities is visiting the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, a pet-friendly nature sanctuary featuring five miles of trails. Those who prefer to get out on the water can book a free, 90-minute boat tour of Port Houston aboard the Sam Houston.
Many of the area's museums host weekly free days as well; check out the museums' websites for more information. And some museums, such as the Lawndale Center, Center for Contemporary Craft, Moody Center, Blaffer Art Museum, 1940 Air Terminal Museum, and Art Car Museum, are free year-round.
Family-Friendly Fun for Kids
There's no shortage of fun things to do with kids in Houston. While we've mentioned some family favorites already, like the Museum of Natural Science, Health Museum, and Children's Museum, there are plenty more kid-friendly things to do in Houston. The Houston Zoo is a top choice for families with young kids; favorite features include the elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and big cats. The zoo is located in Hermann Park, which is also home to a large playground, pedal boats, and a miniature railroad ride. Animal-loving families who are eager for more will enjoy the Downtown Aquarium, which includes carnival games, amusement park rides, and a restaurant alongside aquatic exhibits and some land animals like reptiles and tigers. Amusement park fans will want to check out the Wet 'n' Wild SplashTown water park, while budding extreme sports enthusiasts will have loads of fun at Jamail Skatepark.
Nighttime Ideas for Couples
Couples looking for romantic things to do in Houston will find lots of fun activities open late. As far as restaurants go, Houston is best known for its barbecue, its Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, its seafood, and its steakhouses. For great Texas barbecue, try The Pit Room or The Brisket House. Popular Mexican food restaurants in the area include Hugo's, Torchy's Tacos, and El Tiempo Cantina. For seafood and steak, try Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Taste of Texas, Eddie V's Prime Seafood, or Truluck's. Popular and unique bars in the area include Lei Low, Anvil, Pete's Dueling Piano Bar, and Julep.
For some after-dinner entertainment, experience Houston's thriving theater scene. Popular venues in the downtown Theater District include the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Alley Theatre, Jones Hall, Wortham Theater Center, and Bayou Place. The Improv is a top destination for stand-up comics, and White Oak Music Hall is a great spot for live music acts. For more alternative entertainment, you could try rock-climbing at Texas Rock Gym or archery lessons at X10 Archery. Escape room games are some of the most fun things to do in Houston at night, and they've recently become very popular with locals. Try out the Houston Panic Room, Strange Bird Immersive or Quest Shark Adventures for a fun and entertaining evening.
If you're looking for outdoor things to do in Houston, you'll be pleased to hear that the area has many lovely parks and nature areas. Hermann Park features a beautiful Japanese Garden that is great for a tranquil stroll through nature. Sports enthusiasts can play a game of golf at the park's golf course. Other parks great for walking, jogging, or cycling include Sam Houston Park, Memorial Park, Eleanor Tinsley Park, and Buffalo Bayou. The Buffalo Bayou area includes golf at the River Oaks Country Club and the Bayou Bend Collection gardens and art museum. It's also home to the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony, where you can stand on a bridge at dusk and watch thousands of bats emerge for the night at once! Cyclists will enjoy bike rentals from Bike Barn and bike tours from Bayou City Bike Tours and Houston Bike Tours. Those preferring to ride horseback can take advantage of guided trail rides with Cypress Trails. And history-lovers can learn about the history of Houston while stretching their legs in the sunshine during a Heritage Society historic buildings tour.
Things to Do for Your Birthday
There are lots of unique and fun activities that are great things to do for your birthday in Houston. Many Houstonians enjoy a Pedal Party, where guests pedal a mobile bar around a neighborhood on a unique and active bar crawl. The artists among us will enjoy painting and wine parties from Splash. Those looking for adventurous things to do in Houston for their birthday can try go-kart racing at Go-Kart Raceway or Speedy's Fast Track; you can also check out go-karting, laser tag, and mini golf all in one spot at Track 21. If you're ready for a more advanced driving experience, you can learn to drive or ride along in a racecar with a Rusty Wallace Racing Experience. Other fun birthday ideas include laser tag at Battlefield Houston, ax-throwing at Houston Axe, the destruction room at Tantrum's, or classic arcade games and pinball at Joystix.
The downtown area is the heart of Houston's restaurant, bar, and theater scene. In addition to the thriving nightlife, downtown residents can enjoy streets perfect for walking and cycling and even take an organized walking tour with Discover Houston Tours or a Downtown Food Tour. One of the most fun things to do in downtown Houston is exploring the downtown tunnels, which feature restaurants and retailers as well as the opportunity to take a historic tour of the tunnels through Houston Historical Tours. Some other fun destinations downtown include Allen's Landing, Phoenicia Specialty Foods, the Greenstreet shopping district, and the shops at Houston Center.
Fun in Midtown and Montrose
Houston's Midtown and Montrose neighborhoods are located next to one another and south of downtown. Begin your day in the Midtown-Montrose area with breakfast or brunch at the locally famous Breakfast Klub restaurant, one of the most delicious things to do in Midtown Houston. The area is also known for many small art galleries, as well as the larger Menil Collection, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Printing Museum, and Station Museum of Contemporary Art. Visiting Rothko Chapel is another of our favorite things to do in Montrose, Houston, featuring art installations, group meditation, and non-denominational inspirational speakers. DiverseWorks features art exhibits, live performances, and speakers throughout the year. Popular destinations in the area for live music and theater include the Continental Club, Stages Repertory Theatre, and The Ensemble Theatre.
North Houston and Houston Heights
In North Houston and nearby Houston Heights, things to do outside include visiting Moody Park or Donovan Park or pushing the little red button. Shopping is among the locals' favorite things to do in North Houston, with locations like Willowbrook Mall, Merchants Park, Traders Village, and the shops along 19th Street becoming increasingly popular. There are also a number of popular restaurants and bars in the 19th Street area, including the locally popular ice cream shop Fat Cat Creamery.
Getting Out of Town
There are even more things to do around Houston that are an easy drive from the city center. Just a short drive away to the suburbs around Burnet Bay, visit the Battleship Texas State Historic Site, San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, Juan Seguin Park, or Baytown Nature Center. Just half an hour from downtown, relax on the beach, have a picnic, or go fishing at beautiful Sylvan Beach. In the suburb of Kemah, just a short drive down the road from the Space Center, enjoy shopping, restaurants, and carnival rides at Kemah Boardwalk. You can also take a hike or canoe trip at nearby Armand Bayou Nature Center. Nature-lovers eager for more can head south of the city to visit Brazos Bend State Park or north to the Sam Houston National Forest. Houston is just an hour's drive from the city of Galveston, where you'll find many attractions for a day trip, including Galveston Island State Park, Moody Gardens, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, Bishop's Palace, and the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum.