1. Space Center Houston (NASA)
Home of the world famous Mission Control, Space Center Houston boasts over 400 space artifacts, and is the official Visitors Center of NASA. Since its opening in 1922, it has been inspiring children and teens to learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Not only are there dozens of unique artifacts collected from the Apollo, Mercury, and Gemini space missions, but also tons of interactive activities and shows for the whole family to enjoy.
2. The Downtown Aquarium
The Downtown Aquarium is much more than just tanks of fish. They also feature rides, games, and a fabulous restaurant and miniature train ride. Put your nose up against the glass of a tank of red-bellied piranhas, or stick your hand into a tank of stingrays. The Aquarium also features a Louisiana Swamp exhibit, a reptile exhibit, and who can forget the white tigers of the Maharaja’s Temple. Great fun inside and outside, and they also just opened up the “Stingray Reef,” where you can touch and feed stingrays, if you dare.
3. The Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Museum of Natural Science, one of the most frequently visited museums in the country, has always been a star tourist and local destination, especially in the summer when temperatures reach over 100. They feature different and unique seasonal exhibition, some of which include the Faberge egg collection and King Tut’s tomb. They also boast an amazing butterfly center, planetarium, and a gigantic movie screen. Visitors can see artifacts from Egypt, North America, and all over the globe, and also stroll through the Hall of Gems and Minerals.
4. The Museum of Fine Arts
This world-renowned museum is widely visited due to its vast collection of more than 63,000 pieces of modern and antique art assembled from nearly every part of the world. The museum complex also features a sculpture garden, library, Movie Theater, research facility and a café. Whether you are interested in Renaissance, French Impression, or African and Pre-Columbian Gold, this museum will have everything you’re looking for.
5. The Houston Zoo
The Houston Zoo has always been a favorite of the locals and boasts over 1.5 million visitors each year. The 50-acre complex is not only home to 6,000 indigenous and exotic animals, but also features an education center, aquarium, and children’s zoo, as well as as well as a miniature train ride through Hermann Park and paddle boating on McGovern Lake. Take a picnic or eat at the restaurant, but make sure you download the free Zoo GPS app to make sure you don’t miss a thing!
6. The Children’s Museum of Houston
The Children’s Museum is one of the most frequented museums in the city, and Parents’ magazine ranked it as the nation’s No. 1 children’s museum. It features over 14 hands-on and interactive exhibits designed especially for children. Some fun activities include robot building at the “Invention Convention” area, reading the daily news on television, and kids can even take a stab at running their own business or being elected for office. This museum is a must for anyone travelling with children.
7. Kemah Boardwalk
Located only 20 miles from the center of downtown Houston along the Galveston Bay, Kemah Boardwalk’s 60 acres of entertainment features shops, rides, music, and restaurants to tickle everyone’s fancy. Stroll along the boardwalk, or gather your courage and ride the roller coaster while looking out onto the blue waves of the Gulf, Kemah Boardwalk is 100% guaranteed fun for the whole family.
8. Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
Right next door to The Galleria, the Waterwall Park is definitely one of the most picturesque destinations in Houston. This amazing sculptural fountain is 64 feet tall and recycles 11,000 gallons of water per minute. Awe-inspiring and perfect for a photo op, the Waterwall Park is sure to not disappoint.
9. The Galleria
The #1 shopping destination in Houston and the national icon of sophisticated shopping is none other than the Houston Galleria. It’s no wonder that there are over 30 million visitors every year, since it is the largest mall in Texas with over 375 stores, everything from J. Crew to Fendi, from H&M to Ralph Lauren. If you’re trying to beat the heat this summer, the Houston Galleria is your answer.
10. Hermann Park
Nestled in the center of Houston is the 445-acre Hermann Park, which also hosts the Houston Zoo and vast public green space. Take a picnic, bring a soccer ball, or just watch the wildlife. If you’re looking for tranquility in the center of a bustling city, Hermann Park is your go to.
11. Minute Maid Park
Home of the Astros, Minute Maid park isn’t any ordinary baseball field. It features a retractable roof, which allows visitors to enjoy the sunny skies, or protect them if there are spring showers. There is also an orange-lugging train that comes out when a home run is hit. Take me out to the ball game!
12. NRG Stadium
You know the saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas?” Well, it comes to life at the home of the Texans at NRG Stadium. A Texan football game is something everyone should experience, and you don’t want to miss out on the hot dogs.
13. The Toyota Center
Home to the Houston Rockets, the Toyota Center is also a host to many world-renowned performers all year round. Just like football, basketball is bigger and better in Texas. It’s loud, its exhilarating, and its without a doubt fun for the whole family.
14. Market Square Park
Get away from the noise and traffic of the city and take a quiet, relaxing stroll through the Historic Market Square Park. Conveniently located in the heart of the city, it features comedy shows, restaurants, bars, bingo, and bike races.
15. The Rothko and Byzantine Fresco Chapels
The Byzantine Fresco Chapel is home to the largest fully intact Byzantine frescoes in the western Hemisphere. Rothko Chapel is a non-denominational chapel and a sanctuary for people of all religions. It also features elegant tapestries by the Russian-American artist Mark Rothko.
16. Buffalo Bayou Park
Buffalo Bayou Park truly is the best of everything; you can walk or bike down a nature trail while looking at the spectacular skyline of Downtown Houston. It includes a skate park, biking and jogging trails, and a beautiful fountain. Take the dog, take the kids, or take a date! This beautiful park is a wonderful way to unwind in the middle of the city.
17. The Contemporary Arts Museum
The Contemporary Arts Museum in the middle of Houston’s Museum District boasts international, regional, and national art exhibits. Its goal is to showcase the art of time through interactive lectures, exhibitions and other activities. It includes two galleries, which feature different exhibits and artists seasonally.
18. The Holocaust Museum of Houston
The Holocaust Museum located in the Museum district is the most chilling but most informative museum of its type. Highlighting the stories of Holocaust survivors, the museum attempts to educate the public about the dangers of hate and prejudice and teach apathy and understanding. It also features the Boniuk Library, which includes over 5,000 books connected to the Holocaust, as well as artifacts, photos, films, and documents.
19. The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
Spanning 155 acres in the middle of Houston, this nature sanctuary is the perfect getaway from the city. It includes over 5 miles of walking trails and a plethora of wildlife watching. Visitors should also go check out the butterfly sanctuary and educational exhibits.
20. The USS Texas and the San Jacinto Monument
The USS Texas served in the two World Wars and is the last remaining dreadnought. Now, it has been turned into a floating educational museum on the Gulf of Mexico. It features tours and interactive activities.
Don’t forget about the San Jacinto Battleground next door, which is a 1,200 acre historic site that features the 567-foot tall San Jacinto Monument, built to commemorate and honor the battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.