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18 fun and interesting things to do in Houston!

Houston is great stopover city – or a great weekend getaway.

It’s also a huge convention city. About 60,000 people were here just before we arrived for a quilters convention (who knew that was such a popular pastime?!) and the weekend after I was here Comicpalooza was on and characters were seen roaming the streets in between what ever it is they do in there.

If you have a couple of days, there is plenty to do in H-Town!

Or if you’re in town on a Monday, like I was, wondering what to do, you’ll like this post on Mondays in Houston, filled with ideas for this notoriously quiet night. Including a selection of romantic Houston date ideas for a first date or if you’re a couple of old love birds!

*This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Houston is also a hub for those of us traveling on to the likes of New Orleans (I’ve visited seven times now and have written a post about my absolute must-dos in NOLA, including three bars for live jazz that I visit every time.

It’s also a stopover destination cruisers out of Galveston – which is such a cute town I recommend spending a night or two in Galveston to taste the food and enjoy these things on the Gulf of Mexico.

I’d seen this Chevron walkway in photos, so set off on foot find it!
Chevron skywalk Houston
The colours didn’t let me down either!

1. Visit POST for dinner or a drink

Houston is great for two or three days and we found more than enough to keep us busy. We were back in town for just one night and this time we checked out downtown and started with a walk through of POST.

POST is a new dining and entertainment precinct located in the former downtown Post Office. It also extends to the rooftop where incredible built-up gardens have been planted which lend themselves to dreamy sunset views.

POST rooftop Houston
Head to POST rooftop for magic hour!

There’s a massive vegetable garden on the rooftop, which with the help of many locals, was ready in time for a guest appearance on the Today Show when it first opened. You can’t get fresher than this! The salad is literally picked on the roof and served on your plate.

Downstairs you’ll find a food court with a couple of bars and, when I visited, a bunch of soon-to-be stores that were in the throes of being converted from offices so retailers can open shop.

Go for a wander and you’ll find these stairs criss-crossing past empty spaces which will someday be filled with small stores. It makes an epic spot for your wedding book photos!

Photo shoot inside POST, Houston
Epic place for a photo shoot! Inside POST

2. Go for an early wander in downtown Houston

I got up early the next morning and wandered around downtown, grabbed a Starbucks and took photos of murals, the Chevron walkway and trains.

It was a sleepy Tuesday, but I ran out of time as we had a flight to catch so hailed an Uber (a Tesla no less!) and got back as my husband just realised I was gone.

Morning sun on train in Houston
The morning sun is another magic hour to be out and about #Houston

3. Miller Outdoor Theatre

Get your culture fix at a live music performance, Shakespeare or outdoor cinema on stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre. This 7-acre area of Hermann Park has played host to outdoor events for more than 100 years. It can seat 4,500 on the lawn and another 1,700 in seats. Plus 20 wheelchair spaces.

Events run from March to October – and they’re free! But you need to get there early. Like hours early. For some performances you’ll need a ticket for under cover seating.

Bring a picnic, or buy food from the vendors on site. Alcohol is permitted, but glass is not. You can bring picnic chairs and blankets. Seating is on a first-come basis.

Miller Outdoor Theatre stage
Under cover seating is full for the ballet!

4. Explore downtown Houston’s tunnels

Because it’s so blinking’ hot here in the summer, Houstonians head underground. Houston’s tunnels are 20 feet underground and link up 95 city blocks through six miles of air-conditioned, interconnected tunnels.

But they’re not just walkways to get you from A to B connecting shops, businesses and restaurants and the theater district, but they have restaurants and stores down here too.

They’re not that easy to find either! You have to look for them, but when you do you’ll see entrances via street-level stairs, escalators, and also elevators inside office buildings – although the latter are not open on weekends. They are open during office hours: Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm.

If you’re really curious, you can even take a guided tunnel tour!

Houston's underground tunnels
Down in Houston’s underground tunnels

5. Catch a game in Houston

We love live sport and whenever we visit the US we try and get tickets to a local game.

The last time we visited we went to a Houston Astros baseball game at Minute Maid Park and will try and get to another one on our next visit.

If you’re more of a basketball fab, visit Toyota Center for a Houston Rockets game.

Minute Maid Park
Minute Maid Park. Pic Unsplash

We walked to the stadium nice and early to get amongst the pre-game action that fans are so fond of and to choose from the vast range of food options.

Astros home ground
Minute Maid Stadium with its retractable roof when it’s too hot out!

I must admit, I’m a bit of a fan of the yellow “plastic” cheese, so had nachos served in a helmet. But you’ll even find a carvery in the 2nd floor Club Level.

Helmet nachos
Helmet nachos!

6. Live music in Houston

If you’re looking for a good time but don’t want to see a game, or there’s not one on, Houston also has a fun live music scene. Greats like ZZ Top and Lyle Lovett got their starts here.

You’ve got venues like Anderson Fair where local artists with unique sounds still come to get their starts. The Big Easy has a bit of New Orleans Blues and Zydeco to get you in the mood if your next stop is Crescent City. Have a barn dance at Dosey Do, find honky tonk and dive bars, head to House of Blues, and a ton more great spots.

New: Located at POST Houston, 713 Music Hall is a live music venue with capacity for 5,000 people, operated by the concert giant Live Nation with state‐of‐the‐art lighting and sound systems.

Check out the best places in town for live music.

Houston stopovers
These pillars have children’s drawings etched into metal

7. Visit Johnson Space Center!

Let’s face it, for first-time visitors, NASA’s official visitors center, Space Center Houston, is probably the main the main reason you’re coming here, and the reason one of Houston’s nicknames is Space City.

This was also our only full day so we enjoyed a complimentary buffet breakfast at the Magnolia Hotel. If you’re not a fan of hotel breakfasts, or you just want to get out and explore a bit more, there are lots of lovely breakfast places in Houston to try too.

NASA rocket
The size of the rockets will blow your mind!

But we had our eyes set on space! We chose a city tour that included admission to Space Center Houston and it was one of the best things we did.

It was an excellent tour as we had a 90-minute tour of the city first, sitting up top in the double decker bus learning that there are more museums and galleries in Houston than in New York (!).

We heard about the oil money that built this city while creeping past the Houston Aquarium (if you have kids with you, you might want to hop off here) which has an underwater restaurant, then we headed out to space centre Houston.

Johnson Space Center
Independence atop the 747

It’s a 45-minute drive out to Lyndon B. Johnson space center. This is Mission Control. No rockets are launched from here, but they are controlled from here.

Once inside, you’ll choose which tour you want to take. We then took a tram tour out to the control room that was used for the famous Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 and continued to be used until 1993.

Mission control Houston
The original Mission Control room

It has had all its original furniture put back in place for tourists to see and you can sit in the observation deck and see how it was in those days. The real work now takes place a floor below.

Mission control Houston
Where the spectators sat – with their ashtrays. Queen Elizabeth sat in Row 1 – as did I

The other tram tour (they take an hour each, so you need lots of time!) is to the astronaut training program. We had to choose and missed this one.

Back over at the Space Learning Center where you arrive, they also show movies in theatres and the 45-minute history of space is a must.

NASA Houston
Learning about the Russian/American International Space Station

A replica of space shuttle Independence loaded onto a 747 – the actual 747 that flew it around the US – is also here for you to tour through. There are space suits, a moon rock, simulator rides and a huge food hall. We spent four hours and it wasn’t long enough.

Apollo boosters
Big boosters!

New: Artemis Exhibit – We Are Going Back to the Moon to Stay

The new permanent Artemis exhibit at Space Center Houston allows visitors to learn about humanity’s next giant leap. Walk through lighted panels that tell the story of Artemis, NASA’s space program that will return humans to the moon for the first time in over 50 years.

Through Artemis, we all will see the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.

Where to eat in Houston

8. Get a great steak in Houston

We had a cocktail at POST and watched families and groups of friends dining on a huge selection of delicious meals in the food hall. But we had our eyes on a steak house, so jumped in an Uber and headed to Georgia James Steak House, named the best new restaurant in Texas in 2019, for some of the best tastes I’ve ever had!

Read more and see my drooly pics below about our mouthwatering dinner…

Georgia James, located at 3503 W Dallas St, Houston, near Buffalo Bayou Park.

This picture below is the bone marrow. It was seriously delicious, even if my photo doesn’t look that great. Salty, buttery, meaty goodness on hot toasted bread.

Wagyu bone marrow with thick toasted focaccia ($25). Smoked redfish dip in a jar served with fried Saltine crackers ($24). Then we had steak with sides ($46-$175). It’s not cheap, but this level of quality food doesn’t come cheap does it? Georgia James is a fabulous special occasion restaurant – so made an occasion up!

I like to do some research before I arrive in a city and in Houston we wanted either Tex Mex or steak, but there’s also nothing like asking the locals for their recommendations.

Houston steak
Don’t mind if I do!

“Where’s the best place to go for a steak?” I asked our barman at 5.30pm, after my little glass of pinot.

Vic and Anthony’s,” he replied, quick as look at me. Then added Pappas too.

The latter is a chain of highly recommended restaurants, it turns out, who also have Pappas BBQ, Pappas Seafood and Pappas Mexican.

After more discussion with others at the bar, Morton’s was added to the list of best steak houses within cooee of the Magnolia Hotel. But it was the fine dining Vic and Anthony’s that won, four blocks from my pillow, where waistcoated waiters dust the crumbs off your white table cloth with a specially designed scoop. It’s expensive, but if you’re a steak connoisseur, you’ll love this place.

9. Food trucks in Houston

If fine dining is not in your budget, there are a bunch of food trucks to try.

Whether you’re looking for lunch or dinner on the run, or you’re too late for a restaurant – or maybe you have a hankering for Tex Mex like me, you’ll find food trucks roaming through town catering for so many great tastes.

Do a quick Google of Houston Food Trucks near you and you’ll find a list. You’ll probably need to jump on their social pages to check where they will be the night you’re in town too.

If you’re looking for great Texas BBQ, you’ll want to read my post on the best BBQ joints in the US. It includes one in Houston!

Get outdoors

10. Houston is also known as the Bayou City, thanks to its 2,500 miles of bayous and waterways. It feels very open with the city’s vast green spaces and you get out into nature.

Massive Hermann Park, Houston
Massive Hermann Park, Houston

11. Hermann Park is a 445-acre urban park at the southern end of the Museum District. There are lots of things to do and see in enormous Hermman Park, including the 80-acre Bayou Parkland, which is filled with native plants and you’ll see lots of wildlife, along Brays Bayou.

There are trials, wetlands, rolling meadows – a lovely spot for picnics. This part was cut off from the Park but is now accessible through a pedestrian underpass below North and South MacGregor.

Houston city tour
Hermann Park. A 445-acre park in the city

Events are hosted in Celebration Garden, located within McGovern Centennial Gardens and accessed though The Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion.

If you’d rather get active than watch active, there is an 18-hole golf course in Hermann Park.

In uptown Houston on a sweltering day, head to iconic Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park and stand in its mist! Walking under the canopy of oak trees here is one the locals’ favourite things to do.

New: The new Houston Botanic Garden, located on Park Place Boulevard just minutes from downtown, was inaugurated on September 18, 2020. The Houston Botanic Garden features a collection of themed gardens including Global, Culinary, Stormwater Wetlands and the Coastal Prairie.

Each garden provides a unique opportunity for visitors to explore hundreds of species related to a specific environment, from tropical to subtropical to edible and medicinal plants. Education and research are a critical part of Houston Botanic Garden’s mission, so a number of programs and cultural events are planned throughout the year, including cooking demonstrations, lectures and performances.

12. Kayak with Alligators!

Not your usual tourist activity, but if you’re looking for something different, you can kayak on the 26-mile Buffalo Bayou Paddling Trail, and yes you may see gators!

You can rent kayaks from several outlets including Bayou City Adventures, who operate in Buffalo Bayou Park. They offer tours and rentals across town, including stand-up paddleboards in Discovery Green and surfing lessons in Surfside plus paddling tours of Green Bayou and Armand Bayou. 

Also look at Pinky’s Kayak Rentals who take you to lesser known Armand Bayou where you’ll see some amazing wildlife.

New: Visit an underground art venue, The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park in the former reservoir.

Alligator on bank in Houston
Pic courtesy Pinky’s Kayak Rentals

Get your art fix

13. The Menil Collection is a world-class art museum – with free admission – that houses approximately 17,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs and rare books. You really need time here in what is described as the jewel of Houston.

14. But the Museum of Fine Arts Houston is also a must-see for art lovers. MFAH is one of the largest museums in the world and, second largest in the United States behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in terms of floor space.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston celebrated the opening of the new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, inaugurated on November 21, 2020. The Kinder Building is the third gallery building of the MFAH and is devoted to the display of the museum’s outstanding and fast-growing international collections of modern and contemporary art.

15. For families, the Children’s Museum Houston is a hands-on experiential place to stretch the imagination. It’s one of the most fun things your family will love doing, including having to solve riddles and learn some science while having fun doing it. Prebook your ticket here.

Children's Museum Houston
Pic courtesy Children’s Museum Houston

16. Visit Houston Zoo

Now, I’m not a big fan of zoos. I actually avoid them whenever I travel BUT Houston Zoo (as well as having animals in cages for human pleasure), does some important work around helping species survive.

And in March 2023, their 90-year old radiated tortoise named Mr Pickles, became a dad for the first time. Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño (Pickles) are teeny tiny and are being raised in the Reptile & Amphibian House. The soil in Houston isn’t hospitable to these Madagascar native tortoises, so the eggs likely would not have hatched if the keeper hadn’t spotted Mrs Pickles laying her eggs.

Mr Pickles and baby Houston Zoo
Mr Pickles and his son. Pic supplied from Houston Zoo. Awwww

Take a tour

17. Go shopping! If you’ve got a long layover, or maybe you need to check out of your hotel by 10am but your flight is not until late, take this 6-hour Tanger Outlet Mall shopping tour!

18. Take a free Houston tour with an official Houston Greeter. The Greeter organization runs in many cities in the US with local guides volunteering their time to take visitors on tours.

See a full page of Houston experiences and links to purchase tickets all in one place on this page.

Getting around in Houston

I’m a fan of Hop On Hop Off buses, which take you around all the city highlights and are a great way to get around as they serve as your “taxi” too! If you get a 48-hour pass you can take your time to use it as a sight-seeing bus on the first day, then your taxi the second!

Uber is our friend and the last time we visited we simply grabbed an Uber to dinner and to and from the airport.

Where to stay in Houston

I’ve stayed twice in downtown Houston. On the weekends it’s pretty dead down here, but you’re not far from the theatre district.

If you’re in town for a game, stay at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Houston. The location is easy walking distance to Minute Maid Park to watch the Astros play. They also have a rooftop plunge pool for those hot, sticky Houston summer days.

The next time we came we stayed at Hotel Icon which is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Set in the former Union National Bank of Houston, it is over 100 years old and you’ll see the original vault and many relics of counters and desks, doors, windows, as you step into the soaring atrium with its marble pillars. No doubt the bar in the center isn’t original! It’s a beautiful building, and ideal for business travellers and those wanting to be downtown.

More of my Texas posts

Did you know Houston is the fourth largest city for museums in the US? I cover the best museums for children in this post over on my Day Tripping USA blog.

You might like to read about 3 cool neighborhoods in Dallas to eat, drink and shop.

I also stayed in Fort Worth, just down the road from Dallas and wrote this post about why you should stay in Fort Worth too.

Pro tips: Buy a Houston CityPass and save over 50% on up to five top Houston attractions which cover the Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo or the Fine Arts, Kemah Boardwalk or the Children’s Museum Houston.

Or just grab a Hop On Hop Off city tour pass and explore at your own pace. My tip is to do the full circuit first, then stay on the bus to ride around again, once you have your bearings of a city, and hop off the second time.

It takes a long time for us Kiwis to get to the United States: 13 hours to fly direct from Auckland to Houston. That might sound like a long time to be sitting in economy class, but better than the rigmarole to transit through Los Angeles and board another flight.


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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!