As the fourth-largest city in the nation by population, Houston already has plenty of residents to keep busy. That’s especially good news for visitors to the city, as they can find plenty of things to do in Houston. Their cultural access is quite close to 150 museums, mainly including NASA’s Space Center Houston to a museum focused on the history of funerals (yes, you read that right).
An expansive array of hiking trails and nature preserves exist for outdoor enthusiasts to explore year-round. In addition, an extensive dining scene towers over Dallas and Austin in terms of cuisine variety in particular.
Regardless of why you should come to Houston, you can find plenty to do here. Houston’s exciting options will keep you busy here for your entire visit.
Best things to do in Houston, ranked
- What is it? Chinatown offers the perfect example of cuisines from all different parts of Asia all authentically and deliciously in one place. In this street you can check and visit the best restaurants in Houston.
- Why go? Venture to the southeastern area of the city for a dining adventure. Delight in the delicious (and enchanting) aromas, sights and sounds of the bustling Hong Kong Food Market. Afterward, treat yourself to dim sum at Ocean Palace or a bowl of vermicelli soup at Tan Tan. The area of Jade Buddha Temple is enormous, so take some time to stroll among the serene lotus ponds, statues, and gardens. Chow Down is the place to go in Chinatown for food and nightlife tips.
2. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- What is it? The largest American museum features countless exhibits and installations.
- Why go? Visit Wednesdays to Fridays for a cocktail, a regal work of art, and a curated food truck, followed by live music and dessert. Plus, if you are able to establish your eyes outside the Matisse and Rodin’s sculptures in the museum sculpture garden, you will find yourself with the perfect things to do in Houston and an ideal spot to watch the sun set in front of the city skyline.
3. The Hobby Center
- What is it? The Houston arts complex showcases the city’s thriving performing arts scene, aiming to expand its population’s reputation as an esteemed culture center. The complex comprises two performance spaces and a charming eatery.
- Why go? Offering a selection of the most beloved plays and musicals all the rage in New York—not to mention variety and thrilling drag performances—the Hobby Center comprises the very best of both performing arts worlds. Here you will find several best places to visit in Houston.
4. The “Houston is Inspired” mural
- What is it? Popular, funky, tasty, savvy, the landmark mural at the 520 Travis Street venue has become a beacon of Texas pride.
- Why go? This lively, colorful photo isn’t just Instagram bait; it aims to uplift neighborhood pride by illustrating the area’s more renowned assets, located right in the heart of the city of Houston. Its message is loud and clear Houston, we don’t have a problem with that.
5. San Jacinto Monument and Museum
- What is it? The San Jacinto Monument towers over the Houston Ship Channel, making it the tallest war memorial in the United States. It stands 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument.
- Why go? The 570-foot obelisk, topped with a 220-ton Lone Star of Texas, commemorates those involved in Texas’ independence from Mexico in 1836. The San Jacinto Museum’s grand entrance hall contains a number of beautiful artifacts relating to the history of the Texas Revolution and subsequent Republic, and serves as the basis for access to the elevator that ascends the historic bluff. The museum is also home to one of the most significant libraries in Texas, where you can discover important books and unique manuscripts.
6. Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
- What is it? Formerly the Williams Waterwall, the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall is Houston’s most popular public relaxation location (of course, it’s also one of the most picturesque).
- Why go? Opposite to the downtown Houston Galleria, the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall recycles ferocious 11,000 gallons of water per minute in the shape of infinity pool liquid gold. Once you grab your mandatory selfie, you can then grab a bite to eat from the nearby Galleria before returning to the grounds of the park for picture-perfect picnicking.
- What is it? Galveston is less than an hour from Houston by automobile. Many consider it a sister city of Houston, as it provides many resemblances.
- Why go? 32 miles of beaches (chilled-out Jamaica Beach is a favorite of local residents) as well as old seafaring inns evoke compassion inside the historic district. Check out the fancy Bishop’s Palace, also known as the Chateau-Bishop, before riding a cruiser bicycle along the seawall with a bathing suit at sunset. Tired of playing volleyball and sunbathing? Spend a few hours fishing and exploring the historic ships at the Seawolf Park, including the Cavalla and the Stewart.
8. Space Center Houston
- What is it? Given that the first words were spoken on the moon, Houston is a great place to see an extraterrestrial museum.
- Why go? Historic displays and exhibits at NASA Space Center Houston include a flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that’s over 156 feet long. Also on view in the museum are a collection of priceless artifacts, live shows, and a NASA Tram Tour that takes visitors behind the scenes.
9. Buffalo Bayou Partnership
- What is it? Buffalo Bayou is considered Houston’s most significant natural resource. It has an abundance of parkland and running trails.
- Why go? The bayou’s beauty is one of the greatest highlights of the area, and one of the best ways to appreciate the area is by getting into the water yourself from the downtown area. Rent a kayak from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership or book one of its boat tours, such as history tours and sunset-themed tours.
- What is it? From neon-lit tattoo parlors to tree-covered bungalows and quaint coffee shops, this four-square-mile neighborhood is an island of quirkiness unlike anywhere else in the world.
- Why go? Opt for an unconventional store or spend the afternoon browsing its alternative art galleries. Of course, the food scene is not bad either. Our pick is K u Ba’s Viet-Cajun restaurant and bar, an unmatched brunch spot.
11. Ninfa’s Original on Navigation
- What is it? It is said that the invention of the fajita can be traced to a restaurant in Houston, and that business is still serving this signature dish today.
- Why go? Ninfa Restaurant has held its title as “king of Mexican food in Texas” for so long that the slogan “the best Mexican food in Texas since Texas was in Mexico” is just empty words. The food at this place is great, and tasting the margaritas are unmatched, which makes it one of the best things to do in Houston.
12. Houston Museum of Natural Science
- What is it? The Houston Museum of Natural Science exhibits world-class fossils in action.
- Why go? Most significant paleontology exhibits feature dinosaur skeletons lined up one after the other. This museum, however, does something totally different: it recreates actual encounters between dinosaurs as they might have happened hundreds of millions of years ago. The animatronic dinosaurs are entrancing, chasing, and fighting. The entrancing jewelry vault and indoor rainforest are also not to be missed.
13. The Menil Collection
- What is it? One of the world’s most significant art assemblages, the Menil Collection is housed in a magnificent purpose-built gallery designed by none other than Renzo Piano (the same architect behind NYC’s Whitney Museum of American Art).
- Why go? A collection of superb works are displayed in the spacious, naturally lit white-walled sections of a space. John and Dominique de Menil are mostly responsible. The museum’s interior is covered with over 15,000 pieces, most of them from Paleolithic times, and some of them belong to world-famous artists such as Picasso and Rene Magritte. The museum is rich with art, and it has no admission or parking fees.
14. Diversion Immersive Cocktails
- What is it? Diversion is the place to go to if you’re looking to have fun in Texas. Located in a nondescript gray building, this watering hole departs from the norm, offering an immersive environment with wondrous drink concoctions. They use only the best ingredients, homegrown or made from scratch. Watch your mixologist mix potions in the laboratory-style bar area, a masterful performance.
- Why go? Immersion -selection bartender-made cocktails are highly creative and capture excellent imagery for Instagram. One example is the Movie Night (half-madeira, cognac, Texas winter citrus bitters, Atkinson farm Texas strawberry) served with popcorn and a film. This drink most certainly will not impress you if that’s not the case.
15. National Museum of Funeral History
- What is it? Tourists can choose from a variety of memorial, reburial, and cultural options at this morbidly curious museum about the strange traditions that surround the burial of popes.
- Why go? This destination might not be the most enjoyable one to go to, however it’s still a lot of fun. The highlight worth seeing is the 1916 Packard funeral bus, fabricated to stop tedious processions. It could carry coffins, pallbearers and 20 mourners, but it required a swift stop due to its sheer size after its base fell over on San Francisco’s Heights Hill, sending bodies (both living and dead) to the ground like a really graphic version of The Coffin.