Houston, the Space City, is the United States' fourth most populous city - and North America's sixth.
Known as the capital of space exploration, Houston is more than accustomed to drawing in millions of guests and visitors each year.
With the likes of its Theater District, Museum District, and whopping 337 parks, this is a city that truly has something for everyone.
There's no shortage of things to do in Houston, no matter what you're interested in, whether it's history, art, music, nature, or science.
To help you figure out where you want to go, we've compiled this helpful guide to the very greatest that Bayou City has to offer. Here are the 30 top tourist attractions in Houston, Texas.
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Space Center Houston is a part of the Johnson Space Center, serving as the official visitor center for the NASA building.
The huge complex offers an incredible glimpse into the world of space exploration and technology, and it's a must-see Houston attraction.
At Space Center Houston, you can explore a replica of the iconic space shuttle Independence and its shuttle carrier and a replica of Skylab, the first US space station.
You can then learn more about current NASA missions and touch a genuine rock from the moon.
There are a total of 400 exhibits, some permanent and some temporary, featuring space-related artifacts. At around noon, you might even get the chance to meet an astronaut.
Space Center Houston also offers an open-air tram tour that brings you to Johnson Space Center. This is the site of mission control and is the training location for real-life astronauts.
The same tour will also bring you to Rocket Park, which is filled with real rockets you can view.
Address: 1601 Nasa Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058
Also Read: Top 10 Space and Aviation Museums in the USA
Situated in Hermann Park, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the top attractions in Houston, suitable for all ages.
It's one of the city's Museum District's most popular sites, boasting an impressive four stories of halls and galleries across its grand expanse.
There are 430,000 square feet to explore! Occasional special exhibits keep things interesting, with various fascinating and nationally-acclaimed events over the years.
The museum has many highlights. One of these is the two-floor Morian Hall of Paleontology, which features an impressive array of dinosaur artifacts from beast replicas to fossils.
Another highlight is the hall of gems and minerals filled with sparkling sapphires, emeralds, and rubies.
More exhibits and venues worth perusing are the Faberge exhibit, Burke Baker Planetarium, and cabinet of curiosities.
Address: 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030
Those looking for a relaxing attraction in Houston should head to Bayou Place. This entertainment complex is in the middle of Houston's Theater District and includes several event venues and attractions, such as the Hard Rock Cafe, Verizon Wireless Theater, and Angelika Film Center.
You will also find many restaurants and bars, including the RocBar nightclub, where occasional live music is hosted. You can either park your car or take advantage of the convenient valet service.
Address: 500 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002
Houston Zoo is another one of the best Houston attractions in Hermann Park.
Spanning 55 acres, the zoo is home to over 6,000 individual animals from a whopping 900 species. It's no wonder that the zoo welcomes an impressive 2 million annual guests.
Among the most interesting parts of the Houston Zoo are the aquariums filled with marine life, the giraffe-feeding experiences, and the special children's zoo.
But everything's worth viewing! You can see lions, mandrills, jaguars, howler monkeys, lemurs, leopards, sea lions, otters, tamarins, and all manner of reptiles and birds.
Address: 6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the city's biggest annual event and one of the top things to do in Houston.
This is the world's largest rodeo event, typically happens sometime in February or March and spans 19 days. In fact, it's so popular that it draws over two million visitors during its showing season alone.
There are numerous parts of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to enjoy. There's the outdoor carnival packed with games and a fun Ferris wheel. There are nightly concerts performed by big names in the music industry, both country stars and those outside the genre.
And, of course, there's the rodeo itself to look forward to! There are all sorts of professional competitions, including bull riding, barrel racing, horse shows, bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf scrambles, tie-down roping, and much more.
For those less interested in rodeo fanfare, there's still much more to do: parades, trail rides, barbecues, amusement parks, and beyond.
Address: 3 NRG Park, Houston, TX 77054
The Downtown Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Houston for people of all ages.
It was built from two downtown Houston landmarks, the Central Waterworks Building and Fire Station No. 1.
The complex, which covers an impressive six acres of land, is home to 200 different species of aquatic animals within its massive 500,000-gallon aquarium.
Downtown Aquarium features a wide range of geographic and aquatic exhibits that are both informative and entertaining.
There are also exciting aquarium rides, such as the Aquatic Carousel, the Frog Hopper, and Shark Voyage.
When you're done touring the complex, you can have a meal at the full-service restaurant, drink at the luxurious bar, or do a little shopping at the available stores.
Address: 410 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002
As its name implies, Children's Museum Houston is one of the best places to go in Houston if you're visiting the city with kids in tow.
A hands-on and interactive space, the museum is filled with a generous variety of exhibits, displays, and experiences catering to most age ranges.
Children's Museum Houston has many popular exhibits. The most famous among them are the outdoor FlowWorks water play exhibit, complete with an 18-foot cauldron to stand in, and Invention Convention, a small engineering workshop for older children.
The museum is also home to Kidtropolis, a miniature city designed for kids meant to mimic real-life cities. Kids can get "jobs", serve on the city council, go shopping with their "paychecks", and more.
Children can also get a more cultural experience at Yalálag, a display inspired by a Mexican mountain village called Oaxacan that features stories and experiences related to everyday village life.
Address: 1500 Binz St, Houston, TX 77004
Also Read: Top 10 Best Children's Museums in the USA
The Galleria is one of the prime places to visit in Houston for shopaholics!
In essence, this is a huge shopping center spanning a shocking 2.4 million square feet, boasting about 400 different eateries and stores. It's modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele of Milan.
For the most part, the Galleria is home to upscale and luxury brands, with big names like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, La Perla, Chanel, Valentino, and Christian Louboutin. However, there are also some popular mid-priced brands, such as Gap and Forever 21.
The mall also has its own skating rink and offers over 60 restaurants and dining options, seven salons, and a children's play space.
Address: 5085 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056
You can find the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center right next to Memorial Park. It spans 155 acres and is a nonprofit nature sanctuary in the middle of urban Houston.
Here, you can find fun and educational exhibits and activities that are perfect for all ages. Children will enjoy the Discovery Room in the Nature Center.
This is a great option for those on a budget as you can spend a relaxing afternoon on the 5 miles of walking trails for free.
There are events and activities geared towards all ages, whether you're looking for fun for the kids, adult activities, or something for the whole family to enjoy together.
Address: 4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024
Only 20 miles from downtown, Kemah Boardwalk is perfect for adults, children, and families. You will find rides for all ages, such as a double-decker carousel or train for kids and the Drop Zone for more adventurous riders.
There are also a dozen dining options along the boardwalk offering snacks and meals of all types, with a focus on seafood. If you want to buy a souvenir from your trip, stop at one of the many stores or kiosks.
When you plan on visiting Houston, be sure to check out the special events along the boardwalk, as unique events happen throughout the year, such as the Blast from the Past vintage car show, Bay Day Festival, Rock the Dock, and many more.
Address: 215 Kipp Ave, Kemah, TX 77565
The Museum of Fine Arts is a magnificent complex consisting of two grand buildings and one beautiful sculpture garden.
A total of over 64,000 works from across the planet are on display through the permanent collection, making it one of the country's biggest museums and one of the top Houston attractions.
More than 6,000 years of art history are contained within the prolific walls of the Museum of Fine Arts.
There are photos, paintings, mixed media works, and even mobiles. You'll find creations of French impressionism from the Italian Renaissance, pre-Columbian days, and six continents across the globe.
Stand-out features are Bacchanale by Picasso, Nympheas by Monet, a collection of gold from Africa, and decorative arts from America and Europe.
Outside in the Sculpture Garden, you'll be able to view "Cloud Column" by Anish Kapoor, an early prototype of what would soon be the famous "Cloud Gate" in Chicago.
There are also plenty of works by other favorite sculptors, such as Ellsworth Kelly, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, and Rodin.
Address: 1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005
Discovery Green is a relatively small park that has earned a reputation as one of the most relaxing recreational destinations in Houston.
Spanning just 12 acres, it's filled with all sorts of amenities and is conveniently located near a wide variety of entertainment venues. Its verdant greenery is a welcome addition to a bustling city.
Discovery Green boasts two fountain areas, a playground, a putting green, numerous picnic lawns, reading rooms, bocce ball courts, and a unique decorated golf cart.
For outdoorsy types, the lake of Discovery Green offers kayak and boat rides, while the jogging trail is long enough for a good bit of exercise.
Address: 1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010
Buffalo Bayou Park covers 160 acres of ground, bordering the bayou and stretching to Houston's downtown area.
This is a fantastic, attraction-filled location and one of the best places to visit in Houston when it comes to recreational parks.
Buffalo Bayou Park is filled with must-sees. There's the gorgeous Waugh Drive Bridge, where a shocking 250,000 or so Mexican free-tailed bats rest during the day, and the car-free Rosemont Bridge that offers stunning views of the Houston skyline.
Art sculptures are abundant, including the seven human-like figures of Jaume Plensa's Tolerance.
But the most exciting and iconic attraction at Buffalo Bayou Park is the Cistern, named due to its similarity in appearance to ancient cisterns in Rome.
Built in 1926 as a reservoir for drinking water, this impressive feat of construction is now an artistic and civic structure. It now hosts a range of art installations on a rotational basis.
Measuring 87,500 square feet, its roof is made from concrete that is eight inches thick, supported by 221 25-foot concrete pillars. Tours are offered regularly!
Address: 105b Sabine St, Houston, TX 77007
The Menil Collection is one of the best free Houston tourist attractions. Situated in Montrose, the building of the collection is a gorgeous work of art by Renzo Piano.
Its architecture allows it to be filled with light from enormous glass windows, so most of its rooms only use natural light.
The most renowned exhibit at the Menil Collection is its selection of Max Ernst pieces, the largest collection of any works by this artist in the world.
There are also plenty of contemporary works of art and Surrealist, Abstract, and Byzantine pieces by masters of these themes.
The museum is well organized and divided into themes that make viewing and learning easy.
Address: 1533 Sul Ross St, Houston, TX 77006
Minute Maid Park is one of the prime places in Houston to watch a sports event! The stadium, which boasts very modern facilities, has over an impressive 40,000 seats and tons of bells and whistles.
You get more than just a great audience experience at this park. Air-conditioning ensures that the Texas heat doesn't melt you to the ground, while a retractable roof with a 50,000-square-foot panel of glass keeps you dry when it rains.
Minute Maid Park is the home field of the Houston Astros, the favorite Major League Baseball team.
The stadium showcases the team's games, but concerts and other events are regularly held.
Other attractions include a weekly fireworks show on Friday, delicious and unique ballpark concessions, and a 19th-century replica of a locomotive that lights up and makes train noises.
Address: 501 Crawford St, Houston, TX 77002
There are quite many Houston attractions that are great for nature lovers, and Memorial Park is one of them!
Boasting more than 30 miles of trails, it's a large 1,466-acre expanse that features a granite running trail spanning three miles and a ton of options for biking and hiking.
Memorial Park also has many excellent facilities for exercise and sport. There's a golf course, fitness center, swimming pool, and numerous courts and fields for soccer, tennis, croquet, volleyball, and baseball.
There are also a lot of picnic areas to lounge in, as well as different environments to explore: forests of pines and hardwood trees, native wetlands, and even savannas.
Address: 6501 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77007
The John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science simply called the Health Museum for short, is an incredibly innovative museum that lets you take a trip inside the human body - in a way!
Welcoming close to 200,000 annual visitors, it's one of the best things to do in Houston for those seeking interesting ways to be educated on practical topics!
The Health Museum's interactive experiences allow you to explore organs and learn how they work in your body.
There's a 12-foot-tall heart that beats, a 10-foot-tall brain where you can do memory games, and a 27-foot intestine to wander through.
There's also a huge eyeball that can show you how you receive images and perceive them, as well as a funny little skeleton riding a bicycle just for a laugh.
Address: 1515 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004
The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is a gorgeous landmark and one of the most popular spots in Houston.
Spanning 2.77 acres, it was built in 1983 and has since been featured in numerous TV shows and films. It's just another nice spot for a tranquil time surrounded by greenery in a big city.
The main attraction of Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is undoubtedly its titular fountain, a postmodernist work of art.
The multi-story sculptural water feature is towering 64 feet above the ground, with a big arch that pours water over sculptures and concrete walls.
The water spreads over 46,500 square feet, with 11,000 gallons pumping out each minute! This space is excellent for picnics, events, concerts, and recreation.
Address: 2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056
The Art Car Museum, also nicknamed the Garage Mahal, is a museum packed with all manner of vehicles that have been decorated ornately, painted, and turned into pieces of art.
Opened in 1998, it features a rotating selection of vehicles and has become one of the most loved attractions in Houston. Each vehicle is designed to still be able to drive, even with all its vibrant additions.
One of the Art Car Museum's strengths is its impressive variety of automobiles. There are hippie vans, police cruisers, low riders, and even derby racers.
Some are studded with jewels, others are simply painted, and a few are filled up, so their interiors are home to additional intricate works of art.
Others have lots of items stuck onto them with glue and other adhesives, so you'll see cars covered in trophies, cameras, CDs, corks, and more!
Address: 140 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007
The National Museum of Funeral History is one of the most unique Houston attractions, a collection of history dedicated to a single macabre topic.
Spanning 30,500 square feet, this museum is a fun glimpse into the art, history, and science of death, covering a sad topic in an engaging and surprisingly lighthearted way.
At the National Museum of Funeral History, you can view lots of artifacts linked, in some way, to death.
There's the original eternal flame of JFK, an exhibit on presidential funerals complete with a full-scale replica of Abraham Lincoln lying in rest, and a vibrant Day of the Dead exhibit.
There is also a collection of different hearses from around the world, a set of funeral programs for the rich and famous, and the real-life tragic funeral bus.
On top of all of that, the museum also has a school within it that teaches embalming!
Address: 415 Barren Springs Dr, Houston, TX 77090
Cockrell Butterfly Center is technically a part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, but it's popular enough to deserve its spot among Houston attractions.
The center is filled with hundreds upon hundreds of butterfly and insect species; You'll find insects from both around the world and from local regions, ranging from exotic butterflies to hissing cockroaches and from praying mantises to the world's strangest arthropods.
The butterflies of the Cockrell Butterfly Center are housed in the three-story Rainforest Conservatory, a stunning glass enclosure with a 50-foot waterfall and lots of unusual flora.
Exhibition halls vastly stretch throughout the center to teach you everything there is to know about these insects, from their life cycles to what they eat.
The Brown Hall of Entomology is also filled with interactive exhibits and vast models of various insects.
Address: 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030
The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is home to a collection of American paintings and decorative arts curated by the Museum of Fine Arts.
The collection is displayed in what was once the home of Ima Hogg, a philanthropist and civic leader, and set on 14 gorgeous garden acres in River Oaks. It is one of the must-see attractions in Houston.
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens showcase paintings, silverware, ceramics, furniture, and more within its walls. In the garden, you'll find divided and distinct spaces decorated to match specific mythological themes.
Address: 6003 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77007
Art lovers will find that simply exploring the city is one of the best things to do in Houston.
A wide variety of street art and murals can be found throughout the metropolis, especially in the downtown area.
You'll find murals in different styles, from monochromatic to intricate. These public works of art are vibrant and can be found in all sorts of unlikely places.
Not sure where to begin your mural hunt? Start at the Houston Graffiti Building and look at the many murals available, especially "Justice" by SOT and ICY.
Next, head to Leeland Street and St. Emanuel Street, then to the neighborhoods of Midtown and Montrose.
Along the way, you'll see many well-known creations, including "Abstract Happy Beach Wall", "Preservons La Creation", "Biscuit Paint Wall", and "Houston Is Inspired".
Address: 313 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is a feature of the Houston Museum District, and for fans of this art genre, it's one of the best things to do in Houston.
With free entry, the museum has no collections, showcasing only rotating exhibits of regional and international works.
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is approachable and welcoming. There are just two galleries, each containing media ranging from fashion to music and from paintings to textiles and design.
Video installations are also present, sometimes accompanying works of art. It's hip and easy to view, and given its non-collecting exhibits, there's always something new to see.
Address: 5216 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006
Holocaust Museum Houston is one of the more sobering Houston attractions.
Spanning 57,000 square feet and boasting an indoor and outdoor theater, Holocaust Museum Houston is as thought-provoking as it is engaging.
Its four galleries are carefully presented in an exciting way that doesn't downplay the severity of the Holocaust.
You'll see objects like a Dutch fishing boat used by escapees, a 1942 railcar that transported victims of the cruel event, and video footage from inside concentration camps.
Holocaust Museum Houston also talks in detail about the people involved in the resistance efforts and the stories of the victims of the event.
You'll learn stories about survivors and their families and view more than 10,000 items that belonged to them on display alongside their tales.
Address: 5401 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77004
The Asia Society Texas Center is the Texas Asia Society's headquarters, one of only 12 international branches dedicated to strengthening relationships between Western and Asian governments and cultures.
The building is a stunning work of architectural minimalism, with an entrance carefully concealed behind Jura limestone panels.
For the most part, the Asia Society Texas Center only has temporary exhibits, with a wide range of different educational events and programs rotating throughout the year.
Some events may feature contemporary paintings, traditional woodblock printing, love sand mandala creation by monks, or photographs.
The center's sole permanent feature is its beautiful sculpture garden, which is very serene to walk through. All in all, visiting the center is among the best cultural things to do in Houston.
Address: 1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, TX 77004
It's tough to imagine a university as one of the top Houston attractions, but Rice University disproves that idea.
This 300-acre oasis is a huge campus designed as an arboretum for research and teaching.
A 2.9-mile sidewalk built from granite is perfect for joggers and walkers, and over 216 bird species can be spotted on campus, making this a haven for birdwatchers.
Nature-lovers will enjoy exploring the flora- and fauna-filled Harris Gully Pocket Prairie, and art enthusiasts will appreciate the significant number of public art installations scattered about campus.
The most notable artwork here is the Twilight Epiphany Skyspace by James Turrell.
This incredible sculpture is fitted with gorgeous LED lights and is built of composite steel, grass, stone, and concrete. At sunset and sunrise, a lovely light sequence plays vibrantly on the sculpture.
Address: uzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion, Houston, TX 77005
Smither Park is an artistic destination for recreation and one of the most beautiful Houston attractions. It is completely covered in a wide range of folk mosaics made by more than 300 different individual artists.
Effectively, Smither Park feels like an outdoor gallery. It's constantly evolving as artists come to add, remove, or change elements, and it's not uncommon to see recycled items like glass and broken plates used for these mosaics.
Smither Park also has a lovely pavilion, a stage for small events, a meditation garden, and a memorial wall. So, while most people love the park for its art, it's also just a lovely, tranquil place to rest.
Address: 2441 Munger St, Houston, TX 77023
The incredibly unique Beer Can House is one of the most unusual Houston attractions. It exists thanks to John Milkovisch, an avid beer drinker who consumed a whole six-pack of the brew daily.
When he retired in the 1960s, Milkovisch spent the rest of his life slowly covering his home with various parts of his empty cans. By the time he passed away in 1988, his 18 years of work had involved an estimated 50,000 cans.
The Beer House is now a landmark of the city due to its strange appearance amidst many modern townhouses.
There are can lids that hang in garland-like structures from the lines of the roof, making chiming noises as the wind blows.
All the fences and the big mailbox of the house are made from cans, and the porch is lined by all sorts of beer labels, faded over time but surprisingly artistic in appearance.
Meanwhile, mobiles, sculptures, windmills, and curtains are made from bits and pieces of the cans, including their pull tabs.
Address: 222 Malone St, Houston, TX 77007
The Rothko Chapel is a gorgeous work of modern art commissioned by the Menil Collection and made by renowned abstract expressionist Mark Rothko.
The chapel showcases a total of 14-panel paintings made by Rothko, who also played an essential part in the construction and design of the overall chapel.
It was completed in 1971 and beginning in 1973; it became a center of colloquium for international social justice. Events, forums, and services are regularly held here till today.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this artistic wonder might just be one of the most beautiful places in the US for art lovers.
The unique modern architecture of the Rothko Chapel features a modernist style, with a windowless facade and a cross shape.
This is further complemented by the Broken Obelisk sculpture by Barnett Newman. This is a meditative space designed for people of any religious background.
Address: 3900 Yupon St, Houston, TX 77006
The 1940 Air Terminal Museum is one of the most historic Houston attractions and is a must-see for aviation fans and enthusiasts of aeronautical history.
Once upon a time, this was a commercial destination, the Houston Municipal Airport, an art-deco structure dedicated to giving the city new ways to travel.
Now, the airport is the 1940 Air Terminal Museum, a glimpse into the world of Houston's aeronautical past and a now bygone era of unique ambition.
A continually expanding museum, the terminal is now home to numerous displays and exhibits related to the aviation history of Houston.
There are documents, models, silver service items, and photographs, as well as a theater that shows aviation-related films and documentaries.
You can also look out onto the airport operations of Hobby Airport, where you can watch all sorts of aviation traffic go by.
Address: 8325 Travelair St, Houston, TX 77061
The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is situated in the Houston Theater District and is among the top attractions in Houston.
At its core, this is the premier entertainment destination in downtown Houston. It boasts two theaters, both outfitted with state-of-the-art technology and excellent acoustics. There's the Sarofim Hall with 2,650 seats and the Zilkha Hall with 500 seats.
The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is surprisingly opulent, and you're greeted from the get-go by its Grand Lobby, which stretches three stories.
The stunning lobby boasts a ceiling coated in gold leaf and a vast roof supported by steel columns, with high glass walls that let you view the city's skyline.
On the second floor, a beautiful terrace stares out over Tranquility Park, where you can sit and lounge.
Address: 800 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002
If you're looking for a good drink, then Saint Arnold Brewing Company is one of the best Houston attractions for that purpose.
It is set inside a red brick three-story building that was built in 1914, but the company itself opened in 1994, before the era of peak hoppy IPA popularity.
This means the company offers a fair few German-style beers, and their pilsner and Kolsch brews are fantastic.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company is the oldest craft brewery in Houston. The brewery does everything from brewing to filtering, kegging, and bottling.
Visitors can visit their tasting room to sample different beers with lunch or snacks. You can also go on a tour of the factory and learn all about its processes.
Address: 2000 Lyons Ave, Houston, TX 77020
It's impossible to run out of things to do in Houston. There's history, culture, art, nature, technology, food, shopping, and no shortage of the unusual or fascinating.
People of all ages, interests, and backgrounds can be catered to in Space City, and there's a lot to love.
This list of Houston attractions covers H-Town's most popular sites, but there's even more to discover. So go out there and explore this hot, hip, crowded city and all that it has to offer.