11 can’t-miss attractions that make Houston special
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As a native Houstonian, my love for this city knows no bounds. We are a bustling metropolis with a deeply ingrained culture that is unique to our Southwest-Texas-Mexican roots. Not only does Houston hold the crown as the largest city in Texas, but it is also one of the most diverse. There is truly something here for everyone. My hometown bias aside, Houston is one of the top cities in the country for very good reasons.
Here are some of my favourite spots in the city for locals and visitors alike.
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For culture mavens
The art scene in Houston is unparalleled. This city is home to some of the finest artists in the world and creators from all over have their curated work on display here. Get a dose of the Houston art life by visiting these attractions.
Houston Street Art
What better way to mark your Houston experience than to take a picture in front of one of Houston’s many murals? Houston Graffiti Building (1503 Chartres Street) has some of the most colourful artwork in the city all in one place. As shown in the featured image above, on one side of the building, the McDonald’s-themed astronaut (drawn by Mario E. Figueroa) holds Houston in its heart while the other side features a beautiful tribute to the late, great Kobe Bryant (created by The OneLee).
There are all kinds of artistic expressions here and it is a great (Instagram-worthy) photo opportunity during your visit to Houston.
Insider Tip: Unlike most downtown destinations, the Houston Graffiti Building has tons of free parking. But get there early! It is a popular spot for both tourists and locals so it gets busy.
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Houston’s Museum District is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Houston. The area has 19 museums, several walkable zones and a recreation option for every area of interest. You’re guaranteed to enjoy any of the wonderfully done museums in this area.
My favourite, however, is the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (1001 Bissonnet Street). It consists of several galleries housed within various buildings that make up their Sarofim Campus. Here you can find exhibits on anything from the history of Black photography to Italian design in the 1960s. The museum goes out of its way to be as diverse and multifaceted as the people of Houston. The wide range of exhibits you find here makes the Houston Museum of Fine Arts a city treasure. Admission is $19 for adults, $12 for children 13–18 and free for kids under 12.
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Insider Tip: Stop by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston on Thursdays for free admission. Or visit the adjacent Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (5216 Montrose Boulevard) to see its incredibly progressive showcases. Admission at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is always free.
Houston is well known as the city of concrete. While we do have quite a bit of that, Houston is also home to some plush urban landscapes. Explore these metropolitan parks in the city.
Discovery Green (1500 McKinney Street), a 12-acre park in the heart of downtown, is one of the best in the city. There is a jogging trail, a paddleboat lake, several lawn areas, dining options, a playground and more. There’s even an outdoor ice-skating rink in the winter months.
But what makes Discovery Green so special aren’t just the grass, hills and playground — it’s the activities that are held there. The park lives up to its position in the core of Houston by matching its events with the pulse of the city. Want to learn Tai Chi? There are classes at Discovery Green on the weekends. Want to attend a free concert with some of the country’s premier artists? Discovery Green has that too! Their event calendar is always stock full of offerings as eclectic as the city it’s in. (If you want to spend the night in this area, the Marriott Marquis with the Texas-shaped lazy river is very close by.)
Insider Tip: To make the most out of your trip to Discovery Green, check out its website before your visit for any special events or closures.
Hermann Park (6001 Fannin Street) is 445-acres of picturesque fun in the middle of Houston. It has long been a favourite of both residents and visitors alike for the sheer amount of activities in the area. You can find jogging trails, lakes, gardens, golf courses, pedal boats, playgrounds, fountains, exercise stations and more here. There is even a railroad, complete with an adorable red passenger train, that runs through the park.
If you’re looking for more indoor activities, Hermann Park is also home to the world-class Houston Museum of Natural Science (5555 Hermann Park Drive) with tons of exhibits. Admission is $25 for guests over 12, $16 for children 3–11 and free for kids under 3.
Insider Tip: One of the many great attractions at Hermann Park is Miller Outdoor Theater (6000 Hermann Park Drive). It’s an outdoor venue that hosts free performances throughout the year. It is the largest “always free” programme of its kind in the country. Bring a blanket, some lawn chairs and a picnic and enjoy one of their phenomenal shows.
The best Houston eats
They say the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. If that’s true, then you’re sure to fall in love with Houston. We take our food seriously here and have an abundance of yummy restaurants as evidence. Eat your way to the essence of the city by dining at one of these establishments.
Burns Original BBQ
BBQ is so engrained into the culture of Houston that it’s almost synonymous with the word Texas. There are many arguments for where to find the best BBQ in Houston but you can’t go wrong with a stop at Burns Original BBQ (8307 De Priest Street).
They’ve been operating out of the same venue since 1973, dishing out all the BBQ classics like sliced beef, pork ribs, smoked chicken and sausage links. It is a fan favourite of local Houstonians and even received a stamp of approval from Anthony Bourdain before his passing. Their motto is “Great BBQ Lives On” — one bite of their food and I’m sure you will agree.
Insider Tip: They are closed on Sundays but often use that day to have pop-ups around the city. Be sure to check its Facebook page or more details.
Experience one of Houston’s best-kept secrets by stopping by Crumbville, TX (2316 Elgin Street, in Houston’s historic 3rd Ward. This small bakery is the soul of the neighbourhood with delicious vegan (and non-vegan) options for everyone.
They have all kinds of unique goodies like the lemon “Cole Word” cookie inspired by rapper J. Cole and the vegan “Netflix & Chill” oatmeal cookie with kale popcorn baked in (it’s delicious). If cookies don’t tickle your fancy, they also have brownies and delicious cupcakes that they call stuffed cups. Crumbville promises “A Baked on Smile in Every Bite!” and truly deliver.
Insider Tip: A warmed vegan strawberry almond butter stuffed cup makes a tremendous breakfast!
The Breakfast Klub
While the exterior might not look like much, trust me when I say The Breakfast Klub (3711 Travis Street) is one of the best eateries in Houston. So much so that there is always a line out the door of patrons waiting to be seated. The queue goes quickly though and their food is worth the wait!
The chef puts a Southern-fried twist on traditional brunch favourites to produce dishes that will make you want to come back again and again. Their “katfish & grits” dish, for example, is a personal favourite that features seasoned catfish, grits, eggs made your way and a made-from-scratch biscuit. They also serve fried chicken wings, pancakes, waffles, French toast, pork chops and more. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, they also serve delicious three- or four-egg omelettes.
Insider Tip: If you aren’t able to make it to their Midtown location during your trip, catch them to-go at their location in Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
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Where to raise a glass
From breweries to wineries, Houston has a bit of it all. Satisfy even the most selective of alcohol connoisseurs with these Houston favourites.
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle in the city, travel to Katy about 30 miles west of downtown Houston to the ErmaRose Winery (3130 Katy Hockley Cut Off Road). This unique winery serves homegrown blends of fruit-based wines. But it is the atmosphere that you’re after! Its rustic vibes– complete with mooing cows — are everything you didn’t know you needed during a trip to Houston. Grab some of their delicious wine, be treated to live entertainment and visit one of the many food trucks on site. Be sure to check their website for their newest offerings and event schedules!
Insider Tip: Stop by on a Friday or a Saturday to get a Dino Rib from Daddy Duncan’s BBQ that’s on-site. You can thank me later!
Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Saint Arnold Brewing Company (2000 Lyons Ave) in downtown Houston is the oldest craft brewery in Texas. The brewery itself offers free tours daily that are open to all ages. If you’re more interested in sampling their wares, Saint Arnold’s restaurant will be the highlight of your visit. With 14 year-round beer offerings, rotating seasonal offerings, special beer series and ciders, they have something for everyone. They even have a nonalcoholic root beer option.
If you’re hungry, their full-service restaurant serves up classic bar cuisine like pizza, burgers and pretzels. The indoor dining space is a tribute to their namesake Saint Arnold, the patron saint of brewing. It is modelled after a contemporary chapel complete with churchlike murals on the walls featuring none other than Saint Arnold himself.
The charm of their ambience extends to their outdoor space too with a one-of-a-kind view of the downtown skyline. The covered structure is designed like one large family-friendly patio with Adirondack chairs, lawn games and bocce courts. Dogs are welcome too!
Insider Tip: If you aren’t sure which beer to try, order the beer flight to taste several.
Houston is a fabulous place to visit with kids. Outside of our world-class Houston Zoo and renowned Houston Children’s Museum, Houston is laden with several activities that are unique to our fair city. Check out these family-friendly ventures in Houston.
Discover your inner cowpoke with a day in the Houston countryside. Venture to Paloma Trails (10655 Katy Hockley Cut Off Road) just west of Houston to experience their many equestrian events. This locally run stable has many offerings for both adults and kids including grooming opportunities, horseback riding lessons and even therapeutic rides.
If you have a free afternoon, their half-day camps are a family favourite. During the camp, kids can learn horsemanship skills, do obstacle work, perform barn jobs and play games with the ponies. Half-day camp options range from $55 to $80 per day.
Insider Tip: If your children like unicorns, inquire about their unicorn special.
The Port of Houston
It may be a little-known fact outside of Houston, but Houston is home to one of the largest ports in the world. It is an international shipping hub with millions of tons of goods shipped through the Port of Houston (111 East Loop North) every year.
Free, educational and family-friendly tours are offered at the Port of Houston daily. Families can learn more about the ship channel, its function within the economy and watch the shipping vessels do their work. The 90-minute ride is air-conditioned and provides spectacular views of the port.
Insider Tip: Be sure to make your reservations online before your visit. These tours are very popular – especially during the school year.
Houston is a wonderfully dynamic city with tons of options for visitors. From museums to eateries to family outings, we have a little bit of everything. With this guide, you’ll be privy to some of the best spots in the city.
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