Houston Things to Do Tips by XenoHumph Top 5 Page for this destination
Houston Things to Do: 348 reviews and 550 photos
NASA-JSC seen from NASA Road 1, SE Houston
If you go to Houston, you have to visit the Space Center! After all, Houston is where NASA-Johnson Space Center is located. That's where the astronauts train and where NASA curates the lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo missions. Space Center Houston is the museum associated with it. Permanent exhibitions are about past and present space programs and the solar system. I particularly enjoyed the "Star ship gallery" and the Moon rock exhibition. there are lots of exhibitions and stuffs for kids.
Do not miss the little train ride! That's where you go as close as you can to the "real" NASA. They change the train path from time to time. Now (2011), you can choose between 2 tours, one to the old Mission Control room and to the rocket park (including a Saturn V, like the ones that sent astronauts to the Moon), and one to the real size shuttle where the astronauts are training and to the rocket park (be prepared to wait in line on week-ends for these tours).
It is ridiculously expensive: $19.95 per person (kids and seniors have reductions, $16 on line), $5 for parking.
Space Center is opened 10-5 weekdays. 10-6 weekends.
Note: there is a detailed tour of 4-5 hours of NASA behind the scene with a guide that you can purchase for $85 called "Level 9 tour". It should be reserved in advance.
Address: 1601 NASA Parkway, Houston, TX 77058
Directions: 25 miles south of downtown Houston in the NASA/Clear Lake area.
From downtown Houston, take I-45 South. Exit at NASA 1 Bypass (NASA Parkway works too, but has more lights). Go East. Pass El Camino/Egret Bay Blvd. It is on your left.
Sam Houston Park, downtown Houston, Texas, USA
This is a general tip intending to provide you with more possible activities in Houston even if I haven't been to these places myself. As soon as go see them, I'll make more specific tips! In the mean time, I give you website links!
Science and nature:
* Houston Zoo
* Museum of Health and Medical Science
* Houston Arboretum
* Downtown Aquarium
* Addicks and Barker Reservoirs (incl. G. Bush Park; W of Houston)
* Houston Railroad Museum
* Galveston Railroad Museum (in Galveston, great museum, go see it!)
* Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum (in Galveston, fantastic, go see it!)
* Moody Gardens (in Galveston)
* Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens (in Humble)
* Big Thicket National Preserve (NE of Houston, near Woodville)
* Huntsville State Park (in Huntsville)
* Contemporary Arts Museum
* Rice University Art Gallery
* The Orange Show
* The Art Car Museum
* Website detailing buildings' architecture in Houston
* The Flower Man
Williams Tower, Galleria area, Houston, Texas
* National Museum of Funeral History
* Lone Star Flight Museum (in Galveston)
* 1940 Air Terminal Project
* Children's Museum of Houston
* Holocaust Museum
* The Buffalo Soldier Museum
* The Houston Fire Museum
* The Houston Police Museum
* The museum of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History
* Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site (in Washington, TX)
* Astroworld, Six Flags Theme Park JUST CLOSED DOWN!
* The George Ranch historical Park (in Richmond)
* The 4th ward (Freedman's Town): old African-American neighborhood. Details on VT member nomorewars Houston page
Panoramic views of Houston
* J.P. Morgan Chase Tower (75 story, the highest in Houston, downtown)
* Wells Fargo Building (58th floor, downtown)
* Williams Tower (51st floor, Galleria area)
* Spindle Top restaurant (top Hyatt Regency hotel, downtown)
* Ferris wheel of the Downtown Aquarium (downtown)
Butterflies @ Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Museum of Natural History of Houston has the usual exhibitions about dinosaurs, gems and minerals, planetarium and temporary exhibits, a lot geared for children. Themes of the permanent exhibits are:
- Gems & Minerals
- Smith Gem Vault
- Texas Wildlife
- African Wildlife
- The Americas
- Discovery Place
- Earth Forum
- Space Science
- The Pendulum
But to me, the most spectacular part is the butterfly greenhouse with its hundreds of beautiful large butterflies, its insects and the big iguana not to be missed!
It's opened Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm and Sunday 11 am - 5 pm
Tickets are quite expensive, especially as the Butterfly exhibit ($8), Planetarium ($6) and Imax ($8) are sold separately from the other permanent exhibits ($9) and from the temporary exhibits. Prices are for adults as of 2006.
Address: 1 Herman Circle Drive, Houston 77030 TX
Directions: Northern end of Herman Park. They have parking for $8 in their 6-story garage located on Caroline, just S of Hermann Drive. But we always park in the free parking lot of the Museum of Fine Arts on Main, a block away.
Romance at Herman Park, Houston, Texas.
A lovely lake, an elegant reflecting pool, a Japanese garden, beautiful trees make this park in Houston very pleasant to stroll through. The best times are October-November and April-May for perfect temperatures. There is also a little train that drives around it (see picture). The reflecting pool has the statue of Sam Houston on its North end, and a small obelisk at the South end. The parc is located close to the Museum District, with even the Museum of Natural Sciences and the Houston Zoo on its grounds. It is also right next to Rice University and the Medical Center.
We always parc at the free parking lot of the Museum of Fine Arts on Main Street and then walk a block to the parc. You can also take the tramway.
Address: 6001 Fannin, at Herman Drive, Houston, TX
Directions: In the middle of Houston. The park is located between the Museum District and the Medical Center.
Phone: (713) 845-1000
Downtown Houston with Tranquility Park
Downtown Houston has lots of amazing buildings and sky-scrapers to please the fan of american architecture. For the pleasure of the eye on sleek and modern lines, it is worth taking a stroll in the area. Especially if you went to the Sam Houston Park, you can easily walk to one of the most pleasant area of downtown (where the picture on the left was taken). It comprises this beautiful modern fountain (Tranquility Park), some of the most beautiful buildings (personal opinion) of the city and the Theater District (home to Houston Performing Art Society, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony and Houston Ballet). Also in this area is the Houston official Visitor Center located in the City Hall (opened daily from 9 am to 4 pm) where you can find numerous free brochures on Houston and Texas, and buy souvenirs.
Besides the architectural interest, I cannot say that downton Houston is warm and inviting. There are no shops, no restaurants really visible, no atmosphere; the streets are lined with ugly parking garage entrances. It seems the people working here go to the "Houston's tunnels", a maze of shops, restaurants and corridors below street level (click here for a map of the tunnels). There is actually a recent attempt to give a soul to the Theater District with Bayou Place which is a big complex of restaurants, stage and movie theaters (at 560 Texas Avenue). Plus the inauguration in January 2004 of the tramway line on Main street seems to have revitalized that street, especially when it is blocked to traffic on week-end evenings. I sincerely hope Houston will finally have a city feeling to it!!
Address: Visitor Center, 901 Bagby, Houston, Texas
Directions: I45 N: exit McKinney
I45 S: take I45 N to Allen Parkway
59 N: exit Capitol
59 S: take I45 N
For parking info, go to the website below.
Other Contact: http://www.houston-guide.com/
Phone: (713) 437-5200, 1-800-4-HOUSTON
Smiling alligators at Anahuac, Texas
Alligators are a great fun to watch in the natural protected lands and parks around Houston. Best time to see them is spring, when they lazily bake themselves in the sun on the banks of the bayous. You can still see them in the summer and fall, although it becomes more difficult. I have seen a few sometimes in the winter when the days are warm (more than 70ºF or 20ºC).
Directions: Two good places to watch alligators:
Brazos State Park (SW Houston)
Anahuac Wildlife National Refuge (SE Houston, on the Eastern side of Galveston Bay)
White Ibis and Marsh Harrier in Anahuac WNR
Houston is located in a prime area for avid birders. The region has all types of shore, marsh and forest birds all year long. The climate is subtropical and attracts many birds from the North in the winter. In the spring and fall, tons of migratory birds stop by for a few weeks.
Directions: Parks in Houston.
Gulf coast (Galveston Island, Bolivar Peninsula, High Island)
Brazos State Park, Anahuac Wildlife National Refuge
This excellent little museum narrates the history of printing from the Gutenberg press (a reproduction of the press and the Gutenberg bible on exhibit) to the present day. I found particularly fun the old newspaper frontpages from the 19th century to the present featuring the main history events (for example, wars, natural catastrophy, walk on the Moon,...). Pleasant... and empty of people!
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10-5, and Sunday, 12:30-5
Fees: $5 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, parking free.
Address: 1324 W. Clay, Houston, TX 77019
Directions: From I45: Exit Allen Parkway. Take it to Waugh Dr. Turn left on Waugh Dr to W Clay Street. Turn left on W Clay Street.
From 610 W: Exit Woodway-Memorial, go E on Memorial until the Waugh Dr S exit. Turn right on Waugh Dr to W Clay Street & turn left.
Prorodeo 2003 in Huntsville
The city of Houston hosts one of the biggest rodeos of North America, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo each year every March. It is a huge event and is located at Reliant Park, the monster-size stadiums of Houston (see my Houston "Sports Travel" for a picture of the stadiums and location info). Go to http://www.hlsr.com/ for the official website.
I, however, prefer to go to a more "human-size" event, like the many local county fairs that always offer rodeo entertainment. I recommand the Huntsville Prorodeo, a great rodeo to go to, whether you have never seen one before like me, or if you are a big fan of it. I enjoyed it particularly because it is relatively small in size and local. The people were extremely nice, friendly and helpful. This rodeo is also one of professionals which is a high point for a rodeo fan. Plus, the county fair around it is always fun, for both adults and kids. I strongly recommand it, it is worth the drive from Houston!! It takes place last weekend of March in Huntsville, a town 65 miles (104 km) North of Houston. Please, go see my Huntsville (Texas) page for more pictures and info!
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