Which city in Texas has the largest population? Hint: this city is also the fourth largest city in the US, population-wise. If you guessed Houston, you’re correct! This vibrant city is home to a variety of attractions, museums, malls, and parks.
You’ll find a mix of old (we’re talking 19th century old) and modern buildings, landmarks, and monuments here. Use this guide of top 10 things to do in Houston to see it all!
1. Explore Earth’s History at The Houston Museum of Natural Science
From precious gems and metals exhibits to dinosaur fossils and a live butterfly center, this museum will help you get in touch with the natural world.
Begin your journey in time at the Morian Hall of Paleontology, oohing and aahing at the fossilized dinosaur skeletons. This isn’t Night at the Museum, but if you look out the corner of your eyes, you’ll swear the dinosaurs are moving.
Jump forward a couple centuries to explore ancient Egypt at the Hall of Ancient Egypt. Here you’ll find mummies, sarcophagi, golden jewelry, and hieroglyphs.
Make your way to the Cockrell Butterfly Center to walk through a real-life butterfly garden, but don’t forget to visit the different animal exhibits of Africa, the Americas, and Texas along the way!
Tickets are $9 for adults and $8 for children.
2. Move over Milan—Houston’s Galleria is a Shopping Heaven
The Galleria, modeled after Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Italy, is located in Uptown Houston and has everything you need for an action-packed day. In addition to its 400 shops, The Galleria also features an ice skating rink, two swimming pools, and several banks, tailor shops, and beauty salons.
Wet your shopping appetite with some international window shopping at Chanel, Fendi, Burberry, Christian Louboutin, and Gucci. Then find similar products to purchase at the five department stores throughout the mall.
Kids will love dressing up as princesses and pirates at the Disney store and then running over to the LEGO store to build their dream creations. Be sure to check out the giant children’s play area at The Little Galleria on the first floor.
Techies will love the Apple and Microsoft stores as well as Best Buy and GameStop.
There’s something for everyone at The Galleria.
3. Find Your Zen at the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
You’ll find this beautiful 64ft. waterfall sculpture near the Williams Tower in Uptown Houston. It dispenses a whopping 11,000 gallons of water per minute!
Running since 1985, the Waterwall has become a popular spot for both tourists and locals. You can have a picnic under oak trees, catch some sun, take photos, and attend frequent local music and art events. Pets are allowed if brought on a leash so take your dog on a walk!
Be sure to visit the nearby Williams Tower. You can’t miss it—it stands at 64 stories tall and is the largest skyscraper outside Downtown Houston. There’s no public observation deck, but you can stand at the base of this building and watch the sky reflected in the mirror-like windows.
4. Dive into Fun and Adventure at Houston’s Downtown Aquarium
Land meets water at this fun and interactive aquarium! In addition to the animal exhibits, this museum offers rides, games, and a restaurant.
Experience life under the sea at the water exhibits. The Shipwreck offers a variety of fish, coral reefs, a moray eel, and an enormous octopus! In addition, you can see a replica of a 17th century sunken Spanish galleon.
There are more fish to be seen at the Gulf of Mexico, and at Stingray Reef, you can even touch and feed stingrays!
Water and land collide at the Louisiana Swamp exhibit which features gators, crayfish, and catfish. If you’re looking for something more dangerous, check out the Rainforest where there are piranhas and colorful boas.
Outside, you’ll find a carousel, ferris wheel, and thrilling drop ride.
An all-day pass for the aquarium, unlimited rides, and stingray reef is $19.99.
5. Tour Houston with a Rented B-cycle
Bike renting is easy with the B-cycle program! You’ll find fifteen red b-cycle rental stations in the Downtown Houston area alone. Download the B-cycle app to help you find the stations, track your ride, easily pay for your bike usage, and more.
The b-cycle is an always-ready rental bike, meaning that bikes are ready to go with inflated tires, adjustable seats, wire baskets, and built-in locks.
Use the b-cycle’s website to track your distance, average speed, and even calories burned! Biking around Houston is a fun, easy, and healthy way to tour the city and visit the top 10 things to do in Houston.
Bike rentals start with a $5 day access pass (24hrs) with usage fees added on top. Your first hour is free, and then each additional half hour is $2.
6. Learn About Hinduism at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple
This beautiful and ornate temple was built out of Italian marble and Turkish limestone and consecrated in 2004. Today, it remains the largest Hindu temple in Texas and is open to both worshippers and visitors.
Mandir is the name for a Hindu temple, and Swaminarayan is a particular branch of Hinduism. Thus this mandir holds a daily and weeekly variety of song, food, and light rituals in its various shrines to praise the Hindu deities.
Visitors can learn more about this fascinating religion at the Understanding Hinduism exhibition on the mandir grounds. The exhibition showcases Hinduism’s history, universality, artwork, and inter-connections with the sciences.
The Mandir is open daily from 9am to 8:30pm, with rituals at scheduled times. For more information, check out the web page.
7. Play and Relax at Discovery Green
This urban park in Downtown Houston is always bustling with activities: from farmer’s markets, art exhibitions, and science lectures to concerts, cultural festivals, and yoga, this park is a great place to meet new people and try something new.
Set on 12 acres, Discovery Green has a jogging trail, a performance space, a large lake, a playground, a tree-lined promenade, and five lush lawns and gardens.
On Saturdays and Sundays until November, you can rent a kayak, stand-up paddle board, and/or a sailboat for a leisurely float across the vast Kinder Lake. Meanwhile, in winter, the lake is host to an ice-skating rink.
Stroll through the park to appreciate the numerous art installations made by local artists. Keep an eye out for the renowned Monument Au Fantome, a colorful red, white, and blue sculpture on Avenida de las Americas.
8. Your Space Adventure Awaits at Space Center Houston
The NASA Johnson Space Center displays a variety of space artifacts, rockets, and shuttles used by astronauts in space flights. Check out spacecraft like Faith 7, Gemini V, and Apollo 17 in the Starship Gallery.
If you’ve got stars in your eyes, you can also tour the Skylab Trainer Module used to prepare astronauts for their first space flights. Then head over to the Astronaut Gallery to marvel at the bulky suits that astronauts have worn through the ages.
So you think you want to be an astronaut? Imagine your life in space by touring the International Space Station Gallery. Here you can also attend live presentations.
There’s a lot of ground to cover at this space center—1,600 acres in fact. You can take a 90min. guided tram tour and go behind-the-scenes of the center’s various areas.
9. Relive Your College Glory Days with a Tour of Rice University
You may have seen Rice University make America’s top 20 universities list by the U.S. News and World Report. This private university is practically an Ivy League school, and after a tour of its gorgeous campus, you’ll agree.
Established in 1912, the university features a classic Byzantine architectural style, full of light-colored brick buildings, red roofs, and many arches, towers, and turrets.
If you’re looking for the full college experience, begin your tour at Lovett Hall and walk through the landmark Sallyport arch, the same arch that new students enter in.
Walking around campus, you’ll find more interesting art and architecture, like the space-themed Twilight Epiphany Skyspace near the Shepherd School of Music.
10. Race Your Friends and Family at Speedy’s Fast Track
This family-friendly go-kart track, mini golf, and indoor arcade is the place to go for a little friendly competition!
Sit down and buckle up into a two-seater go-kart or a super kart. If you’re brave and have a driver’s license, you can take a Formula 1 kart for a spin—they have a peak speed of 30mph. Play fair when racing around the track!
Bring the competition inside and team up against each other at the laser tag arena. See how many times you can shoot your opponent before the fifteen minutes are up!
Afterward, you can play arcade games and work together to collect tickets to redeem for cool prizes.
These top 10 things to do in Houston offer something for everyone. There are many activities to do on sunny days, rain days, and best of all, lazy days.
Whether you’re travelling with your family, girlfriend or boyfriend, or a group of friends, you’re bound to have a blast!