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A Guide On What To Do With Out-of-Towners Visiting Houston

Benjamin Cohen
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Benjamin Cohen

Buzz intern Benjamin Cohen explores Buffalo Bayou Park and stops for a picture in front of Downtown Houston.

We’ve all experienced it - you have friends or family come in town to visit Houston, but you’re not sure where to take your guests. With Houston being the fourth largest city in the United States, there are tons of activities to do and places to visit, it’s just a matter of finding the perfect spot for your guests.

Here are some ideas:

Houston Zoo
6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, TX 77030

Bring the whole family out to see the sights and sounds that make the Houston Zoo so unique. Guests can enjoy feeding the giraffes, viewing exotic and indigenous animals, and seeing marine life up close.

Houston Aquarium
410 Bagby St., Houston, TX 77002

The Houston Aquarium is home to fascinating exhibits along with a great restaurant. Complete with a Ferris wheel, the aquarium is home to over 200 species of aquatic life and is considered a 500,000-gallon aquatic wonderland. Some of the many fascinating exhibits at the aquarium include the Louisiana Swamp featuring gators and snapping turtles, the Sunken Temple displaying lionfish, tarantulas, and pufferfish, and the White Tigers of the Maharaja’s Temple featuring white tigers.

Space Center Houston
1601 E NASA Pkwy., Houston, TX 77058

Head on down to Space Center Houston, the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. This must-see attraction allows guests to walk through replica space shuttles and learn more about upcoming NASA missions. Visitors can also take a bus tour around Johnson Space Center, the home of mission control, along with Rocket Park where actual rockets are on display. Kids and space fanatics will love this place!

1940 Air Terminal Museum
8325 Travelair St, Houston, TX 77061

All aviation lovers will find this museum truly stunning. Located next to William P. Hobby Airport, in addition to viewing the exhibits and taking a look back at aviation’s history, guests also get a front-row seat to aircraft operations at Hobby airport.

Food Scene

Houston is home to cuisine from all cultures. From classic American to Italian, Chinatown to Tex-Mex, you can’t go wrong with any choice of food from Houston. Some of the top neighborhoods with the best food scene include Rice Village, the Galleria, Upper Kirby, the Washington Corridor, the Heights and Midtown. Where you’re looking for a fancy sit-down restaurant, a sports bar, or a food truck, look no further than any of these restaurants to find something for all. (See our Chef’s Corner column for interviews with top Houston chefs.)  

Statue at Menil

Within the Menil Campus are enormous metal statues covering a small lawn. If you can brave the heat, they’re more than worth visiting. (Photo: Ryan Chang)

Museum District

The Houston Museum District offers 19 museums, with many free to the public. Some of the many amazing museums that are located within walking distance from each other include The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Children’s Museum, The Menil Collection, The Holocaust Museum, and Houston Museum of Natural Science. This is a great way to spend the day, while also learning a few things. For those looking to get more hands-on experience, check out the Glassell School of Art and explore the surrounding areas. Serving as the teaching institute of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Glassell School offers art classes and workshops for kids age 3-18 along with adults. See this listing of free museums around town

Theatre District

Houston is home to one of the biggest and best theatre districts. Spanning across 17 blocks in the heart of Downtown Houston, the theatre district is home to nine professional performing arts organizations including Alley Theatre, Jones Hall and the Hobby Center for Performing Arts. Check out their website for more information and to see calendars of shows.

Art around Town

With Houston being such a diverse city, there are pieces of art located throughout the city that are encompassed in all forms. Whether it’s sculptures, murals or even utility boxes, Houston has embraced its arts scene. Check out these stories to see some of the best locations around Houston to find some cool spots and murals.

Live Music

Among the diverse culture, Houston boasts a popular music scene, with many big-name performers coming to the bayou city to put on show-stopping performances. Whether it’s concerts at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, performances at the Toyota Center, or bands at the Smart Financial Centre or at one of the other many venues, there are lots of options when it comes to taking in the atmosphere of live concerts. To find live music events, check out The Buzz’s monthly live music roundup here

River Oaks Theatre
2009 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019

If you’re looking to bring the family out to a movie screening but want that vintage movie theatre experience, then head over to the River Oaks Theatre. Located in the heart of River Oaks, this theatre features only three screening rooms, with one being the main theatre which has a huge screen.

Houston Parks

When it comes to getting outdoors, Houston offers many sprawling parks throughout the city. Whether you’re downtown, in the medical center, or the Heights, you’re sure to run into a park that’s perfect for a picnic or just some free time. Local parks include Discovery Green, Memorial Park, Hermann Park, Market Square Park and Smither Park.

Pond

The donor's pond is an addition to the savanna trail and was part of the Houston Arboretum’s recent reconstruction of the Woodway entrance. (Photo: Julia Boyles) 

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
4501 Woodway Dr., Houston, TX 77024

Across from Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center offers many paths for guests to walk along as they explore the beautiful nature that Houston has to offer. With a new entrance, along with new ponds and landscaping, this is the perfect place for a stroll through nature. The Arboretum also offers volunteer and educational opportunities for those of all ages. To learn more about the Arboretum’s recent renovations and what they offer, check out this story.

Buffalo Bayou Park
1800 Allen Pkwy &, Memorial Dr., Houston, TX 77019

Abby Cohan, Jack Avedesian

Buzz summer interns Abby Cohan and Jack Avedesian stood in awe, absorbing all of the changing colored lights at the Cistern. (Photo: Trudi Smith)

If you’re looking to take in the Houston sun while enjoying the beautiful Houston skyline, then head on down to Buffalo Bayou Park. The 160-acre space that’s full of nature is located in the heart of the city. Known for its walking and biking trails along a dog park, this is the perfect spot to relax on a sunny Houston day. If you’re looking to hit the water, options include kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding along Buffalo Bayou. For those not fazed by bats, Buffalo Bayou Park is also home to over 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats that fly out from under the bridge every night at sunset. It’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss. While you’re in the area, head on down to the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, a former water reservoir built in 1926, which has since been turned into an exhibit offering tours and meditation sessions. Learn more about the Cistern here. 

Sporting Events

Houston is proud to be the home of four major league sports, with sporting events happening all year long. Whether it’s the Texans for football, the Rockets dribbling on the basketball court, the Astros scoring a home run, or the Dynamo and DASH scoring in soccer, there’s something for all sports fans to enjoy. In addition, you won’t have to worry about the weather for most sporting events. Houston is home to three indoor sporting arenas: NRG Stadium, Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park.

Underground Tunnels Downtown

For those that have lived in Houston for their whole lives and those just stopping by, it might seem crazy to think that Houston has an underground tunnel system that runs through Downtown. People are so amazed by the tunnel system that tours are now offered to give people more of a historical perspective about this hidden gem in Downtown Houston. Any out-of-towner is sure to be amazed by all of the shops and restaurants tucked away under the magnificent Downtown Houston that runs 6 miles long, links 95 city blocks, and is 20 feet below ground.

Shopping

No trip to Houston would be complete without a stop at the famous Houston Galleria located in the Uptown District. Housing over 400 stores and restaurants and spanning over 2.4 million square feet, you’re sure to find something that interests you. You’ll also find great shopping experiences in Rice Village, River Oaks District, Highland Village, Uptown Park, CityCentre and in The Heights, among other areas of town. 

So now, whenever you have out-of-town guests or are simply stumped on what to do, you can reference this guide to assist with all of your Houston adventures.

What are your favorite places to take out-of-towners? Comment below!

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