Blake Walsh

35 Best Things to Do in Houston, TX

  • Published 2023/01/31

See also: Where to stay in Houston

Houston, Texas, is one of the largest cities in the United States.

In this stunning city, you’ll find art collections, spirit-bolstering concerts, amusement parks, and retail blocks teeming with high-end and indie designers.

Diverse neighborhoods aside, the cultural patchwork in Houston also guarantees a mixed culinary palate.

Indulge in the customary burgers and pizzas while stuffing down tacos and guzzling craft brews.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 35 best things to do in Houston, Texas:

Embrace the Outdoors at Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park

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The inexplicably poignant kneeling men structures within Buffalo Bayou Park are only one of many art installations in this thought-provoking urban green space.

Spawning skyline views and activity venues over 160 acres, the park is home to the Johnny Steele Dog Park, Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, and Eleanor Tinsley Park.

View of Buffalo Bayou Park

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To fully appreciate its picturesque setting, dine at the kitchen and bar of The Dunlavy, or lounge about its lawns under their annual Independence Day fireworks display.

Trail at Buffalo Bayou Park

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Experience Taste of Houston Food Tours

Food tours combine history, architecture, and gastronomy in several unique Houston districts.

The Food Tour Corporation, the largest and most prestigious food tour and culinary event organization in the country, has certified Taste of Houston Food Tours.

Their culinary-themed activities and trips have been specially designed for small, large, exclusive, corporate, motorcoach, VIP, and convention guests.

Prominent local and worldwide media outlets have covered their family of businesses.

They use a qualified staff of active liaisons and guides eager to impart their love and expertise of heritage, art, culture, cuisine, and refreshments to others.

Food tours, gastronomic events, and team-building exercises are all great ways to see Houston!

Visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Houston Museum of Natural Science

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One of the many museums that make up Museum District, the Houston Museum of Natural Science stands out for its extensive exhibitions.

Spread over four floors are halls dedicated to Paleontology, a planetarium, tropical insects, and taxidermied animals.

Corridor at Houston Museum of Natural Science

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You’ll come to hoard every tidbit on the world’s various biospheres and those that live within them and marvel at the recreated skeletons of dinosaurs.

Ancient Egypt crypts and fluttering butterflies will send you first into mysterious customs, then a tropical dome.

Dress comfortably because it is guaranteed to be a whole-day affair.

Exterior view of Houston Museum of Natural Science

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Reconnect with Nature at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Hiking trail at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

The 155-acre Houston Arboretum & Nature Center location provides an outdoor classroom and setting for educational programs all year.

The Discovery Room is ideal for guests of all ages to explore since it has instructive exhibits, hands-on games, live ambassador animals, biofacts, and a monthly botanical show.

Six educational Field Stations spread across the area enable access to seating areas and details on the local plants and creatures.

Boardwalk at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

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The Arboretum’s ponds and wetland areas offer opportunities for thrilling wildlife observations, and visitors may enjoy 5 miles of nature walks.

The Nature Center facility is accessible to the general public.

It has a Discovery Room with interactive features and a Nature Shop with gifts for people of all ages who enjoy the outdoors.

Pay a Visit to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Houston

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The name of this BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a puzzle of vowels and consonants, but it has nothing on the physical ensemble itself.

Thirty-three thousand pieces of hand-carved marble make up this stunning architecture, and the Turkish limestone adds solidity to its elegance.

From afar, its arches, pillars, and domes appear like a fairy tale castle built with ivory.

Beautiful view of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir


Soar High at iFLY

The cutting-edge wind tunnels at iFLY are built to deliver an exciting yet safe flight experience, lifelong memories, and a distinctive tale to share.

People of all ages, sizes, and skill levels can fly and have a great time, from novices to seasoned experts.

Everyone who complies with their flight instructions can enjoy flying thanks to their top-notch instructors.

Indoor sky diving at iFLY is kid-friendly and great for team building and corporate occasions.

In the cutting-edge vertical wind tunnels, feel what it’s like to fly!

Listen to Music at Warehouse Live

Signage of Warehouse Live

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Live music is a huge part of Houston culture, so visit Warehouse Live and headbang away!

Having hosted rappers such as Drake, Bun B, as well as Blondie and Gwar, its ballroom of 1,300 capacity and 600-strong audience space in the conjoined studio has welcomed millions of visitors since its conception.

Spice up your concert experience by partaking at their full-service bars; Warehouse Live doesn’t just put on performances but also gives you an adrenaline-pumping experience.

Explore Hermann Park Conservancy

Scenic view of Hermann Park

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Lower the heat at the massive Hermann Park Conservancy perched on the southern end of the Museum District.

It teems with endless green nodes, such as the quirky Family Garden, mystical Japanese Garden, and thorny Rose Garden.

Kite flying at Hermann Park Conservancy

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Joggers dominate the Marvin Taylor Trail while those with extra time on their hands stroll about Bayou Parkland.

McGovern Lake is also famous, as visitors can rent a pedal boat and drift serenely for hours.

Trail at Hermann Park Conservancy

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View the Galleries at Lawndale

Exterior view of Lawndale

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Lawndale was first used as a gallery by graduate students in the University of Houston’s art department.

The programming expanded to include pieces created by hundreds of local artists and pertinent shows from other places.

Lawndale offers various artistic techniques and viewpoints through exhibitions and activities, including talks, symposia, movie screenings, readings, and live entertainment.

As part of its goal, Lawndale works to accompany all of Houston’s creative and cultural communities through exhibition initiatives, the Artist Studio Program, and institutional partnerships.

The galleries at Lawndale are accessible from Wednesday through Saturday, and entrance is always free.

Go Shopping at The Galleria

The Galleria

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Did someone ask for a packed day of shopping, preferably with air-conditioning?

Well, The Galleria shopping mall is the answer to your question.

People shopping at The Galleria

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Drop by this shopping district for over 400 stores, eateries, two complementary hotels, and a skating rink.

Mixing local brands with trendsetting names such as Hermes, Tom Ford, and Alice + Olivia, The Galleria will have you walk away with bags full of wardrobe.

Shops at The Galleria

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Appreciate Art at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

By presenting exhibits that include a variety of artists and ideas, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) functions as a valued asset in the Houston arts community and the surrounding area.

The Center strongly emphasizes works of art mainly created using craft materials, such as clay, fiber, glass, metal, wood, or repurposed or found artifacts.

HCCC aims to offer comprehensive experiences across all of these elements for anybody interested in learning about the craft.

For teachers looking to include craft in the classroom, HCCC provides resources, including teaching materials and opportunities for professional development.

For parties who make reservations in advance, they arrange free docent-led tours and optional seminars.

Explore Broadacres

Some people prefer to roam around a city and bask in the ambiance aimlessly; in Houston, Broadacres is the strolling grounds you’re looking for.

Brick-lane paths and oak-shaded esplanades line the North and South Boulevards like a novel set.

Take your camera to memorialize the 1920s mansions and restored bungalows, each home adding to the district’s nostalgic value.

Exploring a city doesn’t have to be frantic, so take your time to snap some shots.

Appreciate Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts

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From Egyptian statues to Van Gogh’s masterpieces, the Museum of Fine Arts proves to be an excellent curator.

You can chip away at over 63,000 artworks over days and still not have enough of the elegant galleries.

Junior school at Museum of Fine Arts

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Since its collection is often rotated and temporary exhibits feature works from other major museums, visitors can come time and again for new displays.

Visit Space Center Houston

Exhibit at Space Center Houston

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Hanging astronauts and floating space shuttles bring you straight into the dream sphere, Space Center Houston.

Perhaps it is a bit touristy, but landmarks gain their reputations for a reason, and this center has many.

Browse through their interactive exhibitions to learn more about space and its studies via moon rock displays and a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes at NASA.

Exhibit of a astronaut at Space Center Houston

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Saturn V is a mammoth act – you can now see the most powerful rocket ever launched.

Whether you’ve dreamed of flying through the universe or not, Space Center is a classic to-visit that will remind you just how much out there is unknown.

Interior view of Space Center Houston

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Shop Some Produce at Urban Harvest Farmers Market

Rise and shine at 8 am for a fulfilling run of Urban Harvest Farmers Market.

Local farms and small-sized businesses come together at this packed venue to offer fresh, organic produce.

Find baskets full of juicy strawberries, green melons, and crates of seasonal jam to go with the freshly baked loaves.

Unique souvenirs are aplenty, too; buy home-scented soaps and handicrafts, or treat yourself to some hand-cut flowers.

To fully wake you up, there’s a roster of live music and breakfast goods (coffee included) to cycle through.

Pay a Visit to Rice University

Exterior view of Rice University

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No doubt you’d prefer to steer clear from academics, but Rice University houses a unique feature not to be missed.

The flat, sun-tracing installation by James Turrell (appropriately titled Twilight Epiphany Skyspace) is a pyramidal structure that glows in tandem with the sun’s arc.

Hallway of Rice University

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Combining light and sound like a concerto on canvas, sunrise and sunset visitors will be caught off guard by the magical presentation of this artwork.

If you have time, wander the grounds for the beautiful architecture of Link-Lee Mansion and the Chapel of St. Basil.

Stadium at Rice University

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Be Artsy at Project Row Houses

Tour of Project Row Houses

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As the name suggests, you can expect a row of identical, white-washed, and triangle-roofed shotgun houses.

Created by a community-based arts and culture organization, Project Row Houses is a collective of art studios within a rather unusual setting.

Not only does it draw artists to Houston’s long-time African American neighborhood, but it has also revitalized how art is discussed and presented.

View of Project Row Houses

Hourick, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here you’ll find local artists and art lovers milling inside and about the houses as they chatter about the artworks on display, evoking a deep sense of community.

Join them between Wednesdays through Sundays.

Wander around Discovery Green

Discovery Green

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Like Houston’s patchwork of culture and entertainment, Discovery Green pulls together the best seasonal delights in one space.

You can loosely call it an entertainment district of the outdoors variety, as pop-up flea markets, yoga workshops, open-air skating parks, and movie screenings gather the community around.

Kinder Lake covers water-themed fun, kayaks, and paddleboards swerving around each other.

Beautiful sculptures at Discovery Green

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Music is also brought outdoors, with Jones Lawn being the perfect venue for festivals and charity concerts.

And, of course, the classic Brown Foundation Promenade brings peace to ordinary lawns and walkways, spiced up by seasonal light installations and art.

Colorful dining area at Discovery Green

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Shop at River Oaks District

Christmas decorations at River Oaks District

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Get your credit cards ready for River Oaks District, an outdoor shopping complex that will have you trussed up in the latest fashions and luxury wear.

Brand names dominate this 252,000 square feet of space, slung side by side with stylish restaurants and sidewalk cafés. From Cartier to Dolce & Gabbana, Canali, Alice + Olivia to Jo Malone and Tom Ford, expect a range of fashionable goods and cosmetic add-ons.

Treat yourself to a new outfit, then strut your stuff at a fine-dining experience.

Catch a Performance at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Entrance to Miller Outdoor Theatre

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Switch up your daytime outdoor activities for a night-time variation instead – the Miller Outdoor Theatre adds a twist to the usual park jaunt.

Lay down a towel or mat and settle in with snacks from the concession stand; you can also opt for covered seating (for free!).

View of Miller Outdoor Theatre

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The best thing about Miller Outdoor Theatre is the variety of its programs, which range from children’s productions to Houston Ballet performances to mini-concerts and Shakespearean plays.

Make sure to check out their schedule beforehand for something that strikes your fancy.

Have Fun at Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

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There are few competitions and shows as lively as Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, an annual March affair that draws enthusiastic crowds.

Enjoy tense but good-natured competitions before the main event and watch as barbecue-ers try to grill each other out.

Cows at Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

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Then it is time for the old-time traditions of barrel racing and two-stepping, followed by live performances by country artists.

By the time the bull riders come bucking out, we’re already on our feet shouting.

Rides at Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

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Spend the Day at Houston Zoo

Cheetah at Houston Zoo

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With over 6,000 inhabitants in Houston Zoo, you never run out of sights to marvel at.

Natural habitat-style enclosures ensure that the animals are well taken care of while simulating a more realistic viewing experience.

Zoom in on the beasts of the African Forest or use binoculars to spot birds in flight; the scaly residents of the Reptile and Amphibian House will send ripples down your spine.

Giraffe at Houston Zoo

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You can get close to the giraffes at daily feedings and learn more from the zoo keepers.

If you’re visiting during the fall to winter, enjoy the zoo’s fantastic array of special events (like their Halloween Night Prowl)!

Elephants playing at Houston Zoo

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Go Brewery Hopping

Exterior view of Saint Arnold Brewing Company

WhisperToMe, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to a sudden spike in the craft brew scene, visitors can now enjoy a comprehensive lineup of local brews.

Start with Saint Arnold Brewing Company, the state’s oldest craft brewery; there, you’ll find a beer garden and restaurant to complement its sprawling facilities.

8th Wonder Brewery is another recommended tap-turner – make sure to try their sampling plate at the outdoor beer garden.

Marvel at Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

Make reservations for a 30-minute guided tour through the cavernous Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, an industrial relic from 1926 that was rediscovered in 2011.

Once a drinking water reservoir, it is now preserved as historical architecture; the rows of identical pillars make for a mirroresque, inception-like space.

Due to its mesmerizing design and generous 87,000 square-feet sprawl, the Underground Cistern hosts meditations, art, and light installations.

If you’re searching for unique architecture or even quick photo op stops, this has got to be on your list.

Breeze through The Menil Collection

Exterior view of Menil Collection

Jacklee, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Aptly named campus for its ‘learning through appreciation’ philosophy, the 30-acre wide The Menil Collection is home to artistic treasures.

Cross the neatly maintained lawns to visit the Menil Collection art museum, which seeks to connect indigenous art with contemporary pieces.

In contrast to the unassuming buildings, you’ll find their trove of sculptures and paintings thought-consuming and vast.

Corridor at Menil Collection

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Pay a stop at Cy Twombly Gallery and Rothko Chapel, the latter of which features 14 abstract murals by the artist.

And of the outdoor works, Martin Luther King Jr.’s dedicated installation piece – the Broken Obelisk – draws the eye with a reflective pool.

Rathko Chapel at Menil Collection

Jacklee, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Houston Museum of African American Culture

Immerse yourself in the Houston Museum of African American Culture to understand more about their community’s struggles, empowerment, and constant strides.

Through varied mediums and events such as film screenings, tours, and discursive programs, you’ll come to learn about the African Diaspora and subsequent history.

Mingle with the Locals at Market Square Park

Colorful buildings at Market Square Park

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Sitting squarely downtown is the iconic Market Square Park, a green space that fosters a sense of community between surrounding businesses and residents.

Expect daily performances, families lounging about, people walking their pets, and others strolling down Milam Street’s history walkway.

The benches and shaded areas provide ample resting spots, and plenty of art installations dot the park.

Fountain at Market Square Park

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Jot at Memorial Park

Statues at Memorial Park

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Memorial Park is a routine the locals won’t break even during the scorching summer.

Round the park’s three-mile jogging loop or seek out its hiking trails.

Sporting facilities such as softball fields, tennis and croquet courts, sand volleyball pits, and pick-up games are abundant, alongside a driving range and 18-hole golf course.

View from Memorial Park

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If that’s not enough, Memorial Park Fitness Center has also opened swimming lanes.

Instead of running around town for a temporary gym, why not just hit up this all-in-one complex?

People jogging at Memorial Park


Stroll 19th Street in The Heights

Boutique at 19th Street in The Heights

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You’ll fall in love with Houston’s 19th Street whether you had planned to shop.

Think blocks of quirky boutiques, antique stores, thrift shops, and art galleries – a cluster of free-spirited establishments far removed from department stores’ posh and refined feel.

In fact, the collection of cafés and restaurants will have you basking in the humble community vibe in no time.

A far cry from the sleek and posh River Oaks District, 19th Street is made for casual explorers and anyone looking for personalized souvenirs.

Experience a show at The Heights Theatre

Signage at The Heights Theatre

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Of the buildings along 19th Street, Heights Theatre stands out among the boutiques and vintage shops.

Built in the 1900s and renovated in 2016, the modified stage sees headliners that include rock musicians, local bands, famous singers, and other iconic performance troupes.

Opera at The Heights Theatre

jjsala from Houston, usa, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’d be amazed at the design, which can seat 500 fans with extra intimate balcony seats.

Make sure to sketch out some post-dinner entertainment time and catch a show here!

Hop around the Theater District

Street view of Theater District

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Slip in and out of Theater District’s varied performance venues to enjoy Houston’s arts-oriented nature.

Wortham Theater tops the list as the hosting facility of Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera, both classic acts to catch. Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts are based in Jones Hall, while musical production companies are stationed in Hobby Center for Performing Arts.

View of Theater District

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For a range of plays that run from the classics to modern scripts, try Alley Theatre.

With so many options, you can easily slide a show or two as post-dinner entertainment or work a show into your schedule.

Peruse and Purchase at Arts District Houston

Within the larger Sawyer Yards (a huge creative hub) area is Houston’s Arts District, welcoming both art aficionados and the curious-minded to wander through its selection of creative studios, art installations and galleries, eateries, and repurposed warehouses.

Between artisanal pieces, digital prints, mixed media, traditional painting, and sculpture works, you are guaranteed to find something that will tug at your heartstrings.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Admire the San Jacinto Monument

San Jacinto Monument

Shackleford Photography /

The brightest star in Houston has to be the 220-ton figure atop the San Jacinto Monument, which scales 570 feet.

The tallest memorial structure across the globe is dedicated to the Battle of San Jacinto of the Texas Revolution.

First-time visitors should visit for a deep dive into Texan history; the San Jacinto Museum of History in its base launches you a few hundred years back.

Closer view of  San Jacinto Monument

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Since admission is free, enjoy their interactive exhibitions and scope out the city from the Observation Floor.

In fact, we recommend starting here on your Houston tour to get a better sense of what to look out for in the city.

Steps at  San Jacinto Monument

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Try the Amusement Rides at Kemah Boardwalk

Roller coaster at Kemah Boardwalk

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It is a bit of a detour but absolutely worth it if you’re in desperate need of a breeze.

Kemah Boardwalk isn’t just a waterfront promenade – it is chock full of amusement rides, small bites, live music, shops, and frequent festivals.

Ride at Kemah Boardwalk

Shannon Beineke /

From a boat ride through Galveston Bay to the more family-friendly Historic Pleasure Pier, you’ll find an assortment of entertainment.

Don’t worry about getting hungry, as burgers, pizza, and sweet treats will keep you fueled and eager to play.

Giant Wheel at Kemah Boardwalk

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Visit Galveston Island

Galveston Beach

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Beaches all around!

Galveston Island is a must-do for those planning a more extended stay.

Around an hour out from Houston, it is an amusement park and a historical district combined.

Indulge in some water fun at Schlitterbahn Waterpark or the diverse Moody Gardens; the latter houses an aquarium, ropes course, rainforest, and more attractions.

Beach at Galveston Island

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Then take the route downtown to Historic Strand District for an array of Victoria-era buildings and old-timey establishments.

Want to see more history?

Visit the Grand 1894 Opera House in the entertainment district or stop by Texas Seaport Museum for a dive into the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa.

Boardwalk at Galveston Island

Mark Taylor Cunningham /

Final Thoughts

Year-round entertainment is available in the city for nature enthusiasts, families, and art lovers.

Organize a delightful weekend trip in the city with activities like gourmet tours, cooking lessons, championship golf, and kayaking.

Houston has a lot to offer, whether you enjoy going on trips to the museums and parks, tasting delicious cuisine, or participating in free activities!

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