Fun things to do in Houston

  • San Jacinto State Monument
    San Jacinto State Monument
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  • NASA Johnson Space Center
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    the museum entrance
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Houston

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    Waugh Drive Bat Colony

    by DSwede Updated Aug 16, 2014

    The Waugh Bridge is one of two bridges that I know in Texas which have massive bat colonies (the other being in Austin). The expansion joints under this bridge are just perfect nooks and crannies that the Mexican free-tailed bats just love. There are hundreds of thousands of them that live under this bridge. If conditions are just right, the density of colony is visible on the weather radar as they leave the protection of the bridge.

    The website below gives advice and guidelines for viewing. It is all free, you just have to get there prior to sunset. The weather and season will affect the number of bats, but there will always be some. If you arrive a little early, you can walk on the paths under the bridges and see/hear/smell the colony up close.

    Having wondered around, I personally things the best up close view is right on top of the bridge, but the best panoramic view is on the northeast corner where there is a small viewing platform. Here you can see the thousands of bats fly off into the city to feed, as well as the opportunistic raptors and predators that come at sunset to snack on a few unfortunate bats.

    Waugh Bridge Bat Colony Waugh Bridge Bat Colony up close
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    Take in a free show at Discovery Green

    by DSwede Written Aug 6, 2014

    Discovery Green is a rather large (~11acre) park in the middle of downtown. The park itself is rather nice even if there are no events. There are a few cafes, coffee and snack shops. There are some playgrounds for the kids too.

    But one of the big draws to the park is the outdoor performance stage. There are shows almost daily (check the web site) open to the public for free. The park has a sloped grassy field, giving a stadium seating view of the stage. There may be live music, a movie projected on the big screen, or a live act play.

    If you're staying downtown, it is well worth a walk during the later afternoons or early evening.

    Back of the stage at Discovery Green
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    Beer Can House

    by DSwede Updated Aug 2, 2014

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    The title is not a typo. There is a house in Houston made of beer cans, or at least to be more specific tiled with beer cans. For the connoisseur of beer, it is a fitting homage. For people who like tacky, it is a perfect monument. To those who like tasteful and respectful, maybe you should just stay away.

    During my visit, it was closed 'for repair', but the tribute to the barley gods was still visible to for all to see.

    House made of beer
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    Itz, Family Fun

    by msbrandysue Written Feb 18, 2012

    ITZ is a "family fun center" that recently opened off of I-249 and FM 1960 in North Houston. Mostly made up of ill-mannered children and birthday parties it's fun to go to if you have small kids.

    To get in the door you have to buy a $10 buffet and you can buy your token cards there. Spend as much as you want on those! You can load all the money you want to on a card.

    The buffet consists of pasta, pizza, salad bar, ice cream, hot dogs on occassion and more. There are more sodas to pick from than I've seen before. You can only keep food in the dining room areas. There are a few different rooms with different themes: a cartoon, movie, and adult sports/news room.

    In the gaming area are roller coasters, bumper cars, video games, ticket games (games where the sole purpose is to get tickets), basketball shots and ski ball! Many offer tickets that you can trade in for prizes.

    If you have kids.....or grandkids.......I would definitely check this out. But, of course, you will be paying :)

    Kinda blury, I know but night settings were off
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    So much to do, so little time!

    by TXgal Written Jan 26, 2012

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    Downtown is a nice place for walking and seeing the old and new buildings. There is also a train that runs through downtown that will take you to the museum district/Hermann park if you are interested in getting outside if the weather is nice. If you enjoy driving there are some scenic drives near and around Austin in the Hill Country which is 2.5 + hours from Houston. There are many small towns worth exploring as well as excellent wineries in the San Antonio/Fredricksburg/Austin area. Also near Fredricksburg is Enchanted Rock which is a nice place to get outdoors and walk/hike. Galveston is a nice day/overnight trip from Houston and many things to do in the area. Moody Gardens, great restaurants on the sea front, The Strand (shopping), tour the Elissa sailing vessel with a stop by Kemah on the way or way back, nice restaurants on the waterfront to watch the boats go in/out from the lake to the bay. There's much much more!

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    If you need to connect, or read, or see a movie...

    by Bunsch Written Jun 25, 2011

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    I love libraries. Ever since the United States Congress in its infinite wisdom made public libraries centers of connectivity, I have been particularly fond of them. I seek them out when I travel, because even if I had a laptop or tablet computer, I suspect I'd find it easier to do my writing and editing on a full-size model with a lightning-fast connection. More and more places have free wi-fi, but they seldom have well-informed local librarians whose job it is to tell the casual visitor just where she can find a bite to eat, a laundromat, an unexpected attraction or a little-known claim to fame in that venue. If you're staying in a town for more than a day or two and are in need of entertainment, you may be permitted to borrow books, DVDs and CDs, all without charge, if you carry a library card from your home city or state.

    Harris County's regional network of libraries -- some 26 branches strong -- covers all of metropolitan Houston. I only visited their Nassau Bay branch because it happened to be close to Space Center Houston where I was planning to spend some time, but I was really impressed. It was an extraordinary facility. The morning I was there, about thirty mothers and toddlers were gathering for a Moms-and-Tots book reading session, and they were just adorable.

    Yup, it is a BIG library (not my pic)
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    Space Center Houston -- fun for all ages

    by Bunsch Written Jun 10, 2011

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    Space Center Houston would be a perfect place to take children, particularly those from maybe 7-12, because there are lots of interactive exhibits and a special section of the Space Center ("Martian Matrix") devoted to kid-friendly and very athletic pursuits. But it was a really good place for somewhat sedentary older ladies, as well. Unlike the other museums I encountered during this vacation, which periodically include a not-so-comfortable bench so one can contemplate some work of art or panorama of a naval battle, the Space Center features a lot of reasonably lengthy experiences when one is seated, generally in a comfortable theater-style seat. I presume that accounts for the fact that I spent almost five hours there and didn't emerge feeling pole-axed.

    I'd been advised to take the tram tour early, and this proved to be good advice as the temperatures hadn't gotten too bad and there was still a nice breeze as we set forth to tour the precincts of the Johnson Space Center. We visited Mission Control, another vast building where the astronauts train on mock-ups of the shuttle and International Space Station and other equipment, and "Rocket Park" with its replicas of the Saturn V, Mercury and Redstone rockets. We drove past the circular grove of oaks, one planted for each of astronauts killed during missions. Altogether this took about two hours; then it was time to explore the Space Center itself. Much like Disney and other attractions, this included a number of shows so that you had to kind of plot your time and run from one place to another to get them all in. Although I really liked "Blast Off" (which used sound and smoke to simulate a shuttle launch before we were all shown into a theater and given information about the impending shuttle and ISS missions), my favorite was probably the 45-minute version of Gustav Holst's "The Planets" played by the Houston Symphony while photos from all the Rover and other missions gave us an up-close-and-personal look at each of the signature bodies. Jupiter, in particular, was glorious! If you think you can handle a shuttle, try the flight simulators -- it is much harder to dock those things than it looks!

    I barely had time to go into "Space Traders" to see about a souvenir or two, but was disappointed to find that many of the items offered were made in China. Now, come on, NASA!!

    Oh, I forgot to mention that the Zero G diner has some excellent choices for lunch or snacks.

    Tickets are $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 4-11. There is an extra charge for the flight simulators. Parking is $6. Be sure to check the guide you get from the parking attendant, because mine had a $5.00 off coupon from the City of Webster! Open M-F 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, S-Sun 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM with extended summer and holiday hours.

    You can actually touch a moon rock! The Tram A lot of liquid nitrogen is stored onsite Memorial Grove for astronauts killed in service A mock-up of the moon rover
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    Seymour Lieberman Exercise Trail

    by twentysix.two Updated Apr 4, 2011

    The Seymour Lieberman Exercise Trail, with its 2.93-mile crushed granite and packed-earth jogging trail, attracts droves of Houstonians intent on getting in their daily run. Exercise stations can be found along the trail with a workout station located close to the tennis center. The trail is lighted and has restrooms and water fountains along the way.

    A .25-mile asphalt timing track allows runners to work on speed and develop their running skills. It is located across from the tennis center.

    Additional multi-use trails located on the south side of Memorial Drive give hikers, bikers, skaters and equestrians a choice of trails to choose from.

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    Houston's Memorial Park

    by jjp76 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Memorial Park is just about 5 miles west of Houston's downtown. It's the state's largest urban park, a forest oasis in a busy urban area.

    This is a heavily wooded park situated along Buffalo Bayou. There are nice walking trails and this may be the only part of Houston that actually has some small hills and elevation changes. Nearby Bayou Bend park is a must see too.

    The park is very popular with joggers and a good area to see some tall pines. There is also a golf course.

    There is easy access to shopping and great restaurants in the neighboring Galleria area.

    For some great views of the park's edges and downtown Houston, take the drive on Memorial Drive from loop 610 in the Galleria area all the way to downtown Houston. You'll be dropped off right in Houston's Theatre District.

    Park trees
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    Houston Area Live Steamers Train Rides

    by msbrandysue Written Mar 31, 2011

    The Houston Area Live Steamers (HALS) organization is a bunch of hobby enthusiasts who run small steam trains on the third Saturday of every Monday from March until November. This FREE event takes place in Hockley's Zube Park. Families set up canopies, picnics and lawn chairs on the grass around the station. You can ride as many times as you want to, just as long as you go to the end of the line after each ride. The rides are about 15 minutes including loading, riding, and exiting. Children as small as can be are allowed to ride as long as they have an adult with them.

    Things to Remember:
    -Weather must be dry to run the trains.
    -There are lines so be prepared to wait.
    -No cost associated!

    The group is very adament about everyone knowing this is volunteer-run. There are no special parties, reserved rides, etc. Come for fun, and expect to wait your turn!

    My nephews absolutely were so excited to go! They even had some conductor hats and train shirts for purchase.

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  • bocmaxima's Profile Photo

    10 FREE Things to Do in Houston

    by bocmaxima Updated Dec 21, 2010

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    First the obvious:
    - Contemporary Arts Museum:
    Rotating exhibits make this one of my first stops when returning here to visit. Don't neglect the basement, either, as there is normally also an exhibit there in addition to a fantastic gift shop. Don't bring your kids. Not only is it not kosher, but most of the exhibits are not kid-friendly (i.e. - plenty of nudity). Free parking available in the neighborhood behind Montrose.
    - Menil Collection:
    If you're looking for a way to kill three hours in the city, and you have the stamina to make it through a museum for that long, then the Menil should be a stop. The Menil should be a stop either way, but it's not always possible to get through it in one round. Its free-ness is specified in the will of the namesake donor. Parking is also free in their private lot.
    - Museum of Fine Arts Houston:
    Free on Thursdays. Don't try to do this one all in one day or, if you do, pick out what you really, really want to see and do that first. If you're willing to walk a bit, you can park for free in either the neighborhood west of Montrose or east of San Jacinto, but watch the signs. There's also their private garage.
    - Rice University:
    Free parking on the weekends and very quiet. There is not much you can enter on campus aside from the library (weekdays only) and visitors center, but it's very pretty to walk around with its tall oaks and gothic buildings.
    - The Galleria:
    It's easy to get lost in The Galleria, particularly with its phased, semi-connected layout of long, multi-storied corridors. The middle of Galleria I features the famous ice rink, which is busy year-round, and offers the mall's most interesting free activity. The zamboni comes out about once every 2 hours and is one of the bigger attractions. Free parking in the Galleria garages.
    - Thirft storing and antiquing in The Heights:
    The Heights was supposed to be the next big yuppie area when I was living in Houston, but it's taking much longer to turn than a lot of people thought it would, and there's still some elements of down-to-earth culture left here. One of those is the stretch of 19th and 20th Streets west Yale. There, you'll find thrift stores, antique stores and a variety of low-end shops. You'll also find a Buffalo Exchange, but that culture has not yet closed Sand Dollar, just across the street (my favorite thrift store while in college).
    - West Alabama Whole Foods:
    The largest and most popular Whole Foods in the Houston area, this store features an especially good bounty of free samples to entice you to buy the otherwise overpriced food items.

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    Bayou Bend Gardens

    by kyoub Written Aug 31, 2010

    Bayou Bend Gardens is a place to escape the feel of the city and enjoy nature.
    Miss Ima Hogg started the gardens before construction was started on the house in 1927.
    In 1957, she gave the estate and her collection of antiques to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
    The house is now open to the public.

    A tour of the beautiful gardens and statues is $3 for adults. free for children under 10
    There is an added fee for viewing the house but not sure what that is as it was free for me on Mother's Day.

    You may take pictures in the gardens but no cameras are allowed inside the house.

    Entrance Bridge to gardens
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    A Museum Not Just For Kids

    by uysijessa Written Jun 21, 2010

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    The Children's Museum of Houston is one museum catered specifically for kids but can also be enjoyed by adults like you and me. It's a super fun museum that's also educational at the same time. A lot of the exhibits are also interactive for that hands-on experience. Trust me, even if you're 30 (like me) or older, you'll still enjoy the visit. An exhibit to check out is the Flow Works outdoors. I personally loved the factoids you can find scattered all over the museum. Did you know, for instance, the dragonflies are deaf? I didn't.

    The museum is open daily with various operating hours (check their website for complete info). Regular admission is $5 for adults and children but on Thursdays (the day we went) they offer free admission for families from 5pm-8pm.

    Visitors who have a car need not worry about parking as they have ample parking space beside the museum.

    the museum entrance one of the many amazing displays flow works one of the many fast facts you'll find a child trying out the interactive display
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  • OK City but don't expect an exotic destination....

    by Rox777 Written Mar 25, 2010

    I've lived in Houston a while and can tell you there is lot's to do here, but it's generally more of an experience for a new comer than a veteran of the city. Traffic can be bad sometimes, especially around the Galleria area. If you plan on visiting in Summer - May - August, get ready for very hot, humid temperatures.

    Nightlife here is just okay, nothing great, nothing to get too excited about. The city is so decentralized that it's all spread out and there are pockets of nighlife. You can go to Rice Village, Galleria area, Midtown, or Washington Avenue. Most of the places are ok, nothing great. Wash. Avenue is boasting to be the city's new hotspot, but it's a little ghetto and run down. The clubs are nice but everything else looks Harlem!

    Some tourist places you can check out are KEMAH Boardwalk, Galveston Beachers, NASA Space Center, the Galleria Mall, Rice Village Shops and Eateries, Midtown Eateries, and that's about it! Not too much to see in this city. This city is mainly an economical, commerce-like business city. It thrives around the Oil and Gas industry and thus boasts many young, successful business professionals who work in the Oil and Gas Field.

    Nonetheless, it's a good city to check out at least once to say you have been here. It's also a diverse city but in pockets of areas. There are no or barely any zoning laws so you can see a strip club not too far from a church not too far from a school.....

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    Visit a Rockets game

    by Emile72 Written Apr 23, 2009

    My tip is to visit a Houston Rockets NBA game when being in Houston. It is at the Toyota centre, downtown. What a great atmosphere and what a stadium. Very entertaining, during and inbetween the games. Quite a difference from a European soccer match :) Paid 45USD for a regular season ticket.

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