Houston, admittedly, is not a city that lends itself to tourism. The combination of sweltering heat and long commutes can be discouraging to the common sightseer. That said, there are several destinations that are a must-see for any Houston native looking to beat the heat or looking to show off some of their H-Town pride.
1. The Galleria
While the future of retail is in question, the Galleria has become an essential part of Houston’s attraction. The mega-mall is not only huge (and hugely air conditioned), but features luxury stores, various dining spots and an indoor ice-skating rink. There’s definitely something for everyone, and it is all indoors.
2. Space Center Houston
Johnson Space Center is just a short drive away from downtown, and space exploration is nothing to sneeze at. While you need to take the tram tour to get a glimpse of the actual NASA campus, Space Center Houston is a more tourist-friendly option. The building includes rotating science based exhibits, kid-friendly activities and a variety of artifacts from space travel. Also, the gift shop has some impressive NASA merch.
3. Rothko Chapel
To avoid being creeped out, a bit of research goes a long way in appreciating the Rothko Chapel (a simple wiki search is enlightening). The chapel, designed by Mark Rothko and founded by John and Dominique Menil, is both a non-denominational chapel and modern art fixture. If you’re a fan of Rothko’s work or an art lover, the pensive space can be awe-inspiring.
4. Houston Art Museums in General
Houston is in no way sleeping on art. While the Museum of Fine Art is well-known and features several prominent exhibits, there are a multitude of local galleries that show contemporary and Houstonian artists. The Houston Museum of Contemporary Art museum, Lawndale Art Center and the Houston Center for Photography are all smaller and less intimidating places to check out.
5. Discovery Green
Discovery Green is a beautiful public park located downtown, but it’s also a host to a variety of events. Exercise classes, movie nights and flea markets are all made accessible thanks to the city green space. Feel free to bring your pet, as it’s a great place to let them socialize.
6. Galveston Beach and Strand Historical District
Galveston is the closest beach to Houston, so it makes sense to go there in order to cool off and have a good time, but if you’re looking for something a bit more touristy, the Strand is perfect. A lot of historically significant architecture is still there, and plenty of shops and food options means you can have an easy staycation.
7. Houston Public Library
Though it may be assumed that libraries are going out of vogue, the Houston Public Library is massive and never ceases to amaze. It also offers a variety of programs great for kids, students and booklovers.
8. Livestock Show and Rodeo
Love country music, fried things and beer? The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is definitely a spectacle that can’t be missed. Part carnival, concert and western art show, there’s something for everyone to be interested in. Though it only takes place annually, the suspense of mutton busting and bull riding can last a whole year.
9. Art Car Museum
The Houston Art Car Parade is an event that many locals and artists alike take part in. While the parade only happens once a year, you can take a closer look at the indoor museum to see some of the more iconic cars. The Houston Art Car Museum also functions as a gallery for local artists and photographers, so you’re sure to see something new every time.
10. Montrose Crosswalk
Montrose just debuted its new gay-pride cross walk, and it is pretty magical to see in person. Long known for its roots in the LGBTQ community, Montrose is also an amazing district for shops, tattoos, food and basically anything neat.