Houston is a super popular destination for tourists looking to adventure and find hidden gems while exploring the city. However, Houston is the biggest city in the second largest state in the country.
Therefore, there is a lot to see and do in a finite amount of time. While wandering around and exploring the city in hopes of stumbling across some of the gems that the city has to offer can be fun, it can take a long time to find the best things.
Thankfully, we have put together an extensive list of the top 33 attractions and things to do in Houston.
On this list, there are some free activities, some things to do that require an entrance fee, and a wide range of attractions that are designed to appeal to all kinds of interests and vacations.
Free Things To Do And See In Houston
Sometimes when you travel, you have to stick to a more strict budget, especially after the large expenses of accommodation and travel.
Thankfully, in Houston, the town of hustle, there are plenty of amazing things to do and see that are completely free of charge. The only cost associated with the activities in this section will be local transportation to and from the site.
1. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Trails
If you enjoy visiting the city but also want to experience the wonders of nature, this is the perfect place to visit on your trip to Houston.
The trails at the arboretum and nature center are completely free to enter and explore. The center is a non-profit organization that relies on donations to keep the doors open and the trails maintained.
If you can spare a donation the center will appreciate it, but it is not necessary if you are on a tight budget.
The Houston arboretum and nature center trails are the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
This is an attraction that is suitable for family members of all ages. For any children in your group, the arboretum can be incredibly fun and educational.
For the older members of your group, it can be a relaxing place to take a stroll and remember to breathe.
2. Visit Rothko Chapel
If you are determined to absorb yourself in some culture during your trip to Houston, the Rothko Chapel is a must-see.
The chapel is open Tuesday through Sunday including public holidays. There is no pretension at the chapel, in fact, you are encouraged to turn up just as you are.
When you arrive at Rothko Chapel, you can spend some time meditating, viewing the wonderful works of art, focusing your attention inward, or simply letting go of the chaos of the outside world for a little while.
You can also spend some time in the chapel gardens on a sunny day and take in the serenity and beauty of the calming green space. The chapel gardens are open to the public every day from dawn until dusk.
The atmosphere at the chapel and in the gardens is silent and contemplative. Therefore, in order to respect this and allow others to enjoy it, it isn’t a suitable place to bring small children.
3. Visit The Menil House
For anyone who wants to experience as much art and culture as possible in Houston, another great free place to visit is the Menil House or Menil Collection.
There are so many amazing exhibitions on display at the Menil House. The exhibitions change from time to time so it is sensible to see what is going to be on display around the time of your visit.
Entry to the collection is free, however, you will need to reserve a free, timed entrance slot.
At the Menil House, there are also various events that are held throughout the year. All of the events that are marked as part of the public program are free for anyone to view.
Other events that are marked as member programs are only available to people who have a paid membership to the Menil Collection.
Occasionally there are also some special events that are held at the Menil House. Check the website before traveling to see if there is anything in particular that you would like to see.
4. Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
If you are looking for an attraction that will present you with some incredible opportunities for stunning photographs, this is the place for you.
The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is a stunning attraction that is sure to spark the curiosity of people of all ages. Waterwall park is an iconic location in Houston that is not to be missed.
When you are visiting the park, it is possible to stand in the mist from the waterwall and allow yourself to be completely immersed in the sounds of the water cascading behind you.
This can be an incredibly sensory experience that really highlights the power, force, and beauty of this natural element.
The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is one of the city’s most visited attractions and is a popular place to peep some proposals and other happenings.
The canopy of oak trees creates a stunning refuge from the Texas sun and provides a change of scenery in the center of one of the biggest business districts in the country.
5. Urban Harvest Farmers Market
Most cities in the United States have some form of a farmer’s market, however, the Urban Harvest farmer’s market in Houston is one that should not be missed.
As with all farmer’s markets, it is completely free to browse the stalls and there is no obligation to make a purchase. The Urban Harvest farmer’s market is open every Saturday from 8 am to 12 pm year-round, come rain or shine.
The Urban Harvest farmer’s market is one of the biggest in the whole of Texas and supports over 100 local vendors. Some of the produce and food that is offered by the vendors are stunning and the vendors are all incredibly friendly.
You are likely to be offered various types of free samples as you wander around the market. The farmer’s market is suitable for patrons of all ages, although there is a strict no pets policy.
6. Sam’s Houston Boat Tour
There are so many different boat tours that you can take in Houston, but the only one that you can join for free is Sam’s Houston Boat Tour.
This is a super casual and relaxed boat trip that provides a brilliant tour of Houston from the water.
This tour is available to patrons of all ages, but it should be noted that any passengers aged 18 or over are required to present valid photo identification to enter the Port Houston property.
Because it is an active port, travel within the facility must be completed in a car, van, or bus, not on foot.
In order to participate in this boat tour, it is necessary to have a reservation booked in advance which can be done online. You are not allowed to bring your own food and beverages onto the tour, however, a free beverage will be provided.
You may bring water to drink during the hot summer months. The tour generally lasts approximately 90 minutes. The tour operates in most weather conditions, however, if the weather is going to affect your tour, you will be contacted by the operator.
7. Visit Houston Zoo
Houston zoo is another great, family-friendly attraction that is possible to visit for free. On the first Tuesday of every month, Houston zoo offers free entry to the zoo from opening until closing.
This can be a great day out to incorporate into your trip if you are there at the right time of the month.
If you aren’t going to be in Houston for the first Tuesday of the month but still want to visit with your family without paying full price there are a couple of things you can do.
First of all, if you have a CityPASS already, you can use that to access the zoo with a 47% saving on admission. This can also be used at 4 other top attractions in Houston.
You can also use the zoo’s Flex Pricing system to get 20% off child admission and to select the cheapest time and day to visit.
8. Sunrise And Sunset At Twilight Epiphany
If you are looking for an attraction that is as beautiful as it is thought-provoking, the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace. The beautifully engineered space is open to the public for free every day and reservations are not required for entry.
Although it is possible to visit the space at any time of the day, the two best times are sunrise and sunset.
At both sunrise and sunset, there are light sequences that occur in space. This is an experience that should not be missed if you are in Houston.
The light sequences are also free for the public to view. It is best to arrive 10 – 15 minutes before sunrise or sunset to guarantee a seat within the building.
If you require special assistance or have a large group of visitors, you can contact the site to secure arrangements.
9. Walk At Discovery Green
If you want to incorporate a day full of free activities that the whole family can get involved in, a visit to Discovery Green.
There are so many things to do and places to visit in this one area. It is the perfect place to spend an entire day immersing yourself in nature, art, and fun.
At Discovery Green, there are 12 stunning gardens to walk through. These provide a gorgeous space to take in the wonders and beauty of nature. It can be a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours.
There are also extensive art installations at Discovery Green that are wonderful and inspiring. If you have creative children in your group, they can sketch some of the incredible sculptures and become immersed in the artwork.
Finally, there are 8 different parks and playful activities to do in the area to keep adults, children, and even dogs entertained.
10. Watch Live Performances At Miller Outdoor Theater
This is an attraction that definitely sounds like it doesn’t belong in the free section of this list, however, it isn’t a mistake.
All of the performances at the Miller Outdoor Theater are completely free for anyone to attend. There are two types of seating available at the Miller Outdoor Theater, the hillside seating is not covered but also doesn’t require a reservation.
If you want to sit undercover in the covered seating area, you will require an assigned ticket, but this is still free.
There are so many different performances that are available at the Miller Outdoor Theater that you are likely to find something you want to see during your trip to Houston.
There are also performances that are suited specifically for children. This is a great venue to bring the whole family to. If you grab seating on the hillside, you can bring a picnic, dance, and have fun all evening.
Paid Things To Do And See In Houston
If you are on less of a budget for activities and attractions during your trip to the hustling city, there are plenty of things that you can see and do that require an admission fee or some kind of purchase.
In this section of the article, we are going to look at some of the best things that you can do and see in Houston with a budget. The attractions in this section range from affordable to expensive, but there is something for everyone on this list.
11. Houston Botanic Gardens
If you enjoy immersing yourself in nature, the Houston Botanic Gardens are the perfect place to take a break from the noise and rush of city life.
Not only are there beautifully curated gardens to stroll through with your family or friends, but there are also stunning art exhibitions and installations.
The art installations at the Houston Botanic Gardens are inspired by the shapes and movements of nature and can have a really calming effect on people who view them.
There are also some great courses that you can attend which include learning about herbs and painting with cocktails.
You can also view performances from musicians and other artists. Make sure to check out the calendar of events when you are planning your trip.
12. Geronimo Adventure Park
If you are looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush during your trip to Houston a visit to Geronimo Adventure Park deserves a spot on your schedule.
There are so many different trails that you can complete at the park to get your blood pumping and appeal to your adventurous side.
Thankfully, there are also boardwalks, seating areas, and walking trails for anyone in your group that doesn’t want to go zip-lining.
There are height and weight restrictions that apply to all of the zip-lining trails at Geronimo park, but as we mentioned above, there are other things to do at the park to pass the time.
Once you have finished zip-lining, there is axe throwing and rock climbing to burn off any excess energy. You can wind down around the fire pits at the park with your loved ones and share your experiences of the day.
13. Segway Tours Of Houston
Houston is a stunning city with plenty of history and a plethora of interesting sites and buildings. One of the best ways to see all the top sites and learn about the history of the city is with a Segway tour of Houston.
There are 5 different Segway tours that you can choose from depending on what you are most interested in. You can choose from a Buffalo Bayou tour, a twilight tour, a Houston history tour, a graffiti and street art tour, or a Christmas lights tour.
Some of the tours are only available at certain times. For example, the Christmas lights tour is only available during the holiday period, and the twilight tour is scheduled to happen during sunset.
14. 1940 Air Terminal Museum
If you enjoy diving into the history of the places you visit and want to learn more about the things that made a city what it is today, the 1940 Air Terminal Museum could be just what you are looking for.
This museum focuses on a very specific part of Houston’s history which is great for anyone who can get overwhelmed with too much information.
The goal of the 1940 Air Terminal museum is to provide an insight into the impact that the aviation industry has had on Houston’s history and economic development.
The building that the museum is housed in is absolutely stunning, built in an art deco style. The museum is open to the public from Tuesday through Sunday and has an incredibly reasonable admission fee.
15. 4J Brewing Company
For those of you who are looking for a fun and interesting activity that is suitable for adults, the 4J brewing company is the place you need to be.
While the brewery doesn’t host scheduled tours, the staff are always happy to answer any questions you may have about the brewery, they will even be happy to show you around if you want.
The best thing about the 4J brewing company is that their taprooms are suitable for adults, kids, and dogs. There are also plenty of events that happen at the 4J brewing company which can make your visit even more exciting.
If you are traveling with a large group of people, for a special occasion, and want to spend a little more money, you can rent out the entire brewery.
It is important to note that there is no heating or AC at the brewery and it is mostly outside so dress accordingly.
16. 810 Billiards And Bowling
Another great way to spend an evening while you are in Houston is at the 810 Billiards and Bowling venue. This venue is open 7 days a week from late afternoon until the early hours of the morning.
You can book a single lane session up to 7 days in advance or with as little as 2 hours notice. Each lane can accommodate up to 8 guests.
At the venue you can also indulge in billiards, darts, and even board games. You can also enjoy some typical bowling arcade refreshments including alcoholic beverages. This is a great location to visit with your family or friends.
It is perfect to create some fun memories and to have some healthy and lighthearted competition.
17. NASA’s Space Center
Whether you remember watching the moon landing live on TV or you have an interest in space exploration, a visit to the NASA space center in Houston is something that shouldn’t be missed.
This is a great place to take the younger members of your family so that they can learn all about space travel and exploration.
There are so many things to see and do at the NASA space center that you can easily spend an entire day there and not get bored.
There is a wonderful mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions inside the center that can offer incredible insights into the work and science of space exploration and rocket ships. You will definitely leave this experience feeling more enriched.
18. Houston Hustle Scavenger Hunt
For those of you who want to combine exploring the city with some puzzles and games, the Houston Hustle Scavenger Hunt is something that will take your trip to the next level.
This is a great activity to do as a group with your friends or family. This scavenger hunt is suitable for all ages and abilities, all you need is a valid domestic phone number.
The scavenger hunt is remotely hosted and you will get guides and clues sent to your phone. There is also a leaderboard that you can view to see how you are doing compared to other people.
This is perfect for a competitive group that doesn’t want to take a regular tour of the city. There are also other types of scavenger hunts that you can participate in to suit more specific needs.
19. National Museum Of Funeral History
For anyone who has an interest in the more morbid side of life, the National museum of funeral history is a place that you have to visit.
Although the name of this activity might sound dark and spooky, the museum is highly focused on the traditions and customs that have surrounded funerals through different time periods.
Despite focusing on funerals, this museum is perfectly appropriate to take children to. It can be interesting to see the different modes of transportation that have been used through the years to transport caskets.
It can also be a great way to learn about different customs and cultures that have influenced how we tend to hold funerals in modern times.
20. Houston Children’s Museum
If the museum of funeral history isn’t somewhere that you want to take your children, the Houston Children’s Museum could be more up your alley.
The children’s museum literally has something for everyone.There are different types of activities and exhibitions that are perfect for children of all ages.
If you have smaller toddlers and babies, there is a tot spot full of toys and activities that will let them play and grow their brains.
For older children, there is the EcoStation, Cyberchase, Inventor’s workshop, Powerplay, and Matter Factory to help engage their brains and allow them to have fun.
There is almost nothing that your children can’t learn about in the Houston Children’s Museum. You might even learn something new yourself.
21. Houston Holocaust Museum
A more humbling and solemn day out can be spent at the Houston Holocaust Museum.
Although this is not an overly fun day out, it can be an incredibly important day out and can provide an intense educational experience for younger members of your family.
The tours that are available at the Holocaust museum are impressively immersive and can provide you with a much better understanding of what this horrific event was like for the people who had to live through it.
Experiencing this museum can be an important thing to add to your itinerary.
22. Buffalo Bayou Park
If you are determined to spend as much time in Houston surrounded by nature as possible, it is impossible to not visit the Buffalo Bayou Park. Not only are there stunning plants and wildlife in the park, but there is also so much to do and see while you are there.
There are plenty of stunning trails and footpaths that you can stroll around while you are in the park. This can be a great way to relax and destress after a few hectic days in the city.
There are also some interesting tours that you can embark on including a tour of the Bayou Park cistern and boat tours. There is also some incredible public art around the park that can inspire you.
23. Art Car Museum
If regular museums and art museums aren’t really your thing, a visit to the Art Car museum in Houston could be exactly what you need. It is an art museum with a huge difference.
If you are unfamiliar, the concept of an art car is essentially a car that has been decorated to be a piece of art.
This can be a much more fun way of experiencing art than wandering around a traditional art museum looking at paintings on a wall. It is the perfect way to combine stunning modern artwork with cars. If you love cars, you are sure to enjoy this museum.
24. Visit Vintage Stores On 19th Street In The Heights
If you feel that no vacation or trip is complete without a bit of retail therapy, then you cannot complete a trip to Houston without taking a trip to visit the vintage stores on 19th Street in the Heights.
There are so many wonderful stores and restaurants to choose from along this street, but the vintage stores really are something to behold.
The clothing that you can find in the vintage stores on 19th Street in the Heights is completely unique.
If you are into searching for one-of-a-kind pieces of clothing that you can style with the rest of your wardrobe or if you want to find items that you can customize into something uniquely yours, you will be able to find it on this street.
25. Galveston Day Trip
If city life is getting a bit overwhelming during your trip, it can be a great idea to take a day trip out to Galveston. This stunning retreat is only 50 miles from Houston and provides a fun and relaxing day out that is suitable for the entire family.
Galveston is a retreat by the ocean that can give you a relaxing break from busy city living. You can stroll along the beach, have a picnic or enjoy a leisurely lunch in one of the many restaurants along the beachfront.
If you time your trip right, it may coincide with one of the many events and exhibitions that happen in Galveston to add some extra excitement to your trip.
If not, you can spend the day exploring the pleasure pier and taking in the views from the top of a roller coaster.
26. NRG Stadium
For sports fans, visiting the NRG stadium can be a great way to spend a day. If you aren’t interested in watching a sports game or viewing another event at the stadium, you can embark on a tour of the stadium.
These tours are available when there are no events happening in the stadium.
If you do want to experience an event in the stadium, there are plenty of options to choose from. Depending on when your trip is and what has been scheduled, you can watch a sports game such as basketball, supercross, monster jam, and jiu-jitsu.
You can also attend concerts for big anime artists at the stadium. There are also family friendly events such as Sesame Street Live and Disney on ice.
27. Houston Livestock Show And Rodeo
If you want to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the south, a visit to the Houston livestock show and rodeo is a must during your trip.
The best thing about the livestock show and rodeo is that there are so many other events to do besides watching events that include live animals. This makes it incredibly accessible to everyone.
In addition to rodeo events and livestock and horse shows, you can also experience BBQ contests, parades, wine shows, concerts, and best bites competitions.
There are also special events held throughout the year including black heritage day, armed forces appreciation day, and sensory friendly day.
28. American Cowboy Museum
If there’s one thing that Houston has a lot of, it is museums, but all of them provide something interesting and unique to learn about.
If you are planning a family trip and want to expose yourself and your children to new topics, museums are a great way to do that.
One of the most interesting museums in Houston is the American Cowboy museum. At this museum you will learn about Western heritage in the south.
The aim of the museum is to preserve the Western heritage of native Americans, POC, and women. The founder of the museum was one of the first living African Americans to be inducted into the National Cowgirl museum and hall of fame in Texas.
The museum was founded to help preserve the multicultural history of the west. The museum offers tours, intricate exhibits, and oral historian talks.
29. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Another great way to get back in touch with nature when you are visiting Houston is to visit the Anahuac National wildlife refuge. There are so many things to do and different ways to enjoy all of the wildlife that frequent the refuge.
You can take a drive around the Shoveler pond if your main goal is to see as much wildlife as possible. The drive is around 2.6 miles long and you will likely come across reptiles, birds, and small mammals on your drive around the loop.
You can also relax in an observation platform or wildlife bind to get some incredible photography opportunities and enjoy the wildlife existing around you. You can also take a stroll along the boardwalk above the marsh.
30. Bishop’s Palace
If you do decide to take a trip to Galveston to escape the city hustle and bustle, a place that you have to visit is Bishop’s Palace.
This is an incredibly beautiful old building that is steeped in the history of Houston. You can attend a self-guided tour at Bishop’s Palace every day between 10 am and 5 pm.
It is important to note that there are certain times of the year that Bishop’s Palace is closed for regular maintenance. If this is somewhere that you really want to visit, it is sensible to check the maintenance schedule online before your trip.
When you enter Bishop’s Palace, you will be transported back in time and feel fully immersed in the history of Houston. There are also special events that happen throughout the year.
You can check out the events calendar on the website to find out what’s on.
31. Black Swan Yoga
If you want your trip to Houston to be more restorative than action packed, paying a visit to Black Swan Yoga is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon.
There are three different studios that you can choose from in Houston. For the most stress free experience, it makes sense to book the studio that is easily accessible from your accommodation.
There are so many different types of classes that you can choose from when you visit Black Swan Yoga.
All of the classes have a super welcoming environment and the instructors are incredibly knowledgeable and can help you to get the most out of a class no matter what your skill level or ability is.
One of the best things about Black Swan Yoga is that you can hire mats and towels if you don’t have your own with you which is great for last minute bookings and newbies.
32. Blackhorse Golf Club
If you enjoy partaking in a little bit of golf to relax and have fun, a visit to the Blackhorse golf club in Houston can be a great way to spend an afternoon.
It is possible to visit the golf course by yourself, alternatively, you can come with your friends or family who also enjoy golfing.
Once you have finished your round of golf on the green, you can pop into Roper’s grill to refresh and refuel.
Roper’s grill is open to the public which makes it a great place to meet up with members of your group that aren’t into golfing once you have finished your round.
The views from Roper’s grill are stunning and make the restaurant a great place to enjoy a delicious meal with loved ones.
33. Bobcat Teddy’s Icehouse
If you want to enjoy some true Houston hospitality before your trip is over, there is no better place to visit than Bobcat Teddy’s Icehouse.
Not only is the hospitality offered at this incredible establishment some of the best in the country, but it is also a great place to grab some of the best food and drink in the state.
Bobcat Teddy’s Icehouse carries almost every Irish whiskey on the market and has Jameson on tap. You can also indulge in some incredible homemade burgers and other decadent food.
There are plenty of events held at Bobcat Terry’s including fight nights and crawfish cook offs. They also show plenty of sports with the sound on so you can enjoy good food, drinks, and sport with your friends and family.
How To Get Around In Houston
Getting around Houston is an important part of spending a vacation in the city. The best way to get around Houston is by public transportation.
Not only is this a super easy way to get around thanks to the reliable public transportation system in the city, but it is also one of the most affordable ways to get around which helps to make your trip more affordable.
You can also use a car or ride service to get around the city, although this will be more expensive than public transportation.
There are so many different things that you can do and see in Houston. This is a city that is built on multicultural history which makes it a bustling and interesting city to visit.
Some of the activities that you can do in Houston are completely free which is great for anyone on a tight budget. There are also plenty of activities to indulge in that have admission fees.
Thankfully, very few of the attractions in Houston are going to break the bank which means that you can easily have a varied and fun trip in the city of hustle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Houston is a city that is as safe to visit as any major city in the United States.
This means that there are certain parts of the city that are less safe than others.
However, if you stick to the more tourist-centered areas, you are likely to be completely safe from theft or violent crime.
This isn’t to say that you can’t stray from the tourist hot spots to explore more local and residential areas.
However, in such areas, where there is likely to be less police activity, it is sensible to be aware of your surroundings and your belongings at all times.
Houston is not an overly expensive city to visit. For residents of the city, the cost of living is actually quite low when compared to other areas of the country. This also extends somewhat to tourists who are visiting the city.
As with any city in the US, there are going to be price markups in tourist areas and for certain activities that are designed to appeal to tourists. However, because of the low cost of living in the city, it is still less expensive than other cities in the US.
Of course, what is expensive for you is subjective and an extended trip to Houston might be expensive for your budget.
Thankfully, there are ways to keep the cost of your trip down without having to miss out on attractions and creating memorable experiences.
If you want to do certain activities that have paid admission, you should aim to book as many tickets in advance as you can. This will often afford you a discount from the company.
You can also invest in schemes such as CityPASS to help you secure a discount at the top 5 attractions in the city.
You can also keep your travel within the city to public transportation, bicycling, or even walking if you are able to. All of this will help to keep the overall costs down during your trip.
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