You can’t visit Texas without making a stop in Houston. As a buzzing metropolis, it’s the state’s biggest, most populous city, in part because of its many famous landmarks.
These landmarks are worth seeing during a visit, and many of them represent the city’s diverse culture.
Famous Landmarks in Houston
1. Houston Zoo
Like any other, the Houston Zoo boasts numerous animals and exhibits. The zoo’s residents include alligators, ant-eaters, bats, chimps, elephants, flamingoes, river otters, and goats.
There are also animal-themed events, like the Sloth Encounter, the Elephant Bath Experience, and the Giant River Otter Encounter. The zoo’s exhibits include an African Forest, a Giraffe Feeding Platform, and the McNair Elephant Habitat Area, among others.
There are programs offered for visitors of all ages, including those for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and even an overnight camping experience.
For teenagers, the zoo offers adventure and crew explorer programs. And for a truly unforgettable experience, kids can ride the Wildlife Carousel’s armadillo figure.
2. Space Center Houston
Anyone fascinated by science will enjoy the Space Center Houston. This attraction includes exhibits like the NASA Tram Tour. You’ll get a tour of Mission Control, as well as the facilities where they train the astronauts.
You can also choose to take the Red, White, or Blue Tram Tour. While the White Tram Tour covers Mission Control, and the Red Tram Tour covers the training facility, the Red Tram Tour takes you into the George W.S. Abbey Rocket Park.
Other must-see experiences at the Space Center Houston include the Starship Gallery, Spacesuit Collection, and Independence Plaza. The Starship Gallery houses spacecraft that have previously been used on missions.
The Spacesuit Collection boasts the suit John Young wore for the first 1981 shuttle flight. Independence Plaza is where you can see the NASA 905 shuttle up close.
3. Houston Museum of Natural Science
Just as impressive as the Space Center Houston is the Houston Museum of Natural Science. In addition to more than one dozen exhibits, the museum also has the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, Burke Baker Planetarium, and the Cockrell Butterfly Center.
While the theatre shows IMAX movies, the Burke Baker Platinum has a projection system that makes you feel like you are immersed in space.
And in the Cockrell Butterfly Center, you can walk through a habitat where you can view the butterflies right in front of your face.
4. Buffalo Bayou Park
To embrace the outdoor life in Houston, be sure to visit Buffalo Bayou Park. You can enjoy activities like biking and hiking, and picnics, as well as paddle crafting. The park’s gardens and landscaping attract as many locals as they do visitors.
Activity areas include a dog park, visitor centers, and a nature play area. The dog park boasts shady rest spots, places to wash a dog, and a tranquil pond, as well as people and dog-friendly water fountains.
The Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area was designed to be the ideal outdoor environment for children. It includes a slide that extends 35 feet, a waterfall and stream, climbing stones and logs, and a boulder rock scramble.
For many children, the highlight of a visit to the play area is its multi-story boat deck/tree house, which includes a climbing net.
At the entrance to the park lies The Water Works. This is the site of Houston’s water system. A water reservoir at the site holds its Brown Foundation Lawn, where many local performances are held.
To delve even deeper into the local water system you can visit the Cistern, which is an underground reservoir for drinking water. Though the reservoir is no longer in service, it is open to the public.
You can take a tour of The Water Works where you will see concrete columns that stand 25 feet tall. The columns are located only two inches from the surface of the reservoir’s water.
5. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Artwork from almost every period of time in history can be found at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The museum holds close to 70,000 pieces.
If you want to see if the museum has a specific piece, you can look it up on a searchable database available to the public. Some of the museum’s collections include European, Latin American, Modern & Contemporary Art, and Arts of Asia and the Islamic Worlds.
This museum is also a place to see various artistic films. It’s the home of the Latin Wave Film Festival, where you can see and speak to many of the filmmakers who participate.
In addition, the museum holds the Robert Frank Collection, a filmmaker originally from Nova Scotia. You’ll be able to see photos from throughout his life, and many of the films he made during that time, as well as a documentary about him.
6. Hermann Park
Stretching 445 acres, Hermann Park boasts attractions like McGovern Lake (where you can go paddle boating,) Centennial Gardens, and the Hermann Park Railroad, as well as the Japanese Garden.
Within the Centennial Gardens, there are garden rooms that each have their own themes. You’ll see close to 500 trees, including more than 50 species. The 4.5-acre gardens also have hundreds of azaleas and hedge shrubs, as well as thousands of perennial bulbs.
Hermann Park includes the Family, Rose, Woodland, and Arid. The Family Garden is where fresh herbs and vegetables are grown, along with fruit trees.
The park also hosts the Miller Outdoor Theatre, which is the site of many musical performances for both children and adults.
7. Children’s Museum Houston
Teaching your kids about life can be fun if you take them to the Children’s Museum Houston. There are exhibits for children of all ages, from babies to teenagers.
A few of the exhibits are suited for children of any age. This includes the Kids’ Hall, and Seasons of Sharing. The Kids Hall features exhibits that teach about world arts and culture and includes the Junktion Train.
Other highlights of this exhibit include face painting and math games that make it fun. The Seasons of Sharing is a special exhibit that teaches children about holidays celebrated in other parts of the world. There are model homes, each of which represents a particular culture and holiday.
If you have a future engineer in your family, be sure to bring them to the museum’s Invention Convention Room. It is stocked with spare parts children can use to create their own inventions. Older children can even come here to learn how to write computer programs and codes.
8. Holocaust Museum Houston
People of all ages have learned valuable lessons at the Holocaust Museum Houston. Its permanent gallery includes exhibits that explain resistance efforts towards the Jewish population as well as those who are not Jewish.
Two of the most famous exhibits are a Danish rescue boat from the 1940s, and a railcar dating back to WWII. Some of the topics covered in the museum include partisan movements, prisoner revolts, the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, and what life was like for the Jewish population following the Holocaust.
Other parts of the museum include the Lester and Sue Smith Human Rights Gallery. A tribute to human rights leaders, it pays homage to Martin Luther King, Jr, and Malala Yousafzai. There are also displays that educate visitors on genocides recognized by the UN.
The museum’s galleries also feature artwork by Jewish artists who survived the Holocaust. Its attractions include a butterfly loft with a three-story kaleidoscope and a 195-seat theater that regularly hosts performances. The butterfly loft is meant to represent the number of children that did not survive the Holocaust.
Every year the museum marks Human Rights Day. Typical activities on this day include a magic show, a children’s chorus performance, and an official talk with a survivor of the Holocaust.
9. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is located at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The collection is kept in a home that was once occupied by a civic leader named Ima Hogg.
It consists of historical American furnishings as well as paintings, silver, and ceramics. One of the notable areas of this attraction is its Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center. Included within the Visitor and Education Center is the Kitty King Powell Library and Study Center.
The home itself is a mansion dating back to 1920. Each of the 28 rooms in the mansion is a setting from a different period in history. The objects found throughout the mansion date back to between 1620 and 1876.
It has been operating as a museum since 1966. One of its attractions is The Murphy Room, which is a gallery filled with 17th and 18th-century furnishings.
10. The Menil Collection
A 30-acre art museum, The Menil Collection includes close to 19,000 works of art.
Some of the highlights of the museum’s collection are artwork done in the American Pacific Northwest, Africa, and Oceana.
It also has many surrealist holdings that are the main attraction for many visitors.