The Getaway
Houston Through a Lens: The Best Spots in the City

Houston is the United States' fourth most-populated city and the largest, most-populated city in Texas. It's known for its southern hospitality, its diverse selection of restaurants, and of course, NASA. Houston is also home to a thriving arts and culture scene that features an array of museums and galleries. Whether you're spending a few days in the city or you're heading to Houston for an extended stay, there's plenty to do and see in Space City.

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01 Get wild at the Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo is situated on 55 acres of land in Hermann Park. It's the second-largest zoo in the United States, with more than 600 species and more than 2 million visitors each year. Exhibits at the zoo include elephants, lions, flamingos, and bears. While visiting, guests can take advantage of daily opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals while keepers feed and care for them.

02 Austin has nothing on Houston's craft beers

Austin has a lot of bloggers. Consequently, you may have missed the fact that Houston has its own beer scene and is blowing it away at present. Heard of Saint Arnold, 8th Wonder Brewery, or Buffalo Bayou Brewing? Plan a beer trip in Houston, and you surely won't be left disappointed.

03 Explore the Houston Museum of African-American Culture

The Houston Museum of African-American Culture is dedicated to collecting, conserving, and exhibiting materials of Africans and African-Americans in Houston. It features various exhibitions that celebrate African history and influential African-Americans, such as April Frazier and Justin Sterling. The Latinx Museum of Art is also housed within the Museum of African-American Culture, as is a theatre that screens African-American films.

04 Shop til you drop at the Galleria

The Houston Galleria is the largest shopping mall in Texas. It boasts a variety of retail shops and outlets, including luxury brands and department stores, restaurants, and home goods stores. The Galleria spans 2.4 million square feet on three stories and houses more than 400 businesses. Over 30 million shoppers visit this mall each year.

05 Immerse yourself in the Menil Collection

The Menil Collection is an art museum that exclusively houses the art collection of John de Menil and Dominique de Menil. The collection is valued at more than $300 million and features more than 17,000 drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, and books. Each of the pieces in the Menil collection is original.

06 Try to Run the World while visiting the Beyoncé Tour

The Beyoncé Tour gives fans the opportunity to see where Beyoncé Knowles-Carter was born and raised. There are four tour packages that take participants on a fully-guided biographical tour of the superstar singer's hometown, making stops at places such as Beyoncé's favorite restaurants, elementary and high schools, and childhood homes.

07 Chill out at the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

Located in uptown Houston, the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is among the most visited tourist attractions in the city. It features a massive wall of cascading water under a canopy of live oak trees. This outdoor attraction is free to visit and makes a perfect backdrop for your vacation photos.

08 To infinity and beyond at the Space Center Houston

The Space Center Houston welcomes over a million visitors a year and is one of the city's cornerstones of tourism. With dozens of permanent exhibitions and tributes to astronauts over the years, a visit is a fantastic opportunity for kids to seniors. This working government facility epitomizes Houston's role in space exploration and offers tours that can run as long as six hours for those that wish to explore the whole complex.

09 The Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers a family-friendly experience full of engaging activities and science education. It features permanent exhibits on topics such as chemistry, paleontology, Ancient Egypt, wildlife, and energy, as well as various rotating exhibits on an array of interesting topics. The museum also boasts a giant theatre screen that shows IMAX films, as well as a planetarium.

10 Get cultured at the Museum of Fine Arts

At over 300,000 square feet spread across several buildings, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is one of the largest art galleries in the United States. It features almost 70,000 works, with many dating back hundreds of years. Visitors to the museum can take in famous works by artists such as Claude Money, Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh, and Auguste Renoir.

11 Try not to drop your jaw at the Cockrell Butterfly Center

The Cockrell Butterfly Center is a fully-enclosed butterfly habitat complete with a three-story simulated rainforest and a 50-foot waterfall. The habitat is filled with exotic plants and butterflies flying freely through the exhibit. Visitors can also enjoy the Butterfly Flight School and the Brown Hall of Entomology during their visit.

12 Immerse yourself at The James Turrell Skyspace

When you enjoy something for free, you remember that experience. This sound and light fun is a must-see and must-repeat Houston event. You'll need to make reservations, but this LED experience with accompanying music truly hits the spot when looking to get into the mood to enjoy this oil city that is so much more if you have a week or two.

13 Check Out the Astros

Bob Levey / Getty Images Bob Levey / Getty Images

They won the World Series last year with undersized players and a Texas attitude. Their pitching certainly didn't hurt, and the Astros have a reasonable chance of repeating their accomplishments this year. There are many games played during the day, and it's an opportunity to tell your friends that you experienced outdoor air conditioning.

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14 BYOB AsiaTown

People fail to recognize that Houston's economy added jobs during the financial crisis of 2007-2008. It stood up to what crumbled and added a population. This included a tremendous uptick in immigration to Texas of all places for hundreds of thousands, and they brought their food with them and often down mind if you show up with a bottle to celebrate their resettling and food.

15 Houston is on the water, and that means seafood

The Gulf of Mexico is Houston's home. For some reason, people seem to think this city is all Texas all the time and BBQ. It's not; Houston is a massive port city populated by brilliant chefs from all over the country. When you have money, a good chef, and water, expect seafood to take a place in the front row. Check out Liberty Kitchen and ask your waiter where they eat seafood in Houston. Famed New Orleans restaurant Brennan's also has a Houston location that prides itself on its own seafood offerings.

16 Have a Picnic at one of Houston's many Parks

Hopefully, you're not visiting Houston in the dead of summer when it's, well, quite warm. It's ungodly hot in the summer months, but the rest of the year provides a respite, and the city has no shortage of green spaces to enjoy a picnic. The city's Houston Dairymaids, Phoenicia Specialty Foods, and more offer a wealth of picnic-ready foods to take to Menil Campus, Discovery Green, Buffalo Bayou Park, or other fantastic picnicking locales.

17 Get Cultured and Check out Houston's Art Scene

Check out the "Refried Bean." Anish Kapoor, the artist behind the bean sculpture in Chicago, also left his mark on Houston with a bean of their own entitled "Cloud Column." The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza in Houston houses this statue as well as an architectural fountain and the sculpture "Song of Strength" by Eduardo Chillida. The plaza is also close to the Cullen Sculpture Garden, and while you're in the neighborhood, visit the many studios in the Glassell School of Art building.

18 Beat the heat at Wet n' Wild SplashTown

They do things big in Texas, and this water park located north of Houston in Harris County is no exception. Wave pools, lazy rivers, and over twenty different water slides for the thrill seeker make up 40+ acres of Houston's oasis from the heat. The park is constantly expanding each year and offers something for everybody's speed at this massive water park.

19 Have a unique experience at The National Museum of Funeral History

One of Houston's truly unique, bizarre, and stranger museum offerings. The 35,000-square-foot museum's theme is "Any day above ground is a good one." This museum celebrates the hard work put in by those in the funeral profession and gets you looking your best on your last day to be seen by your friends and family. 2018 saw the museum's opening of its celebration of and rise in popularity of cremation. Escape the heat with this odd take on a museum and educate yourself on the history of coffins and caskets, the history of the hearse through time, and more.

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