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Must-See Attractions: Top 5 Things to Do in Houston

As one of the most culturally diverse and dynamic cities in America, Houston offers an array of world-class attractions that should not be missed. Whether you’re interested in arts, culture, science, or the great outdoors, there is something for everyone in Space City USA. As a visitor, narrowing down the options in this sprawling metropolis can be an overwhelming task. Allow us to make it easy for you. Here is your guide to the top 5 must-see attractions to experience during your trip to Houston. From an eye-opening museum district to an urban green space oasis, exciting culinary adventures to journeys through space, this list covers the bases of what makes Houston a global destination. Get ready to dive in and start exploring all the wonders that await you. Welcome to H-Town!

Space Center Houston: Explore Where “Houston, We’ve Had a Problem” Happened

Space Center Houston is the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center, which has made history as the home of Mission Control and the famous words “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” At this iconic attraction, you can experience space exploration firsthand.

Tour the NASA Tram Tour to view historic mission control centers and catch a glimpse of ongoing work at the massive space center. The 90-minute tour is a must for any space and science enthusiast. You’ll see everything from massive rocket engines to simulators astronauts use for training. For an in-depth look, opt for the Level 9 Tour, which provides VIP access to areas not included on the regular tram tour.

No trip to Space Center Houston is complete without seeing a show in the Destiny Theater. Catch a screening of “Journey to Space 3D” to learn about the future of space travel and space mining. The IMAX® film “A Beautiful Planet 3D” features stunning footage of Earth as captured by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Space Center Houston has over 400 space artifacts and interactive exhibits. Some of the highlights include touching a real moon rock, walking through a full-scale model of the International Space Station module, and strapping in for a simulated space shuttle launch. Budding astronauts will love the Kids Space Place area with hands-on science activities and crafts.

With so much to experience, you’ll want to allocate at least half a day to explore Space Center Houston. This world-class attraction provides an educational and awe-inspiring glimpse into space exploration. A visit here is truly out of this world.

The Museum District: World-Class Art and Culture

As the cultural hub of Houston, the Museum District is home to world-class art institutions, historic mansions, and scenic public parks. No trip to Houston is complete without exploring this vibrant neighborhood.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Spanning two campuses, the MFAH holds a renowned collection of American art as well as African, Asian, Oceanic, and Native American artifacts. The main campus features a sculpture garden, two art schools, and a restaurant. Admission is always free.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

One of the most popular museums in the nation, HMNS offers permanent exhibits on energy, gems and minerals, Ancient Egypt, and Texas wildlife. It also hosts renowned traveling exhibits and an IMAX theater. Admission tickets start at $25 for adults.

The Health Museum

Great for both kids and adults, this innovative science center focuses on the human body and mind. Exhibits include a giant walk-through heart, models of human development from conception to birth, and a section on the latest advances in medicine. General admission is $8.

Hermann Park

At the heart of the Museum District is picturesque Hermann Park, home to a lake, paddle boats, train, and the Houston Zoo. The park offers miles of walking and biking trails, as well as picnic areas set among sprawling live oaks. Admission to the park is free.

With world-class museums, culture, dining, and outdoor spaces, the Museum District has something for everyone and provides a perfect glimpse into life in Houston. No list of must-see city attractions is complete without this dynamic neighborhood.

Hermann Park: Houston’s Beautiful Green Escape

Hermann Park is one of Houston’s most popular attractions. This urban oasis in the heart of the city offers Houstonians a chance to enjoy nature and the outdoors without leaving the city.

Spanning over 500 acres, Hermann Park has plenty of recreational activities for people of all ages. You can go for a stroll or jog along the winding trails, have a picnic on the lush lawns, or simply find a quiet place to sit and read. For the more actively inclined, the park features a golf course, paddle boats on McGovern Lake, and the Zoological Garden which houses over 2,000 animals including gorillas, tigers, and Komodo dragons.

The Houston Zoo is a major highlight of Hermann Park. Opened in 1922, it is home to over 900 species and 6,000 permanent residents. Some of the themed areas include the African Forest, Cat Canyon, Koala Crossing, and the Texas Wetlands. The zoo has a successful breeding program and also participates in species survival plans to help protect endangered wildlife.

Other attractions within Hermann Park include the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Garden Center, and the Houston Ballet Center for Dance. The park is also home to the Sam Houston Monument, a 67-foot monument dedicated to the leader of the Texas Revolution. On weekends, the park’s open areas become vibrant with activity as people come to fly kites, ride the miniature train, or just soak in the sunshine.

Whether you want to experience culture, nature, recreation, or just a relaxing day out, Hermann Park has something for everyone. This urban oasis amid the bustle of the fourth largest city in the U.S. provides Houstonians a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Downtown Aquarium: Marine Life Meets Amusement Park

One of the top family-friendly attractions in Houston is the Downtown Aquarium. This entertainment complex combines an upscale seafood restaurant, bar, and a 400,000-gallon aquarium experience. Visitors can see over 300 species of marine life, including bull sharks, stingrays, and colorful reef fish in the tank.

For an additional fee, you can also access the aquarium’s midway rides, virtual reality games, and simulator rides like the Ferris wheel and carousel. The midway games offer opportunities to win prizes for both children and adults. The aquarium is also home to amusement park rides including the Aquatic Coaster, Sky Flyer, and Frog Hopper.

Exhibits and Encounters

The aquarium features both fresh and saltwater exhibits, showcasing ecosystems from around the world. Some of the highlights include:

  • Discovery Rig: An offshore oil platform habitat for marine animals found in the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors can see sharks, rays, and barracudas up close.
  • Rainforest: Exhibit featuring exotic birds, reptiles, and aquatic animals found in tropical rainforests.
  • Shipwreck: A replica of a 17th-century Spanish galleon that has been converted into an aquarium. Home to lobsters, crabs, and moray eels.
  • Stingray Reef: A 17,000-gallon stingray touch pool where visitors can feed and interact with southern stingrays.
  • Shark Voyage: A 100-foot moving walkway that takes visitors through a tunnel surrounded by sharks, sawfish, and tropical fish.

In addition to the exhibits, the aquarium offers animal encounters and behind-the-scenes tours where visitors can interact with penguins, otters, sharks, and stingrays. The Downtown Aquarium is an exciting place for people of all ages to discover and learn about marine life. Whether you want to dine, ride the Ferris wheel, or simply enjoy the aquarium’s exhibits, the Downtown Aquarium has something for everyone.

The Houston Zoo is one of the top attractions in Houston, and for good reason. As the largest zoo in Texas, it is home to over 6,000 animals representing more than 900 species. The zoo has been a leader in education, conservation, and research for over 100 years. When you visit the Houston Zoo, you will have the opportunity to see some amazing animals up close in naturalistic habitats.

Some of the highlights include:

  • The Cat Canyon habitat is home to lions, cheetahs, and clouded leopards. You can see these big cats lounging and prowling in their large open enclosure.
  • The Koala Crossing habitat is home to koalas that were brought from Australia. This is a rare chance to see these adorable marsupials in person as they munch on eucalyptus leaves.
  • The African Forest habitat which recreates the dense rainforests of Central Africa. Here you can spot gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, and rare monkeys like drills and mandrills in the tall trees.
  • The Texas Wetlands habitat showcases native wildlife of bayous and wetlands like alligators, turtles, birds, otters, and amphibians.
  • The Aquarium features a large walk-through tunnel where you are surrounded by sharks, rays, and schools of fish in a 300,000-gallon tank.

In addition to the animal habitats, the Houston Zoo also features beautiful themed gardens, a scenic railroad, and animal encounters/shows. The zoo has many amenities for visitors like dining areas, gift shops, misting stations, and wheelchair/stroller rentals.

The Houston Zoo is a world-class zoological park that provides an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. No trip to Houston is complete without seeing the amazing array of wildlife at one of the largest zoos in the United States.


As you can see, Houston has no shortage of attractions guaranteed to make your visit memorable. From world-class museums and culture to outdoor spaces and sports, this dynamic city offers something for everyone. Whether you want to cheer on the Astros at Minute Maid Park, experience the wonder of space at Space Center Houston, or simply enjoy a stroll through the beautiful Hermann Park, Houston’s diverse attractions provide the perfect opportunity to experience the best of this vibrant Texan city. With so much to see and do, one visit may not be enough. But after experiencing the hospitality, culture, food, and natural surroundings of Space City, you just may find yourself planning a return trip. Houston awaits – now get out and explore!

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