Guide

Explore Houston

Houston, Texas. Locals say it has everything—affordability, countless museums, and excellent barbecue. The weather hardly turns cold enough for you to put on a sweater (the summers, though, are a different beast). The city also boasts the "Eighth Wonder of the World"—no, not Houston-born Beyoncé—but the Astrodome, a National Treasure, a beloved local landmark whose fate remains uncertain.

Whether you've lived in Houston your entire life, or are just driving through, it's worth taking a look at what makes the city special. We suggest you start with these places.

  1. Photo By: Ed Schipul

    The Astrodome

    The future of the "Eighth Wonder of the World," which opened as the world's first air conditioned stadium in 1964, is severely threatened.

  2. Photo By: Wikipedia Commons/WhisperToMe

    Houston Field Office - Galleria Tower I

    The sparkling double towers of Pennzoil Place was designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee in 1975. The building's "out of the box" design challenged more conventional modernist glass box designs and was widely acclaimed.

  3. Photo By: Adam Baker/Flickr/CC BY NC 2.0

    Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

    Built in 1926, the cistern near the edge of Buffalo Bayou Park was decommissioned in 2007 and was forgotten until only recently. It is now used as a center for artistic creativity.

  4. Photo By: Patrick Feller/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Harris County Courthouse

    Built in 1910 and listed on the National Register, the Palladian-style building went through a comprehensive renovation in 2011 that removed incompatible 1950s-era restorations. It looks good as new and is definitely worth a peek inside.

  5. Photo By: Texas.713/Flickr/CC BY NC 2.0

    Glenwood Cemetery

    Though you can see Houston's skyscrapers from Glenwood's grounds, it opened in 1872 as a rural landscape and park, filled with natural walkways, shady trees, and lots of history. It's easy to slow down and get lost in thought here.

  6. Photo By: Greater Houston Partnership/Theus Gyamfi

    Houston's Blue Street Tiles

    The city's remaining blue tile signs are at risk of fading into history, so Joey Sanchez of the Blue Tile Project is looking to preserve Houston's historic street signs with the help of social media and other avid preservationists.

  7. Photo By: Francisco Antunes/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Johnson Space Center

    The space center is where the famous Mission Control Center was added in 1965 in the quest to put man on the moon. It's also the site of the nail-biting Apollo 13 mission (does "Houston, we've had a problem" sound familiar?). The entire complex is 1,600 acres, but you can sit back and relax on a tour of the Johnson Space Center in an open-air tram.

  8. Photo By: Ed Uthman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    City Hall

    When the cornerstone was laid in 1938, the city included a time capsule, complete with a Bible, Houston's City Charter, copies of Houston's newspapers, and a 1937 City Auditor's report. What will you find when you visit?

  9. Photo By: Adventures of KM&G-Morris/Flickr/CC BY NC ND 2.0

    Cockrell Butterfly Center

    Inside the three-story glass cone, you'll get to walk among more than 60 butterfly species as well as various tropical plants. It'll make you feel like a kid again!

  10. Photo By: Theresa Quintanilla/Flickr/CC BY SA 2.0

    McGovern Centennial Gardens

    Located in Houston's Hermann Park, the McGovern Centennial Gardens includes an arid garden, a rose garden, and a woodland garden. See it all from the 30-foot-tall earth mound with a spiral walking path. Before you leave, follow the Hawkins Sculpture Walk, which includes busts of people such as Confucius and Martin Luther King Jr.

  11. Photo By: Mike Schaffner/Flickr/CC BY NC ND 2.0

    Houston's Museum District

    19 museums (most of which are free) are located in Houston's Museum District. There's sure to be a museum for everybody, from those who love fine art to natural history and everything in between.

  12. Photo By: eflon/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    San Jacinto Monument and Museum

    The towering San Jacinto Monument and its adjacent museum celebrate General Sam Houston's success against General Santa Anna in the Texas Revolution. Take the elevator up to the monument's observation deck to see the rest of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.

  13. Photo By: The Lancaster Hotel

    The Lancaster Hotel

    Michele DeGeorge, a Sicilian immigrant, built the Lancaster Hotel (originally named the Auditorium Hotel) in 1926 in the Houston Theater District. It is Houston's oldest continually operated hotel and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.

  14. Photo By: Mike Rastiello/Flickr/CC BY NC ND 2.0

    Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

    The 64-foot-tall waterwall, built in 1983, is located in a 3-acre park surrounded by live oaks. It's probably one of Houston's most picturesque spots. (There's also great shopping just a couple of blocks away.)

  15. Photo By: Sean Davis/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

    La Carafe

    The National Register-listed site features a second-floor bar that is only open on the weekends and for years has played host to community séances.

  16. Photo By: Adam Baker/Flickr/CC BY NC ND 2.0

    Rice University Campus

    Amid Rice University's 300-acre campus are plenty of trees, walking paths, and historic buildings. If you find yourself at Rice after dusk, check out the "Twilight Epiphany" Skyspace, which was built for the Shepherd School of Music. The LED lights mimic the sun's arc.

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