When many people think of Houston, they think of large oil refineries and hot and humid days. After spending the last six weeks in the area, we are seeing that it is so much more. Many hipster restaurants and modern cultural scenes are making Houston a great place to spend time and even live!
There is top notch medical care, a low cost of living and many educational and economic leaders housed here. You’ll find out just why we think a trip to Houston should be on your list of upcoming trips.
It is no surprise that Houston is home to NASA and the Johnson Space Center and a trip to the area isn’t complete without a visit to both. The only way to tour NASA is through the free tour included in your admission to Johnson Space Center. The tram tour will take you to many of the NASA highlights including the astronaut training facilities and you will get to sit in the actual gallery of the original mission control center.
The Johnson Space Center itself is jam packed with educational opportunities, impressive movies and theatrical events that make you feel like you are about to step out into space. Don’t miss your chance to touch an actual piece of the moon. www.spacecenter.org.
In the general area of the Space Center is the Battleship Texas State Historic Site. This is part of the Texas State and Wildlife program and there is an admission to the battleship of $12 per adult — or free for Texas State Park pass holders. Children 12 and under are always free.
The Battleship Texas took part in WWI and WWII and it is quite amazing how much of the ship they let you explore and view. We got to sit in the chairs as the sailors did and reenact what it was like to control the naval artillery. You can walk most parts of the ship’s decks and see what the living conditions were like on the massive battleship. tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/battleship-texas
The museum district is quite popular and the 19 museums are split into four walkable zones. A personal highlight for those that are budget savvy is that most of the museums have a free day each week or month. More information can be found at the website but many free days are on Thursdays. Whether you enjoy learning about the human body, past historical events or are a lover of art, there is certainly plenty to keep you intrigued in Houston’s museum district. www.houmuse.com
For those of you traveling and visiting with children, I need to draw a little special attention to the children’s museum of Houston. The museum is top notch and one of the best children’s museums that we have visited across the country. Even better is that admission is free if you are a ASTC passport card holder.
The giant water table, three-story climbing maze and kidtropolis area where kids can reenact daily life for their parents by earning money, saving it at the bank and spending it at the grocery store are just a few of the highlights that make this museum so spectacular. www.cmhouston.org
Going to sporting events in different cities can always be fun. Depending on the time of year you visit, you should be sure to catch a game. The Texans (football), Astros (baseball), Rockets (basketball) and Dynamos (soccer) all call Houston home and would love you to come out and support them while enjoying a great night of action and hopefully victory! www.khou.com/sports
Some would say that a zoo is a zoo, but that isn’t the case here at the Houston Zoo. The incredibly clean and inspiring zoo is state of the art and constantly evolving to give visitors the best experience they can provide. Although nearly 2 million visitors come each year, the zoo doesn’t have a busy feel.
There are more than 6,000 “permanent residents” of the zoo which gives you plenty to see during your day at the zoo. The children’s zoo area includes a traditional playground and petting zoo but the highlight is the Naturally Wild Swap Shop where you can bring in treasures you have found in nature and “swap” them for other natural features in the shop.
Examples include shark’s teeth, fossils, shells and more. There are keeper talks held throughout the day and you can even feed a giraffe yourself if you dare! www.houstonzoo.org
When the busyness of the downtown area gets to you and you are ready for a break. I encourage you to visit Discovery Green. The unique outdoor space is host to amazing entertainment, chances to relax and enjoy the green space, an ice skating rink, delicious food and more.
Make sure to check the website as displays are always rotating and you will find the most up to date schedules there. You may have a chance to catch a movie or amazing art light display depending on the day you visit. http://www.discoverygreen.com
No visit to Houston is complete with a trip to the statue of the man who is the city’s namesake. Sam Houston was a soldier and politician who is best known for his victory at the Battle of San Jacinto which gave Texas its independence from Mexico.
The 67-foot statue is claimed to be the largest statue of an American hero here in the United States of America. It can be seen in Huntsville, TX, about an hour north of the city. Huntsville was where Sam Houston was born, raised and buried in a nearby cemetery. Visitation to the small visitor center gift shop and statue is free. www.huntsvilletexas.com/148/Statue-Visitor-Center
Surrounding the famous statue is the Sam Houston National Forest which is an outdoor person’s dream. It is a great chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown city life and be one with nature. There is plenty of hiking along the 128 miles Lone Star trail, along with chances to fish, kayak, canoe and do some birding. www.fs.usda.gov/detail/texas/about-forest/districts/?cid=fswdev3_008443
Another highlight of the outdoors area is Huntsville State Park where you can camp, hike, bike, kayak, canoe, swim, boat, horseback ride, go birding, etc. . . . get the picture? If it’s outdoors, you will find a place to scratch your itch inside Huntsville State Park. tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/huntsville
Before you head back toward the downtown area, make sure to make a stop at The Woodlands Waterway. Some describe it as a local San Antonio where you can walk along the river and even have a chance to touch the Koi fish that flock towards water’s edge. Grimaldi’s coal brick-oven pizzeria is delicious and a great stop after strolling through the area. www.grimaldispizzeria.com
Even if pizza isn’t your thing, you will be sure to find something delicious at one of the many top eateries in the Woodlands area. www.thewoodlandstx.com/waterway
Make sure the next time you are driving Interstate 10 across the southern part of the country, you carve out time to enjoy all of the highlights Houston, Texas, has to offer.