The dynamic city of Houston – also referred to as H-town, Space City and Silicon Bayou – is brimming with intriguing experiences often overlooked for its more touristic picks. Here’s where to go and what to do if you’re looking to get beneath the surface of this lively city and relish its cornucopia of cultures.
Have an out-of-this-world experience
Houston’s epic space scene has been attracting astrophiles from around the globe since Jim Lovell uttered the immortal line, ‘Houston, we have a problem’. Home to the ultimate hub of human flight, NASA’s Johnson Space Center houses the world’s largest collections of spacesuits and moon rocks. Take a down-to-earth tour of outer space and go behind-the-scenes on the stories of space exploration through history.
Enjoy some urban nature
Kayak or paddle board through the rivers that twirl through the city’s 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park, or wind along the sleepier northern Woodlands region. For those who prefer to keep their feet on solid ground, flip a coin for either nature spotting in Galveston Island State Park or spelunking the caverns of the Natural Bridge Caverns. For some good old-fashioned hiking, lace up your boots for Big Thicket Park, one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. Traverse beech trees and bald cypress trees, cactus and camellias while keeping an eye out for armadillos and bobcats going about their daily business.
Wine and dine through H-town
Houston’s 180-year collision of cultures means there’s a globally-hyped culinary scene here – topped off with a sprinkling of Space City flavors. Yabbies, crawdaddies, crawfish – whatever you prefer to call them, you don’t get better than the ones found in H-town, and you can get your fix of these 10-legged crustaceans in most Houston eateries. The Viet-Cajun crayfish noodles from Crawfish and Noodles are lip-smackingly good, as are the breakfast tacos from Brothers Taco House. For meat-eaters, traditional finger-lickin’ BBQ is a real treat, and you can pick up juicy slabs of beef brisket with a side of bootlegger baked beans curbside at Truth Barbecue. For fine diners, try Theodore Rex for seasonal selects, or Nancy’s Hustle for small plates, great wine and cool vibes.
Immerse yourself in music
Houston has been well and truly placed on the map for its world-class hip-hop, and there’s no doubt that it’s the capital of the cutting-edge rap scene in Texas. The city is home to the iconic record labels Swishahouse and Rap-A-Lot Records. From Slim Thug and Paul Wall to Beyoncé and Megan Thee Stallion, some of the world’s most acclaimed musicians have roots here. Watch live performances from some of the hottest hip-hop stars at The Spire, a Vegas-style nightclub located in the heart of the city’s downtown district.
Explore the cosmopolitan art scene
With eye-catching murals splattered on walls all across the city and over 70 museums and galleries displaying some of the world’s most underrated art, Houston’s art scene is growing faster than Apollo 13 sped through space. The Museum of Fine Arts houses a comprehensive collection of more than 65,000 artworks while the Menil Drawing Institute is dedicated to the study of modern and contemporary drawings. There’s also Sawyer Yards, a creative community situated in the city’s historic district where you can pick up an artisan craft and rub shoulders with like-minded artists.
For a guide to more great day trips, nights out and incredible places to stay in Houston, click here