When I was a little girl, I used to tell my Mom that I was going to move to Texas when I grew up so it was not really a surprise when I actually did it. I love this state most days and the fact that there is so much to do here is only one reason why. Houston is one of those places where there is enough to do to keep you busy for years! If you’re looking for the top things to do in Houston, make sure to give yourself enough time to really research. There are so many best things to do in Houston that it will take you a bit to really nail down what you want to do when you visit! If you’re visiting Dallas while you’re in Texas, you’ll want to take a look at the top things to do in Dallas as well!
What I love most about the top things to do in Houston is that they’re great if you’re on vacation, but they’re also just as awesome if you live in Houston. Some are perfect for a weekend out while others would make amazing homeschool field trips. Still others would be great for a frugal (Six Dollar Family) date night. It doesn’t really matter much why you’re looking for the best things to do in Houston, Houston has it all to offer.
20 Top Things to Do in Houston
Travel can be expensive though so you’ll want to look for new ways to save. One of my favorite ways to save money on travel is with CityPASS. If you’re not familiar, CityPASS is a program where you can purchase discount admissions to popular attractions in certain cities. You pay one fee for your CityPASS vouchers and use the vouchers to get into the attractions you want. The Houston CityPASS includes admission to 5 separate attractions for just $62.00 for adults or $52.00 for children. You can check out the Houston CityPASS on the CityPASS website HERE.
1. USS Texas/Battleship Texas
Texas has seen its share of battles throughout our history and the proof of that is everywhere. One of my favorites on this list of top things to do in Houston is to visit the USS Texas battleship. The Battleship Texas deployed during both World War 1 and World War 2. Today, it sits in Houston as a museum. Visitors to the USS Texas can take a public self-guided tour without an appointment. For those wanting a deeper look, you may also schedule a guided “Hard Hat” tour. Admission to the Battlefield Texas museum is really affordable. Kids 12 and under are free with an adult and adult admission will only set you back $10.00 per person.
2. San Jacinto Battleground
While you’re visiting Battleship Texas, make sure to swing by the San Jacinto Battleground too. Ride 489 feet up the San Jacinto Monument, take a walking tour of the battleground and compare the battleground’s changes from 1836 to now. Admission to the battleground is totally free, but the monument will cost you a couple of dollars per person.
3. Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston is not just one of the top things to do in Houston; it is a must-visit when you’re in the area! With over 40 different attractions, you can do everything from seeing the “Stellar Science Show” to having lunch with an astronaut. This one is fun and educational and perfect for anyone who loves space! General admission tickets start at $24.95 for adults and $16 for kids ages 4-11.
4. Minute Maid Park
One of the top things to do in Houston is to visit Minute Maid Park. If you’re visiting during baseball season, take in a ball game and watch the Houston Astros play. No matter what time of year it is, you can take a tour of the ballpark. Tours are held Monday-Saturday, year-round. They offer several tour options so you can see as little or as much as you want. Tour tickets are priced at $15-$25 per adult and $10-$18 for children. Tickets to baseball games start around $15 per person.
5. Houston Downtown Aquarium
Like all things under the sea? If so, the Houston Downtown Aquarium is perfect for you! You’ll see everything from an actual shipwreck display – complete with a giant Pacific octopus – to a sunken Mayan temple! You can pet and feed live stingrays or ride the train through the shark tunnel to see sharks up close and personal. They even have white tigers who paint! At just $10.99 admission for adults and $7.99 for kids, this is one of the best things to do in Houston that won’t break your budget!
The Houston Downtown Aquarium is a Houston CityPASS location. When you buy a Houston CityPASS, your admission to Downtown Aquarium is included.
6. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
If you are looking for free things to do in Houston, this one tops the list! The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is by far one of the top things to do in Houston even without the addition of the free admission. Spend the day wandering the 155 acre nature sanctuary that offers 5 miles of walking trails through animal habitats such as forest, meadow and pond habitats. When you’re done with your walk, head over to the Nature Center to visit the Nature Shop and Discovery Room. The Discovery Room features hands on activities including an interactive 15 ft. learning tree!
7. Houston Tunnels
Deep below the streets of Houston – 20 feet below to be exact – there is a system of tunnels to explore. What started out as a connection between two movie theaters is now a complex system of restaurants, stores and more that spans 95 city blocks. There are also plenty of guided tours of the Downtown Tunnels available. There are only 2 entrances with direct access to the tunnels and since it it so large, you will want to do your research via the Downtown Tunnels website.
8. The Health Museum
The John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science is called The Health Museum for short and I can see why! It’s certainly a mouthful! If you or your family are interested in the history of healthcare or the medical field, you’ll want to make this one of your top things to do in Houston. Your kids will love it! Open Monday-Sunday, The Health Museum offers plenty of time for your to plan your visit. Current exhibits include “Our Global Kitchen” which explores our food system from farm to fork and “Body As a Work of Art.” The Health Museum also offers the DeBakey Cell Lab which allows kids to perform experiments and learn hands on. Museum admission starts at $10 for adults and $8 for children. The DeBakey Cell Lab requires an additional $3 entry fee. Children 2 and under and admission on Thursdays from 2 pm – 7 pm are free.
9. Houston Zoo
The Houston Zoo has over 6,000 animals of 900 different species making it perfect for a day out! Open 7 days a week from 9 am to 7 pm, you and your kids will love checking out the different exhibits they offer. View the zoo normally or take an animal encounter. Animal encounters can be done for everything from gorillas and elephants to bugs and sloths. Dinosaur fans will love the Dinosaurs exhibit!
Tickets for the Houston Zoo start at $15.95 for adults and $11.95 for children depending on the time of day you visit. The Houston Zoo is a Houston CityPASS site which means you could save even more by purchasing the Houston CityPASS!
10. Houston Museum District
If you are in the mood to learn, the Houston Museum District is the place to do it! With over 15 different museums, including the Houston Zoo, you could spend a few days just visiting the different ones! Admission costs will vary depending on the museum you visit. Some of the museums that are available to visit are the Houston Children’s Museum, the Holocaust Museum Houston and more!
11. Discovery Green
Get away from the bustle of the city for a while and take a stroll through Discovery Green. This family centered park is located near Minute Maid ballpark and offers open air reading rooms, an ice skating rink, spray fountain and mist tree, free WiFi and even lets you borrow balls to play with!
12 . Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of my favorite things to do in Houston. It’s a fantastic trip back in time and place to learn! Visit and view their permanent Prehistoric dinosaur exhibit that feautres a complete dinosaur skeleton, take a trip through Ancient Egypt or view one of the new and current exhibits such as “The Art of Gunsmithing.” They also offer a planetarium, IMAX theater, a six-story butterfly center and more! Ticket prices start at around $25 for adults, but you can make yours far cheaper when you buy the Houston CityPASS.
13. Kemah Boardwalk
If you’ve never visited a traditional boardwalk with games, rides, food stalls, and entertainment, you should at least once in your life! The 40-acre park features an old style carousel, Ferris wheel and even a roller coaster! Visit the Kemah Boardwalk while you’re in Houston and your entire family will have a blast! The best part about the boardwalk is that it is situated right on the water making it perfect for a hot day when a waterfront breeze helps cool things down.
The Kemah Boardwalk is included in the Houston CityPASS. When you buy your Houston CityPASS, it includes an all day ride pass for the Kemah Boardwalk.
14. Cockrell Butterfly Center
Nature reigns at the Cockrell Butterfly Center and it is beautiful! View the glass enclosed butterfly habitat that includes a simulated rainforest. There is also a 50-foot waterfall and more! If you love nature, you’ll love visiting here. The Cockrell Butterfly Center is open 7 days a week from 9 am – 5 pm.
15. Houston Children’s Museum
Grab the kids and head out to the Children’s Museum of Houston! It is the number 1 children’s museum in America! They’ll have a blast! With exhibts such as Kidtropolis – a real city skyline with government and all – your kids will love spending the day at the Children’s Museum. There is over 90,000 feet of fun! Hours vary each day. Ticket prices start at $12.00 for adults, but you can save $2 by visiting after 5 pm every day. Admission is free from 5-8 every Thursday and for anyone holding a current Lonestar card with active benefits.
The Children’s Museum of Houston is also a CityPASS location. When you purchase your Houston CityPASS, you will get to choose between the Kemah Boardwalk and the Children’s Museum.
16. Saint Arnold Brewing Company
If you’re a fan of craft beer, make the Saint Arnold Brewing Company one of your top things to do in Houston while you’re visiting. Take a tour, learn some craft beer history and maybe grab great food at their restaurant and pub. Hours vary depending on the day, but generally they are open Sunday – Wednesday from 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
and Thursday – Saturday from 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM. They offer free public tours at 1:00, 3:00, 5:00, and 7:00 PM and children are welcome.
17. Houston Museum of Fine Arts
If you love fine art, you’ll want to visit the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. See everything from paintings to sculptures or watch an art history film. While you’re there make sure to visit the Van Gogh exhibit. It will be available through the end of June 2019. Museum hours vary depending on what day it is. Ticket prices start at $17 for adults although they do offer several discounted options for college students, seniors, active duty military and veterans. Children 12 and under are always free.
The Houston Museum of Fine Arts is included in the Houston CityPASS. When you buy your Houston CityPASS, you will get to choose between the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Houston Zoo.
18. Toyota Center
Visit Toyota Center and take a tour or watch a basketball game. Sports fans will love seeing the arena! Hours and admission prices will vary depending on what type of event is currently happening.
19. Miller Outdoor Theater
Head to the Miller Outdoor Theater and you’ll find one of the best free things to do in Houston! They offer a long 8-month season of free plays, concerts including the Houston Symphony, theater, dance and more! Show times will vary throughout the season.
20. Rodeo Houston
If you’re visiting Houston in March, be sure to visit Rodeo Houston! Aside from the actual rodeo, you’ll find concerts, carnival rides, the Livestock show, contests such as a Bar-B-Que contest and more. It’s at least one days worth of family fun! They even have a wine garden!