We’ve all taken vacations where we spend days sitting on a beach relaxing. After months of working hard, it’s a welcomed blessing. But sometimes, sitting around can get boring, and we crave new experiences instead of sandy toes.
Make the most of your vacation in Houston when you discover some of the city’s most interactive and educational experiences. From historical sites and cultural art museums to local cigar lounges where you can learn more about the tobacco industry, there are plenty of opportunities to learn or discover something new in Houston.
Explore the universe at Space Center Houston
Take an interactive journey through the stars when you visit Space Center Houston. One of the top things to do in Houston for children and adults alike is to explore the several exhibits and uncover secrets of the most well-known spacecrafts and how our solar system ticks.
Find an array of previously-flown spacecrafts across the museum, including the famous Apollo 17 and Gemini V in the Starship Gallery. Head to the Astronaut Gallery to find suits worn by some of America’s star lord’s, like John Young and Pete Conrad. Make sure you spend some time in the Mission Mars exhibit, where you’ll have the chance to experience a virtual Martian sunset and climb inside a simulated Orion capsule. You’ll feel as though you’re actually in space when you scramble across the artificial version of the red planet.
There’s plenty of events hosted at the museum throughout the year, including regular Astronaut Experiences. Look online to see what’s happening when you visit for a chance to have breakfast with real-life astronauts and listen to their tales of space.
Admire the greats at the Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts is among the most popular of Houston’s attractions. The vast collection includes 70,000 unique works of art from around the globe. Admire paintings from some of the most talented American artists, discover original pieces from medieval Europe, and find unique sculptures from the Islamic Worlds.
The museum hosts a rotation of exhibits throughout the year, each tailored to a specific culture or genre of art. Works by famous painters like Picasso and photographers such as Georgia O’Keefe briefly visit the museum so visitors can get a taste of their distinct style. Aside from specific creators, some exhibits show the works of many artists that take viewers through important cultural and historical events.
The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday and offers guided group tours for those hoping to hear from the experts.
Uncover Houston’s past at San Jacinto Battleground
Take a 30-minute drive east along the I-10 and the Pasadena Freeway to reach the historic San Jacinto Battleground. Here, soldiers of the Texas Revolution met those of the Mexican Army for a fierce yet quick battle that lasted only 18-minutes.
The battle took place on April 21st, 1836, when the land boomed with the sound of cannon blasts and cracking muskets, and Texas came away with its independence. Nearly 200 years later, the site can be explored by self-guided tours. Drive across the battlefield and hike the nearby marsh trail to get a sense of what the soldiers may have seen that day. There’s a 567-foot tall obelisk monument and also a watchtower, which visitors can climb to cast their eyes across the battlefield.
Get back to nature at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
Head to the western side of Memorial Park to find Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, an impressive 155-acre nature reserve. One of the most popular Houston attractions, visitors can hike more than five miles of trails to explore and get back to nature.
Visit the arboretum’s Discovery Room to find interactive exhibits where you can learn more about the local fauna and urban wildlife. You’ll have a chance to peer through microscopes and solve puzzle games that shed more light on the surrounding wilderness.
Join the experts on a guided tour through the network of hiking trails to partake in bird watching and discover ecosystems. Follow up with a pleasant picnic over in Memorial Park and let the kids blow off steam at the playground.
Gear up to creativity at the Art Car Museum
If you’re looking for cool places in Houston where you can learn something new and experience a unique area of creativity, then look no further. The Art Car Museum is as quirky as museums come.
A small yet jam-packed museum, you’ll find outrageously decorated cars around every corner. Linked to the annual Houston Art Car Parade, keep your eyes peeled for some of the competition’s winning wheels. There are usually at least three prizewinners from previous parades, each more elaborately and colorfully designed than the last.
The museum is open from Wednesday through to Sunday each week and is free of entry, so make time to stop by and admire some of the quirkiest pieces of art in Texas.
Sample hand-rolled cigars at Casa de Montecristo
Cigar rolling and smoking is considered, to many, a fine art, and the craft is well-respected in the tobacco industry. A great Houston activity for adults, head to the local Casa de Montecristo cigar lounge to find out more about cigars.
Houston boasts three Casa de Montecristo cigar lounges, including on Kennedy Boulevard, West Loop, and Farm to Market Road. The latter is a full-service lounge, so it serves food and drink from an elaborate menu. However, each lounge offers ample seating, where visitors are welcomed to relax and learn more about how cigars are hand-rolled to perfection. Ask servers for recommendations and they’ll guide you through each flavored wrap and tobacco strain. With premium brands like Romeo y Julieta, you're sure to find a cigar for your taste. Your cigars will be hand-selected from protective cedar humidors, and you’ll be able to find out how they are rolled as you sit back and sample the produce.