There’s nothing small-scale about Houston.
From big oil and aerospace to shipping, energy and finance, America’s fourth-largest city is a leader in the world of business. But it’s also a city that knows how to have Texas-sized fun.
Its downtown has been reenergized with restaurants, nightclubs, professional sports facilities and theaters. To keep visitors out of the summer heat, it even has a 6.5-mile (10.5 km) underground city full of top-notch shopping and dining.
But its family and cultural attractions are what really makes Houston such a memorable place to visit.
Space Center Houston
Your first stop is Space Center Houston, the official visitors center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Visitors can experience the sensation of a space launch and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Johnson Space Center’s working and training areas. The museum spans the history of flight from the earliest rockets to the lunar landing to shuttle flights and the Kids Space Place will keep future astronauts entertained for eons.
Houston’s Downtown Aquarium is a stellar attraction featuring six acres (2.5 hectares) of entertainment, including rides, white tigers and more than 200 types of undersea life from around the world. The aquarium just opened a Stingray Reef exhibit, where guests can touch and feed these gliding creatures. Other exhibits include “Louisiana Swamp,” a rain forest, and “Shipwreck,” the sunken hull of a 17th century Spanish galleon, through whose windows visitors can view the diversity of sea life.
Space Center Houston, Texas
The Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the nation’s most-visited museums. Dinosaurs are one reason, as the museum has one of the largest paleontology halls in the country. Plus, its vast Hall of Egypt immerses visitors into the ancient world of the Pharaohs. Another recent upgrade is the Welch Hall of Chemistry, which dazzles inquisitive minds with a look at the molecular universe.
Kidtropolis Exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Houston
Travelers who prefer their molecules grouped into fascinating creatures can see more than 6,000 animals at the Houston Zoo. Majestic elephants, red pandas, chimpanzees and rhinos are just a few. But if you really want to squeal, head over to the new Bug House, to enjoy colorful beetles, centipedes, giant katydids, tarantulas, scorpions and even white-dotted domino roaches.
For fun in the sun, there’s no better place than Kemah Boardwalk. This waterfront park has wonderful restaurants, amusement rides, year-round festivals, shopping and seaside shows. Ride on the Boardwalk Beast speedboat for an exhilarating—and wet— adventure, or soar high above the crowds riding the Boardwalk Bullet wooden roller coaster.
The Houston Zoo
The Museum of Fine Arts
Back downtown, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, provides visitors with an expansive assortment of paintings, sculptures and film. The breadth of its permanent collection brings together stunning works from every corner of the world, from ancient artworks to modern masterpieces.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The best way to save on your visit to Houston is to buy a Houston CityPASS ticket booklet, which saves visitors 48 percent off combined admission to five can’t-miss attractions: Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, a choice between the Houston Zoo or The Museum of Fine Arts, and a choice between Kemah Boardwalk or The Children’s Museum of Houston.
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