On a recent episode of “Parts Unknown,” host Anthony Bourdain confessed that he wasn’t prepared for Houston to be such an interesting place.
But with over 90 languages spoken, Houston is among the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. That diversity has helped create a vital food scene, dynamic music and arts, vibrant street culture and colorful attractions. It’s also helped reshape the town into what Forbes says is one of the next great global cities and what Business Insider calls “the best city in America.”
So, let’s find some fun things to do in this diverse and interesting place.
- Space out. NASA is still Houston’s pride and joy and even though the city no longer factors into America’s missions into the great beyond, Space Center Houston remains ground zero for viewing artifacts of our extraterrestrial past. That doesn’t mean Space Center Houston is a musty, old museum relic — it features an ambitious schedule of exhibits (frequently “Star Wars” related) and numerous interactive adventures packed with bells and whistles for kids.
- Visit a museum or two. With 19 different museums, Houston’s Museum District is one of the city’s great attractions. Some of the highlights include the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Natural Science, Children’s Museum, Rothko Chapel, Menil Collection, Holocaust Museum and Contemporary Arts Museum. Most of the museums are within easy walking distance of one another, and many are free of charge.
- Park it. Discovery Green — the sprawling park in the middle of town — has been referred to as “Houston’s version of Central Park.” The park offers hundreds of events throughout the year, from free movie screenings to concerts and festivals. And even when there isn’t something going on, you’ll still find plenty to do. If you’re seeking peace and quiet, you’ll probably love Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Located just a few miles from downtown, the 155-acre nonprofit nature sanctuary offers the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of city life as well as the opportunity to experience native plants and animals.
- Shop vintage stores, and then head to the mall. For all things vintage and retro — clothing, décor, collectibles — funky 19th Street in The Heights is the place to go. You’ll find a variety of fun and quirky shops featuring unique and delightful items. When you’re finished window shopping on 19th, you can head to the ultra-high-end Galleria mall, the antique stores, boutiques and thrift shops along Westheimer Road or the high-density hodgepodge of old and new retail stores lining Rice Village. Whatever your taste and budget, you’ll delight in Houston’s fantastic variety of shopping options.
- Satisfy your Texas-sized appetite. With more than 10,000 restaurants, the red-hot Houston culinary scene offers a plate for every palate — everything from puffy fried tacos to Korean braised goat and dumplings to lemongrass-infused Viet-Cajun crawfish to authentic Jewish deli pastrami on rye. Oh, and you can get queso-coated everything. And there are food trucks galore. If you can name or describe it, Houston’s probably got it. Don’t forget to pick up a few bags of the city’s famous chocolate-covered corn chips, pretzel sticks and chopped pecan brittle. You’re welcome.
Wherever your explorations take you in this one-of-a-kind town, we’re sure you’ll agree that Houston is a big city with loads of Southern charm.