Many may know Houston as an oil and gas industrial place. However, Houston is, also, a port city that has two large medical centers. So, plenty of work, right?! What is there to do for fun? Whether you are there for a business conference, a weekend visit, or a full relocation to live and work, there are plenty of places to go without spending too much of that hard earned money! There is so much to do that I will include more places in upcoming blogs! But, I will work my way from the city center of downtown to out and about an hour or so drive. The drive is so worth it!! (Also, I posted the links to each place at the end of the blog to make it easier to find out more about them.)
- Chase Building! Where? Downtown.
**7/31/19 Update – The Sky Lobby is currently not open to the public.
The view of Houston’s downtown from above is great! You get to see the penthouse pool of a building nearby. You can see the aquarium with all the amusement rides. A miniature replica of the outdoor sculpture seen in the front plaza sits in the center of the lobby along with a story about it.
2. Downtown Aquarium! Where? Downtown.
A great way to spend a date night. Or, take the whole family. Visit sea life up close and learn more about the native wildlife near Houston such as from the bayous and gulf coast ocean. For only $5 more you can touch and feed the sting rays. My husband and I fed the sting rays. It was a fun experience.
Are you done with the indoors? Go outside and play! The aquarium has several amusement rides including a large Ferris wheel. It gives a grand view of downtown Houston. Also, get a bird’s eye view of the highways without the worries of driving them! It gives a new perspective of them too.
3. Downtown Underground Tunnels! Where? Downtown.
Alright, enough of the above ground fun. Let’s take y’all underground. Yes, you read that right. Houston’s best kept secret is underneath the downtown area. Bring out your inner adventure explorer while keeping cool in the Texas heat! Sure beats a gym membership. There are restaurants, shopping, and connections to downtown sights such as the Chase building.
My brother and I discovered this when he came to visit us in Houston. We went downtown and soon became confused that we didn’t see anyone in a major U.S. metro city on a weekday! I know the heat can be a bit much, but… Finally, we saw a few folks. My brother asked a young woman where everyone went as the downtown seemed empty for a weekday. She replied simply for us to follow her. As we arrived to a building entrance, she explained that everyone was down below and we needed to take the stairs. Down below? We followed her lead down an escalator. Boom! There was such a hustle and bustle. Folks everywhere! The aroma of food. The sounds of conversations. Oh and it was nice and cool too.
4. Hermann Park Where? Just South of Downtown near Rice University and the zoo.
This one my husband and I discovered when looking for another new place to walk our dog. This park is very dog friendly! It is a large park with joggers, sports teams, and outdoor theatre and music performances. One night we sat outside with our dog Charlie to enjoy live music. Another night we watched a dress rehearsal for a theatre production. Also, ever been to cities where you can not find a public restroom anywhere? Not a problem here. Plenty of clean public restrooms. It can be the small things in life that make or break a place.
5. Galleria Shopping. Where? Downtown.
The Galleria is one of the downtown spots that are accessible through the underground tunnels. But, if you are out and about and decide to drive there, the parking is free as well. Parking is underground so you can avoid coming back to an oven heated car! You can spend the day visiting an art gallery or trying out a luxury car. My brother and I went into an art gallery to learn more about the artists behind each piece. Then, we went into a store where they had an actual floor model of a Tesla. It was nice to try a car without the pressure of a dealership or crowd of a car show.
6. Buffalo Bayou Park. Where? 15-20 minutes East of Downtown.
Buffalo Bayou Park is another great place to walk the dog, walk with friends, play sports with family, and just enjoy the tranquility of the bayou. Also, the night view of downtown is a local’s treasure. Our view was located in the Greater East End of Houston. Yes, that is the name of the neighborhood!
7. NASA Space Center Where? 30-35 minutes Southeast of Downtown.
Do you want an out of this world experience? Go check out the NASA Space Center located just Southeast of Houston in Webster! You get to sit in the control center. Yeah the one y’all see in the movies. Then, you see the Saturn V up close. This space craft will make you feel petite.
8. San Jacinto Monument. Where? 30-35 minutes East of Downtown Houston.
Do you admire large battleships? Do you crave seeing one in person? Do you like learning more about history? Do you like relaxing outdoors? This is the place for you! The San Jacinto Battleship is docked as though still ready to go back out to the sea. Across the road stands the San Jacinto Monument where you can read more about the battle. Also, there is a vast dog-friendly park area. Yes, we take our dog to as many places as possible! We all get to enjoy our adventures.
9. Galveston Beach. Where? About 1 hour Southeast of Downtown Houston. Cost?
Enjoy the warm gulf water at Galveston Beach. There is a pier with amusement rides along with good eats along the main street that runs along the beach. Also, it is a great place for a house sightseeing drive. Then, you can park right on the sand! Free. Take your children and dogs to play by the beach. Galveston Beach is a great place to see natural sea animals from starfish to sting rays. We even watched as a guy put a lost string ray back in the water. Charlie loved running along the beach with my husband! Even the seagulls enjoy the free parking!!
10. Galveston Ferry. Where? Northeast of the beach.
Oh yeah, done with the beach for the day? Catch the sunset on the water! Galveston has a free ferry that you can drive onto and be taken to the next port to go home.
11. Kemah Beach. Dog-friendly.
The Houston area boasts of another beach area – Kemah. Do you enjoy sailboats? Look no further! Kemah has beautiful sailing water. Visit Kemah center to see the vintage police car too. Fun for the kids! While there, grab some fresh delicious seafood.
Links to learn more!
Chase Building formerly Texas Commerce Center – http://www.chasetower.com/building.php?sect=1
Houston Aquarium – http://www.aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumhouston/default.asp
Downtown Underground Tunnel Walkway – https://www.downtownhouston.org/district/downtown-tunnels/
Hermann Park – http://www.hermannpark.org/visit/hours-and-directions/
Galleria – http://www.simon.com/mall/the-galleria/about
Buffalo Bayou – http://buffalobayou.org/?gclid=CPfn7PCowNMCFU64wAodfAwHow
San Jacinto – http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/battleship-texas
NASA – https://spacecenter.org/
Galveston Beach – http://www.galveston.com/beachparks/
Galveston Ferry – http://www.galveston.com/galvestonferry/
Kemah – http://www.kemah-tx.gov/
Written by Patty M. Vanegas for USMexpats Discoveries