With so much to do and see in Houston it can be difficult to decide where to begin, especially if you don’t have much time. To help you plan the perfect three days in the city, here are some suggestions.
Day 1: Explore The Museum District
You can easily spend days exploring the many offerings of the Houston Museum District. The attraction showcases 19 museums -- most of which are free to enter to everyday, and all of which have certain free entry times -- all located within a 1.5-mile radius of the Mecon Fountain. Because the area is pedestrian-friendly you won’t need to spend money on transportation, making this not only educational but budget-friendly.
Families will love the Children’s Museum of Houston, which features 14 interactive exhibits for children that let them play while learning, as well as the Health Museum, an interactive science museum where kids can ride a bike with a skeleton, sit on giant teeth, scan their internal organs and watch a creepy 3D video on the body as a landscape for dust mites and bacteria.
Those with a passion for art have a range of options to choose from, including the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston Center for Photography, Lawndale Art Center, The Menil Collection, The Jung Center of Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts or the Rice University Art Galley. Additionally, the Rothko Chapel is a non-denominational chapel that is said to be a work of art in itself, with the interior walls covered in paintings by artist Mark Rothko.
Additional museums in the district include the Asia Society Texas Center, the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the Houston Zoo, Czech Center Museum Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the John C. Freeman Weather Museum and the Museum of African American Culture.
Travel tip: Before you begin your day of exploration through the Houston Museum District check the attraction’s online calendar to see what special events and programs are going on.
Day 2: Get Outside
Although a busy city, Houston offers many chances to explore the beauty of the outdoors. Start your day at Hermann Park, a historic 445-acre park with many opportunities for recreation, like fishing at Bob’s Fishing Pier, trekking in Bayou Parkland, strolling through the Garden Center’s 2,500 rose bushes and outdoor sculptures, pedal boating on McGovern Lake or meditating in a Japanese Garden with waterfalls, wooden bridges, beautiful cherry trees and Japanese Maples. You can also play a round of golf on the 18-hole Hermann Park Golf Course, the first desegregated golf course in the United States. In this park, you’ll also be able to visit the Houston Zoo, where you’ll find over 6,000 animals and 900 species. Here visitors can choose to simply view the exhibits, take in a sea lion show or get more hands on by feeding Masai giraffes or hiking through an African Forest with chimpanzees, rhinos and antelopes, zebras and ostriches.
A few other worthwhile outdoor experiences in Houston include visiting the Williams Waterwall in the 18-acre landscaped Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, strolling through the Cullen Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts and exploring the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.
Day 3: History, Culture & Outer Space
One of the most iconic attractions in the city is the Space Center Houston, which awards visitors the opportunity to learn about the past, present and future of aeronautics and space through exhibits, presentations, simulations and attractions. What makes this space center particularly unique is it’s the official visitors center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, meaning you can visit the Mission Control Center as well as watch astronauts train for missions on a NASA Tram Tour. Also be sure to take in an IMAX movie and visit the Starship Gallery where you’ll find the world’s largest collection of moon rocks as well as space hardware like the Gemini V Spacecraft, Mercury Atlas 8 “Faith 7” capsule, the Apollo 17 Command Module and more.
Afterward, get a dose of history by visiting the 23,000-acre living heritage museum of the George Ranch Historical Park. Costumed interpreters take you through houses dating from 1824, telling stories based on the time period and providing a glimpse into over 100 years of Texas history. We recommend visiting on a Saturday when you can sample a traditional ranch lunch.
To end the day, head over to the cultural hub of Montrose, often called the “Heart of Houston.” One of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city, you can admire the mix of renovated mansions and 1920s bungalows, pop into one of the many cultural centers or simply enjoy dinner and drinks in this eclectic location. Some top choices include Hugo’s Regional Mexican Cuisine (1600 Westheimer Rd), an upscale Mexican restaurant serving innovative dishes and tasty Margaritas, and Vinoteca Poscol (1609 Westheimer Road), an ambient wine bar featuring Italian wines and tapas.