When you think of experiencing arts, culture, and theater down in Texas, your thoughts probably turn to Austin, but that’s a mistake. Although Austin is a lovely, diverse city, Houston has a lot of culture to offer as well, not to mention it boasts a stunning cityscape setting in which to enjoy it. Whether you love science and history or art and music, you’re guaranteed to find more than a few hotspots that will keep you exploring for days on end.
Try the Museum of Fine Arts
If fine arts are more to your taste, MFAH deserves a place on your itinerary. It’s the sixth biggest museum in the country, and you’ll find more than 27,000 pieces, paintings, and works of art. They range from antiquities right up to the present day, so there’s an impressive array of different ages and genres. You also get a chance to see how art evolves.
Explore the Johnson Space Center
The Johnson Space Center is part of NASA, which goes a long way toward letting you know how much you’ll see. Open nearly all year long, you can visit any time you go, with the exception of Christmas. It’s a great stop for science buffs, astrologers, and all those adults who grew up wanting to become astronauts.
The tours are self-guided so you can enjoy the space center at your leisure, even if you decide to spend all your time in Mission Control or marveling over all the lunar samples. You can also take a turn in the simulator, you can see what it’s like to go on an actual flight to space, and you can explore the shuttle.
Drink in the Houston Museum of Natural Science
Near Hermann Park, you’ll also find the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It’s a wonderland of science, nature, art, and a special kind of culture. You really get several museums in one, owing to all the activities and exhibits housed within the complex. That’s no surprise, since Houston has the fourth biggest museum district in the country.
Here you’ll find the Burke Baker Planetarium. It’s a must-see location for anyone who’s in love with the stars and the night sky. The Wortham IMAX Theatre is not just impressive but awe-inspiring, no matter what movie you see. A trip through the Cockrell Butterfly Center is likewise essential, if only because all those butterflies are magical. You’ll also enjoy exhibits dedicated to geography, space, medical science, oceanography, and the wildlife for which Texas is so well-known.
Take in Hermann Park
When you visit Hermann Park, you’ll get more than you bargained for, which is why it’s a must-see landmark. Even if you’re visiting another part of Texas, make the time to travel to Houston just for this sprawling offering. It helps prove the point that Houston is as much a cultural epicenter as any other city in the great state of Texas.
Start off with the Houston Zoological Gardens. The zoo is a solid choice for adults, kids, families, single travelers, couples — you name it, there’s no way you won’t enjoy it. From there, look into possible productions at the Miller Outdoor Theatre where local students often put on plays. Go at the right time, however, and you can see professional productions, as well. Houston’s Museum of Natural Science is also in Hermann Park, so whether you love nature, arts, or science, you’ll find something to pique your interest.
Visit the San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Park
Before you start thinking that you won’t find any art in a battleground park, consider the possibilities. San Jacinto has a gorgeous masonry structure, which is actually the tallest one in the world. More importantly, there are art pieces, memorabilia, and intriguing historical documents housed within it.
Furthermore, the USS Texas is permanently berthed there, and its historic relevance is unmistakable — the battleship survived both World War I and World War II, plus it’s the only dreadnought of its class that’s still around.
Get Tickets at the Wortham Theater Center
Houston gives New York City a run for its money when it comes to the sheer amount of theater seats available in a relatively concentrated area. It’s home to so many theaters, you won’t know where to start — so just begin at the Wortham Theater Center.
The center is actually a complex, which is enough to tell you that there’s a lot going on there at any given time. The Houston Grand Opera calls the center its home, as does the Houston Ballet. Together they make up the center of the city’s thriving cultural and artistic community. Wortham is the place to go if you love lush productions and rich shows. Between the opera and the ballet, you’ll go home raving about Houston’s artistic heart.
Head to the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts
If you want something a little more laid-back, or if you simply want to expand your cultural horizons, the Jesse H. Jones Hall brings you another two-for. It houses both the Society for the Performing Arts and the Houston Symphony.
The symphony is an old one, founded in 1913. Each year, the orchestra puts on more than 200 concerts — and that’s just at the Jesse H. Jones Hall. The symphony also plays at Miller Theater but only in the summer. That’s definitely something to consider if you visit between June and August.
It’s clearly true that everything is bigger in Texas, especially the culture scene. Are you ready to book your trip?