Once the storage and moving boxes are unpacked and you're beginning to get settled, it's time to explore the Bayou City. When you're looking for things to do in Houston as a newcomer, visit these top Houston attractions around town to learn more about what makes Houstonians proud to call it home.
1. NASA’s Johnson Space Center & Space Center Houston
Dubbed the "big draw" by USA Today, the Space Center Houston is a must-see attraction for any one new to the Houston area. It's also the No. 1 international tourist spot in the city and one of the top Houston attractions. "Houston" was the first word spoken from the moon in 1969 from the Apollo 11 mission. And the famous "Houston, we've had a problem" is tied to Apollo 13. Space Center Houston is a great place to learn more about NASA's spaceflight activities and astronaut training. It's the official visitor center of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, which is the training base and home for our nation's astronauts. Folks who've just moved to Houston must explore the Space Center and enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour, Starship Gallery, Astronaut Gallery, Living in Space, Blast-Off, the world's largest collection of moon rocks, and space-related movies. This venue also houses a replica of space shuttle Explorer, where the public can go inside the capsule to learn about life inside a space shuttle. Space Center Houston is $29.95/adults and $24.95/kids 4-11 – with the discount online. It's located about 25 miles southeast of downtown Houston near Webster.
2. Houston’s Local Craft Beer Breweries
Texas' oldest craft brewery started right here in Houston, so it's no wonder Houstonians are proud of their growing list of local craft brews. The original, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, started in 1994 seven years after founder Brock Wagner graduated from Rice University. He and his partner chose Houston because it was the largest city without a microbrewery. Today its beers can be found in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida grocery stores, restaurants, bars and more. The brewery holds public open houses and tours each weekday at 1 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is $10 and includes the tour and souvenir glass. Add to your list of places to visit in Houston and include the other local breweries such as Buffalo Bayou Brewery, 8th Wonder Brewery, No Label Brewing Co., Karbach Brewing Co., and Southern Star Brewing Company.
3. Texas Medical Center
Houston is home to the largest medical center in the world. Houston's Texas Medical Center employs 21,000 physicians, scientists, and researchers; 21 hospitals; 3 medical schools and more. M.D. Anderson is considered the No. 1 cancer treatment center in the country. AIA Houston offers a Texas Medical Center Walking Tour exploring the architecture throughout the 1,000-acre area. The fee is $10 or $5 for architecture students.
4. Minute Maid Park
Houston's award-winning downtown ballpark, Minute Maid Park, maintains a touch a history and modern technology in the same structure. Not only does it provide the country's largest open area retractable roof but also brings natural grass baseball back to Houston after 35 years. It's home of the Houston Astros baseball plus other local events since it opened in 2000. Minute Maid Park's classic architecture ties into its historical location at Houston's Union Station dating back to 1911. In its heyday, it carried 7,000 – 10,000 passengers a day. The railroad theme continues inside with a vintage, full-sized locomotive that runs along 800 feet of track. Hour-long ballpark tours are available Monday – Saturday at 10 am and noon. Price is $18/adults and $13/kids plus tax and fees.
5. Eating Your Way Around Houston – The Tex-Mex Queen
Finding a delicious place to eat in Houston in effortless; it's been said that Houston has 8,000 – 10,000 restaurants in the local area representing more than 70 countries. There's certainly no shortage of dining options when you feel like a night on the town or a quick jaunt to the nearest taco stand. While Houston has its share of James Beard culinary finalists and award-winning chefs, it's difficult to mention Houston cuisine without talking about Tex-Mex. Some of the best places to eat in Houston include Tex-Mex cuisine, because of its proximity to Mexico.
Molina’s opened its doors in 1941 and continues with three Houston-area locations today. It's known for its Original Jose's Dip (chili con queso with spicy taco meat), small but potent margaritas, and its assortment of combination plates.
The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation
Ninfa’s opened in 1973 and started the first form of fajitas, which are a national staple today. This location continues to operate in East Houston serving dishes created by Mama Ninfa herself. While there are other Ninfa restaurants, they are not associated with The Original Ninfa's on Navigation.
Other fan favorites in the city include Café Adobe, Los Cucos, El Tiempo Cantina, Gringo's Tex-Mex, Pappasito's Cantina, and Chuy's Tex-Mex.
These are a just a handful of things to do in Houston that make the city so unique. For more ideas, check out VisitHoustonTexas.com.