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The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is one of Houston's grandest venues for entertainment. This magnificent building houses two main theaters: Sarofim Hall and Zilkha Hall. Sarofim Hall, the bigger of the two, seats 2650 people and hosts major productions like touring Broadway shows. Zilkha Hall seats 500, and is home to the Uniquely Houston program, which showcases small to mid-level performing arts groups.
Have a yearning for the nautical life? Take a plunge into the deep at the Houston Downtown Aquarium. This aquarium is definitely the place to be for a fun day out. The aquarium features around 400 species of aquatic life, with the Shark Voyage being the main attraction. This voyage gives visitors the opportunity to travel via train into an acrylic viewing tunnel with live sharks swimming overhead. Other attractions include the Diving Bell Ferris wheel, the aquatic carousel and some themed educational exhibits. If you've had your fill of the aquatic life and need some grub then take a pick from the Aquarium Restaurant or Dive Lounge.
Tucked away in the 20-acre Sam Houston Park downtown, you will find an impressive bit of Texas history. Visit the Heritage Society Museum & Tour, which features historical records, then take the outdoor tour of noble buildings restored to their original glory. Pathways lead to an assortment of prestigious homes in Greek and Victorian styles. The 1868 Victorian-style Pilot House also happens to be the site of the city's first indoor kitchen. All the homes on the tour are unique in structure and furnishings. There is also a quaint church built in 1891 by German farmers.
Buffalo Bayou Park is a lush 160-acre park (64 hectares), where everyone can come to soothe the senses. Eleanor Tinsley Park, located within the park is host to many of Houston's festivals and a variety of activities. Experience a canoe trip, or a walk with a loved one through the beauty of this park. The park also has a play area for children, a dog park, sculptures and fountains throughout and also includes bike trails.
Within walking distance of the METRORail between the Wheeler and Hermann Hospital/Houston Zoo stops lies the highest concentration of galleries, museums, and art spaces in Houston. Besides the usual suspects - the Zoo, Fine Arts, Natural Science, Contemporary Arts, and Children's Museum - there is also the fascinating Health, Holocaust, Buffalo Soldiers National, and John C. Weather Museums to explore. Don’t miss Lawndale Art Center, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft or the Jung Center. A little farther off the beaten path (just up Montrose Boulevard on the other side of US59), are the famed Menil Collection, Rothko and Byzantine Fresco Chapels, and Houston Center for Photography. Stop for a meal at any of the fine eateries along Montrose Boulevard. Check the site for events and free times.
The vision of philanthropists, John and Dominique de Menil, The Rothko Chapel is a block away from the extraordinary art museum, The Menil Collection. The abstract expressionist Mark Rothko created 14 immense paintings for the sacred space, and the meditative aura that resulted is the true definition of tranquility. Renowned architect, Phillip Johnson, along with Houston's own Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubrey designed the octagonal brick structure that overlooks Barnett Newman's sculptural tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Free to all and open to people of all beliefs, the independent site made it to the official National Register of Historic Places.
In his midnight millennium speech, Pope John Paul said the most defining elements of the 20th century were the rise and fall of two oppressive ideologies that victimized millions of people, Communism and Nazism. This museum is a tribute to the victims of the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Through changing exhibits, films and lectures, it seeks to inform future generations of the racism of the holocaust and the horrifying results of hatred. In addition to exhibits, there is a library, theater and document archives.
The Children's Museum of Houston opened in 1984 and is devoted to teaching through interactive play. Galleries here cover subjects like history, culture, fine and performing arts, technology, science and geography. Adults are welcome to take a break in the Teacher and Family Resource Center where extra teaching materials are available to boost those creative juices. Lots of fun, educational toys are available in the gift shop and snacks are available to satisfy your hunger.
If you're an art aficionado and a nature buff, you simply can't miss out on a visit to the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, also known as the Cullen Sculpture Museum. Handpicked sculptures from the 20th and 21st centuries are artfully displayed on the grounds of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH) Houston, the collective creative geniuses of artists such as Henri Matisse and Auguste Rodin shining through. The setting for this sculpture display, a lush artwork of nature itself, is the brilliant brainchild of Isamu Noguchi and landscape architect Johnny Steele, who selected native plants like Loblolly Pines and Drake Elms. These trees, along with nearly 80 others, frame the priceless sculptures on display.
The selection of exhibits at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts covers both modern and ancient art and represents the talent of artists from Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. You will find Frederic Remington's fine Western art mingling with medieval pieces and the work of early European masters. Paintings are abundant, but the lovely sculpture garden here is also worth viewing. Both the Glassell School of Art and the Hirsch Library for Art History call this museum home. Film buffs love the museum for its weekly showings of classic and foreign films. A gift shop and restaurant are both on hand to satisfy your hunger after a day of exploring.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers a wide variety of exhibits that are worthy of a full day's outing. The three-level live butterfly exhibit will fascinate visitors of any age, as will the dinosaur exhibit in the Morian Hall of Paleontology. The Wiess Energy Hall and the Hall of Gems and Minerals are also worth a visit. If you need a break, enjoy an IMAX film or sit in on one of Burke Baker Planetarium shows.
The Cockrell Butterfly Center, housed in The Houston Museum of Natural Science, promises an experience like no other. An impressive array of over 1,500 butterflies from across the world call the tropical conservatory their home. The three-leveled glass enclosure is an enchanting rainforest, punctuated with fascinating flora and an alluring waterfall. Marvel at exotic species of the arthropod, Blue Morpho, Atlas Moth, Red Peacock, Owl Butterfly and Longwing, to name a few. Housing some of the largest and rarest specimens, the vibrant assortment paints a picture of paradise.