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Best Historic Locations in Houston

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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.

Dating from 1843, this is the oldest Episcopal parish church in Houston. Silas Mcbee's gothic-styled church, built in 1893, has outstanding brickwork and sandstone-topped parapets. The vast nave of dark-stained wood creates a commanding interior. The stained-glass window, called Caritas, was installed by Tiffany Studios and can be viewed on the side of the nave closest to Fannin Street. William Ward Watkin was the architect for the Golding Memorial Chapel that was added in 1939. The iron fence and palm trees in the area provide a lovely Victorian-influenced space for relaxing conversation.

In 1936, brothers John and Augustus Allen bought 6,642 areas of land and claimed Houston as their own. They settled down on the site that is now known as Allen's Landing, therefore it has great significance in the history and birth of Houston. Owing to its proximity to the White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou, a dock was built and was operational for quite a long period. Over the time the area become somewhat neglected; however, the plans for its renovation are underway and after ts makeover, Allen's Landing will be equipped with beautiful walkways, lawns, a splendid promenade and several other facilities.

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 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.

Situated in the lovely Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo is home to more than 6,000 animals and over 900 species. Experience a true wildlife adventure as you check out the lions, Komodo dragons, flamingos, tigers, gorillas, bears, and bats, just to name a few! There is a wonderful Natural Encounter area where you can get up close and personal with otters and meerkats; and be sure to take a spin on the Wildlife Carousel, featuring hand-carved and decorated animals that showcase many endangered species of the world. If watching the animals eat makes you hungry yourself, there are two outdoor concession stands and one indoor dining area. Get ready to spend a day with the animals as you learn more about the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

On most battlegrounds you would not find a battleship, but San Jacinto State Historical Park is a definite exception to the rule. This majestic ship is berthed on the Houston Ship Channel at the edge of the park. She is the only survivor of the World War I dreadnoughts and also served as a flagship for the World War II D-Day invasion in 1944. President Eisenhower, a native Texan, presided over the dedication ceremony when the ship was retired, and the U.S. Navy has proudly preserved and restored her in the years since. Visitors are welcome to explore most parts of the ship. Tours are available, and many areas display items and memorabilia from ship life.

Those who appreciate the European decorative arts will eventually find their way to this mansion in the River Oaks district. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and tall trees on five acres (2.02 hectares), the mansion is elegantly furnished in the Italian, English and Roman styles. Although the estate is now part of the Museum of Fine Arts, it was originally owned by the local Masterson family who hired architect John F. Staub in the 1950s to design a modern version of an Italian country estate. The exhibits at this museum range from 17th and mid-19th Century artifacts that were originally part of the Mastersons' enviable art collection. Admittance is by reservation only. Call to schedule a guided, peaceful tour through a contemporary palace.

Spread over 1,620 acres (655 hectares) in Houston, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is one of the main centers for spaceflight in the United States. Home to NASA's Astronaut Corps, it functioned as Mission Control during the Gemini and Apollo space shuttle programs. It was also the primary flight control center for all following manned space missions, including Apollo 11 which put the first man on the moon. The Lunar Receiving Center at JSC is where they store most of the samples from moon missions and astronaut training takes place at JSC as well. At the forefront of technological and space discovery, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center continues to push the boundaries of scientific achievement, as it has for over half a century.

Bayou Bend is the former home of Ima Hogg, a famous philanthropist. Visitors can wander through 14 acres of woodlands and formal gardens, or check out the house that contains 4,800 various works of art. This art represents the American style from colonial to mid-19th Century. The house is a lovely lifestyle museum of that century. Please take note that children under ten years of age can wander the gardens but are not allowed in the house.

The revival of this park area where the Allen brothers arrived over 150 years ago to start a new business venture has been exciting and stimulating for the downtown area. Surrounded by four primary streets (Travis, Milam, Congress and Preston), the area features restored historical buildings, fine restaurants, entertainment and nightclubs all within walking distance of each other. Lovely painted benches, artifacts and pictures line the walkways, combining the old with the new for all to enjoy. Different "points of view" can be discussed freely in a friendly atmosphere under the aptly named sculpture by James Surls.

San Jacinto State Historical Park is the battleground where Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836. After the Alamo, General Santa Anna's large force chased Sam Houston's small army across Texas and was soundly defeated at this site. The centerpiece of the historic site is a majestic limestone and concrete obelisk known as the San Jacinto Monument that rises up to 570 feet (167.64 meters) above the coastal flatlands to pay tribute to the historical event. At the base of the monument you will find the acclaimed Museum of Texas History and the Jesse H. Jones Theater that screens the 35-minute movie named 'Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto' every day. The Battleship Texas is berthed in the ship channel at the edge of the park.

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