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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.
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.
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.
Houston will be forever grateful for George Hermann's generous gift of land in the early 1900s. The park spans over 445 acres (180 hectares) and is one of Houston's oldest public parks. People from all walks of life gather here for various events throughout the year. A monstrous statue of Sam Houston welcomes you to the park. Those seeking an educational outing for themselves or the kids will find many options inside the park. The Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, Burke Baker Planetarium and an IMAX theater are all popular attractions. Lighter family entertainment is available in the form of pedal boats, train rides and other activities.
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.
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.
With over five miles (8.04 kilometers) of winding nature trails and more than 150 acres (60.7 hectares) of woodlands, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is beautifully landscaped and covered with local native plants. Outdoor lovers certainly will not be disappointed, and indoor lovers will also marvel at Botanical Hall and the gift shop. A special feature for children is the Discovery Room with its 25-foot learning tree and pondering pond. Challenge young ones to spot the turtles and crawfish in the water. Classes are available for both adults and children.
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.
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.
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.