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.
Memorial Park is a popular Houston attraction complete with a beautiful three-mile playground. There are walking paths, picnic sites, baseball fields, pine trees, gardens and ponds. Appreciate nature's beauty and make the most of the sunny weather. The locals love to jog here, but you can also rent a bike and hit the trail. There is also a public golf course with a clubhouse and restaurant, a tennis club, and a workout facility nestled on the grounds.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Downtown Houston's tunnels comprise a multi million-dollar system that gives new meaning to the term "underground." Those who venture beneath the city will be delighted at what they find hidden there. Restaurants, gift shops, and more fun spots line the corridors. The temperature below is always pleasant and allows the busy people of downtown to navigate in comfort, regardless of the season. Major buildings that are connected by the tunnel system include One Allen Center, One Shell Plaza, Alley Theatre and Wortham Center. If you are not familiar with the layout, you might want to pick up a tunnel map, or take a guided tour offered by several tour operators.
Located inside the Christ Church Cathedral, Cloister Gallery is a true hidden gem. The gallery hosts exhibitions on monthly basis with an aim to promote as well as encourage local artists. Intricate oil paintings and watercolor art, in addition to photography occupy most of their exhibitions calendar. Cloister Gallery is also used as a venue for concerts and religious events.
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.
As one of America's oldest performing arts organizations, the orchestra consists of 97 world-renowned, full-time musicians. Each busy season is filled with more than 200 classical, pops, educational and family concerts at various venues around town. A variety of symphony broadcasts are available locally on KUHF 88.7 FM. Tickets can be purchased at the Houston Symphony Customer Service Center, at TicketMaster locally and online, and at special outlets around the city, including Foley's, Fiesta and Kroger.
Market Square Park is a brimming center located at Downtown Houston's Historic District. A prominent landmark, the park served as an open air local market. The park comprises a bow-shaped dog run, a brightly lit walkway path and plenty of open space to relax. Visit the Houston's Niko Niko's to delight yourself with the outdoor seating, a performance plaza, and a Greek and American favorites. Do visit the Lauren's Garden, a memorial built to commemorate Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas - a passenger on United Flight 93. Occasional live entertainment, events and community activities makes this place a vibrant gathering spot for locals.