12 Reasons to Visit Houston, Texas (& Surrounding Areas)

Updated: Jun 17




I'm always telling people to visit Houston and I'm usually surprised at the responses I get. I hear "what even is there to do in Houston?" "Why should I go to Houston?" "Houston is too hot." Now, I will admit that I'm (slightly) biased, but Houston is great and there are so many reasons to visit. And when we say Houston, we really mean the city itself and surrounding areas. Here are 12 reasons you should visit Houston!


1. Food


Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, so it's not surprising that there are so many amazing types of food to try here!


Let's start with the obvious: BBQ. Obviously you can find great BBQ, after all, this is Texas. There are so many places to choose from, but one of my favorites is The Pit Room.


Next up on the menu, we have some soul food. My *favorite* soul food restaurant is Mama Frances Soul Kitchen. Fried chicken. Mac and cheese. Cornbread. Corn. Rice. Banana Pudding. All homemade. 'Nuff said!


How about some seafood? Goode Company Seafood is the way to go if you're in Houston. If you're wanting to hang out by the beach after you enjoy your meal, head to BLVD Seafood in Galveston.


Craving Mexican food? Houston has some of the best Mexican food in Texas (and trust me, I've tried a LOT of Mexican food). Hugo's is the place to go if you're looking for a bit classier Mexican food. Would rather go somewhere that has an array of options? El Tiempo Cantina is the place for you!


Just want a good, quick burger? Beck's Prime has fresh, delicious burgers, fries, and chicken sandwiches. You can't leave without getting a milkshake!


That's not the end of our food tour! Here are a few more highlights:

Turkish food? Istanbul Grill

Ethiopian food? Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

Donuts? Shipley Do-nuts (some even have beignets!)

Chinese food? Yao Restaurant & Bar

Mediterranean? Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine or Fadi's Meyerland Mediterranean Grill

Crepes? Sweet Paris Creperie

Cajun? The Gumbo Diner

Pastries? Common Bond Bistro & Bakery

New York-style deli? Katz's Deli & Bar or Kenny & Ziggy's


I could continue talking about all the other types of food Houston has to offer, like Caribbean, Italian, British, but I think you've got the point now 😉




2. History


Houston and Galveston both have really long histories, so here's a brief summary mainly focusing on Houston. It all goes back to 1836, when 2 New Yorkers bought land in present day Htown. From 1837 to 1839, Houston was capital of the Republic of Texas. The city became a major cotton-shipping port and had 12 railways by 1891. Once the prospering neighboring city, Galveston, was hit by a hurricane in 1900, Houston became the leading port in Texas. Oil was discovered in the area in 1901, the Houston Ship Channel was completed in 1914, and refineries were established along the ship channel in the 1920s and 1930s. Petrochemical industries and shipbuilding were very important in Houston during and after World War II, and the city almost tripled when land was annexed in 1948. The city became a major energy hub in the 70s and remained that way until the mid-80s. It recovered in the 90s and has survived as a major energy hub, despite the collapse of Enron Corp. in 2001.

Houston is known for its flooding problem and has experienced serious floods since 1929. Of course, the city is also known for its experience with dangerous hurricanes and tropical storms.


With all this rich history, there's no doubt you can get your history fix when you visit Space City!

(Ps. visit this website to learn some really interesting, cool statistics about the Port of Houston)



3. NASA


“Houston, we {don’t} have a problem.” The Space Center (originally called Manned Spacecraft Center, but now known as Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center) opened on the outskirts of Houston in 1961. Visitors can enjoy Space Center Houston, a space museum at Johnson Space Center, where they’ll have the opportunity to see the astronaut training facility, space and astronaut-related exhibits, touch moon rocks, and see the mission control center. Isn't that awesome?! I encourage everyone to visit Space Center Houston, even if you're not into space stuff, as it is such a unique experience. I'm not much of a space person, but I enjoy Space Center Houston every time I go!



4. Breweries


There are so many different breweries in Bayou City! One of the most famous Houston breweries, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, is the oldest craft brewery in Texas (it was founded in 1994). They have seasonal and year round beers, and you can see how these are produced on their factory tour! After the tour, head to their beer garden and restaurant for a delicious meal! Another great brewery in Houston is Karbach Brewing Co., which also offers brewery tours and has a restaurant that serves pizza, burgers, tacos, salads, and more. Check out these (or any of the other breweries in H-town) if you're a beer lover or even if you're just interested in learning about the beer-making process.



5. Theatres


Houston is home to the second largest theatre district in the US, which spans 17 blocks and has 8 performing arts centers. The Hobby Center is a popular theatre that puts on Broadway shows like Fiddler on the Roof, Hamilton, My Fair Lady, Mean Girls, and Wicked. Alley Theatre is a smaller nonprofit theatre that produces up to 16 plays per year! Jones Hall, which was established in 1966, is home to the Society of Performing Arts and Houston Symphony. Houston Symphony puts on great concerts of different genres; they have concerts dedicated to classical music, movies, like Harry Potter and Star Wars, and bands/artists, like Pink Floyd, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston. There is also the Wortham Theater Center, which is home to Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet. The Houston Grand Opera is the only opera company to win a Tony, a Grammy award (they've won twice), and an Emmy award (they've won three). Houston Ballet has toured all over the world and puts on a beautiful production of the Nutcracker (there's even a Nutcracker Market every year with hundreds of merchants selling Christmas decor, gifts, clothes, jewelry, and more). No matter the time of year, there will always be a great show to see in Houston!



6. Museums


There are currently over 150 museums and cultural institutions in the Greater Houston area. One of my favorite museums is the Houston Museum of Natural Science! They have many different exhibits, a butterfly center, a planetarium, and more. Another great one is the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It was established in 1900 and it’s one of the largest art museums in the nation. They have some very beautiful pieces of art and exhibits, like “Norman Rockwell: American Freedom” and “Vincent van Gogh: His Life in Art”, have been displayed there!


Growing up, my favorite museum was the Children's Museum Houston. I highly recommend taking your kids to Children's Museum Houston! The museum is practically an 83,000 sq. ft. kid's paradise. It was actually rated the #1 children's museum in America!! The museum, which is a nonprofit, has 14 interactive exhibits and serves over a million people each year. (Note: the museum is designed for kids 12 and under... yes, my cousins and I, who were all older than 12, tried to go and couldn't get in 😅).


Holocaust Museum Houston is the fourth largest Holocaust museum in the US and it is fully bilingual (English and Spanish). The idea of the Holocaust Museum Houston came from a Holocaust survivor and Houston resident, Siegi Izakson. It was established to educate others about the Holocaust, preserve the memory of survivors, and share survivors' stories. In 2019, the museum reopened after a massive and expensive expansion that brought it to a total of 57,000 square feet. The museum has many different artifacts to look at and learn about, and there are some beautiful memorials dedicated to people who died in the Holocaust.


My favorite museum is the Houston Zoo (we're considering it a museum for the sake of this post... plus, it's in the museum district). Houston Zoo, which was established in 1922, is home to over 6,000 animals! Zoo admission and membership fees go toward donations to 49 different wildlife conservation projects, which is amazing. Also, Houston Zoo is the second most visited zoo in the US, welcoming over 2 million visitors every year. You can see animals like anteaters, red pandas, and Chilean flamingos, and there are even encounter opportunities with sloths, sea lions, and several other animals! Trust me, Houston Zoo is fun for people of all ages!




7. Cheap


The H may not be cheap compared to other places in Texas and smaller cities around the nation, but it is cheaper than other larger US cities, like NYC, LA, and Chicago. The average hotel room in Houston is $180/night (Chicago average= $215/night, NYC average= $250/night, LA average= $220/night). For food, the average cost for meals for one day in Houston is around $27 (Chicago average= $34/day, NYC average= $38/day, LA average= $35/day).


Note: These are simply averages!! This means you can find cheaper accommodations/food in any of these cities! Things just tend to be slightly cheaper in Houston.



8. Culture

H-town is currently known for being one of the most diverse cities in the nation (a few years ago it was the most diverse, since then it has fallen in its ranking... we won’t discuss that though 😅). Less than half of the residents are of European descent. Not only can you gather a sense of diversity through the food and architecture, but you can also find Houston's diverse nature in the events that take place around town and in the museums. There is a Palestinian Festival, Turkish Festival, Latin Festival, Japanese Festival, Creole Festival, Greek Festival, and more! There is also the Czech Center Museum Houston, the Asia Society Texas Center, and a few other cultural museums. Plus, Houston has cowboy culture! The best place to experience Houston's cowboy culture is Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. If you want to experience a different culture (or multiple different cultures) while staying in the US, definitely check out Houston!



9. Shop


I’m not much of a shopper (unless we’re shopping for food 😁), but HTX does have some great shopping areas. First, there’s The Galleria, which is Texas’ largest shopping center (it is two million sq ft)! It’s home to over 400 stores and restaurants, two hotels, and an ice rink. With a mix of department stores, designer stores, and boutiques, The Galleria receives over 30 million visitors every year. Sometimes you can even spot someone famous! Another shopping center that is closer to downtown is Rice Village. It’s an outdoor shopping center with a mix of typical, nationally known stores, unique boutiques, and great restaurants! Overall, there are a lot of shopping options in Houston, but I believe The Galleria is the most impressive.



10. Sports


Six different professional sports teams call Clutch City home, the Rockets, Texans, Dynamo, Dash, Astros, and Sabercats. The Houston Rockets were National Champions in 1994 and 1995, the Dynamo won the MLS Cup in 2006, and the Astros won the World Series in 2017 (no comments from the peanut gallery, please). Houstonians are very serious when it comes to professional sports, so going to games is always a blast!




11. Weather


Yes, Houston is known for being really hot and humid. Summers can be pretty brutal and honestly, we kind of rely on air conditioning during the hotter months. I'm not necessarily talking about summers though (unless you love heat and humidity). I'm talking about winters! Houston's winters aren't that cold, which means you can usually still enjoy the pool and/or beach in the fall and spring, and even some days during the winter! The same cannot be said for a lot of other places around the US!



12. Nature


Houston and surrounding areas have everything from lakes, marshes, and forests to city to beaches. There are several parks that are all generally in the center of the city, like Buffalo Bayou Park, Discovery Green, and Hermann Park. An hour drive outside downtown, there is also a park called, Brazos Bend State Park, where you can see alligators in their natural, marshy habitat. Go a bit south of Houston and you'll hit Galveston, where you can spend some time on a beach! You could potentially see the beach, city, marshes (and more..? I guess if you don't hit traffic) all in a day!




A few stats for you about Houston:


It’s home to 5 universities, one of which is ranked #17 in the nation.

The Texas Medical Center, located in Houston, is the world’s largest medical complex.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the world.



I hope I've convinced you to visit Houston now! If you're still not convinced, please feel free to contact me and we can discuss it ;)




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