Cool things To Do In Houston: 10 of H-Town’s Hidden Gems

Houston, Texas is best known for its vibrant cultural scene, which encompasses a wide array of attractions and activities. The city is renowned for its rich history, world-class culture exhibits, bustling nightlife, museums, and a notably thriving culinary landscape that reflects its diverse cultural heritage. Additionally, Houston is celebrated for its dynamic performing arts scene, encompassing everything from graffiti and sculptures to theater and live music. 

When it comes to exploring the city’s attractions and finding cool things to do in Houston, the most ideal seasons in Houston are fall and spring. During these periods, the weather is generally mild, making it perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Fall brings cooler temperatures and lower humidity, providing an excellent opportunity to visit outdoor spaces such as Buffalo Bayou and Patterson Park. Spring, on the other hand, is characterized by lush greenery, making it an ideal time to explore the city’s cultural and historical landmarks, as well as to enjoy outdoor festivals and events. These seasons offer the best conditions for visitors to experience the diverse range of activities that Houston has to offer.

10 Cool Things to Do in Houston

  1. Patterson Park
  2. Numbers Night Club
  3. The Orange Show 
  4. Buffalo Bayou 
  5. Houston Museum of Natural Science 
  6. Art Car Museum 
  7. Eclectic Menagerie Park
  8. IPIC Houston
  9. Houston Graffiti Park
  10. Grab some tacos

1. Patterson Park

Address: 2205 Patterson St, Houston, TX 77007

Phone Number: (832) 804-6912

Take outdoor seating to a new level at Patterson Park, Houston’s 9,000 square foot treehouse patio bar. This bar features multiple floors that are surrounded by towering mature oak trees, complete with a rooftop level that reveals the iconic Houston skyline. 

With a happy hour lasting until 7 pm Monday through Thursday and until 9 pm on Fridays, visitors will be sure to catch a good deal on the variety of cocktails that the bar offers that are both themed and unique. Perhaps try a $5 western vodka soda, or if you’re feeling bold, sip on a Thai Chili Margarita while watching the sun set over the gorgeous skyline.

Patterson Park

2. Numbers Night Club

Address: 300 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006

Phone Number: (713) 521-1121

Looking for some nostalgia? Head over to Numbers Nightclub on Westheimer. Since 1978, Numbers Nightclub has been the spot for alternative and underground nightlife. It has origins in being an safe space for the LGBT community in the 1980s during Houston’s gay rights movement, and this is reflected in the club’s mission to remain an all-accepting stomping ground for alternative Houstonians. 

The venue has once hosted performances from 80’s alternative music legends, such as Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Cure, and Grace Jones. Thus, it’s no surprise that every Friday night, Numbers hosts a “Classic Numbers” 80’s night as an homage to the venue’s history and connection to the 80’s New Wave music movement. 

Numbers Night Club

3. The Orange Show

Address: 2401 Munger St, Houston, TX 77023

Phone Number: (713) 926-6368

If you’re in the mood for something creative and eclectic, head to the Orange Show near Smither Park on Houston’s Eastside. Recognized in the National Register of Historic Places, oranges are the overarching theme for this unconventional art museum, honoring and celebrating the creator and postman Jeff McKissack’s favorite fruit. The maze-like establishment boasts a visual cacophony of multi-medium art pieces and vast sculptures, complete with a pond, an oasis, and more equally eclectic features.

 For patrons of the arts and lovers of all things wacky, The Orange Show is truly a sight to behold. After visiting, hop on over to Smither Park to even see more sculptures created by local Houston artists, featuring colorful and intricate mosaic-covered structures. 

The Orange Show

4. Buffalo Bayou

Address: 105-B Sabine St, Houston, TX 77007

Phone Number: (713) 752-0314

Buffalo Bayou, a 52 mile slow-moving waterway that flows throughout Harris County, offers a myriad of fun experiences for tourists and locals to enjoy. From sublime scenery to fine dining, visitors can thoroughly explore the Bayou through multiple different avenues. 

A must-see attraction is the historic underground cistern. This spectacular landmark was formerly a drinking water reservoir in 1926, but after an irreparable leak, it was shut down and forgotten about for nearly a century. During the developments of Buffalo Bayou Park, it was rediscovered and rightfully recognized as an architectural relic, being opened to the public for tours and events. For history and architecture buffs, the cistern offers an interesting way to explore the Bayou city’s history. 

Afterwards, stop by Flora Mexican Kitchen to dine in chandelier-lit elegance while overlooking the Bayou and Lost Lake. Enjoy contemporary Tex-Mex fare in an elevated glass treehouse type of setting while basking in the views of the lush bayou. 

Buffalo Bayou

5. Houston Museum of Natural Science

Address: 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030

Phone Number: (713) 639-4629

The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers a myriad of fun activities for science buffs of many kinds. To any geoscience and gemology lovers, HMNS offers the Cullen Hall of Natural Minerals exhibition, which boasts a variety of over 450 mineral specimens. Marvel at the natural wonders of the earth and geology, from rare, coveted jewelry to 2,000 pound amethyst geodes. The exhibit tells a story of Earth’s time, history, and artistry. 

Afterwards, explore mesmerizing insects and arthropods in their own habitat at the Cockrell Butterfly Center. Housed in a three-story glass structure with a 50-foot waterfall, the center’s lush rainforest environment provides a naturalistic habitat for over 1,500 butterflies from around the globe. Visitors are immediately enveloped in the rainforest-like sanctuary, creating an experience that is as immersive as it is educational.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

6. The Art Car Museum

Address: 140 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007

Phone Number: (713) 861-5526

The Art Car Museum, colloquially referred to as the “Garage Mahal”, is a unique museum that explores the aesthetic alteration of cars as a fundamental form of self expression and artistry. Since its establishment in February 1998, the museum has served as a vibrant celebration of the postmodern age of car culture, where individuals have transformed their vehicles into unique, artistic expressions. 

Visitors can expect to see a variety of classic cars, lowriders, and intricately painted landscapes that come alive on the bodies of the bespoke, show stopping rides. Established by artists Ann Harithas and James Harithas, the museum is committed to raising awareness of the political and personal aspects of the art car movement, positioning it as an essential destination for art buffs and those in search of a truly unique cultural experience.

The Art Car Museum

7. Eclectic Menagerie Park

Address: 2838 W Bellfort St, Houston, TX 77051 

Phone Number: (715) 598-9577

Prepare to be awed by the larger-than-life metal sculptures and structures that await you at Eclectic Menagerie Park, located just off highway 288 in Houston. As you step into this captivating outdoor space, the grassy landscape becomes a playground for the visitors’ imagination, with ginormous spiders, soaring planes, a monumentally huge armadillo, and an array of other abstract metal structures. The park’s unique ambiance and the sheer scale of the sculptures create an immersive experience that certainly lives up to its’ eclectic name.The park is a must-see destination for art enthusiasts and anyone seeking an unconventional and awesome outdoor art installation.

Many of the park’s sculptures are created by the talented artist Ron Lee. This open-air sculpture garden, spanning approximately one block wide by a half block deep, serves as a testament to Lee’s unique artistic vision and meticulous workmanship. The park’s offbeat charm and the larger-than-life nature of the sculptures make it a one-of-a-kind roadside attraction, offering a truly unique and immersive experience for art aficionados and curious travelers alike. Whether you’re drawn to the whimsical world of oversized creatures or the abstract allure of metal art, a visit to this extraordinary park promises to leave an impression, inviting you to explore the intersection of art and imagination.

Eclectic Menagerie Park

8. IPIC Houston

Address: 4444 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 770027

Phone Number: (832) 709-2146

Head over to the IPIC Houston for an upscale movie experience that will be sure to impress on date night. With premium reclining seats, waiter service, gourmet food, and handcrafted cocktails, the IPIC is more than your typical movie theater. While slightly pricier than a typical movie theater, premium pod seating includes amenities that elevate the viewing experience, like cozy blankets.
Additionally, the IPIC offers an exclusive lounge, The Tuck Room, which boasts signature cocktails and inspired sharing dishes in a jovial speakeasy atmosphere. The chef-driven menu features unique dishes like crab cake sandwiches, loaded fajita steak fries, and pear and prosciutto pizza.

IPIC Houston

9. Houston’s Iconic Graffiti Park

Address: 2102 Leeland St, Houston, TX 77003

Phone Number: N/A

Exploring Houston’s rich music culture at Houston’s famous Graffiti Park off Leeland and Emanuel. The entire block is covered in vibrant, colorful art and tags from a variety of graffiti artists. Many of the murals pay a touching, celebratory homage to the strong presence of Latino culture in the city, generating feelings of community and culture. Thus, the park has become a mecca for celebration and community gathering of all kinds, like quinceaneras, Dia de Los Muertos displays, and more.

The park hosts a variety of murals, including homages to Texas music legends like Paul Wall and Selena Quintanilla. Here, visitors can take plenty of instagram photos with eclectic characters, colorful portraits, marvelous lettering, and more. The best part? It is completely free, thus making one of the more affordable yet cool things to do in Houston.

Houston's Iconic Graffiti Park

10. Grab Some Tacos

Address: 909 Franklin St, Houston, TX 77002

Phone Number: (832) 735-8226

If you’re in Houston looking for some cheap, late-night eats, look no further than La Calle Tacos in downtown Houston. Located on Franklin street, this funky, colorful cantina offers a variety of authentic Mexican dishes like tacos, tortas, and tostadas at an affordable price. Inspired by the flavors of Mexico City street food, La Calle (aptly meaning “street” in Spanish) will be sure to take your tastebuds around the world.

In addition to its delectable tacos, La Calle Tacos also offers a selection of elotes, margaritas, and various other beverages. Whether you’re winding down after a day of exploring Houston’s attractions or capping off a night on the town, La Calle Tacos is the perfect spot for an authentic, quick, and flavorful bite, especially since it stays open until 2 am. For those seeking an even better deal, be sure to visit on Taco Tuesday to take advantage of the irresistible $1 taco deal. With its late hours and mouth watering offerings, La Calle Tacos is a must-visit for anyone in search of a satisfying and genuine Mexican street food experience.

Grab Some Tacos

Conclusion

Houston, Texas, emerges as a vibrant cultural hub with a rich tapestry of attractions that cater to a wide array of interests, from the unique ambiance of Patterson Park’s treehouse patio bar to the historical and artistic allure of The Orange Show and the eclectic charm of Eclectic Menagerie Park.

The city’s dynamic cultural scene is further enriched by its thriving culinary landscape, bustling nightlife, and a plethora of unique venues and events that reflect its diverse cultural heritage, making it an ideal destination for visitors seeking a blend of historical, artistic, and gastronomic experiences.

Whether exploring the underground cistern at Buffalo Bayou, marveling at the natural wonders at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, or enjoying the upscale movie experience at IPIC Houston, the city offers an array of hidden gems that promise an unforgettable exploration of H-Town’s vibrant culture and attractions.

Alana Anh

I am an aspiring journalist, researcher, and PR professional at the University of Texas at Austin. I am passionate about food, literature, culture, and music!