7 Things to Do in Houston
America's fourth largest city offers an endless array of activities.
One thing Houstonians can never complain of is boredom. From beach-bumming to nature- loving, Houston's attractions and activities are as diverse (and plentiful) as its residents.
1. Cheer On the Astros at Minute Maid Park
Take the family out to the ballgame. Natural grass, a 242-foot-tall retractable roof (no more rain delays), a historic train station as part of its architecture and a downtown location make this one of the coolest places to experience America's pastime. Be sure to check the team website for discounted tickets and special events.
2. Enjoy a Performance at Miller Outdoor Theatre
Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park (also home to the Houston Zoo) has been hosting outdoor theatrical and musical performances for more nearly a century. The amphitheater stages performances eight months out of the year – including hosting the Houston Shakespeare Festival, the Houston Symphony, ballet and jazz performances as well as a series of children's programs on Saturdays. But the theater's most exciting feature is that admission is always free.
3. Stop and Smell the Roses at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
Looking for a quick escape? Head to the city's arboretum and nature center for some quiet time with Mother Nature. The 155-acre sanctuary features five miles of paved walking trails, ponds and other wetlands. The center also offers educational classes for kids and adults, such as a nature-inspired art class, summer day camps and the family-friendly Arboretum at Night nocturnal hikes.
4. Meet Up with Dog Owners at Historic Market Square Park
Once considered the heart of downtown, historic Market Square Park is on track to reclaim that designation. With more residents and businesses moving downtown, Market Square has become a true neighborhood park where downtown office workers can grab lunch on Niko Niko's outdoor patio and residents can let their dogs run loose in one of two dog runs. Named for Houston native and dog lover Holly Anawaty, the dog park features water play areas, plenty of benches for owners and even doggy drinking fountains.
5. Have a Girl's Night Out at Bayou Pl
Grab your gal pals and head downtown to Bayou Place entertainment district. Start with an Italian feast at the family owned Little Napoli, then head to the Bayou Music Center for a show. The center hosts more than 100 events each year, from comedy shows to rock concerts. Or take in an independent or foreign film at the new Sundance Cinemas. End the evening with a nightcap at Lucie's Liquors whiskey bar.
6. Spend a Relaxing Day at Lake Houston
Located about 30 minutes north of downtown, Lake Houston is the favorite choice for fishing for bass and bluegill, boating, swimming or kayaking along the lake's tree-lined creeks and tributaries. On shore, the 4,700-acre Lake Houston Wilderness Park features 20 miles of hike and bike trails and 13 miles of equestrian trails. Need more than a day? The park offers overnight camping and cabins for rent.
7. Shop 'til You Drop at The Galleria or The Village
The Galleria is the reigning retail champ in Houston. Anchored by upscale chains, such as Foley's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom's and Saks Fifth Avenue, the mall also boasts an impressive roster of high-end shops like Gucci, Fendi, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Across town at Rice Village – one of the city's oldest shopping districts – shoppers can choose from a mix of locally owned shops and boutiques, such as Elaine Turner and Raspberry Rose, and national chains like Banana Republic and White House Black Market.