The Menil Collection is one of Houston’s most prized art institutions – and admission is free. The art museum was founded on the idea that art should be accessible to all. The museum campus consists of several gallery buildings, a bookstore, a bistro, and a park. The main building houses an ever-changing lineup of art exhibitions spanning all mediums and eras. Other gallery buildings house permanent collections devoted to single artists as well as large year-long exhibitions. The sleek architecture of the complex is a marvel itself and was carefully considered to create the most immersive and enjoyable art experience possible.
Menil Collection, 1533 Sul Ross St, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 525 9400
Buffalo Bayou Park
Buffalo Bayou Park is a beautiful intersection of nature and city, and it recently received several upgrades. The 160-acre park stretches along Allen Parkway and features running and bike trails, performance spaces, a play area, and wonderful views of the bayou. Dog owners will discover one of the best dog parks in the city with separate large and small dog enclosures. The park includes Waugh Bridge were Houston’s famous Waugh Bridge Bat Colony takes flight every night. Recently added to the park are several art installments, which alone are worth a trip to see. Buffalo Bayou Park is a great spot to enjoy a warm afternoon.
Stages Repertory Theatre
Stages Repertory Theatre has been a part of Houston’s theatre community since 1978 and is known for producing innovative performances and boldly reimagining classics. The company began in a basement nearly four decades ago. Even though it has since found a new home, it has kept the same intimate atmosphere. The company produces plays and musicals year-round with a cast of professional actors, directors, and crew. As an added treat, they usually use a live band for musical performances. The Stages’ theater is small, so any seat in the house is a good spot to enjoy the show.
Houston Center for Photography
Houston Center for Photography is a small gallery featuring rotating exhibitions of contemporary photography. Exhibits feature the work of some of the most important local and international photographers of recent decades. The gallery is set up in one large room and usually takes about an hour to view. For photo enthusiasts, the center also has several vintage cameras and photography books on display. Admission to the gallery is free, so there’s no reason not to visit.
Houston Center for Photography, 1441 W Alabama St, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 529 4755
Space Montrose is a quirky shop with endless gift ideas. The store supports ‘Made in America’ items, and many are handcrafted by local artists and designers. Space Montrose sells an array of jewelry, accessories, artisanal soaps and lotions, stationery, cards, toys, t-shirts, and more. The shop has several Houston-themed items that make unique souvenirs. Patrons will also find screen prints by artists like Jermaine Rogers and Texas-based Graham Francoise. If you’re looking for something to remember your trip to Houston, then pick up a quality memento actually made in Houston at Space Montrose.
Space Montrose, 1706 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX, USA, +1 832 649 5743
The Rothko Chapel is an immersive experience comprised of several murals by artist Mark Rothko. The Rothko Chapel was commissioned by Dominique and John de Menil in the 1960s on what is now the Menil Collection complex. Rothko imagined the space as a spiritual experience where people of all faiths could come together to meditate, worship, and reflect in their own way. The building was designed by Rothko, Philip Johnson, Eugene Aubry, and Howard Barnstone. Inside, Rothko filled the space with 14 murals meant to give the viewer the power to find their own meaning in the pieces. The chapel attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year from around the world.
Rothko Chapel, 3900 Yupon St, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 524 9839
Cipher Escape Rooms
Cipher Escape Rooms is a game lover’s dream. Cipher is a 60-minute puzzle-cracking experience where players must break out of a locked room by solving a number of clues to complete tasks and get closer and closer to breaking the lock. The escape rooms are designed to be fully immersive and resemble heart-pounding scenarios like escaping a dungeon or a museum. Cipher is perfect for groups. Players must have four people to form a team, and admission for each player is $25. If you have a large group, head over on the weekend when admission is a flat rate of $250 for the whole team.
Cipher Escape Rooms, 1735 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 588 0306
The Printing Museum
In a day and age where electronic communication is king, The Printing Museum is a refreshing look into the long history of printing. The museum hosts a permanent collection of antique printing equipment, newspaper prints, and rare books from the past century. The Printing Museum also hosts rotating exhibitions of art prints and artifacts. In May 2016, The Printing Museum was damaged by a fire and is temporarily closed for repairs. They are accepting donations to help cover repairs, and they plan to reopen soon.
The Printing Museum, 1324 W Clay St, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 522 4652
Rudyard’s British Pub
Rudyard’s Pub is a neighborhood dive with cold beer, pub food, and plenty of hangout space – but that’s not why it made this list. Rudyard’s is a great pub, but it is also an entertainment destination for unique events you won’t find at the typical bar. In addition to live bands, Rudyard’s hosts several regular comedy and spoken word events. The Gulf Coast Reading Series, the monthly ‘Level Up’ stand-up event, Bootown’s Grown-up Storytime, and Rudyard’s own open mic night only make up a fraction of Rudyard’s great programming.
Rudyard’s Pub, 2010 Waugh Dr, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 522 4652
Art League Houston
Artists and art appreciators will find something to love at Art League Houston. ALH is known for creating several public art displays around the city. One of their most famous works is the Inversion House that once stood where Art League Houston is now located in Montrose. ALH has a main gallery with rotating exhibitions that are always free. ALH also holds more than 100 classes every year where artists and non-artists alike can pick up new skills in drawing, painting, jewelry making, mixed media, and more.
Art League Houston, 1953 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 523 9530