Houston is one of the main cultural and tourist centers in the US, which has a lot places to visit. The city has the largest number of theaters. There are a lot of architectural structures and attractions.Let’s examine the architecture of Houston with a bird’s-eye view! Reliant Astrodome, the Museum of Natural Sciences, Ji Pi Morgan Chase Tower, St Paul’s Church, Wortham Theatre.
The Houston museum attracts millions of people each year. The popularity of the museums is competing with the fame of the Zoo known for its beauty and unique floral collections of the city’s parks.
One of Houston’s most interesting attractions, which attracts 1.8 million visitors each year, is the largest rodeo in the world, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, or simply RodeoHouston. The event takes place at the complex Relliant Park, the stadium Reliant Stadium (the same place where the team Houston Texans National Football League plays). It should be noted that the duration of the event of 20 days is not just a kind of sport, but also the largest cultural event in the American south.
- Place to visit number 1: The Houston Museum of Natural Science
- Place to visit number 2: Houston Zoo
- Place to visit number 3: Kemah Boardwalk
- Place to visit number 4: Miller Outdoor Theatre
- Place to visit number 5: NASA -National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Place to visit number 6: Museum of Fine Arts Museum Houston (MFAH)
- Place to visit number 7: Bayou Bend
- Place to visit number 8: The Holocaust Museum
- Place to visit number 9: Children’s Museum
- Place to visit number 10: Bank of America Center
The Houston Museum of Natural Science, as it is officially called, is located in the northern part of the huge park, in the region, which is home to many museums and called Museum District. The Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909, it is more than hundred years old. The museum complex consists of several buildings. In the main building, you can see nature of the various natural zones and continents as well as objects of long-extinct creatures, located on four floors of the building. There is a large collection of minerals and paleontological exhibits.
The museum hosts:
- the planetarium (the Burke Baker Planetarium),
- the beautiful theater Imagen (the Wortham IMAX Theater) system, where you can watch films on wildlife, natural phenomena, volcanic eruptions, etc.
- The most surprising and original at the Museum – Cockrell Butterfly Center opened in 1994. It is located in a three-storey circular building made of glass, which the special conditions of tropical rainforest were created and live butterflies of different colors and sizes are flying.
Another wonderful exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science – the Foucault pendulum, which first was exhibited at the World Fair in Paris 1851. It is named after its inventor French physicist and demonstrates the rotation of the Earth. Older generation may remember that a pendulum could be found in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in Leningrad.
In general, it is not enough to visit the museum just once. To explore all exhibits of the museum it is necessary to go there several times, or at least stay there for the whole day.
Interesting: The museum is one of the most popular museums in the United States. It is annually visited by more than 2 million people.
Houston Zoo is considered to be one of the oldest and largest in the United States! It is already 110 years old! At the beginning of 1900 in the Sam Houston Park, there was a small private zoo established, which was home for:
- Mexican eagles,
- black bears,
- prairie dogs,
- capuchin monkey,
In 1920 the federal government presented bison to the zoo. In 1921, due to the increase of the collection of animals the city municipality purchased the land in Hermann Park, put the fence and built premises. The first curator of the collection of animals, and then the director of the zoo was Hans Nagel. By 1925, the zoo had already more than 400 different animals, including Asian elephants and sea lions, and a special pool built for them.
Today the zoo covers an area of 55 acres – 22 hectares and contains more than 6,000 animals belonging to over 900 species. Each year, the Houston Zoo is visited by 1600 thousand people. For large animals, a special house was constructed: lions’ house, a house for big cats, separately for the bears, for a variety of reptiles, huge enclosures for giraffes, elephants, etc. Many birds of all kinds and aquatic, and terrestrial. Especially beautiful pink flamingos are! How much joy children and adults have visiting the “children’s home”, where young animals live.
There are exhibitions held there as well as various thematic tours and lessons of nature for schoolchildren. Many pavilions are equipped with the huge TVs where you can see animals in their natural environment, or to see how workers are taking care of zoo animals.
Interesting: At the zoo there are several souvenirs shops and several cafes, where you can discuss your impressions after the interesting walk in the zoo.
Although Houston is a very big city, there are no continuously operating amusement parks as there are only small mobile amusement parks, which appear in one or the other place. But there is a town of Kim – Kemah, where year-round holiday is always fun:
- here you can listen to the music,
- enjoy a variety of attractions,
- observe fish in the Marine Aquarium,
- go to cafes and beautiful restaurants,
- and you can even see a ship with scarlet sails!
The full name of this small town – Kemah Boardwalk. It is located exactly halfway between Houston and Galveston, (about 40 miles or 30 minutes), and a two-minute drive from the NASA – Houston Space Center, on the Bay of Galveston, which is a part of the Gulf of Mexico. Kim – Kemah in translation from the Indian is – “the wind in my face.” Thanks to the Gulf there are constantly blowing breezes, and even in the hot summer time in Houston it is not so hot. On Saturdays and Sundays, during holidays, a lot of people visit this place. There is a huge yacht club in Houston, which is the third largest in the United States according to the number of boats.
There are also small fishing boats – on the other side of the canal, opposite the amusement park. There is a saltwater aquarium. In the area between the hotel and a large complex with cafes and restaurants there are nice fountains, firecrackers, kids have fun jumping under water jets. Nearby there is a stage, with various musicians playing jazz, rock, pop music sound. Each person will find something to his taste as there are all sorts of attractions, such as carousels, roller coasters, etc. You can ride boats and small ships. Several restaurants, cafés and pub, shops with souvenirs supplement in the city full of things for fun. There is no better place than this one if you come with your children. The whole family will be able to have a great rest.
Interesting: Along the Gulf there has been a wooden quay built. There are rails of miniature railway, in which wagons you can see not only children but also adults.
Miller Outdoor Theater is a huge structure such as a summer stage, but with a large and well-equipped stage. It has existed for more than 50 years. From late March to mid-November there are:
- the various theater performances,
- circus and children’s performances,
The most important thing is the entrance is completely free. A large amphitheater can accommodate several thousand spectators, and if someone thinks that it is not enough space, then you can sit on a hill adjacent to the amphitheater. Many people come to the concerts with their folding chairs, or simply sit on the grass, audibility is great. The theater is located in the city park Hermann Park, between the Museum of Nature and the zoo.
There are performances of Opera House Houston Ballet Theatre, Houston Symphony Orchestra, touring groups from Europe, Asia, China, etc. Concerts and performances for adults are every Saturday and Sunday night, and for children there are on Sunday afternoons, and sometimes in the middle of the week, if some special event is there.
Interesting: Programs from the event list can be taken for free. If you come to Houston and have enough time for sightseeing, it is strongly recommended to visit this unique theater!
Lyndon Johnson NASA occupies a large area in the southwestern part of Houston, close to the Gulf of Mexico, in a beautiful green area of Clear Lake. This paramilitary organization was formed in July 1958, its main purpose:
- to develop and implement programs of space exploration,
- to implement flights to the studied objects in space,
- to process the results.
Only a small part of its territory is a museum, and in fact NASA – a going concern, but visitors are welcomed there all the days of the week. Tickets at the entrance are from $ 18. At the entrance the check is less strict than at airports but still serious. Immediately you get into the museum and learning center, which presents models of spacecraft, various computer simulations, you can try to “make” virtual flight and landing on other planets, using a special device to measure your weight and its strength on all the planets of the solar system. And yet there is a cinema “Omnimaks”, where every hour there are different movies about space with no need to buy a separate ticket.
Tour around the town NASA is held on small road trains consisting of 4 cars, where 100 people can be accomodated. There are two routes – one with a visit to the shops, where you can through the glass wall see how the creators of space engines work and see all the stages of spacecraft and carrier, and the second route goes through Mission Control Center. If you have time, you can drive along both routes, of course, for an additional fee.
At NASA there is a small memorial park, where the trees were planted in memory of the victims of American astronauts to the:
- Apollo-1 ship,
There are the housing for the astronauts living in quarantine before space flight, medical center and a plenty of some academic buildings. And there is even a farm of cattle.
The biggest impression leaves a huge hangar with a spaceship-type «Apollo», which is planned to be sent in the next mission to the moon. In the 70s of the twentieth century, Americans flied to the Moon seven times. But the moon program was shut down unexpectedly, the ship remained in the NASA hangar. Now visitors can get an idea of the true size of each stage of the launch vehicle, the module to operate on the Moon and lander.
Interesting: The entire length of the ship Apollo is more than 100 meters.
MFAH is among the top five US museums. And this is the biggest and oldest museum located in the southern part of the United States. It was founded in 1900. Collections of the Museum are rich and varied: ancient Egyptian and ancient exhibits are side by side with a beautiful collection of Italian and German paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance. There is a significant collection of American art, especially the decorative section. Here you can see the work of Italian, Dutch and German paintings XIV-XVI centuries, which came to the museum from a private collection PS Strauss.
Among them there are are the portraits of:
- Hans Memling,
- Sebastiano del Piombo,
- Bartolommeo Veneto.
Museum for many years maintained close cultural ties with the Russian Museum of Fine Arts of Pushkin and practices an exchange of exhibitions. There are such famous paintings as Claude Monet’s “Boulevard des Capuchins in Paris” and “White Lilies”, “Portrait of Dr. Rey’s” Van Gogh, “Harlequin and his girlfriend” – Pablo Picasso, several paintings by Matisse and Gauguin. Last year, the Museum exhibited a large exhibition of the excavations of Pompeii (Italy). Shows are constantly updated, now you can see the original modern glassware, collection of works by Latin American artists, etc. At the museum there is a cinema IMAX system, where you can watch films on art.
Interesting: The museum also includes a small sculpture park -Cullen Sculpture Garden.
Bayou Band or “Miss Hogg’s Park” is an area of peace and antiquities in the middle of a large modern city. At the beginning of the last century, Ima Hogg bought a plot of land on a bend of the river. Her family was very respected in Texas and a rich one, thanks to the discovery of oil on their plantations. Ima planted beautiful parks there. These gardens are considered the most elegant in Houston.
Ima lived till the age of 93, she has never been married and had no children. Both the park and the house were transferred to the Museum of Fine Arts.
The house hosts:
- a collection of early American arts and crafts,
- a collection of paintings from 1620 by Primo 1876.
Unfortunately, the house cannot be photographed. Park consists of several gardens. It is surprisingly quiet and cozy place, where you forget about the large city around you.
Interesting: In the garden there are sometimes INRA musical groups. Bayou Bend is a great place to rest with the whole family.
The Holocaust Museum tells the story of the mass extermination of Jews by the Nazis in Europe. The museum is located in the Museum District. It is the fourth largest museum of Holocaust in the United States. Museum sets the task – to collect and disseminate knowledge about the unprecedented tragedy of the Jewish people during the Second World War, to preserve the memory of those who suffered, help to ensure that its visitors thought about moral issues and of their civil responsibilities. Museum reminds us that such a risk is relevant today. This is a lesson that humanity must strive to live together in peace and harmony.
Holocaust Museum was opened in 1996, when the architect Mark Mucasey added a housing to the former building of the hospital of the 1960s, consisting of a glass entrance group, a triangular stone “hill”, as it is lifted from the ground and a big black cylinder, symbolizing German oven.
Its interior – with a dramatic change of lit and dark rooms and exhibits, going down on steel cables with black ceiling – can be called a forerunner of the aggressive architecture for which the main thing is do not demonstrate a particular subject or a historical document, and make the visitor feel.
Interesting: The entrance is free. The museum has the children’s education center.
The Museum District of Houston includes the famous museum for children, which is located in Houston, Texas. The museum is visited annually by more than 750 000 people. There are 14 galleries of exhibits and innovative programs for children from birth to 12 years. The museum is divided into thematic sections with the most interesting among them: the “Cyber Chase”, “The Congress of inventions”, “Factory of materials”, and “Kidtropolis, USA.”
August 27, 2007 the construction of a new wing of the museum began, which would include seven new galleries. Cost of financing amounted over 35.5 million dollars. The main purpose of this non-profit museum is to provide children with the best learning opportunities.
If you travel with your kids, then this place should be a must-see sight in your tourist’s list. Kids and their parents have a rest and get some new knowledge and experience here. Visiting the Children’s Museum of Houston is an opportunity to combine pleasant and useful pastime.
As for the awards the museum was rated:
- “America’s No. 1 Children’s Museum.”
- “Best Museum in Houston 2009 & 2010.”
- “Best Museum 2010.”
Interesting: According to the Forbes magazine, the museum is a top children’s museum.
Bank of America Center is a great skyscraper, located in Houston. Its construction started in 1980 and lasted about three years. The project structures were created by the famous architect Philip Johnson and his partner John Bourget. Bank of America Center resembles a Gothic Dutch houses in the Netherlands.
Some facts about the skyscraper:
- It has 56 floors,
- its height is 240 meters,
- and the total area – 116 000 square meters
Special attention deserves the tower structure – it resembles a four nested trapezoidal pyramid. The owners of the skyscraper are General Electric, Pension Trust affiliate and M-M Properties. It is located in the attached three-storey building. Also in the building there is a beautiful art gallery.
Bank of America Center has underground floor, with a parking lot.
Interesting: In July 2009, the construction was affected by the tropical storm “Allison”, with the result that it had flooded the lower floors and the nearby garages. Almost immediately the restoration work began with about 120 000 US dollars being allocated.