Eco-friendly travel guide to Houston advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Houston, Texas, United States of America.
- Air quality: 3.85 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 3.5 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 3.7 / 5
- Public transportation: 3.6 / 5
- Parks: 4 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 5 / 5
- Safety: 3.8 / 5
- Accommodation: US$10 - $850
- Budget per day: US$75 - $1,000
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Houston is one of the most misunderstood cities in the United States of America and a lot of visitors are still struggling to connect with its uniqueness. Dubbed one of the “12 Top Destinations of 2017” by Forbes Travel Guide’s, Houston is gradually gaining more attention, and even though most travelers in this city often come for business, Houston keeps attracting hordes of travelers every year. Houston is Texas’ largest city and it ranks amidst a few other Texan cities as a top Texas tourist spot. While it's known for great food, immense culture, and beautiful architecture, it's also renowned to have some of the most popular attractions in Texas.
Offering plenty of things to do with an abundance of entertaining festivals and pleasant weather pretty much year-round, this huge sprawling city of more than 2 million has something for everyone, and while the comprehensive Museum of Natural Science of a hotspot for science nerds, the Center Houston is a place to learn all about NASA's program at Space, especially for those with a keen interest in space. You can head to the Galleria if you're in the mood for shopping and you can also find it interesting to know that that the city's downtown is teeming with Tex-Mex restaurants, a burgeoning art scene, eclectic galleries, and grassy parks. However, as you prepare to enjoy all what the city has in stock for you, do your best in traveling responsibly, and you can make use of these few tips;
- Prepare against Houston's humidity, heat, and unpredictable weather. It's best advised to visit Houston during mid-February to April if you want to avoid its sweltering heat waves. As you make your plans to visit the city, don't forget to pack a light jacket along with plenty of tank tops and you shouldn't skimp on sunscreen as well. In this beautiful city, it's possible for you to experience all four seasons in one day unpredictably, and understanding that this city's weather can be unpredictable, it's important that you put this into cognizance if you want to enjoy moving around without a glitch. Most of the year, Houston's weather is hot and humid, and it's important you take note of this.
- Taste the Tex-Mex! Texas doesn't only revolve around free chips and salsa, and as a matter of fact, this is just the tip. While chile con carne, queso, and the original steak fajitas are favorites in this city, you'll surely be doing a great good in appreciating the city's cuisine when you eat this Mexican-inspired, Texas-infused cuisine, and it would be pretty nice if you don't miss out on it before you leave.
- Hospitality is common, expect it. While you go around this city, be expectant of the famous Southern charm and do well to avoid awkwardness from kind strangers. Good manners are very valued in the south, and this is why after a sneeze, a habitual response like saying ‘bless you’ is the norm. The usage of ‘yes sirs’ and ‘no ma’ams’ is also pretty common and you should try to follow suit as well.
- Be mindful of the Southern drawl. Most of the locals in this city have the tendency of stretching the ending of most words and while speaking with a local in this city, you'll have to cope with adjusting to this, and your patience and comprehension is likely to be tested. Speech in the South is a lot slower so, be aware of that if you're a fast talker.
- Houston’s got a cool factor. Houston’s got plenty of options to accommodate any tastes. From cruising the swanky bars that line downtown’s streets to hanging with hipsters in the Heights, you'll be able to fit in and flourish no matter what your preference is because the vastness of Houston allows room for everyone. Houston offers a mix of celebrity and cowboy spottings and it's nicer if you keep an open mind in this city because Houston culture can be summed up as the perfect mix of country and cool.
- Embrace all cultures. Houston represents more cultures and nations than anywhere else in the United States of America and this is why it's a hub for diversity in the United States. In the course of you moving around the city, you'll definitely come across a host of people from different parts of the world, and you shouldn't hold back in embracing these cultures, it's not going to harm you anyway. Cultural pride in this city can be found in food, politics, and art, and there are more than 90 different cultures proudly represented in this city. With this, you might want to make yourself available to show up for cultural events such as the Caribbean, Polish, or Japan festival for events like these fetch you an opportunity to mingle and relate with people from all over the globe and sample a variety of sumptuous food.
- Beware of traffic. The traffic in Houston is often exhausting, all thanks to the sheer volume of people on the highways, the accidents, and constant construction. It's very likely that you'll get held captive in a traffic jam because, in a city occupied by millions of residents, you would expect a lot of commuting. The sweet spot for traffic during the week is around 9 am-3 pmand you should take note of this.
- Attend local events and explore the attractions responsibly. From getting dazzled by the magical winter lights festival in December to enjoying the stunning livestock and rodeo shows in the spring, Houston is a place of celebration no matter the time of year and, green travelers in Houston should not draw back in attending some of these city's local events. You can as well go for a swim at Galveston beach which is about an hour out of the city or perhaps, tour the famous NASA Johnson Space Center.
Air Quality and Pollution
Recently, the air quality in Houston has been reported to pose little to no risk to health as it has met the qualifications for “good” by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, since two decades ago, Houston has been unable to meet federal attainment levels for daily ozone, and in recent years, there's been a number of unhealthy pollution days. Ozone is a pollutant of concern in Houston. With a weighted average of 22.3 days, Houston ranks 9th nationally for worst ozone pollution according to the American Lung Association (ALA) 2019 State of the Air report.
Some of the challenges facing Houston in reaching attainment levels include heavy use of vehicles for transport, large oil and gas industry, abundant sunshine, and the relatively high average temperatures. San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, and Dallas are urban Texas cities in a similar state. However, the increasingly strict regulations on a wide variety of industries has facilitated the improvement of Houston’s air pollution over recent decades. Houston’s air quality is very much improved today but as a big city, one can't ignore the little challenges it's still facing.
Respect the Culture
Speaking of culture in Houston could be quite vast because Houston is a very diverse city in the United States of America and it's even reported to be more diverse than New York and Los Angeles as affirmed by a report from the Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research. Houston is the most ethnically and racially diverse among the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States of America and it also has the most equal distribution of the four major ethnicities in the country. And with the city being a melting pot of cultures, keeping an open mind and respecting people's respective beliefs and values will go a long way.
Nevertheless, there are a few special things about Houston which visitors may not be aware of. In this city, you'll find people waving, smiling, and making eye contact at their pleasure but they probably never do this to seduce people. As this city stay blessed with friendly residents, you'll find the locals to be very helpful, outgoing, and always willing to help you if you're stuck. If you need recommendations or directions, feel free to ask any local around you. But don't forget to be polite and you can as well emulate the locals by saying hello and asking how they're doing. In addition, you may need to learn the city's pronunciation as this is essential for communication. Texans are not fast talkers and while you're speaking with the locals here, don't be too hasty to get a quick reply. Just chill.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Everyone who loves history, music, food, history, and sports can have a great time in this city. Houston is a massive city full of massive tourist attractions and it's one of the best places to visit first if you’ve never been to Texas. Being the ultimate “choose your own adventure” destination, you can enjoy being outdoors with its ideal location at the crossroads of the Texas Gulf Coast and the Piney Woods and favorable year-round weather, and while you can go from exploring all the attractions in the Houston Museum District and taking in a show in the world-renowned Theater District to catching a game from one of the city's professional sports teams, you'll as well have opportunities to immerse yourself in all the cultures in the city and let the flavors of cuisines from around the world dance off your tongue. And, as you have 300 miles of hiking and biking trails to explore, there's still a seemingly endless set of things to do in this fourth largest city in the United States of America.
- Menil Park & Neighborhood: Admission to the collection is free and from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m, you can see the collection. It's one of the most beautiful places in all of Texas and exploring the Menil Park & Neighborhood campus offers a very thrilling experience. Aside from being one of the best places to visit in Houston, it boasts more than 15,000 pieces, and Picasso and Duchamp are some of the best artists in history that have works here. The Menil Collection is a must-see for art lovers and as this place provides its own kind of excitement and it's a 30-acre attraction with all kinds of amazing sites.
- Houston Museum of Natural Science: Children younger than three receive free admission but it's $10 for military members, $16 for seniors ages 62 and up, college students, and children ages three to 11, and $25 for adults. It's open from Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and this museum shows entertainment doesn’t have to be at the expense of learning. This museum is a great attraction because of things like the planetarium and it lets you see how much ground science covers. It’s got fun for visitors of all ages and it's one of the most fun things to do in Houston
- Space Center Houston: While admission is free for children three and below, it's $24.95 for children aged four to 11, $27.95 for seniors, and $29.95 for adults. It's open on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m and from Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You need to visit Space Center Houston if you’re coming to Houston this weekend because this is a place where you can meet astronauts, have interactive experiences, and explore amazing spacecraft. You can catch your own knowledge here too as you see legendary sites like NASA Mission Control. If information about space travel and related subjects catches your fancy, you'll love to be here. Space Center Houston is one of the best things to do in Houston.
- Houston Zoo: While admission is $17.95 for children aged two to 11 and seniors, it's $22.95 for adults. This zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m and it captures the importance of conservation and animal appreciation. If you would love to catch a glimpse of how these creatures live their daily activities, come over here, and this place is a fine point of interest for families. Many great species get housed and cared for here and animal lovers in Houston shouldn't leave the city without checking out this place.
- Twilight Epiphany Skyspace: You'll get the best experience possible when you come here when the sun is rising or setting. It has its doors open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m from Wednesday to Monday and it's one of the most special activities you can have in Houston. It's a piece of absolute amazement, just as it's a piece of art. The lights correspond with those of the sky at dawn and dusk. It has an amazing pyramid shape and it's made with a very precise sound design. You'll feel like you’re having an epiphany when you're here checking out the work of artistic genius James Turrell. Combining different types of sensory wonder, it's situated at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and it seems like it's designed to give you creative inspiration.
- Discovery Green: You're in for an amazing experience whether you come here at night or on a clear afternoon. It’s one of the top things to do in downtown Houston and it's a wonderful place to visit. At Discovery Green, you can experience a great evening by watching a movie, and you've got plenty of chances to feel unrestrained because it's near 12 acres in size. Fun is fully guaranteed at Discovery Green and it's a great idea to come with a soccer ball or a picnic basket. With this park offering you an opportunity to have the time of your life at no cost, it brings locals and visitors together and provides them with many great outdoor activities.
- Children’s Museum of Houston: Admission is $10 for military members, $11 for seniors, and $12 for adults and children, one and older. It’s an incredibly affordable and fun time being here and it's one of the best places for learning in Texas. Visitors with sensory issues like autism have a special time they can visit here and The EcoSystem teaches all about ecosystems. If you want your kids to understand science in non-stuffy ways, there are different parts of this museum that will make it easy, and the exhibits here are very nice.
- Hermann Park: Hours vary for certain attractions and it's open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Come to Hermann Park and stay as late as you can and you can always voyage the waters on one of the pedal boats or take a ride on the Hermann Park railroad on a nice day. There’s also a fantastic display of sculptures and you can as well breathe in nature from its fine gardens. This park has been put together with such meticulous care, it shows how much learning can be done inside and outside of the city, and it's near the city’s museum district. From stunning flora and fauna to beautiful installations, it's got lots of great things. Hermann Park is an absolute wonder and it has more than 400 acres in area.
- Downtown Aquarium: While admission is free for children two and younger, it's $11.99 for children shorter than 42 inches, $12.99 for seniors, and $14.99 for adults. It's open on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m and from Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The aquarium is one of the best things about this city and it offers you an opportunity to close-up encounters with some species. You'll find authentic and incredible exhibits like “Underwater Rig” and “Shipwreck” and there are fishes and other sea creatures housed in its close to half-a-million gallons of water. If you care to see how fantastic creatures from deep below the surface are, come here. This aquarium is invigorating and focused on the aquatic kinds but still a must-see for animal fans.
- The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens: Admission rates depend on what kind of tour you take and it's open on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m and from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are so many cool things to check out here. The pieces inside would fill you with admiration and the Bayou Bend Collection is now housed in the residence of beloved Houstonian Ima Hogg. The gardens here are pleasingly attractive and this place has lots of lovely paintings and other pieces. It's a great part of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
With direct flights from all over North America, Houston makes a great destination for a weekend getaway. Houston is complete with a bayou running through the heart of the city and it houses beautiful green spaces, inspiring museums, renowned chefs, and the famous Space Center Houston. Being the fourth largest city in the United States of America, you'll find no shortage of things to do in this city whether you're looking for fun experiences, unique attractions, shopping, dining, or culture. You can even be lucky to enjoy the Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston's signature event, or take in a sports game, depending on your travel dates. Houston's location also offers you a great chance to enjoy an excursion to nearby Galveston which is less than an hour away.
Houston’s urban parks will make you want to get out and get moving! From historical architecture and gardens to bat watching, there's a park for everything in Houston, and there are loads of vast, beautiful parks all over Houston.
- Buffalo Bayou Park: Running alongside the bayou for miles are the biking and jogging trails and this park also features fountains, many bridges, and a skate park. It's a park known for its interesting and diverse wildlife and it's a place to check out Houston’s largest bat colony. You'll be able to catch a glimpse of an impressive flight of over 200,000 bats around here. This park also provides some of the most beautiful views of the downtown Houston skyline.
- Memorial Park: Picnic tables are available for rent all year long and costumed medieval fighting teams meet here. From mountain biking and flag football to sand volleyball, swimming, golf, and croquet, there are amenities for pretty much every sport. If you’re into running, it's pretty ideal that you put this park on your weekend activity list. Memorial Park is very famous amongst runners and whenever you're driving through Houston and you spot a multitude of runners, it's possible that you just passed this park.
- Hermann Park: There’s a fantastic display of sculptures and you can as well breath in nature from its fine gardens. This park has been put together with such meticulous care, it shows how much learning can be done inside and outside of the city, and it's near the city’s museum district. From stunning flora and fauna to beautiful installations, it's got lots of great things. Hermann Park is an absolute wonder and it has more than 400 acres in area.
Although Houston is home to national parks, it's just a few hours away to some of the best national parks in Texas.
Surfside Beach, Stewart Beach, Galveston Island State Park, and East Beach are some of the closest beaches to Houston which aren't too far, and you can always hit any up if you're in the mood for sand and sun.
Houston is a big city with a wealth of activities and interesting sights to see and it's as well home to an array of fine landmarks:
- The Galleria: It's the perfect venue for all the leading names in apparel as it boasts more than 400 fine stores, hotels, and restaurants. This shopping destination is well respected internationally and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan is what its architectural style was modeled after. It receives over 30 million visitors every year and it's the top shopping destination in Houston.
- Buffalo Bayou: It has a picnic pavilion, a nature-inspired playground, a dog park, a tributary, skateboarding park, hiking and walking trails, and natural landscapes. There are various attractions in this park and the 10-mile stretch leading from the Shepherd Dive into the Port of Houston is a popular area for recreation. It's a 52-mile waterway originating from Katy in Texas.
- Downtown Aquarium: The aquarium is one of the best things about this city and it offers you an opportunity to close-up encounters with some species. You'll find authentic and incredible exhibits like “Underwater Rig” and “Shipwreck” and there are fishes and other sea creatures housed in its close to half-a-million gallons of water. If you care to see how fantastic creatures from deep below the surface are, come here. This aquarium is invigorating and focused on the aquatic kinds but still a must-see for animal fans.
- Houston Zoo: It captures the importance of conservation and animal appreciation. If you would love to catch a glimpse of how these creatures live their daily activities, come over here.
Houston is home to a vast collection of fine museums:
- Museum of Fine Arts: Admission is free for children 12 and younger, military (with ID), and MFAH members. Over 450 masterpieces and artworks are contained in its collection. It's home to Latin American art and there are paintings and sculptures from the 20th and 21st centuries housed here. A vibrant review of the country's art history from the 18th century to 1940 is offered by the American art collection, and of course, you can view and admire the collections that are on display. It celebrates the craft of antiquity to the present day, its collection numbers almost 70,000 works, and it was established in 1900.
- Children’s Museum of Houston: Admission is $10 for military members, $11 for seniors, and $12 for adults and children, one and older. It’s an incredibly affordable and fun time being here and it's one of the best places for learning in Texas. Visitors with sensory issues like autism have a special time they can visit here. If you want your kids to understand science in non-stuffy ways, there are different parts of this museum that will make it easy, and the exhibits here are very nice.
- Houston Museum of Natural Science: Children younger than three receive free admission but it's $10 for military members, $16 for seniors ages 62 and up, college students, and children ages three to 11, and $25 for adults. It's open from Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and this museum shows entertainment doesn’t have to be at the expense of learning. This museum is a great attraction because of things like the planetarium and it lets you see how much ground science covers. It’s got fun for visitors of all ages and it's one of the most fun things to do in Houston.
Houston has an eatery with virtually every style of food ranging from Indian to Tex-Mex and steaks to seafood. Houston offers some of the best and most diverse restaurants in the United States of America when it comes to dining.
Traditional Local Restaurants
Here are some of the best traditional local restaurants in Houston:
- Willie G's Seafood
- Yale Street Grill
- BCN Taste & Tradition
- Cafe Brussels
Vegetarian and Vegan
Houston is popping with flavorful-yet-healthy restaurants and vegans and vegetarians in this city have options of healthy places to eat from:
- Govinda's Vegetarian Cuisine
- Soul Food Vegan
- Nice Sprout
- Hopdoddy Burger Bar
- Sunshine’s Health Food
Houston food trucks are there for you'; whether you're scratching a late-night food itch after a few too many hours at the bar or you need some workday sustenance:
- Crispy or Grilled
- Eatsie Boys
- Gyro King
- Flip ‘N Patties
- The DoughCone
- The Cuban Spot
Houston is home to a couple of iconic booze, and local coffee and local beer rule in this city when it comes to drinking.
Houston's tap water has been treated and it's safe to drink but it's reported that there's an unusual taste or smell in the tap water of some places in the Houston area.
Harvest Organic Grille, Baba Yega Cafe, Earthcraft Juicery, and Bebidas are some of the best organic cafés in Houston.
Many locals in this city value beer for its refreshing properties and Houston’s beer culture has grown to a good point so, do well to explore its seemingly endless array of homegrown breweries:
- Lone Pint Brewery
- Saint Arnold Brewery
- Spoetzl Brewing
- Southern Star Brewing
- Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co.
- Holler Brewing Company
- 8th Wonder Brewery
- B-52 Brew Co.
From tours of local music and art and Downtown discoveries to Asiatown food crawls and bayou-side hikes, here are some cool things to do outdoors in Houston:
- Hit the Trails at Buffalo Bayou Park
- Cheer on the Hometeam
- Stroll the Historic 19th Street in The Heights
- See Giraffes, Monkeys & Lions at the Houston Zoo
- Explore the Menil Campus
- Experience James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany at Rice University
- Jam Out at a Live Show
- Explore, Wander & Discover at Hermann Park
- Visit Houston’s Museum District
- Uncover the Wonders of Discovery Green & Avenida Houston
- Explore the new 100-acre Eastern Glades project
- Pack a Picnic for a Free Show at Miller Outdoor Theater
- See bats at the Waugh Bridge
Yoga and Retreats
Yoga and retreats are common in Houston and these are places you can trust for your relaxing yoga in Houston:
- The Woman's Earth
- Texas Yoga Center
- The Yoga Institute with Lex Gillan
- Houston Yoga Ayurveda Ashram Inc.
- Yoga House Houston
- Tranquil Heart Yoga
Your choices of accommodation in Houston are quite rife and with the city's low cost of living, you shouldn't be spending too much on getting an apartment.
Green travelers in Houston looking for a nice stay in the city can opt-in to any of these hotels:
- The Lancaster Hotel
- Hilton Americas - Houston
- The Moran CITYCENTRE
- The Whitehall Houston
- JW Marriott Houston Downtown
Hostels and Guest Houses
There are lots of nice hostels and guesthouses in Houston:
- Wanderstay Houston Hostel
- Houston Towers Inn
- Palacio Royale Inn Houston NW
- Montrose Suites
- Bunkwood Hostel
Apartments are pretty much easy to find in Houston, and while you'll find several cheap ones in the city, Airbnb options are also available for the convenience of travelers.
Houston is the largest city in Texas and being the most culturally diverse in the United States of America, you do have a great chance of finding a host, and couchsurfing in this city will also help you to see this H-Town more.
You can enjoy camping in Houston at places like:
- Scout Camp
- Lakeview RV Resort
- Southlake RV Resort
- Camp Logan Park
- AllStar RV Resort
How to Get There
Depending on your proximity to Houston, you can reach the city via several means.
There are two smaller regional airports and two major commercial airports serving Houston.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport are the two large airports for commercial traffic.
Hitchhiking is illegal in Texas.
The best way to get around Houston is by car and the city's major highways make getting around the city fairly easy.
Houston is a fairly safe city and you should enjoy taking a walk around but be mindful of the heat. More so, do well to apply caution and avoid walking alone at night.
Houston has 290 miles of marked bike routes and bikes are usually best used for exercise or to get to somewhere that is close by considering the fact that the city is spread out and hot and humid most of the time.
There are several car rental companies in Houston and you should be able to pick up an electronic vehicle.
There are bus lines operated by METRO which man the public transportation in Houston
Tram, Train and Subway
Light rail lines called METRORail serve the city and the cost to ride is $1.25.
Houston is no less a haven for sustainable shoppers as you'll find fresh food markets and several eco-friendly stores where you can shop from.
Houston is a paradise for cooks and foodies who appreciate fresh foods:
- Airline Seafood
- Rice University Farmers Market
- Canino Produce Farmers Market
- Louisiana Foods Retail Market
- Urban Harvest Farmers Market
Houston Flea Market, Sunny Flea Market, and Traders Village Houston are some of the best flea markets in Houston.
Second Hand Stores
Second-hand stores are massive in this city:
- Texas Thrift Store
- Out of the Closet - Houston
- Anawim Thrift Store
- Houston Pets Alive! THRIFT
- St. Christopher's Resale Shop
- The Cottage Shop
You don't need to look too far before you'll find sustainable and ethical clothing in Houston:
- Costco Wholesale
- Buffalo Exchange
- Lucy Activewear
- Whole Earth Provision
Houston has a Curbside Recycling Program which accepts jugs, plastic bottles, empty aerosol cans, aluminum, tin, telephone books, mail, office paper, magazines, and newspaper.
The Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) provides solid waste services to the residents.
Work and Study Abroad
Houston is home to some of the most prestigious universities in the United States of America and it's a fine place for work and study abroad.
The universities in Houston have requirements to be met for those who want to apply for the exchange student program.
Houston is a great destination for au pairs!
You can never be short of volunteering opportunities in Houston as there are lots of places to volunteer in the city.