Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Tourist Attractions (For Locals Too)
Whether it's hauling around out-of-town relatives and friends or because you just want something different to do, Houston has plenty of tourist attractions.
Photo by Bill Jacobus The George Observatory at Brazos Bend Park
Here's our list of tourist attractions that locals will enjoy.
10.The George Observatory at Brazos Bend Park
2901 FM 762, Needville
A satellite of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the family friendly George Observatory comes in at our ten spot. There are three domed telescopes open to the public -- 36, 18 and 14 inches. The observatory attracts newbies, amateurs and serious hobbyists and no matter what your interest in astronomy, there's something at the observatory that you'll find fascinating. Staffers and guides are on hand to walk you through the process, pointing out standout stars and planets.
Expect crowds during special events (such as a comet watch), but attendance is usually manageable and though you might have to stand in line for a few minutes, everybody gets a chance to see the stars. Sleep-overs and group visits are available (be smart and get your reservations in at least three months before you plan to visit).
Open to the public every Saturday year-round, the observatory's hours vary depending on the season, 3 to 10 p.m. or 3 to 11 p.m. Admission to the Observatory is $5. Admission to the planetarium is $3. Admission to the park is $7 per adult.
9.Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Courtesy of Saint Arnold Brewery
2000 Lyons Avenue
Sure, serious beer connoisseurs flock to Saint Arnold Brewing Company for the tours and tastings, but the facility also offers a great lunch that anyone can enjoy. During the week, tours are at 2 p.m. On Saturdays, it's noon, 1 and 2 p.m. Guides explain the workings of the brewery as well as the Saint Arnold specialty beers. The $8 admission fee includes the tour and a souvenir glass.
Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. We suggest the daily special. It varies so ask your server for details. For $17.55 you get two courses and beer. On the day we checked the special was spring greens with balsamic vinaigrette and short ribs (braised in Santo beer, a Saint Arnold specialty) with herbed potatoes and haricot verts. There's a full menu of other offerings from burgers to duck BLT, slow dough pretzels and a Saint Arnold root beer float. Of course, you can take your own lunch or snacks to enjoy after the tour.
A couple things to keep in mind -- wear closed toe shoes if you want to take the tour.
Also kids are allowed only if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
8. Houston Public Library, Julia Ideson Building
GENSLER/Julia Ideson Library Preservation Partners
As far as we know, the Julia Ideson Building, part of the Houston Public Library System, is the only entry on our list that has a resident ghost. Built in 1926 in the Spanish Revival style by architect Ralph Adams Cram, the building is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former caretaker and his dog. The pair have good taste, the Ideson Building is beautiful inside and out. Inside there are original murals by Emma Richardson Cherry, an early Houston artist and community organizer, amazing wood- and tile work. Outside, there are two separate stately gardens. The lush greenery is an oasis from the busy downtown streets that are just a few feet from the building's gates. A wing was added recently for additional space. Architects echoed the style and the addition is seamlessly married to the original structure. The library is home to local and Texas archives, as well as other historic collections. A spacious gallery hosts exhibitions that speak to Houston's cultural history; one recent show featured art by Emma Richardson Cherry.
7. Discovery Green
Courtesy of GHCVB/Jim Olive
The newest attraction to make our list is Discovery Green, a 12-acre park that was opened downtown in 2008. In the six short years since its opening, Discovery Green has become an entertainment mecca for the city. Some 600 public events are held there each year, with most free of charge. Offerings include outdoor film screenings, music concerts, festivals, flea markets, outdoor exercise classes and more. A hot air balloon ride, winter ice skating and kayak sessions are among some of our favorite past events. There are several gardens and lawns, a lake, an amphitheater, separate dog parks, fountains, a small library, two restaurants and lots of public art. Food vendors line the park's walk ways. Underground and street level parking are available.
This story continues on the next page.