Houston is a sprawling, diverse city that often overwhelms first time visitors and leaves them uncertain where to go, what to eat and what to see. Even Houston residents are not always up to date with the new and ever-changing things to do within the most populated city in Texas. From beer to temples to a Soup Nazi (the fun Seinfeld kind, not the other type), Houston has it all! No matter what you have planned or where in town you are located, odds are that at least a couple of these most odd, overlooked and offbeat Houston sights and activities are located nearby.
As a native Texan, I have spent a great deal of time exploring the city that was basically my second home growing up, and to this day enjoy continuing to discover all the new and amazing things to do in Houston. The city is always changing, growing and evolving, which is one of the exciting things that my local friends love about living here — and why I keep coming back for more Houston fun 😉
Even if you are only exploring Houston on a short trip, be sure to find time for a couple of the offbeat Houston things to do for a truly unique and memorable experience. Before you know it, you will be back for a second and third trip, then looking for Houston real estate and stop making excuses to enjoy all the exciting, unique and offbeat Houston sights and activities!
National Museum of Funeral History
Museums related to our own mortality are always intriguing, despite sometimes being a bit macabre. All that aside, this is one of the most captivating and engrossing museums I have ever visited. From the history of embalming to an entire collection of hearses to a coffin built for three, you really never know what to expect around the next corner.
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The Beer Can House
The late John Milkovisch was confronted with a conundrum. His house needed to be painted, but he didn’t want to do it. His solution? Cover the entire thing with over 50,000 beer cans. He started in 1968 and didn’t finish until 15 years later. While the place is definitely quirky and a must-visit for any beer enthusiast, one can only assume that Mr. Milkovisch must surely have passed away from cirrhosis of the liver.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Located just outside of Houston in Sugar Land, this magnificent Hindu temple seems out of place, as if it has been transplanted here from somewhere in India or Southeast Asia. In fact, it is the first traditional Hindu temple in the United States. Come hungry as the food here is the best and most authentic Indian food in all of Houston.
For visitors unfamiliar with visiting religious sites such as this, please do not forget to take off your shoes before entering.
Houston’s Colorful Street Art Scene
Street art is found in countries all over the world nowadays but the style varies not just in every country, but city to city as well. For example, the street art of Houston looks nothing like Austin street art yet the two cities are just three hours apart. Austin’s street art has a wild and whimsical flair that is a stark contrast to Houston’s strong, proud urban artwork. Murals here tend to have much more of a hip-hop graffiti influence than the carefree California Dreamin’ artists of Austin.
Life in Houston can be a struggle, and the street art here conveys that. What’s also noticeable is the evolution. No street artist starts off an artist — they need time to hone their skill and find their message to make a real impact. This growth of the artists and growth of the city is visible in the progression of its artwork, where everything from generic teenage tagging to elaborate masterpieces covering entire building walls can be spotted on the same block. So go ahead, take a bit of time and just wander around town, see what sort of interesting artwork you find.
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The Historic Downtown Pub Tour
Usually when “alcohol” and “knowledge” are used in the same sentence it is in reference to a brewery or winery — not a pub crawl! Unless you are in Houston, that is. The city’s vibrant history spans several hundred years and you can get a taste of it every evening on the the historic Houston pub tour — yes, tour, not crawl. This is an educational experience takes you through several downtown H-town watering holes, a couple of which date back over 150 years. Learn a little, drink a little, and then leave with a sense of having discovered a bit more about this misunderstood metropolis.
Sample A Few Quirky & Offbeat Houston Restaurants
Food is a daily necessity but that doesn’t mean it has to be predictable or stereotypical. Houston has a wide array of quirky restaurants that will leave you talking as much about the decor as the food. Everybody knows about the Lord of the Rings restaurant, a must for any fan of the movies. Then there is Jus’ Mac, which as the name implies serves nothing but macaroni and cheese presented in a variety of delicious (and entertaining) ways. The best tacos in Texas can be found here in Houston too, as well as Houston’s Soup Nazi, a play off the classic Seinfeld episode — if you know where to look 😉
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The Orange Show
From the mid-1950s until his death in 1980, local Houston postal worker Jeff McKissack created this impressive monument to honor his favorite fruit, the orange. It covers an impressive 3,000 square feet and will suck you in from the moment you begin walking along the maze of pathways. Nowadays, it has become a folk art favorite not just of local Houston residents but art lovers across the entire United States.
Have any offbeat additions?
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4 thoughts on “Offbeat Houston, Texas Sights and Activities”
An intriguing post! Houston is a very intriguing and beautiful place. I was here three years ago when I went to the Mexican Gulf and I’m still impressed
Nice insight to Houston Texas. We hope to travel to Houston later this year. Looking forward to the street art and best tacos in Texas plus the restaurants you recommended. Thank you.
Happy to help, enjoy your trip to Houston 🙂