Fifty years ago this July, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed the lunar module Eagle on the moon. A few hours later Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong’s words echoed in the command center in Houston, Texas and then around the world through thousands of homes, classrooms, and offices. This year his words are sounding again as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing.
Thanks to this special anniversary, Houston is one of the best family vacation spots for this year. In this article, you will find a brief overview of the city of Houston and a list of 10 of Houston’s best places to visit, including the Johnson Space Center which houses the Historic Apollo Mission Control Center.
The City of Houston, Texas
One hundred thirty-three years before Apollo 11 began its journey to the moon, the land where Houston now stands was empty and belonged to the Allen brothers. In 1836, these brothers founded a town on their land and named it Houston. The fledgling town steadily grew into an important railroad hub and center of commerce.
Today Houston ranks as the fourth largest city in the United States and has one of the tallest skylines in North America. Its economy thrives on the production of oil and natural gas, biomedical research and aeronautics, as well as shipping.
Houston is an ethnically and culturally diverse city that has a lot to offer to both residents and visitors. The city provides many shopping opportunities, educational activities, and fun annual events, which include the largest rodeo in the world and the outstanding Bayou City Art Festival.
Houston Fast Facts
Land area: 627 sq. miles
Population: 2,312 million (as of 2017)
Languages spoken: Primarily English and 144 other languages
Nicknames: Bayou City, Magnolia City, and H-Town
Now we are going to share with you 10 of the best places to visit and things to do in Houston. We will be dividing them into four categories: The Best Place to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, Great Places to Shop, Outstanding Eateries, and the Best Outdoor Activities.
The Best Place to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing
The very best place to remember Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon and everything that the Apollo 11 mission taught us is the Houston Space Center.
The Space Center and the Apollo Mission Control Center – Houston’s Space Center offers many wonderful exhibits and experiences all year round, including the Starship Gallery where you can see a variety of retired spacecraft and the Astronaut Gallery that displays an extensive collection of spacesuits.
This year the Space Center is offering a variety of special events to remember Apollo 11 and its trip to the moon. You can tour the recently-restored Apollo Mission Control Center, see an exhibit of lunar rocks and take advantage of Mission Apollo Minutes which tell about different aspects of the mission.
Address: 1601 NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX
Hours: Every day from 10 am – 5 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays it is open until 6 pm
Fees: Children 3 years and younger – Free; Children 4 -11 – $24.95; Adults – $29.95 and Seniors – $27.95
Great Places to Shop in Houston
Houston offers many shopping opportunities. Here are three of the best of these opportunities:
The Galleria – Offering 400 fine stores and restaurants, The Galleria is the largest shopping center in Houston and the whole State of Texas. Local entrepreneurs and international brands work together to create a dynamic and upscale shopping environment in the Galleria.
Address: 5085 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 9:00 pm and on Sundays 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Rice Village Shops – A well-loved shopping destination since the 1930s, the Rice Village Shops includes over 300 shops located in a 16-block area. The Rice Village offers everything from eclectic shops and boutiques filled with fashion, beauty and home products to high-end clothing stores and nationwide retail venues.
Address: 6100 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX
Heights Epicurean Farmers Market – If you want to immerse yourself in Houston’s local flavor, the Heights Epicurean Farmers Market is the place to do it. This open-air market offers opportunities for local farmers and gardeners to sell their organic produce, as well as for Houston artists and craftsman to showcase their handicrafts, natural beauty products, fine art, ceramics, furniture, candles and much more.
Address: 1245 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX
Hours: All day long on the first Saturday of every month
Outstanding Eateries in Houston
No one goes hungry in Houston. There are excellent eateries in every part of the city, including these three remarkable options:
Hugo’s – Opened in 2002, Hugo’s serves up some of the best Mexican food to be had in Texas – and perhaps even in Mexico! Executive Chef Hugo Ortega serves delicious seafood platters, moles with the pure flavor of Oaxaca, exceptional handmade corn tortillas and many more delicious dishes.
Address: 1600 Westheimer, Houston, TX
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11am-10pm; Friday and Saturday 11am-11pm and Sunday 10am-9pm
Armadillo Palace – There’s no better place to get authentic Texan cuisine than Armadillo Palace. Every dish in their menu has played an essential part in making Texas what it is today. These dishes include southern comfort foods, unbeatable Texan steaks, authentic Mexican dishes, real Houston BBQ and seafood that is brought fresh from the Gulf.
Address: 5015 Kirby Dr., Houston, TX
Hours: Tuesdays 11am–11pm; Wednesdays 11am–12am; Thursdays and Fridays 11am–2am; Saturday 12pm–2am; Sundays and Mondays open only for private events
Common Bond Cafe & Bakery – Founded on the belief that the love of good food unites everyone in this world, the Common Bond Cafe & Bakery goes out of its way to provide good food in the form of quick bites and full meals, as well as specialty cakes and pastries.
Address: 1706 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX
Hours: Monday through Thursday 7am-9pm; Friday and Saturday 7am-10pm; Sunday 7am-8pm
Best Outdoor Activities in Houston
If you enjoy the outdoors, Houston also has a variety of places to visit and things to do that you will love. Here are three of our favorite options:
Arboretum & Nature Center – The Arboretum & Nature Center is a nature sanctuary located just a few miles away from downtown Houston. It covers 155 acres of land and offers five miles of walking trails that wind through trees and meadows. The sanctuary is a great place to see frogs, lizards, and turtles enjoying their natural habitat, as well as a wide variety of local birds.
Address: 4501 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX
Hours: Open every day from 7 am to dusk
Buffalo Bayou Park – A section of the Buffalo Bayou flows through a 10 mile stretch of Houston. The Buffalo Bayou Park lays along the edge of the bayou and brings a lot of natural beauty into the urban environment. The park offers opportunities to rent bicycles and also kayaks and canoes to help you explore every corner of the park.
Location: From Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street and between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive
Hours: Open every day. Lighted areas are open from 6am-11pm and all other areas from dawn to dusk.
Houston Zoo – The Houston Zoo cares for and exhibits 6,000 animals with the hope of instilling in each of its visitors an appreciation and love for the natural world. The zoo also offers special activities for children, including the opportunity to explore a bat cave, ride a wildlife carousel and swap natural items at the Naturally Wild Swap Shop.
Address: 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, TX
Hours: Open every day from 9am-7pm; Hours are subject to change during the winter