What to Do in Houston if You Don't Care for Rodeos or Gun Clubs

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What to Do in Houston if You Don't Care for Rodeos or Gun Clubs

This sprawling metropolis will woo you with more than just its cowboy sentimentalities and southern hospitality—and if you think you’re too much of an animal lover and gun hater for this city, you’re wrong.

In fact, as the most populous and diverse city in Texas, Houston has cultural surprises lurking around every corner. From adrenaline junkies seeking their next adventure to history buffs looking to learn, every type of traveler will find satisfaction in this burgeoning city. Venture into the unknown with these fanciful and fun activities on your next trip to Houston.

Level 9 Tour

nasa dallas.jpg Photo courtesy of Visit Houston

You may not be able to go to space, but this tour will get you pretty close. Book tickets in advance with Space Center Houston to get an exclusive peek into the life of an astronaut that will make your inner Spaceman Spiff jump over the moon. The tour, including a visit to ISS Mission Control, is followed by a luncheon in their quarters so you can “eat where the astronauts eat.” Then you’ll head over to the training grounds to see the Sonny Carter Training Facility and its Neutral Buoyancy lab. When you enter the Apollo Flight Control Room (used for missions from 1965 to 1992), you’ll be allowed walk around and sit at the actual consoles that were used.

And that’s not even the best part. Seeing the Orion capsule—the Mars Exploration Vehicle Prototype—and space suits that will be used for anticipated missions in the 2030s is worth the visit on its own.

Bayou Biking and Bat Viewing

bats houston.jpg Photo courtesy of Visit Houston

The flutter of wings within the nooks and crannies of Waugh Drive Bridge is an indication that the Mexican free-tailed bats are preparing for a flight of hunting and scavenging for their evening meal. Unlike other densely populated cities where there are only vestiges of nature left, Houston has it in spades. In the heart of the city, 250,000 of these creatures come out every night and explore their world; they are non-migratory and permanent residents of the Bayou all year-round.

Head over in the late afternoon to arrive right at sunset to see the bats. Rent a city bike from B-Cycle ($5 for 24 hours) and careen through the various pathways along the Buffalo Bayou to catch the bats, sunset, breeze and modern art sculptures that enrich the 160 acres of landscape.

North Houston Skate Park

Spanning 78,000 square feet, North Houston Skate Park (pictured at top) is the largest of its kind in North America. If you fancy yourself a speed demon and daredevil, this free park will prove to be the ultimate urban wonderland. The concrete jungle comes with endorphin-inducing thrills, which include a Texas-shaped bowl, 12-foot vertical ramp, 20-foot full pipe, banked walls, speed hips, and a “snake run” pathway. Also available is the street-skating experience, which offers real world elements to practice your tricks on (ledges, rails, benches, banks, quarter pipes, stair obstacles, etc.). From dawn till dusk, this playground oasis welcomes everyone from newbies to experts.

Wake Nation

Wake Nation.png Photo courtesy of Visit Houston

Wake Nation is a water park on steroids. The 12-acre lake features five 35-feet high steel towers on a technologically advanced overhead cable system—so there’s no need to wait on boats to haul people around. Six riders can be taken out at the same time and glide at speeds of 18-20 miles per hour. Novices and experts can wakeboard, wakeskate, water ski and kneeboard—all without needing a board. Then there are the fun obstacles for practicing impressive stunts: custom-built jumps, grind rails, and sliders. Riders as young as five are allowed to traverse the course and challenge themselves to feats of water-splashing glory.

Lead photo courtesy of Tiffany Leigh

Tiffany Leigh is a food, drink, and travel writer. She is a James Beard Foundation Scholarship Recipient and always travels with her companions #PinchietheLobster and #PJthelobster.

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