Houston Museum District: What to See & Do and Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Traveling to Houston, Texas, with kiddos in tow, or just have a thirst for knowledge? Educate yourself and inspire your travel crew with a visit to the Houston Museum District. As the neighborhood’s name suggests, you’ll find plenty of interesting and curiosity-piquing institutions to explore here.

From the culture and beauty of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to the vibrant colors, sights, and smells of the Houston Zoo, this Houston neighborhood offers something to tick everyone’s box, especially if you’re traveling to Texas as a family.

Not sure what to do or where to go? Read on to discover the best places to visit, eat, drink, and stay in the Houston Museum District!

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What to see & do in the Houston Museum District

Houston Museum of Natural Science

If you love dinosaurs, are intrigued by space, or are just interested in anything in the scientific world, you need to add the Houston Museum of Natural Science to your Houston itinerary. Located in the beautiful Hermann Park, this museum offers wonder and interactivity to all visitors.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Whether you want to wander the halls alone, read the plaques as you go, participate in a group tour, or get your hands dirty with workshops, the Houston Museum of Natural Science offers something for every vibe. Settle down in the IMAX movie theater for a wondrous and immersive experience, take in the stars at the planetarium, or be surrounded by nature in the butterfly house.

If you’re looking to grab a bargain, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is free on Thursday afternoons. Explore one of Houston’s coolest places to visit at your leisure between 2 pm and 5 pm without having to spend a dime!

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Looking to inject some culture into your trip to Houston? Bring your critical eye over to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Filled with exquisite pieces from a wide range of mediums, eras, and countries of origin, it’s a spectacular place to visit.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Complete with a series of permanent and rotating exhibitions, as well as some pieces that have been curated and created by staff members, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, offers a new experience every time. You can also enjoy events and films at the museum, bringing the artwork and experience to life!

If you want to get some fresh air, journey outside to the Cullen Sculpture Garden. It’s free to enter this tranquil space interspersed with beautiful and thought-provoking sculptures.

Children’s Museum Houston

If you’re looking for family-filled fun, the Children’s Museum Houston has it in spades. Spanning a humungous 90,000 square feet, this museum is designed to educate and inspire your little ones. Whether they’re a tot or heading the middle school—or anywhere in between—they’ll find a lot to love here!

Children's Museum Houston

Immerse yourself in the exhibits at the Bubble Lab, get your little ones on the path to learning at the Tot Spot, or get hands-on with a multitude of interactive installations dotted around the huge Children’s Museum Houston campus. Get inspired, let your kiddos burn off some energy. and learn something new in the process.

It’s worth noting that the Children’s Museum Houston is also free to enter on Thursday afternoons and evenings. If you’re looking for an easy way to entertain the kids before dinner, the Children’s Museum Houston is a solid choice!

The Health Museum

Intrigued by the wonder of the human body? Maybe you’re interested in the history of medicine? Or perhaps you’re into Grey’s Anatomy and want to see how the real deal stacks up. Educate yourself on the wonder of medicine, health, and the human body at The Health Museum.

Health Museum

Located near Hermann Park and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, this unique niche museum allows you to check out two science-related institutions in one day. Learn about healthier lifestyles, stare in wonder at the gruesome and clinical photo exhibitions, and be awe-struck by some of the insane medical facts on display.

As with other museums in the Houston Museum District, The Health Museum offers free entry on Thursdays from 2 pm to 7 pm. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop on your way out; it’s full of quirky and weird souvenirs and gifts to share back home!

Holocaust Museum Houston

In terms of museums and subject matters that should never be forgotten, the Holocaust Museum Houston is high on the list. Detailing the history and human stories of this tragic and horrific period of modern history, the museum is a must-visit. Although it’s not the easiest museum to walk around and experience, it’s an important place to visit and understand.

Holocaust Museum Houston

Featuring exhibits filled with artifacts, photographs, and film footage from the Holocaust period, the Holocaust Museum Houston is a haunting place that’ll have a lasting impact on you. As it’s the fourth largest Holocaust museum in the United States, there’s a lot here to explore at your own pace or as part of a guided tour.

Please note: The Holocaust Museum Houston is closed on Mondays. Plan your Houston Museum District itinerary accordingly.

Houston Zoo

Lions and tigers and bears—oh my! Gather up your family for a day of fun at Houston Zoo. As it’s located in Hermann Park alongside many other Houston Museum District attractions, it’s easy to combine a visit to the zoo with several other top-rated Houston museums and key sights.

Houston Zoo

Home to over 6,000 animals from over 600 species, this 55-acre zoological park is almost sure to feature your favorite animal. Get up close and personal with the furry, scaley, and feathered residents, enjoy keeper shows and talks, or feed some of the animals yourself!

As the second-most-visited zoo in the US, Houston Zoo is hugely popular with visitors from all over the world and dazzles and excites patrons of all ages.

Hermann Park

You can’t visit Houston’s Museum District without stepping inside Hermann Park. Spanning 445 acres across the center of the city, this park is a hub for tourists and locals alike. Here, you’ll find many of the museums and attractions on this list—so it’s a definite must-visit!

Hermann Park

Hermann Park is more than your average green space. With a golf course, Japanese Gardens, a number of museums, and a world-renowned zoo all within Hermann Park, you can easily spend your whole Houston vacation exploring it.

With its immense size, Hermann Park might be a little too big to explore entirely on foot. Once you’ve had your fill of walking around, taking in the beautiful trails and gardens, jump on the miniature train to zip around between the main sights.

Cockrell Butterfly Center

Want to be surrounded by nature, beauty, and wonder? No matter what time of year you visit Houston, you can experience the cycle of life at the Cockrell Butterfly Center. Located inside the Houston Museum of Natural Science, this niche wildlife center will bring a smile to your face. You can visit this center as a part of the wider Houston Museum of Natural Science entry ticket or on its own.

Cockrell Butterfly Center

Gaze up in wonder as you’re surrounded by butterflies with all kinds of patterns and colors on their tiny wings. With three floors to explore within the expansive glasshouse, you can learn about the origins of the different butterflies, as well as their lifecycle and impact on the planet.

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It’s worth remembering that butterflies thrive in a rainforest climate, with many of the Cockrell Butterfly Center’s residents coming from hot & humid countries. Be sure to dress accordingly for the higher and soggier temperatures.

Houston Museum of African American Culture

Dedicated to collecting, conserving, and sharing the experiences and culture of African Americans living in Houston and the wider Texas area, the Houston Museum of African American Culture is an inspiring and intriguing place to visit. Known as the HMAAC, this museum welcomes anyone of any age or race to come and learn more about the African American culture that’s specific to this area of the world.

With a ton of exhibits, workshops, educational programs, and films on display, the Houston Museum of African American Culture is an interactive look at the shifts in culture over time. This free museum runs entirely off donations and gift shop profits, so be sure to give accordingly.

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If you’re in Houston over the weekend, you’ll be pleased to know that the Houston Museum of African American Culture is open Thursdays to Saturdays from 11 am to 6 pm.

Where to eat & drink

Traveling with a pup in tow? Bring them along to the patio at Barnaby’s Cafe on Binz Street. Named after the owner’s childhood pet, this popular cafe serves up classic American fare and a choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. There’s also a complete menu for your furry friend to enjoy alongside you!

If you’re looking for good, honest, and tasty Southern cuisine, get yourself over to Lucille’s. In the restaurant’s converted vintage house, you’ll feel like you’re getting the best home-cooked meal of your life, surrounded by cozy vibes. Don’t let the cozy and quaint surroundings fool you—Lucille’s offers some of the best-tasting Southern food you’ll ever have!

Let’s be honest: If eating our weight in tacos is wrong, we don’t want to be right. Bodegas Taco Shop on Binz Street is a super laid-back spot where you can get all your Tex-Mex favorites and wash it all down with a cooling margarita. From tostadas to burritos to tacos and more, you can get your fill and have a great night with your friends. What’s not to love?

Good vegan places might feel hard to find in BBQ country. Mo’ Better Brews is the exception. Serving up amazing vegan breakfasts and lunches alongside delicious coffee, it’s a must-visit spot, even if you’re a carnivore. Sit a while in their garden area and enjoy the live DJ sets.

If you want to treat yourself, Monarch is the perfect fine-dining restaurant to splurge your spending money. As it’s located inside the uber-chic Hotel Zaza, you can expect to find flawless design and classic upmarket American classics, like steak and blackened red snapper.

In the mood for a drink—or three? Unwine on Almeda Road serves up delicious wines from all around the world. They’re designed to compliment the tasty small plates that waft in & out of the kitchen. Join them for happy hour, or stay all night on their beautifully-designed covered rooftop deck.

Where to stay

Within the Museum District itself, the selection of accommodations is limited. There is, however, an excellent cluster of hotels in the nearby Texas Medical Center area that are among the best places to stay in Houston.

Home2 Suites by Hilton Houston Medical Center

Home2 Suites by Hilton Houston Medical Center, TX

Need a bit more space when you’re in Houston? Check yourself into the Home2 Suites by Hilton Houston Medical Center, TX. With a clean and functional design, you’ll find all the amenities that you need here, including a beautiful rooftop deck, complete with a large open-air pool. As it’s well-located in the center of Houston, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better alternative if you’re looking for space.

Sonder The Hampstead

Sonder The Hampstead

If you want to feel like you’re staying in someone’s chic & sleek Scandinavian apartment, rather than a hotel, book a stay at Sonder The Hampstead. The apartment features large airy windows that stream light throughout the apartment, a full kitchen with all the mod-cons, and a private balcony to kick back and relax on.

Westin Houston Medical Center

The Westin Houston Medical Center

Want a hotel with a bit of a wow factor? Wander up to the rooftop terrace and pool at The Westin Houston Medical Center in the evening, admiring the buildings lit up around you. With luxury finishes in all the rooms and a full business suite, you can have it all here, whether you’re visiting Houston for business or pleasure.

Hotel Zaza Houston Museum District

Hotel Zaza Houston Museum District

If dark design and decor are high on your Houston accommodation wishlist, check yourself into Hotel Zaza Houston Museum District. With the outstanding Monarch restaurant & bar serving up first-class cuisine, and beautifully-designed rooms and suites, all with their own personality, you’ll never want to leave!


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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