There are many reasons why a trip to Space Center Houston is the basis of so many visits to Texas’ largest city. Anyone with even a keen interest in space exploration is sure to leave NASA’s vast and historic headquarters in Houston in awe.
Whether it’s trekking the elusive 363-foot length of the Saturn V rocket – the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever flown – to the chance to glimpse the continued efforts of the NASA to reach Mars, a full day can evaporate in an instant. This is especially true if you sign up for a tour led by one of the museum’s passionate and knowledgeable guides (ours had been there for decades, but still hushed up when describing the death of his childhood hero, Gus Grissom, and two other astronauts during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission).
But the wonders of Houston aren’t limited to alien things by any means. The city’s museum district offers more to see than you can pack on one trip.
During a visit to the city earlier this year, my family was captivated by the wonders of the permanent exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Floor by floor, we were treated to a history of American art with works like Thomas Eakins, Frederic Edwin Church and Georgia O’Keeffe. We were particularly struck by Frederic Remington’s evocative paintings of the American West, including “The Blanket Signal”.
The museum also attracts stellar traveling exhibits. Exhibits starting this month include a collection of nearly 100 photographs taken by Georgia O’Keefe during her lifetime and an exhibition of sculptures, paintings and other works by Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder.
Just steps from the Museum of Fine Arts is the exceptionally kid-friendly Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. Among the museum’s permanent exhibits is the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, which will widen the eyes of children (and adults) who appreciate shiny crystals and gold.
In total, the district has 19 museums grouped into four pedestrian zones, covering everything from photography and crafts to health and African American culture. Trying to pack even one area in a few days takes the pride and courage of an astronaut, making it Houston’s premier weekend.
The luxurious Blossom Houston Hotel recently opened near NRG Stadium, where boutique Hotel ZaZa is located in the Museum District and Memorial City District. bloomhouston.com, hotelzaza.com
Legend has it that fajitas were first created by “Mama” Ninfa Laurenzo in 1973, and they are still served at Original Ninfa’s, which also offers an extensive menu of Tex-Mex dishes. ninfas.com
Another type of art, which emphasizes immersive and sometimes surreal experiences made possible by the lights and sounds produced by technology, invites the 40,000 square foot Seismic. seismic.com