Things to Do in Houston: By JUNKET
Did you know Houston is home to a herd of free-range buffalo? Or that there is a buried key hidden in the city that unlocks a vault of precious gems? Or that it has a folk-art show dedicated to the orange?
A city of larger-than-life proportions, where towering skyscrapers and sprawling suburbs collide with the untamed wilderness of the bayous and prairies surrounding it, Houston stands tall and proud, a beacon of modernity and progress rising from the vast and rugged landscape.
Yet, it is also a city with an undeniably unique history, where the legends of cowboys and outlaws still linger. The pioneering spirit of the Old West still burns bright, holding its own against the flames from NASA launchpads lighting up the night sky.
From the vast darkness of space to the swirling dust of the rodeo, Houston is a city that defies definition and demands exploration.
A Trip Through Space and Time
Full of vibrant and diverse attractions, Houston offers visitors an unforgettable experience in one of the largest cities in the nation. Take a stroll through the lush greenery of Hermann Park, where you can admire the beauty of the Japanese Garden and the serene reflection pool, or step back in time at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where you can explore ancient artifacts, gaze upon towering dinosaur skeletons, and marvel at sparkling gems and minerals from around the world.
Get up close and personal with exotic animals from all corners of the globe at the Houston Zoo and tour the iconic Space Center Houston, where you can immerse yourself in the history of space exploration and marvel at the massive rockets that took humanity to the moon.
Bayou City Ghosts
As the sun sets over Houston, the city takes on a magical glow, with the vibrant skyline shining bright against the colorful hues of the evening sky. The air is thick with the sound of live music that drifts along downtown avenues, and the tantalizing scent of international cuisine wafting from street vendors and upscale restaurants.
But as night falls, the city's eerie side comes to life, with haunted tales and restless spirits lurking around every corner. Embark on the fascinating Houston Ghost Tour and delve into the darker side of this iconic Texas town, where you be invited to:
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The Future of the West
The area that is now Houston was first inhabited by Native American tribes who settled along the banks of Buffalo Bayou, a source of life-giving water in an otherwise barren, swampy, and scorching-hot climate. The land was claimed by Spain in 1693 and during Spanish rule, Houston was not a destination, but a rest stop along the way – a mission outpost on a major trade route.
The first European settlement was destroyed during the Texas Revolution, and after the surrender of Spanish forces, the area was claimed by the new Republic of Texas. As an important component of "The New West" in that era, it beckoned many European Americans from frontier states such as Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee to try their hand at taming the wild, uncompromising territory.
In a harsh, often unforgiving land, early pioneers found a haven in an unlikely place—the remnants of a war-torn village.
Two enterprising brothers from New York, Augustus and John Allen, bought land near the burned-out settlement and began advertising their property as the “Future of the West.” They named it for the war hero and first elected President of Texas, Sam Houston, and set out to develop the settlement into a commercial success.
From Minor Outpost to Major Port
Streets and buildings were mapped in an orderly fashion, but even with the formations of several churches, the town of Houston became infamous for its vices – brawling, drunkenness, prostitution, dueling, and profanity.
“Houston is a wretched little town composed of about twenty shops, and a hundred huts, dispersed here and there, among trunks of felled trees. It is infested with Methodists and ants.” – Emmanuel-Henri- Dieudonné Domenech (1848)
Hampered by mud, extreme temperatures, fires, and yellow fever epidemics, the town struggled to grow, but doggedly developed as a shipping port for cotton and other textiles, as well as a thriving home for ranchers.
The arrival of the railroad in 1853 propelled Houston into a prime center for trade and immigration. By the time Texas was annexed into the United States, Houston was proving to be a major international port city and the most populous city in what would become the Lone Star State.
In 1901, oil was discovered in the area, and the home of cotton and cattle was transformed forever into the oil capital of Texas.
The Texas Oil Boom catapulted the city of Houston into a rough and rowdy boomtown, gushing with people as much as the black gold they collected from the ground. It would attract investors, roughnecks, researchers, and politicians, eventually becoming a center for government and education with the construction of railroads, universities, and energy refineries.
From its humble beginnings as a small camp along Buffalo Bayou to its eventual development as a global urban center, Houston has been a city of frontier grit and determination, showcasing the biggest and best of Texas.
A Landscape of Cultures
Although Houston may be known for its cowboy roots and rodeo culture, the city is also a hub for world-class artistic experiences that rival those of any sophisticated metropolis. One could spend a day exploring the Houston Museum District, where top-tier museums showcasing art, science, and history are just a stone's throw away from each other.
Graceful movements and intricate choreography come to life on stage at the Houston Ballet. Be captivated by the majestic architecture of the Wortham Theater Center, with its grand staircases and intricate details. No matter your artistic interests, Houston offers a wealth of cultural enrichment that is sure to leave you awestruck.
“Houston is a city that has been built by dreams, touched by tragedy, and blessed by hard work, perseverance, and the belief that anything is possible.”
– First Lady Barbara Bush
Buffalo, Ballgames, and BBQ
Immerse yourself in the beauty of Houston's great outdoors and explore the stunning parks, gardens, and bayous that make Houston a true natural paradise. A stroll through the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center or a visit to the Buffalo Bayou Park will give you a taste of the city's natural beauty and fascinating wildlife.
And of course, no trip to Houston is complete without indulging in its diverse culinary scene, from classic Texas staples at world-renowned smokehouses like Burns Original BBQ to fusion dishes featuring international flavors like Vietnamese and Creole.
Get to Know Houston
In addition to the Junket Houston Experience, the city offers a wide range of entertainment opportunities, from fascinating museums and outdoor activities to art galleries and historic architecture. Some of Houston’s most popular attractions include:
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