The Houston Bucket List: 40 Things to Do Before You Die

Published On 05/11/2015 Published On 05/11/2015

Whether you want to make the most of the city while you’re young, are a newcomer with no friends and not much else to do, or have lived here forever but need a good reason to put on pants, consider this your official guide to everything you need to do in Houston before you die (or leave town, which would basically mean you’re dead to us). Time to start living:

1. Kayak the Buffalo Bayou

Work up a sweat while you take in the Houston skyline, navigate the twists and turns of the bayou, or explore the three-mile stretch from Lost Lake to Allen’s landing. Bayou City Adventures offers tours for all levels of experience. 

2. Pull of the Museum Triple Crown

Hit the prized Menil Campus, Museum of Natural Science, and Museum of Fine Arts (one of the first and biggest art museums in Texas) all in one day, because you crazy like that.

3. Tailgate at NRG Stadium 

Texans tailgate parties are a thing of legends. Bring some meat to grill, a table for flip cup, and your party hat.


4. Sip a classic at Anvil 

What started out as a training guide for Anvil’s bartenders has become a list of 100 classic, expertly crafted cocktails for you to work on. Better get started.

5. Experience the Houston Ballet 

The fifth-largest professional ballet company in the US puts on over 75 shows in the beautiful Wortham Theater every year. That’s 75 chances to get cultured and earn some major points with the girlfriend.

6. Catch a free show at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Bring a blanket, picnic, and box of wine to Miller Outdoor Theatre, where you’ll find free music, plays, and shows running March through November.

7. Get rowdy at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo 

Watch bull-riding, eat smoked meat and deep-fried everything, and catch live music during this glorious 2½ week event in March. Just be sure to two-step at the Hideout afterward.

The Pass and Provisions

8. Treat yourself to a fancy-pants meal

Oxheart and The Pass may only be a few years old, but both dining destinations have become Houston standbys. Hit them up for seasonally inspired, extravagantly plated, and seriously good tasting menus. Or hit up old-school fine-dining resto Tony’s for a full-on classic experience. 

9. Slurp oysters at Gilhooley’s 

The dive’s wood-fire roasted, Parmesan-garlic butter coated oysters are totally deserving of the short drive to San Leon.

10. Eat a CFS at Triple A Restaurant 

Fattening up Houstonians since 1938, this no-frills diner makes the meanest chicken fried steak in town.

11. Cheer on the Astros at Minute Maid Park 

Or at the very least, smash a stuffed BBQ baked potato into yo’ mouth.


12. Conquer the Memorial Park loop 

You can’t consider yourself a Houstonian until you’ve at least attempted to run this popular loop. It’s only about 3mil and you can stop for Beck’s Prime burgers in the middle. You can do it.

13. Catch a cult classic at the River Oaks Theatre 

The theater typically plays The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the second Saturday of every month. Superfans come decked out and ready to belligerently yell at the screen. 

14. Grab a taco from Ultimo Taco Truck 

Head to Long Point for fat and fluffy flour or fresh corn tortillas stuffed with impossibly delicious things like chicharrones, barbacoa, and lengua. Now wash it all down with a Mexican coke. Rinse. And repeat.

15. Spend a late night at House of Pies 

Because a giant slice of Bayou Goo tastes even better at 4am.

Hotel ZaZa Houston

16. Staycation at Hotel ZaZa 

With views of Downtown and the beautiful Hermann Park, plus a pretty dope pool, bar, and restaurant, it’s impossible to have a bad time at this boutique hotel.

17. Get some Frenchy’s 

Open since 1969, this Third Ward standby fries up the crispest, most satisfyingly greasy bird in town. Even Beyoncé knows it.

18. Bring Fido to the Johnny Steele Dog Park 

Or, if you don’t have a dog, creepily watch others’ dogs splash around in the ponds.


19. Take in the skyline from 60 stories up

The Sky Lobby, located on the 60th floor of JP Morgan Chase Tower, boasts killer views of the city. Plus it’s free and open to the public on weekdays from 9am-5pm. 

20. Two words: Pedal Party 

Because there’s nothing more fun than a tandem bike/trolley with a keg in the middle.

21. Block party in the Heights

Lights in the Heights (December) and White Linen Night (August) are two street ragers you don’t want to miss.

Killen's BBQ

22. Brave the lines at The Breakfast Klub and Killen’s Barbecue

The waits will be worth it once you stuff your face with TBK’s famous fried chicken wings & waffles and/or coat your fingers with Killen’s smoky, succulent meat-candy.

23. Spend an entire Sunday day drinking 

With all of the excellent brunches, Bloody Marys, beer towers, and outdoor watering holes running rampant in this city, at least one over-the-top Sunday Funday needs to happen.

24. Sip American-bred whiskey at Poison Girl 

Visit Houston’s favorite dive bar to whiskey-taste and vintage-pinball the night away.

25. Rock your face off to live music 

Hit venues like Fitzgerald’s, Walter’s, and The Continental Club to catch live music acts from near and far. 

Houston Dynamo

26. Go orange for the Houston Dynamo 

Because let’s face it, they may be one of the best sports teams in the city.

27. Sit courtside at the Toyota Center 

Or go for the gold and sit with the "Red Rowdies" in section 114. 

28. Get a tres leches cake from El Bollilo 

Graduation? Friend’s birthday? Another lonely Friday night? It doesn’t matter what you’re celebrating; a tres leches cake from El Bollilo Bakery should be involved.

29. Run the Houston Marathon 

Or, who are we kidding, just drink on the sideline and cheer them on.


30. Eat your way through Chinatown

Hit dim sum at Hong Kong Dim Sum or Fung’s Kitchen to eat all the dumplings and fried chicken feet your little heart desires. Get after hours pho at Pho Binh by Night, Vietnamese crawfish at Crawfish & Noodles, or tongue-scorching eats at Mala Sichuan.

31. Hit up Downtown classics

La Carafe (one of the oldest bars in Houston), Warren’s Inn (one of the chillest bars in Houston) and Dean’s/Notsuoh (two of the coolest/weirdest bars in Houston) are all must-sees.

32. Get kolaches from the Original Kolache Shoppe

Open since 1956, the unassuming bakery on Telephone makes some of the most addicting Czech pastries in town. Get kolaches filled with cream cheese, poppyseeds & fruit and klobasneks stuffed with sausages, cheese, and jalapeños.

33. Go see the bats 

Visit the Waugh Bat Bridge nearly any day at sunset to see over 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats spiraling out from underneath.

Free Press Summer Festival

34. Actually go to Free Press Summer Fest 

Even though it’s in June and you’re bound to be sweating like a madman for the majority of your time there, this two-day music fest is easily Houston’s best.

35. Host your own crawfish boil

Time to man up, throw down some newspaper, and boil some mudbugs for your friends.

36. Visit Mission Control 

Sure it’s a tourist trap, but you can’t live here and not visit the Johnson Space Center at least once.

37. Play 18 holes at Memorial Park 

Or hit up the driving range.


38. Eat a tamale at a dive bar

See that guy with a giant tray full of hot tamales? Go say hey. Now get some tamales.

39. Join in on Critical Mass 

The social bike ride takes over the streets the last Friday of every month.

40. Hit all 10 of these breweries

And drink alllll the beers.

Sign up here for our daily Dallas email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun DFW has to offer.



Learn More