Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston#4 in Best Things To Do in Houston
"Houston, we've had a problem." Most Americans have heard of the infamous phrase uttered by the Apollo 13 crew when it encountered a spacecraft explosion mid-flight on its way to the moon (or its modified "Apollo 13" movie version, "Houston, we have a problem"). The astronauts were communicating with Mission Control at this NASA space center, about 25 miles southeast of downtown Houston.
Opened in 1963 as NASA's human spaceflight hub, the center still operates as one of the country's major space centers for personnel training, research and more. Travelers interested in learning a little more about the space center's history can check out the visitors center adjacent to the facility, Space Center Houston.
The sprawling 250,000-square-foot "educational entertainment complex" invites visitors to explore its space artifacts and interactive exhibits, as well as learn about the human spaceflight program. Attractions include science and space shows, displays of shuttle launches, exhibits of space suites, Mission Control tours and a Starship Gallery full of artifacts.
Recent guests raved about the most popular attraction, a 90-minute narrated tram tour that explores some of the most interesting aspects of the space center and grounds. Visitors say the facility is especially fun for children and families, and suggest booking the free timed tickets for the tram tour in advance as the center can get crowded. Patrons will get a look at some of the space center's most interesting aspects, including astronauts in training and Mission Control.
Space Center Houston is generally open on week days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., but check the website for specific seasonal hours. The center provides detailed itineraries so guests can get the most of their visit. You can save money on admission by purchasing Houston's CityPASS, otherwise, tickets cost $29.95 for adults, $27.95 for seniors and $24.95 for children ages 4 to 11; kids 3 and younger can enter for free. Ample parking is available on-site and costs $5. For more information on the attractions, visit Space Center Houston's website or the Johnson Space Center website.
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#1 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
No trip to Texas is complete without a visit to a rodeo. And in Houston, there's no better place to watch riders saddle up than the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. When competition season rolls around (typically between late February and early March), crowds descend on NRG Stadium to watch daily rodeo shows that feature a variety of competitions, such as bareback riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, barrel racing and more. Livestock shows, which also occur during rodeo competition season, feature traditional events such as livestock auctions, calf scrambles and horse shows.
Travelers who were visiting Houston during rodeo season said the events are a blast. Those who said they've been to rodeos or livestock shows before say the Houston Rodeo is one of the best they've ever attended, and encouraged families to bring kids as they'll be fascinated by all of the animals. Even if you aren't particularly into rodeos, visitors say a trip here is still worth your time because the venue offers so many attractions, activities and events. Some of these include an amusement park, concerts (which in the past have included the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Cardi B), parades, barbecue contests, trail rides and more.
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