RICE UNIVERSITY’S TWILIGHT EPIPHANY SKYSPACE
Take the trek to Rice University for a truly unique experience at the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace. Built in 2012, this art installation is a cross between a space-inspired structure and an imitation of a natural sunrise or sunset. From the upper sitting area, visitors can view the splendor of Houston’s skyline. From the lower level, you can look past the alternating lights into the starry sky. The light show takes place twice per day, Wednesday – Sunday, but closed on Tuesdays.
ROSEMONT PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE
Everyone wants a good view of Downtown Houston. One of the best kept secrets for the hero shot of the skyline is at Rosemont Pedestrian Bridge. The bridge was constructed to connect nearby neighborhoods, like Montrose, and provide access to Buffalo Bayou's 200 acre park while creating a new tree-top view of Buffalo Bayou and Houston's downtown skyscrapers. From the bridge you’ll also have convenient access to Spotts Park, Cleveland Park and Memorial Drive and the Buffalo Bayou trails systems.
CULLEN SCULPTURE GARDEN
The Cullen Sculpture Garden is an outdoor extension of Houston’s Museum of Fine Art in Montrose. This acre is a vision of trees, sloping walls, and outdoor sculptures from artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Henri Matisse, and Joan Miró. This garden was created by sculptor Isamu Noguchi who wanted to approach to the traditional idea of a garden—framed by concrete walls ranging in height, the works of sculpture are complemented by native trees, bamboo, and flowering crepe myrtle.
A different kind of beauty awaits you at Smither Park. Located on the East End of town, the park showcases work from hundreds of artists from all over the U.S., many of whom used recycled materials to create colorful mosaic masterpieces. Other features include a 400-foot memory wall, an amphitheater, meditation area, covered pavilion, an interactive sculpture and more. If you’re looking for something to do, Smither Park often has lots of events such as concerts and movie screenings.
Everything is bigger in Texas, so it’s no wonder Houston’s Armand Bayou boasts one of the largest urban wilderness preserves in the country. The bayou’s ecosytem is pretty incredible, containing 2,500 acres of the natural wetlands forest, prairie and marsh habitats. Keep an eye open for any of the 370 creatures that call the area home. There’s also the Bison Observation Deck, a children’s discovery area and the Martyn Farm Site, which harkens back to 1890s Texas.
WAUGH BRIDGE BAT COLONY
An outing that includes a trip to see hundreds of thousands of bats in one place may not sound like your traditional sightseeing adventure, but it’s a must see. The Waugh Bridge Bat Colony is home to Mexican free-tailed bats that come out at night. Unlike other bat colonies that migrate south for the winter, these creatures stay in Houston year-round. You can check out the bats from the observation deck in Buffalo Bayou Park. Just remember, bat etiquette means no camera flashes or bright light, no loud noises and no touching grounded bats for any reason.
Canopy trees, winding pathways and quiet serenity await at the Glenwood Cemetery. Only one mile from downtown Houston, this picturesque final resting place dates back to the late 1800s and includes headstones from more than a century ago. A large oak tree, said to be about 130 years old, acts as a centerpiece to an already beautifully landscaped area. Elaborate statues, water features and wrought-iron gates decorate the 88 acres of green space. Glenwood Cemetery is definitely one of Houston’s best-kept secrets.
RICE UNIVERSITY LOVETT HALL AND CLOISTERS
Rice University is truly one of the most beautiful university campuses in the country. Not to be missed on any college tour or visit to Houston is a trip to Lovett Hall and the surrounding cloisters, which make up the Academic Quadrangle. The architecture in this area is Mediterranean Revival style which emphasizes light brick facades, quadrangles, archways, and decorative columns. The Lovett Hall cloisters are made up of decorative columns, partial barrel vaults, groin vaults, and the signature Rice brick detailing.
BAYOU BEND COLLECTION AND GARDEN
There are so many sights to see at the Bayou Bend Collection and Garden. Between the beautiful home, the on-site collection and the grounds, it makes for a beautiful day. The stately manor that houses the collection is the former home of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg and boasts one of the finest showcases of American furnishings, silver, ceramics, and paintings in the world. Finally, the house is situated on 14 acres of natural woodlands and winding ravines. There are also gracious and beautiful gardens which Hogg intended to be outdoor rooms for living and entertaining, not just views to be admired from within the house.
MINUTE MAID PARK
Last, but certainly not least is Minute Maid Park home of World Series champions, the Houston Astros. Baseball is American’s favorite pastime, so spending an afternoon or evening at this mecca of major league ball is a must. Situated in Downtown Houston, Minute Maid Park sits between skyscrapers that are a sight to behold when the roof is open. Speaking of the roof, it retracts completely off of the ballpark to reveal the largest open area of any retractable roofed baseball stadium in existence today. Further, a total of 50,000 square feet of glass in the west wall of the retractable roof give fans a view of the Houston skyline, even when the roof is in the closed position.