Winter birds looking to escape colder temperatures can flock to Houston for a splendid time. From world-class museums to top-notch culinary options, there is plenty to see, do, and taste in Houston for seniors traveling solo or with their families and grandchildren. Read on for our suggestions and make sure you take advantage of free and discounted admissions to many of Houston’s attractions.
SEE AND DO
The official visitor’s center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Space Center Houston gives visitors of all ages a look at manned space flight. Enjoy learning about space through artifacts, exhibits, and a behind-the-scenes tram tour of Mission Control and astronaut training facilities. The center, its trams and tour buses, and theaters are all wheelchair accessible; and a small number of wheelchairs are available for visitors free of charge. Discounted tickets for seniors 65 and over are $27.95. To avoid lines, get your tickets in advance online.
Home to 19 cultural institutions, Houston’s Museum District is the city’s cultural heartbeat. Many of the museums have free admission days as well as discounted tickets for seniors.
Not sure where to start? Don’t miss The Museum of Fine Arts, the nation’s sixth largest museum and home to more than 65,000 works of art from antiquity to modern day. Stop by the Cullen Sculpture Garden across the street from the museum to enjoy some calm and fresh air surrounded by sculptures from 20th- and 21st-century artists including Henri Matisse, and Auguste Rodin. Discounted tickets ($10) are available for seniors 65 and over.
A few blocks away, the Houston Museum of Natural Science will delight you with its exhibits on astronomy, space science, wildlife, and more. Make sure you walk through the museum’s Cockrell Butterfly Center, a rainforest setting that houses hundreds of live butterflies flying around and occasionally landing on visitors. The museum’s hall of paleontology is another popular exhibit, where visitors (including the grandchildren) will enjoy seeing the fossils and skeletons of prehistoric creatures. Admission for seniors 62 and over is $15 — $10 off regular admission.
Both museums are wheelchair accessible and have a limited amount of courtesy wheelchairs available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
This 155-acre urban oasis is located some four miles from downtown on the western side of Memorial Park. A nature sanctuary nestled inside the city, the Houston Arboretum is the perfect place to escape the busy pace of Houston without leaving it. The arboretum has five miles of trails surrounded by native plants and wildlife, including wheelchair accessible trails near its new entrance on the 610 loop. Admission to the arboretum is free but one-hour guided tours are available Tuesdays through Fridays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. for $7.
For a quick escape from the city, Galveston Island is a beach destination less than an hour away from Houston. Enjoy the Gulf breeze, Galveston’s historic architecture, and the array of shopping and dining options in its Historic Strand District. Houston Metro offers an Island Express service, which shuttles you from downtown Houston to Galveston for only $9 each way.
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Considered the culinary capital of the South, Houston has endless options when it comes to food. Its culinary scene is as diverse as the city’s residents, making it hard to narrow down choices to just a few but here are some good places to start.
Enjoy a sizzling plate of fajitas at Ninfa’s On Navigation, a Houston institution that’s a favorite among locals for Tex-Mex in a lively atmosphere. You can’t go wrong with any of chef Hugo Ortega’s Houston restaurants, but Xochi, in the relatively new Marriott Marquis hotel downtown, delights with its authentic Oaxacan cuisine. For a fine selection of steaks, seafood and wine, try Vic and Anthony’s in downtown Houston.
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Hotel Derek, modern boutique hotel with Texan flair, is conveniently located between The Galleria shopping mall and the River Oaks Shopping District. For a more luxurious stay, The Houstonian Hotel offers an unparalleled experience in a historic setting not too far from The Galleria.
Downtown Houston has welcomed many new hotel additions in the past year. The Marriott Marquis lies in the heart of downtown, overlooks Discovery Green Park and Avenida Houston. With 1,000 rooms, two restaurants, two bars and an array of amenities, it’s a good choice for a vacation in town. Marriott Hotels offer special rates for seniors 62 and older. For a more intimate atmosphere, The Sam Houston Hotel, a historic boutique hotel, offers nicely appointed guest rooms within walking distance to many of downtown’s attractions.
These hotels all offer wheelchair accessible facilities and rooms.
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Cars are the easiest way to get around Houston but you don’t necessarily have to rent one during your stay. If you’re staying in the downtown area, the city offers Greenlink buses that run among the area’s most popular destinations every 7 to 10 minutes. Rides are free and accessible.
The city’s Metro Rail system also offers convenient and accessible service between downtown and NRG Park, including stops in the Museum District. All-day passes are available for $3 and seniors 65 and over receive 50 percent off.
The Uber ride-sharing app is also a convenient way to get around, and Houston is among the cities that offer UberAccess, which provides services to assist people with disabilities.
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