At first glance Houston may seem like a sophisticated city with tall buildings, sprawling highways and abundant green space. Look deeper, though, and you’ll find a friendly and hospitable city with diverse neighborhoods, eccentric art, and quirky museums. Some of Houston’s best loved gems remain under the radar for even Houston’s repeat visitors but people willing to explore will find fun and unique attractions. Read on for a list of funky Houston locations you’ll want to include in your itinerary.
Beer Can House
Beer Can House
John Milkovisch’s beer can-covered house in Rice Military is a Houston landmark. Starting in 1968, Milkovisch spent 18 years decorating his 1940s bungalow with aluminum beer can siding. The house and its front and back yards are covered with flattened beer cans, marbles, and rocks. Clinking curtains made from the cans’ pull-tabs hang from the front porch and eaves, and garlands made of cut beer cans hang from the roof’s edges. Today, the house is owned by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, which has made it into a folk art gallery and workshop where visitors can learn about the evolution of the house and see Milkovisch’s impressive work up close. Learn more.
Art Car Museum
Though very small, the Art Car Museum is a fun and free stop if you live in or visit Houston. Nicknamed the “Garage Mahal,” the museum’s emphasis is on art cars and contemporary arts from local, national and international artists. Its origins date back to the 1984 Collision Show at the Lawndale Art Center, which saw the unveiling of Larry Fuente's Mad Cad, an art car that has since been featured across the country. The popularity of the show lead to art car workshops and eventually Houston’s popular Art Car Parade. Today Houston is considered the “Art Car Capital” so make sure to visit to check out the museum’s featured art cars and rotating exhibits. Learn more.
Listening Vessels at Discovery Green
It’s easy to miss the Listening Vessels at Discovery Green in downtown Houston. Created by sculptor Doug Hollis, the two round concave limestone sculptures sit facing each other in the Wortham Foundation Gardens inside the park. Sit in one and have some else sit in the other. The sculptures focus sound waves and act as mirrors to reflect sound from one to the other. Say something softly and be surprised when the person sitting 70 feet across from you clearly hears what you said despite the distance.
National Museum of Funeral History
Only in Houston can you find a coffin shaped like a Mercedes Benz and a 4,500-pound hearse that is eight feet high and 19 feet long. It may sound a bit morbid but you’ll find everything you may want to know about funerals at the National Museum of Funeral History, a TK museum founded in 1922. Visitors to the museum can explore a 1900s casket factory through original design plans and photographs, see historical caskets, or learn more about embalming during battle in the Civil War Embalming exhibit. Learn more.
Orange Show Monument
This quirky architectural monument in the East End was created by postman Jeff McKissack in honor of his favorite fruit. McKissak worked on the Orange Show from 1956 until his death in 1980. He transformed an empty lot into a colorful architectural maze of walkways, balconies, arenas and exhibits that encourage visitors to follow McKissak’s theories about health, longevity and good nutrition. Pay it a visit. Learn more.
The Big Bubble
If you’re around Houston’s Theater District and come across a red button on the Preston Street bridge, stop, press the button, and watch what happens. The bridge in Sesquicentennial Park overlooks Buffalo Bayou and when curious passersby press the button the water below bubbles and churns. Created by Houston artist Dean Ruck in 1998, the button known as Big Bubble is public art with a very important purpose – aerating the stagnant bayou waters. It’s also a fun and quirky attraction for visitors and locals alike. So, go on, look for that bright red button and press it. It’s extremely satisfying.
By: GHCVB Staff
To download high-res images, visit photo gallery.