20 Enchanting Places In Houston You Won’t Believe Really Exist

The fairytale is so real!
Left: Tent that looks like a portal to a new world, right: pink cloudy icecream.

Left: Tent that looks like a portal to a new world, right: pink cloudy icecream.

If you’re long overdue for a phantasmagoric experience, you’re about to get lucky. After all, it should come as no surprise that a place nicknamed "Space City" should come equipped with a rush of surreal destinations.

These 20 flights of fantasy are what dreams are made of — in all their wonderstruck, weird, and wild ways.

You’ll see what we mean.

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San Jacinto Battle Monument

Where: 1 Monument Cir., La Porte, TX

Jutting a dizzying 567.31 feet into the air, this is the world’s tallest stone monument column — and it definitely looks it, especially if you’re brave enough to take in the stellar views of the city from the observation deck perched high in the sky. The monument commemorates the battleground that became the birthplace of Texas independence, which is pretty epic in and of itself.

St. Paul United Methodist Church

Where: 5501 Main St., Houston, TX

A testament to the magnificence of neo-Gothic architecture, the church has a grandeur reminiscent of medieval European cathedrals.

The Orange Show

Where: 2402 Munger St., Houston, TX

The ultimate homage to the orange, this 3,000-square-foot folk-art environment was built single-handedly by Jefferson Davis McKissack, a Houston postal worker, between 1956 and 1979. The maze-like design includes vignettes including an oasis, wishing well, museum, stage, decks, and more, all extolling the virtues of the citrus fruit. It’s quite a peculiar place, but also strangely adorable.

Art Car Museum

Where: 140 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX

Known as the “Garage Mahal,” this unique museum glorifies the art car — a subversive transformation of the "factory-made commodity into a personal statement or expression." You’ll see everything from a weird and wild Rex Rabbit bunny-shaped car to a hippie-ditzy floral-decked car, a bronze taxidermy ride, and a bizarre “Roachster” on wheels. Even the museum’s distinctive scrap metal and chrome castle-like exterior has a surreal quality.

Beer Can House

Where: 222 Malone St., Houston, TX

More than 50,000 beer cans adorn this, ahem, buzz-worthy monument. John Milkovisch, a retired upholsterer for the Southern Pacific Railroad, is responsible for the strange residence. He spent 18 years covering the place in flattened cans as an enjoyable pastime. And, now you can tour this residential oddity.

James Turrell Skyspace

Where: 6100 Main St., Houston, TX

With a sleek, otherworldly quality, artist James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace most certainly qualifies as a surreal place to have somewhat of an out-of-body experience — what with the engaging LED light sequence and acoustical engineering. FYI: The futuristic installation is right next to the Shepherd School of Music on the Rice campus — not that you can really miss the massive man-designed wonder.

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

Where: 2800 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX

Curtain-like sheets of water pour down this towering, 64-foot-tall sculptural wonder at a rate of 11,000 gallons per minute. It’s an urban waterfall like you’ve never seen before.

The Glassell School of Art

Where: 5101 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX

All the sleekly pristine angles in the lobby of this impressive teaching institute of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, seem almost too perfect. The new campus opened in 2018, and it will certainly have you wanting to go to art school.

BBVA Compass Roof Garden

Where: 5101 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX

So, technically it’s the roof of The Glassell School of Art, but the space is so significant, it’s worthy of its own listing. An architectural incline clothed in Asian jasmine shoots up towards the top of the building with a pergola, glass and steel skylight and 360-degree views of downtown to complete the effect.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Houston

Where: 1150 Brand Ln., Stafford, TX

This traditional Hindu temple is the first of its kind in North America and it's stunning. A haven of spirituality and peacefulness, it’s also pure magic. More than 33,000 pieces of Italian marble and Turkish limestone were hand-carved in India, then shipped to Texas to create the jaw-dropping structure.

Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

Where: 105 Sabine St., Houston, TX

No, you haven’t been flung onto a trippy, sci-fi movie set. This subterranean wonderland was once an underground water reservoir, built in 1926. Now, the perfectly spaced, skinny concrete columns (all 221 of them) are a sight to behold.

Smither Park

Where: 2441 Munger St., Houston, TX

With fanciful and functional mosaic art at every turn, this is no ordinary park. A commitment to sustainability and recycling informs the repurposed pieces made of broken ceramic, bottle caps, tiles, and seashells for an eco-fabulous place to hang. What’s more, you can actually watch the artists work every Saturday, further breathing life into the dynamic, artistic playland.

Downtown Aquarium

Where: 410 Bagby St., Houston, TX

Truly an underwater marvel, the 500,000-gallon aquatic wonderland is home to more than 300 species from around the world — and maybe a scuba-diving marriage proposal, too.

Biscuit Paint Wall

Where: 1435 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Could dripping paint be any more beautiful?! This waterfall of hues, painted by Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau, is on the side of Biscuit Home’s building in Montrose, and it's like a massive abstract canvas coloring the city as far as the eye can see.

Sesquicentennial Park

Where: 400 Texas Ave., Houston, TX

Created in honor of Houston’s 150th birthday in 1986, the eclectic park flanks Buffalo Bayou and features cascading waterfalls, green spaces, trails, and art, such as Mel Chin's 70-foot pillars, called “Seven Wonders,” that soar into the sky and pay tribute to Houston’s past and present.

Sam Houston Park

Where: 1000 Bagby St., Houston, TX

The juxtaposition of old and new is uncanny at this park where 20 acres of quaint, Victorian-style historic houses and authentically restored buildings mix with a background of modern Houston’s glossy skyscrapers. You can explore nine buildings, most of which were built in the 1800s, for a step back in time.

Japanese Garden at Hermann Park

Where: 6000 Fannin St., Houston, TX

This tranquil urban garden is almost too good to be true with lush nature at every turn coupled with waterfalls, bridges, and stone paths. The garden was designed by the world-renowned landscape architect, Ken Nakajima, and it’s safe to say he delivered an impossibly serene vibe.

Aqua S

Where: 9889 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX

Soft serve floating in a cloud of cotton candy? It looks surreal, but this sweet dream is a reality that you can eat. The Aussie import brings the fluff to Houston, but you really have to taste it to believe it.

Eclectic Menagerie Park

Where: 2330 Holmes Rd., Houston, TX

A bit nightmarish, but oh-so-cool, this private collection of open-air massive steel monsters, gigantic sci-fi creatures, wild animals, random topsy-turvy cars, and other things looms in front of the Texas Pipe and Supply Company.

The Beatles

Where: 2202 Dallas St., Houston, TX

The Beatles are larger than life at the aptly named 8th Wonder Brewery, clocking in at 36 feet tall and four tons each. John, Paul, George and Ringo are the work of Houston artistic legend David Adickes and, apparently, they’re for sale as a set. The cost? $350,000. Pocket change, naturally.