18 Enchanting Places In Houston You Won’t Believe Really Exist
The fairy tale is so real!
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 19 flights of fantasy are what dreams are made of — in all their wonderstruck, weird, and wild ways.
You’ll see what we mean.
Where: 1 Monument Cir., La Porte
Jutting a dizzying 567.31 feet into the air, this is the world’s tallest 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.
Where: 5501 Main St.
A testament to the magnificence of neo-Gothic architecture, the church has a grandeur reminiscent of medieval European cathedrals.
Where: 2402 Munger St.
The ultimate homage to the orange, this 3,000-square-foot folk-art environment was built single-handedly by the late 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.
Where: 140 Heights Blvd.
Known as the “Garage Muhal,” 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.
Where: 222 Malone St.
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.
Where: Rice University, 6100 Main St.
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 choreographed sounds. 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.
Where: 2800 Post Oak Blvd.
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.
Where: 5101 Montrose Blvd.
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.
Where: 5101 Montrose Blvd.
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.
Where: 1150 Brand Ln.
Fantasy is on another level with this traditional Hindu temple that’s the first of its kind in North America. 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.
Where: 105 Sabine St.
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 — made all the more hypnotic by the exhibit, Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern: Spatial Chromointerference, which was on view until January 13, 2019.
Where: 2441 Munger St.
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.
Where: 410 Bagby St. at Memorial Dr.
Truly an underwater marvel, the 500,000-gallon aquatic wonderland is home to more than 200 species from around the globe — and maybe a scuba-diving marriage proposal, too.
Where: Intersection of Waugh and Memorial Drive
This fairy-tale forest is positively dreamy with bright blue- and green-painted trunks that are the very picture of urban Zen — and also like something out of a Dr. Seuss story.
Where: 1435 Westheimer Rd.
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 is like a massive abstract canvas coloring the city as far as the eye can see.
Where: 400 Texas Ave.
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.
Where: 1000 Bagby St.
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. The “Open House” installation that’s taken up residence here offers a new hole-in-the-wall view of downtown — literally.
Where: 6000 Fannin St.
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.
Where: 9889 Bellaire Blvd., #D232
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.
Where: 2330 Holmes Rd.
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.
Where: 2202 Dallas St.
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.
Where: 3695 Overture Dr.
Described as a “Mayan Epcot Center,” the eccentric building with a gold geodesic dome was intended as the centerpiece of a Hong Kong-based Taoist compound. Long story short, the sect’s leader was deported, and the project was abandoned. What’s even odder is that the massive, 50,000-square-foot sci-fi structure is now just hanging out in the midst of a multi-family housing community.
Where: 1446 Yale St.
The weird, wacky, and wonderful all converge at this macabre-meets-magnificent destination, where you’ll find everything from taxidermy animals to exotic furnishings, worldly artifacts, twisted Victorian treasures and more — all inspired by Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe.