One would not think of Houston, Texas, as the kind of city where you can find some of the most strange and quirky touristic attractions in the whole USA… but you know, life, as much as this city, is full of surprises! So, in this post we´ll be seeing some of the quirkiest attractions in this city, everything from a mysterious eco-art installation hidden in the middle of Houston to a park filled to the brim with mosaics and even an old water reservoir turned into an otherworldly underground attraction!
Now, before we start, it’s important that we discuss a crucial detail: Transportation. You see, moving within most US cities, Houston included, can be a bit of a hassle if you don’t have a vehicle, this is because most of the transportation infrastructure here is centered around driving and not public transport, not to mention that there are huge expanses of terrain in between each attraction, even if they are at a similar area!
Don’t worry though, getting a vehicle in this city is simpler than it looks. For example, you can befriend a wealthy Texan and borrow one of his many spare limousines for a week, but, for greater results, you can always rent a car, and with broker sites such as Miles Car Rental this is always an easier task, as the site provides many options and often some of the lowest prices.
Now, without further ado let’s begin our strange and fascinating trip through Houston!
1. Waugh Drive Bat Colony
It’s currently unknown how many bat-costumed vigilantes there are in Houston. But what we do know is that a huge colony of Mexican free-tailed bats calls this city their home, and they protect the innocent civilians from supervillains such as mosquitos and other insectoid pests, whose numbers would grow out of control if it wasn’t for these tiny and hungry protectors.
The colony lives underneath Waugh Drive Bridge, and unlike many other colonies which migrate to warmer climates in winter, they stay in the city year-round, emerging by the thousands at dusk, making a natural spectacle like no other in the world. The city has arranged a special bat viewing deck at Buffalo Bayou Park for your convenience. Remember not to use the flash of your camera nor to make any loud sounds as that interferes with the bat’s emergence.
2. The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park
Speaking of Buffalo Bayou, what if I told you that within this pleasant park, there is an odd underground structure with megalithic pillars, and pools of reflective light. It truly looks like an entrance to an eldritch realm of madness! I’m talking of “The Cistern” one of Houston’s most fascinatingly strange structures.
It was once a water reservoir but due to an unfixable leak, the reservoir was slowly abandoned, leaving behind a huge underground complex. There were plans to demolish it, or even use it as mulch storage, but in the end, the directives of Buffalo Bayou Park decided on keeping it as an odd attraction for visitors.
Now, the cistern stands as a tranquil space where visitors can go for escaping normality, there are even some light shows projected at the enormous concrete pillars.
The tickets for entering are 5$ per person for a 30-minute guided tour. This strange place opens Thursdays and Fridays from 1:00pm to 5:30pm. It’s free on Thursdays but reservations are required. On weekends it opens from 11:00am to 5:30pm
3. Big Bubble
It seems that the Buffalo Bayou is the thing that connects every weird thing in this city, so let’s see one of the strangest places in this river: Big Bubble. Now, this is nothing like any other touristic attraction you’ve ever seen anywhere as it’s actually a hidden feature of Houston, sort of like an Easter Egg, the kind of thing that you only find if you really want to find it.
What is it? Well, imagine this: you’re crossing a bridge, minding your own business when suddenly, you find a little red button in the middle of the bridge. Curiosity overtakes and you press the button, for a moment nothing really happens, but then the river beneath you begins bubbling as if it was boiling. Did you just activate a doomsday device?! Have you accidentally started a chain reaction that will disintegrate the whole river?!!
Don’t worry you’re actually making the river a little less toxic. You see, Buffalo Bayou is a very slow-moving river which means that it tends to get stagnant, and thus a little stinky at times. So, an unknown eco-artist decided to make a device that oxygenates the river via bubbles, however, artists being artists, he or she decided that it would be the curiosity of passers-by that would activate it every now and then, so if you ever see the button press it! However, don’t mistake it for Houston’s self-destruct button, which is located nearby… just kidding!
This one is a bit hard to find: you must get to Mosbacher Bridge and check on the red brick structures on the pedestrian sections of the bridge, hidden in one of them you´ll find the mythic button.
4. Smither Park
I just love places that are dripping with art and uniqueness in every nook and cranny. Luckily there is such as place here in Houston: Smither park. This place is pretty much a living breathing monument to outsider art.
Here you can find thousands of mosaics, decorating a park and making it a true piece of art. It’s unbelievable! There is a little art piece in every single centimeter, in the swing sets, on the pavement, on the benches, and pretty much everywhere but the grass!
I mean it’s not what you’d call Houston’s equivalent to Disneyworld, but hey, I assure you that you´ll have truly unique photos.
Now this one is not in Buffalo Bayou Park so there will be a little bit of driving involved to get there. Don’t forget to reserve a vehicle with Miles Car Rental for your trip to Houston if you want to enjoy this and many other amazingly weird places.
It’s located at 2441 Munger St, which is only 15 minutes away from downtown.
And there you have it, but those were only a few of the strange and fascinating places you can sprinkle on your travel itinerary to Houston, so what are you waiting for? Go out there and explore as there are many others!