Downtown Houston is the relatively small central district of the city that is an integral part of the history of Houston. This is where the original city was founded in the early 1800s. Even though this is a lively nightlife and bustling business district with gleaming skyscrapers, there are pockets containing wonderful examples of early architecture from the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. This is especially true in the Market Square area, and one of the things to do in Downtown Houston is take advantage of guided and self-guided walking tours available to discover them. You can also enjoy sightseeing that encompasses the city’s lovely skyline that includes the JP Morgan Chase Building. Built in 1929, it is one of the finest examples of an art deco skyscraper in the United States. Other art deco examples include the Esperson Buildings (Neils, built in 1927, and Mellie, built in 1942), the 1939 Houston City Hall, and the 1926 Houston Public Library.
There are numerous downtown Houston events as this is also home to the city’s theater distric and the George R Brown Convention Center. Here is the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, the Theatre Under the Stars, the Houston Ballet, the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony, and the Alley Theatre. These centers for performing arts comprise the second largest concentrations (after New York City) of theater seats in a downtown area in the United States—and the city is one of only a handful in the country with permanent professional residential companies in all major performing arts disciplines.
Even more Downtown Houston events are available in the sporting world. The city’s baseball, basketball, and hockey teams all have facilities in the Downtown Houston area. You can see the NBA Rockets play at the Toyota Center, and enjoy concerts there during the off season. This is also where the NHL Houston Aeros play. And, the Astros baseball team bats it out in Minute Maid Field.
Things to do in Downtown Houston include shopping and dining. Main Street Square (with its own metro station) boasts scores of restaurants, bars and clubs as well as shops, boutiques, galleries, and department stores. Bayou Place also has these. Other Downtown Houston attractions include the Houston Aquarium, which offers both a traditional aquarium experience and amusement park rides, including a Ferris wheel, carousel, and a train that travels in an underwater glass tunnel surrounded by sharks. It even has a unique restaurant built around a giant tank full of fish, stingrays, and sharks. This facility is owned by Landry’s Restaurants, which also owns the popular Kemah Boardwalk on Galveston Bay.
After dinner and after the theater, you can enjoy Downtown Houston nightlife at name venues like the House of Blues and Hard Rock Café as well as many other nightclubs, music bars, discos, and bistros. There are also plenty of hotels to choose from, including the Four Seasons and Hilton America Convention Center Hotel. The Alden Houston is a 97-room luxury boutique hotel that was built in 1924 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Things to do in Downtown Houston also include a surprising number of lush parks. Sam Houston Park, full of historic homes from around the city, is one of the largest. It also contains one of the museums that chronicles the history of the state, the Museum of Texas History. One of the Downtown Houston events is held in this park each year over the Christmas holidays. During the Candlelight Tour in the Park, the historic homes and churches are gaily decorated and re-enactors in traditional costumes conduct tours. Across from the George R. Brown Convention Center is Discovery Green, a new park opened in 2008 that contains an amphitheater, restaurants, dog runs, a jogging trail, and a two-acre lawn. Almost all events held here are free.