Being the biggest city in Texas, Houston is home to many amazing things to see. While awe-inspiring downtown architecture, vibrant Heights stores, and eye-popping murals might not be anything too outside the norm, there are plenty of destinations that give Houston its curious magic. This summer, discover these 10 quirky places in Houston to add a little curiosity to your season!
Run by the Orange Show, the self-same group behind a few of Houston’s quirkier destinations (see below), the Art Car Museum, otherwise known as the “Garage Mahal” was conceptualized in 1984 and later founded in 1998. Now, the motorcar museum exists as a contemporary art exposition that champions personal expression and creativity.
The suburbs are known for many things: chain restaurants, strip malls, cookie-cutter homes, tumultuous HOAs — as mixed-residential counties devoid of personality and/or culture. While there’s no shortage of churches in Dairy Ashford, what you might not expect to find is an abandoned Taoist palace.
The impressive exterior of this austere five-story sanctuary is a geometrical work of symmetry. It features two opposing, diagonal staircases, a giant rectangular front entrance, twin prismatic pillars, and a herculean geodesic orb on top. Inside is over 40,000 square feet of who-knows-what.
Featured on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not – remember that show? – the Beer Can House puts frat houses and your uncle’s shed of empties to shame with over 50,000 cans constructing this beer can casa.
According to the organization’s website, the project began back in 1968 when retired railroad upholsterer, John Milkovisch began experimenting with mixing pieces of metal, marble, and rocks into concrete and redwood. Once he filled his backyard with these quirky little landscape features, Milkovisch went to work on his house, adorning it with aluminum beer can siding over the course of 18 years.
Smithers Park, a creative urban space filled with technicolored mosaic installations, a meditation garden, a whimsical set of swings, and more! Curated by The Orange Show Center For Visionary Art – the same organization behind the Art Car Parade and Beer Can House. As such, Smither is embedded with the same quirky and endearing community-driven artistic flair.
Tucked in a little pocket of Northwest Houston is a small yet glorious English village complete with a 17,000-square-foot University of Oxford-inspired library, train, and cobblestone street. Located on CEO Mark Lanier’s 35-acre estate, the library encompasses 17,000 square feet, equipped with plenty of nooks and crannies to cozy up and study, research, and/or get lost in one of its 100,000 volumes.
A short drive outside of Houston in the small town of Bellville Texas lies a medieval castle equipped with a 3,000-pound drawbridge, moat, and a knightly guest quarters. His fortress, located in the rolling countryside of Bellville, five corner turrets, a chapel, portcullis, and courtyard – all of which Newman built brick-by-brick.
Tucked in the heart of Montrose, across the shaded lawn from the Menil Collection is the quiet, unassuming Rothko Chapel. Since 1971, the chapel has served as a modern landmark and quiet sanctuary. Inside the space a stillness is almost palpable, giving visitors a meditative ambiance upon which to look upon the 14 Rothko murals adorning its walls.
8. The Orange Show
The group behind Houston’s Beer Can House, Art Car Museum, and Smithers Parks gets its name from the eponymous Orange Show, an eclectic monument honoring the fruit.
Destination Mound Town is an immersive experience from the mind of world-renowned artist, Trenton Doyle Hancock. Inside the tunnel lies a Dr. Seuss-like world of fantastic figures, whimsical creatures, strange plants, real and imagined animals, and a kaleidoscopic whirl of vibrant colors.
10. The Cistern
“Underground” has long been the moniker to describe art, music, and film outside the mainstream passed, traded, and discussed by those in the know. In Houston, the underground art scene could mean just that, or, it could refer to the art scene literally underground at the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern.