5 Must Do Things near NASA & Space Center Houston

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Photo courtesy of Boardwalk FantaSea

In our Must Do Neighborhood series, we take look at Houston’s vast array of neighborhoods to bring you five fun, tasty, and enticing reasons you should give each a visit. Originally published in 2016, we are now refreshing, updating, and adding to this series, including new neighborhoods and destinations.

If you’re taking the trip to the Clear Lake area to check out Space City attraction, Johnson Space Center, you may as well make a day (or weekend) out of it. There is a galaxy-worth of fun waiting nearby. From boardwalk thrills and nature trails to world-class, global eats (including one spot that blends craft brews and Vietnamese fare), here’s what else to do near Space Center Houston.

5 Must Do Things near Nasa & Space Center Houston

  • Stroll, play, and take a thrill ride at Kemah Boardwalk About 5 miles from the Space Center, Kemah Boardwalk is one of the area’s top attractions, evoking the charm of East Coast boardwalks. Open daily for amusement park rides, Gulf Coast eats, live tunes, charming shops, and funky festivals, it’s full of fun. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel, go up, down and around on the Wipeout Wheel, swing high above the ground on the Aviator, and test your fearlessness on the 140-foot Drop Zone or Boardwalk Bullet. If you’re looking to get in the water, the Boardwalk Beast takes you on a thrilling 25-minute boat ride through Galveston Bay (open March through November). Afterward, pop into shops for seaside treats ranging from candy to surf wear, or enjoy a seafood feast at places like the Aquarium Restaurant, Flying Dutchman Restaurant & Oyster Bar, waterfront Landry’s Seafood. Be sure to check out our Walkable Houston guide for even more fun on-foot. Click here for directions.
  • Eat around the world – After exploring all things out-of-this-world at the Space Center, it’s only fair to explore this world’s delights. Ramen fans can slurp tonkotsu ramen with scratch-made noodles at Jinya Ramen Bar; and those looking for a little heat can find it at the aroma-filled Cuisine of India, fiery Thai Spice Rice & Noodle House, or boudin-kissed Abe’s Cajun Market. Barbecue enthusiasts can devour Filipino barbecue at FBQ Filipino Barbecue or go for all-American smokehouse style at Pappas Deltas Blues. The Mediterranean gets in on the action, too, with chances to feast on red sauce Italian classics at Grazia Italian Kitchen or fresh falafel, souvlaki, and moussaka at Mediterraneo Market and Cafe. Looking for a good burger? Look no further than Tookie’s over in Kemah, offering one of the best burgers around since 1975 (it even survived its damage from Hurricane Ike, closing and reopening after major renovations in 2008).
  • Reconnect with nature – Nestled in the Clear Lake area is the 2500-acre Armand Bayou Nature Center, featuring original ecosystems from wetlands and bottomland forest to marshes and tall grass prairies. The area is environmentally significant because it is one of the last bayous in the Houston area that is not channeled. Hike the nature trails and go bird-watching; view live animal displays of snakes, alligators, turtles, hawks, and bison; go back in time to late 1800’s farm life at the Center’s Martyn Farm; and sign up to take a guided canoe tour, or a ride on the electric pontoon boat dubbed the “Bayou Ranger.” Click here for directions. The Space Center is also close to Nassau Bay, offering picturesque parks and green spaces where you can fish, hike, and partake in wildlife watching. The 76-acre peninsula boasts a natural wetland area complete with a newly installed wildlife nature trail, Lake Nassau Park and Founders Park are perfect for fishing, and you’ll find a walking trail and flower gardens at Howard L. ParkClick here for directions.
  • Get out on the water – With easy access to Clear Lake, Clear Creek, and Galveston Bay, it makes sense to spend some time off the land and in the water. Water Sports on Clear Lake operates out of the Hilton Houston NASA Lake, offering wave runner, paddle board, kayak, and deck boat rentals. In Kemah, Boardwalk FantaSea yacht charters boast romantic dinner voyages, historic sightseeing, and fun party cruises. South Coast Sailing Adventures offers sailing lessons, captained cruises, bareboat charters, and overnight accommodations aboard one of its sailboats at the Kemah Boardwalk Marina. Or sign up for a fishing adventure from Clear Lake Fishing Trips.
  • Sip craft beers alongside Vietnamese pub grub at Nobi Public HouseOne of Houston’s finest craft beer pubs lies in an unassuming strip mall in Webster, and not only does it play host to an excellent 200+ bottle and draft beer program, it also raises the bar with killer Vietnamese-fusion pub grub. That means you can sip your suds with char-grilled pork fries, sweet chili wings and a fragrant bowl of  Sunday-lunch and Monday-dinner pho. If mixing craft beer and Vietnamese-inspired food doesn’t define Houston’s melting pot culture, we don’t know what does. Click here for directions.
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Photo courtesy of Nassau Bay