In our series of Must Do Things Around Greater Houston, we take a 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.
Pasadena lies about 20 miles from Downtown Houston, bordered by the Houston Ship Channel to the north and Galveston Bay to the southeast. Once damaged by the same 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston, the city saw a revival after strawberry plants were donated by the Red Cross, and later, expanded further thanks to the Texas Oil Boom. Though it’s still heavily tied to the oil and gas industry, the area is home to two fun festivals, a nature center and more.
5 Must Do Things in Pasadena
- Take a canoe tour of the Armand Bayou Nature Center – With 2,500 acres of natural wetlands, forest, prairie, and marsh, this colossal nature center is home to over 370 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Explore its hiking trails, go birding, visit a historic farm, take a pontoon boat cruise, or paddle your way through nature on a guided canoe tour. Admission is $4; $2 for seniors 60+ and kids 4 to 12; free for kids 3 and under. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday noon to 5pm. Last admission is at 4pm. Click here for directions.
- Check out the festivals – Named after Pasadena’s history as the “Strawberry Capital of the South,” the yearly Pasadena Strawberry Festival is typically held on the third weekend in May. Check it out for three days of family-friendly fun and entertainment, complete with a carnival, bbq cook-off, helicopter rides, mud volleyball, all kinds of vendors, puppet shows, pig races, pony rides, live musical entertainment, a petting zoo, and fun contests such as the adult strawberry eating contest. The festival is also home to the World’s Largest Strawberry Shortcake, coming in at 2,073 square feet of cake. The Pasadena Livestock Show & Rodeo rolls into town in the fall, with the 2019 festival set for September 20 to 28. Events range from livestock shows and calf scrambles to rodeo performances and bbq cook-offs.
- Get fajitas and ‘ritas at The Don’Key – Open since 1984, this Tex-Mex institution is known for “Don’Key Ritas” that’ll “kick your ass.” Pair the boozy numbers with chorizo-loaded queso flameado, sloppy enchiladas, colossal chimichangas, and sizzling fajitas served with all the proper fixin’s. Don’t forget to tack on homemade flan or sweet, fried sopapillas for dessert; and check out weekday happy hour for deals on margaritas and beer. Click here for directions.
- Spend some time near the water – With proximity to the Clear Lake waterfront (where you can rent jet skis and boats) and the sands of El Jardin Beach, a visit to Pasadena should most definitely include a day by the water. You can also stay inland and check out Strawberry Park, a public swimming pool, waterpark, and recreation area.
- Dive into history – Pasadena is home to both the Pasadena Heritage Park and Museum and the Bay Area Museum. At the heritage park and museum, Discover Pasadena’s roots as an agricultural outpost and birthplace of “Free Texas,” with tours of the historic Pomeroy House and Strawberry House. You’ll also find Pasadena’s only mobile water-drilling rig, designed and patented by the Pomeroys in the 1900s. The museum is free and open for tours Tuesday though Friday from 9:30am to 2:30pm and Saturdays by appointment. Click here for directions. Over at the Bay Area Museum, you’ll find treasures from Clear Lake, Seabrook, and the surrounding area—from NASA memorabilia to custom-painted displays. Click here for directions.