Home Destinations + Landmarks Attractions Tour 10 outdoor Houston landmarks & art installations inside the Loop

Tour 10 outdoor Houston landmarks & art installations inside the Loop

Bethel Church Park | Photo courtesy of the Houston Parks Board

Swing by some of our favorite fountains, art installations, public parks and historic landmarks throughout Houston’s Inner Loop.

As Houston tries to find ways to enjoy the city with proper distancing, we’ve compiled a list of some of the city’s most beloved landmarks and art installations that present a way to take in the outdoors safely and explore what the Bayou City has to offer.

Outdoor Landmarks & Art Installations in Houston

  • Dandelion Fountain at Buffalo Bayou Park – Although formally named the Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain, this Buffalo Bayou Park favorite welcomes visitors with its simplicity of design, comforting mists, and changing photogenic qualities at different times of the day. It’s also one of the park’s longest running mainstays, commissioned in 1978 and designed by William T. Cannady, a Houston architect and Rice University professor. 
  • Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park by the Galleria – The sprawling, lush green lawn just south of the iconic Williams Tower makes for an inviting place to take in The Galleria neighborhood or enjoy a relaxing picnic, complete with a stop at the 64-foot tall waterwall that bookends this park. Designed by renowned architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee, this sculptural waterfall makes for a popular photo op in Houston amongst nearly 200 live oak trees.
  • James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace at Rice University – On the Rice University Campus, this open-air sculpture from American artist James Turrell comes to life at sunrise and sunset every day, with a gradual, gentle and captivating light sequence that plays with the changing natural light around visitors and at the center of the skyspace. Each sequence lasts forty minutes and silence is considered integral to the experience, allowing for visitors to take in the presentation with a meditative approach.
  • C. Finley’s Massive Sky Dance Mural in Downtown – Along a currently quiet stretch of Clay Street between Louisiana and Milan in Downtown Houston, you can’t help but notice three multi-hued dancers in mid-jeté en avant against a welcoming blue background in one of the city’s largest murals. Painted by C. Finley, the commission was inspired by three dancers from Houston Ballet. 
  • David Adickes’ We Love Houston Sign in EaDo – Parked just beyond the back gate of 8th Wonder Brewery in EaDo, you’ll find the prolific artist’s 29-foot love letter to H-Town. Already a beloved and well-known Houston landmark, it’s a timely, socially distanced outdoors space where you can snap a photo redeclaring your affection for the Bayou City. While you’re there, you won’t be able to miss Adickes’ 36-foot tall sculptures of the Beatles in their Sergeant Pepper finery, or Donkeeboy‘s tongue-in-cheek Rob Boss mural on the wall facing their backs. 
  • Bethel Church Park near Freedmen’s Town & Downtown – Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Bethel Baptist Church was founded by freed slaves in the 1890s and became a central element in Houston’s thriving African-American neighborhood, Freedmen’s Town, immediately west of Downtown Houston. The original church was devastated by fire in 2005, and the Houston Parks Board turned its remains into a striking open-air tribute with stained-glass panels, church pew-inspired seating, and more.
  • The Live Oak Canopy-covered Walkways of Broadacres Historic District – A favorite portrait spot for many a bride, couple, family and aspiring social influencer, the shady covered walkways of Broadacres are a welcome respite from the hot Houston sun. Tucked away immediately south of Highway 59 and west of the heart of the Museum District, the residential neighborhood makes for the perfect place for a stroll. While the sidewalks and walkways are open to the public, remember to respect that the individual homes that surround them are private homes. 
  • Midtown Park in Midtown – One of Houston’s most recently opened public spaces, this six-acre Midtown neighborhood park features a man-made creek, a sloping hillside dotted with native landscaping, public art and plenty of space for social distancing. 
  • Smither Park near University of Houston – Located just east of the University of Houston’s main campus, this whimsical outdoor park features an ever-evolving array of sculpture covered in a kaleidoscopic display of mosaic tiles, placed by devoted local artists. Designed by folk artist Dan Phillips, the park honors the memory of John H. Smither, a Houston lawyer and board member to The Orange Show Monument, a beloved local mosaic-filled work by the late postman Jefferson Davis McKissack, who spent over twenty years building out a 3,000-square foot vision as an ode to his favorite fruit.
  • Cullen Sculpture Garden at on the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston campus – Wedged between the Glassell School of Art and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, this Cullen Sculpture Garden features works from renowned artists like Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin and Louise Bourgeois. Nearby, visitors can also take in Anish Kapoor’s monumental Cloud Column, standing 30-feet tall at the head of the sculpture park.
Sky Dance, by C. Hinley in Downtown Houston | Photo: 365 Houston

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