From a 3,000-square-foot sanctum glorifying the humble orange to a tombstone memorializing chicken fried steak, unusual sights abound in and around the Bayou City.
Here are some of the Houston area’s most outrageous, one-of-a kind and wacky attractions.
The open-air Houston museum is located in an unlikely place -- at the edge of a pipe yard on Texas Highway 288.
The collection began many years ago when Jerry Rubenstein, Chairman of the Board for Texas Pipe & Supply, purchased a hippo sculpture from a statuary and placed it on the edge of the pipe yard. Soon after, a rhino appeared, then Snoopy, and art pieces just kept on coming after that, according to Texas Pipe & Supply. Now the pipe yard is littered with over a dozen metal sculptures.
Orange lovers, orange you glad this item made the list? Citrus aficionados with a passion for oranges will be tickled, well, in this case, orange by the 3,000-square-foot sanctum celebrating a very particular fruit (Yup, you guessed it: the orange). The Orange Show is one of Houston’s most recognizable folk art icons and it’s a bit difficult to explain but we’ll give it a go. It’s a carnival-like space composed of random found objects. Houston postman Jeff McKissack created The Orange Show in honor of his favorite fruit. Working on the pursuit from 1956 until his death in 1980, McKissack transformed an East End lot into an architectural maze of walkways, balconies, arenas and exhibits decorated with mosaics and brightly painted iron figures,the preservation of which was the reason for the founding of the Orange Show Foundation, a nonprofit committed to preserving the city’s folk art. Fun tidbit: The Orange show Foundation commissioned a Fruitmobile, leading to the first annual Houston Art Car Parade.
2401 Munger St., (713) 926-6368
As awesome as it is unique, this lazy river isn’t just Texas-sized -- it’s Texas-shaped! And nothing says state pride quite like swimming in a body of water made in the image of your beloved state. Marriott Marquis Houston’s winding, Texas-shaped swimming pool has captured the hearts of many Houstonians suffering through the Lone Star State’s triple-digit summer temps. Worry not Houston residents: There’s no need to book a room at the Marriott Marquis just to take a dip in the world’s only rooftop, Texas-shaped lazy river. Day passes are available for purchase.
1777 Walker St., (713) 654-1777
Austin talks a mighty big game about keeping it weird, but we’d go as far as to say Houston’s plenty weird -- and quite possibly weirder than the Capitol City. Austin, you can talk the talk but Houston walks the walk. Case in point: The Beer Can House, Houston’s famous monument to recycling. The home is adorned with some 50,000 beer cans. Started in 1968 as a project for its late owner, the house has become one of the city’s most recognizable folk art icons. The Beer Can House, now open for tours, is quite a sight to behold and it’s a Houston must.
222 Malone St., (713) 926-6368
Did you know Houston is home to an army of tera-cotta warriors? Color us surprised. As if it needed to be reiterated, oddities abound in Houston and Lucky Land is no exception. It’s a two-acre park showcasing Asian culture and history. It’s crowning attraction is its collection of terra-cotta warriors, on display in a pit at the center of the park and surrounded by statues of pandas, bronze kung-fu sculptures, koi ponds, and miniature temples.
8625 Airline Dr., (281) 447-3400
Here’s another essential Houston experience so unusual, dare we say weird, that it gives Austin a run for its money. The annual art and auto extravaganza rides through town each Spring, leaving packs of astonished onlookers in its wake. The parade, considered the largest of its kind in the world (What can we say? Everything’s bigger in Texas), features a string of cars transformed into crazy creations like a triceratops, a plane, a ship and even a giant chicken. It’s incredible to behold. Just seem to miss out on the parade each year? Motor on down to the Art Car Museum. Nicknamed the “Garage Mahal,” the museum is sanctum for artsy automobiles, showcasing art cars from around the world. Interesting tidbit: Houston is home to more art cars than any other city and is considered the “Art Car Capital,” according to the Art Car Museum.
140 Heights Blvd., (713) 861-5526
Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern is a former underground drinking water reservoir, built in 1926. It’s filled with concrete columns and features rotating art installations. After operating for over half a century, an irreparable leak was found and the reservoir was ultimately decommissioned in 2007. Buffalo Bayou Partnership restored and repurposed the cistern as a public art space. Flat out, it’s a pretty unusual attraction and it’s open daily for self-paced meandering and guided tours.
105 Sabine St., (713) 752-0314
Texas artist and builder Dan Phillips worked alongside the late Stephanie Smither to design Smither Park in the memory of her late husband, John H. Smither. Located next to The Orange Show, Smither Park is a half acre lot choc-full of whimsical, colorful and unusual art. Insta-worthy highlights include the Lindley Fish Amphitheater, made up of mirror shards, street signs and other found objects and resembling a fish’s wide-open mouth and the memory wall, a massive wall adorned with elaborate mosaic work created out of recycled and found materials. Interesting tidbit: Over 300 individuals have contributed to the colorful and whimsical permanent pieces of art at Smither Park, according to The Orange Show Foundation.
2441 Munger St., (713) 926-6368
Visit a public park located in the remnants of a Houston church destroyed in a fire
This tiny parked is located in the remnants of a Forth Ward church that burned down back in 2005. Bethel Baptist Church was constructed in 1923 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, before the interior of the building was destroyed by the fire. in 2009, the City of Houston converted the lot into a public park incorporating the church’s remaining structure.
801 Andrews St., (832) 394-8805
Here are some odd Houston attractions you don’t need to carve out a half-day to visit. They don’t require much explanation, there’s really not all that much to them, you don’t even need to step out of your car to see some of them and they honestly just need a gander and glimpse to get. But they’re gloriously odd to behold, even if it’s fr the briefest of moments, and they deserve a place on the list. So, the next time you’re out and about on the town, keep your eyes peeled for these weird Houston gems.
Get a glimpse of a giant hammer crushing a car
Pass by a particular recycling facility and you’ll spot a giant hammer crushing a bright yellow car. We want to stress, this oddity is located in front of a private business so stay off their turf and admire the awesome road art while passing through the area.
7911 Fallbrook Dr.
In July 1985, popular Houston Steakhouse Taste of Texas buried Chicken Fried Steak, the restaurant’s self-described most inconsistent menu item, outside the restaurant as a declaration of its commitment to excellence in steaks. A tombstone reading “Here lies the chicken Fried Steak” marks the menu item’s resting place. The tombstone is still viewable and located near a fountain outside the high-end restaurant so customers can pay their respects. Chicken fried steak lovers, it’s safe to say you’ll have to order your second-favorite steak dish at Taste of Texas.
10505 Katy Fwy., (713) 932-6901
This massive Igloo cooler is actually the security office for the Igloo Factory in Brookshire. The factory sells its swag at a factory store on location so go stock up then snap an incredible pic in front of this awesome roadside attraction.
777 Igloo Rd., (281) 394-6588
Go ahead. Push the unmarked red button on Houston’s Preston Street Bridge.
Mum’s the word on this unusual Houston attraction. If you know, you know and if you don’t, go push the button already! But seriously, go ahead. Push it. Warning: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s part of the charm, isn’t it?
510 Preston St., (713) 837-0311
This out-of-the-world McDonald’s is serving up happy meals in your local star cluster
A massive fiberglass astronaut performs a perpetual space walk above a McDonald’s restaurants stationed near NASA’s LBJ Space Center.
1421 NASA Road 1, (281) 549-6952
Behold an uncanny sight: A giant can of red kidney beans
Just across the street from the Igloo Factory in Brookshire is an uncanny roadside attraction: a giant can of red kidney beans. The can is located at the security gate outside the Goya Foods factory.
30602 Goya Rd .
What would you add or remove from this list? Let us know in the comments below.