If you’re new to Houston or just visiting family for the first time in what seems like forever, there is much to see and do around this expansive and vibrant city. Houston is a large city of over four million strong, but the feeling of neighborhood and community shines through for anyone who spends time here.

And while our few maple trees are still sporting their summer green, this Fall in H-Town, as the locals call it, promises to be a celebration of color and fun. Fall is perfect for all sorts of Houston fall activities. The city is famous for its area festivals and fairs as the cooler weather entices everyone to come out and play.

Let’s take a look at everything Houston, Texas, has to offer this Fall Season.

Fairs and Festivals

The Oktoberfest Houston is one of the best of Houston’s Fall activities – celebrating German and Texas culture over several days. And it’s a terrific way to show off your lederhosen. Choose libations from multiple biergartens serving craft beer and bratwurst while enjoying couples dancing to spirited polka music.

The Texas Renaissance Festival, established in 1974, is a true eastern Texas tradition. About 60 miles north of Houston, the nation’s largest renaissance fair or RenFest, welcomes lords and ladies fair. As a day trip or a weekend getaway, eat, drink, and be merry while knights and nobles joust and sing, and clowns, jugglers, acrobats, and magicians perform. Enjoy faery kingdom fun for the entire family.

Food festivals abound in Bayou City. October in the Montrose suburb starts with the Original Greek Festival, where you can enjoy spanakopita and a mini-kabob known as souvlaki.

The Houston Food Festival is a local favorite. This one-day event celebrates food vendors from all over Texas – including BBQ, specialty tacos, and more. Enjoy live entertainment with music from local artists on multiple stages throughout the fall festival.

And don’t miss out on the World Food Championships. Three days of foodie heaven! The World Food Championships gathers 1,500 competing chefs giving visitors authentic tasting experiences. During the championships, there will be live music and chef demos for yummy family fun.

Many Houstonians consider the International Food Festival to be the Number 1 food festival in Houston. Spend the day enjoying food from over 30 different food vendors from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, North & South America. Listen to live cultural performances, entertainment, & music as you walk through the international vendors.

The Bayou City Art Festival is a city favorite for creatives and the artisan community. Now in its 45th year, this strong tradition features two shows a year – but during the Fall, the fair transforms downtown into a colorful open-air gallery. More than 300 artists showcase and sell their work while proceeds benefit local nonprofits.

Shows, Tours, and Exhibitions

The Commemorative Air Force presents the annual Wings Over Houston Air Show at Ellington Field, south of downtown Houston. The Lonestar Squadron is a precision aerial demonstration team that makes the airshow home. Wings Over Houston also welcomes the Canadian Snowbird team to highlight their technical air skills. The famous United States Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to unveil a redesigned aerial demonstration and ground show. Technical flying from the F-22 Raptor Team, F-18 Super Hornet, and Tora! Tora! Tora! – America’s oldest civilian air show performance.

Brenham is a quiet Texas town just a short 90 minutes northwest of Houston. But this day trip is definitely worth the scenic drive. There is plenty for the family to see and do throughout the Fall, from the Scarecrow Festival to the Texas Art and Music Festival. And yes, it is home to the famous Blue Bell Creamery.

Tour Houston’s fantastic collection of Urban Art using the Houston Mural Guide. Grab a bike rental to make the tour a breeze.

And while not a fall festival, the Annual Village Art Car Show features creative, eye-catching vehicles.

Zoos and Holiday Fun

Enjoy the city Zoo throughout the Fall Season. Trick or treat with the animals at Zoo Boo. And in November, head to Zoo Lights to see the Houston Zoo aglow with two million twinkling lights for the holidays.

At Dewberry Farm, just south of town, you can get lost in the eight-acre corn maze or exhaust yourself bouncing on the Jumping Pillows. For a less strenuous activity, try a stroll through over 500 lighted and carved pumpkins. Play with the animals at the petting zoo. And before the day is over, everyone can ride the 35 foot Ferris wheel.

Arts and Entertainment

Each year Houston’s residents wander downtown streets in mid-November for the Via Colori Street Painting Festival. Artists gather, creating blacktop masterpieces in a variety of mediums. This weekend-long event gives insight into the creative process as the crowd watches the artist’s vision emerge. Children are welcome to create their own sidewalk masterpieces. All of the festival’s proceeds support the Center for Hearing and Speech.

Each Fall in Houston, the sounds of classic cinema fill the air. It is easy to understand that after a hot and muggy summer, the city’s residents are eager to spend their evenings out and about. There are dozens of outdoor locations to catch popular movies and Hollywood classics.

Sponsored by Bank of America, Screen on the Green will light up Discovery Green Park. Groups and families bring a blanket and gather for popular movies throughout the Fall.

Miller Outdoor Theatre showcases family cinema magic at its Movies at Miller.

And west of the city in Katy, Texas, Central Green Park presents outdoor movies monthly.

As you travel around the city’s surrounding communities, you will find movies in parks and town squares – including Dow Park in Deer Park, Tomball’s Historic Depot, Sugar Land Town Square, and CityCentre.

Halloween and Its Festivities

The Bayou City pulls out all the stops when it comes to Halloween. The holiday is one of the city’s favorite. Houston hosts Scream on the Green each Fall in downtown Houston at Discovery Green Park, where residents compete for best costume while a DJ provides background to an outdoor scary movie event.

Boo on the Boardwalk is another all-out Halloween celebration on the Kemah boardwalk in Galveston — just outside Houston. Activities include haunted houses, trick-or-treating at the retailers, and outdoor movies.

Another Halloween favorite is Fright Night Fest, which offers a family-friendly Houston Fall activities festival with art, food, and local musicians. Hosted by the Houston Art Center, everyone is encouraged to wear costumes. Join the ghosts as you experience the Haunted House. Or sit with the goblins as they create arts & crafts and learn about the tradition of Dia de Los Muertos.

Pumpkin Patches are a Houston tradition, and they pepper the city at various churches and public venues. These pick-your-own pumpkin gatherings are a thrill to children, both young and old, and are an excellent way to spend a lazy afternoon.

Museums

Photo Credit: hmhou via Instagram

Just to the side of the Houston Medical Center is The Museum District. The area is appropriately named for the 19 museums are all located within walking distance of one another. Popular exhibitions include the Houston Metropolitan Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Children’s Museum.

The Holocaust Museum Houston is also located in the area, educating the public about the dangers of prejudice in society. The exhibitions are featured on more than 50 screens, 175 person amphitheater, mini-theaters, and interactive terminals throughout the Museum.

When it comes to adventure, Houston does not have a problem. For a full day’s fun, visit the Space Center Houston just off of NASA Boulevard to see a Space Shuttle replica, touch an authentic moon rock, step inside the space station, and enjoy some hands-on astronaut-level fun. And don’t miss a Space City tradition, the Galaxy Lights. A light-filled interactive kinetic light show — celebrating the holiday season.

Houston Shopping Therapy

A list of fun things to do in this Gulf Coast city must include retail therapy! The world-famous Galleria is located in the Post Oak area. This multi-block retail complex hosts over 400 luxury shops, an ice rink, salons, and spas. Hungry after shopping, try one of the dozens of upscale restaurants offering steaks, Italian food, sushi, vegetarian, fish, and, of course, delicate desserts. Still not satisfied? There are over a dozen shopping malls in the Houston Metroplex.

Fall Outdoors Around Houston

Are you feeling adventurous? Why not take a day trip north of the city to Sam Houston National Forest, a short 50 miles, and visit the 100 ft statue of San Houston that marks the entrance to the forest.

Another worthwhile day trip is about 90 miles north of the city — the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. The wildlife preserve is a well-known migratory stop for the beautiful Monarch butterflies, and Anahuac also hosts Fall Fishing Day in October.

Houston Parks and Trails

For a minute of mindfulness, visit the Gerald D. Heines Water Wall Park in the Galleria. This self-contained waterfall is a local favorite. Another respite from the city hustle is the Houston Arboretum in Memorial Park – revel in a breathtaking array of flowered paths and displays unique to the Fall season. If you are closer to Downtown Houston – try a quick but peaceful lunch in Buffalo Bayou Park.

If you are looking to sit and basque in the season’s cooler breezes with a bit of crisp, fresh air for good measure, head out to one of 366 parks in the Houston area. Also, if you have to check-in at home or the office, several of Houston’s Parks now offer hot spots or wi-fi.

Need a bit of exercise instead? Maybe one of the city’s 82 hiking, biking, and walking paths as well as paddling and kayaking, will suit your needs. Take a run in Memorial Park or along the Heights’ Hike & Bike Trails, some of the most popular outdoor areas around town. Most allow your favorite pup-with leash in hand.

A peaceful picnic in the park is always a great way to spend an afternoon. And Houston has put its twist on a family tradition. Many Houston parks have food trucks or restaurants attached. So, it’s easy to grab a juicy burger in Upper Kirby’s Levy Park or closer to Downtown Houston – lunch in Buffalo Bayou Park.

Celebrate the Fall in H-Town

Houston is the ninth-most expansive city in the United States, covering over 637 square miles. This international city is awash with entertainment and activities throughout the year, but especially in the Fall.