Houston is the biggest city in Texas, as well as one of the most populated in the entire country. However, don’t be put off by its sprawl. Despite its size, there are dozens of hidden gems in Houston to provide residents and visitors with off-beat experiences and lesser-known photo ops. From exclusive event venues to scenic outdoor spots, we’ve curated this list to help you find the perfect hike, photo studio, event space, and more, all within a short drive of downtown Houston.
The Orange Show is a Houston landmark that’s part maze, part carnival. This colorful folk art project was built by Jefferson Davis McKissack from 1956 to 1979 out of found objects. It has over 3,000 sq.ft. of outdoor walkways and balconies, including a wishing well and “oasis.” The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art also maintains several other folk art sites in Houston, including the Beer Can House and Smither Park. Check their hours before visiting.
This hidden gem in Houston offers the ideal mix of beautiful outdoor spaces, as well as a modern home and kitchen. With room for up to 50 people, this venue can host a small wedding, birthday party, corporate retreat, or photo shoot. The outdoor area includes a pool and hot tub, a grassy lawn, and a covered barn for eating or socializing. Inside the home is a large kitchen with spacious countertops, modern appliances, and brick archways leading to the other rooms. Its location near the airport makes it a great venue to welcome out-of-town guests!
3. A fine art gallery in Montrose
This 4000-sq.ft. art gallery is a great venue for hosting a creative or artistic event. It has several rooms available, including a partial kitchen, lounge area, and meeting rooms. Whether you host an all-day company retreat, or a musical performance incorporating the on-site piano, you’ll be located right by the vibrant Montrose district for plenty of food and drink options. You can also arrange for catering and bartending staff through the Peerspace Concierge service.
4. The Willow Waterhole Greenway
The 290-acre Willow Waterhole isn’t just a beautiful site to go for a stroll — it’s also an important part of the city’s defense system against flooding. It’s a great place for a bike ride or picnic, and you can even bring your dog, as long as it’s leashed. Enjoy the walking trails, look out for native birds and other wildlife, and enjoy some quiet time just 20 minutes from downtown. This hidden gem in Houston is open every day of the year from sunrise until sunset.
5. A luxurious ballroom in Tomball, TX
You won’t find many venues as impressive as this one for a formal wedding or corporate gala. It has room for up to 1000 seated guests, with three bars, a stage, and a dance floor. There’s also an outdoor gazebo that can fit up to 300 people. With a bridge, two ponds, and marble columns outdoors, and stylish staircases and chandeliers inside, you’ll be sure to impress your guests and walk away with a memorable photo album when you book this one-of-a-kind venue.
6. A 75-acre ranch in Humble, TX
Just a 20-minute drive north of Houston is this sprawling ranch that offers a true Texas setting for a wedding, company retreat, family reunion, or photo shoot. You’ll have access to a covered picnic pavilion, outdoor firepit, and more, on 75 acres surrounded by rolling pastures and private woodlands. You’ll have room for up to 100 guests, and since this is a working horse ranch, you can book horseback rides and hayrides for an additional fee along with your rental.
7. The Palace of the Golden Orbs
Urban explorers will enjoy a trip to this architectural oddity on Houston’s western side. Although this vacant building is gated off and not open to the public, it makes a great backdrop for a photo shoot and won’t be as instantly recognizable as Houston’s other tourist spots. The palace was originally intended to be a house for worship for the Taoist faith, but was abandoned in 2001.
8. A cat cafe in Houston Heights
A cat cafe in a renovated bungalow with an outdoor food truck? That’s everything you need for a fun and exciting birthday party or workplace outing for up to 20 people who love cats. The cafe is home to 15-18 cats that are available for adoption. You can book the venue for a private event or photo shoot, with a minimum age of 5 for all guests. No outside food or drink is allowed (except birthday cakes), but the food truck is available for a minimum spend of $50.
9. A minimalist home in Conroe, TX
This beauty is only 40 minutes from downtown is available for small events and photo shoots. It’s undoubtedly one of the most photogenic hidden gems in Houston. The minimalist decor — which includes white curtains and exposed brick walls painted white — is ideal for a wedding or baby shower, or a simple and elegant fashion shoot. The indoors gets lots of natural light, while the yard features an in-ground pool and covered patio. It’s all located on a secluded wooded property that can accommodate up to 50 guests at at time for an event.
10. A historic barn in Magnolia, TX
This large event space is great for a wedding or family reunion, with 4000 sq.ft. of historic Texas charm. It includes a 200-year-old barn, with a main hall and a stylishly-decorated dressing room and full farmhouse kitchen. There’s also an outdoor area with a grassy lawn, covered patio, and an open air chapel made of four white arches. Choose this venue for a stunning photo shoot or company picnic that your guests will remember for years to come.
From downtown art galleries to suburban ranches, Houston offers a range of venues that can suit any type of event. Whether you’re planning a winter retreat or a summertime wedding, we think these hidden gems in Houston will offer you plenty of options to choose from. For even more ideas, search the listings on Peerspace to find the perfect venue for you. Just use the location, capacity, and price settings to filter your search results.