Downtown Walking Tours
In addition to the 4 different daytime downtown walking tours that we offer, we also offer 2 downtown haunted and historical buildings and sites tours at night, but they can be scheduled during the daytime, also.
- The daytime downtown walking tours are described on this page.
- The downtown haunted walking tours are described on the Haunted Tours page that is also accessed from the Our Most Popular Tours section of this website.
Each of our daytime downtown walking tours covers a different area and has a specialty or theme. Each will spend time pointing out the architectural features, architects, history, usage of buildings, and history of Houston. Each is 2.5 hours or 3.5 hours with a stop for lunch. If you add a ride on the MetroRail, the tour is approximately 5.0 hours. We walk between 4.0 and 5.0 miles on each tour. A walking tour only moves as fast as the slowest person. Thus, for groups of 10 or more or with slow walkers, we may cover a shorter distance and have to delete entering some buildings whose elevators and corridors do not easily accommodate large numbers.
The tunnels, skybridges, and observation decks are only open Monday through Friday from approximately 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. We can conduct tours on weekends, but without access to the tunnels, skybridges, and observation decks.
When the weather is inclement or unbearably hot and humid from May through September, we combine tours A and B or A and C to stay inside the tunnels. Tour D is exclusively outside and is not conducted during inclement weather or the oppressively hot and humid months of May through September.
Wear comfortable shoes and bring a camera if you like to take photos. However, one cannot take photos in banks.
Proper decorum is expected in professional buildings. Large groups should walk in pairs and stay to the right so other people can pass from behind and from the opposite direction. Private conversations should remain private. If people are going to talk amongst themselves, they should do so quietly, so as to not disrupt others, and to allow for other members to hear the tour guide.
Notes for School and Camp Groups
For school and camp groups, the ratio of chaperones to students should be at least 1:10. Ideally, the ratio should be 1:5. At least one week in advance, the school or camp should provide Houston Historical Tours, via email or fax, a list of all of the chaperones and the cellular telephone numbers where they can be reached on the day of the tour. We only conduct tours for schools and camps when they provide sufficient and trained supervision for the safety of the children with minimal disruptions in the buildings and public areas that we occupy. If a school or camp group does not provide chaperone names and telephone numbers and or sufficient chaperones, the tour may not take place and the school or camp will forfeit the deposit.
Each tour begins at the Visitors Center (VC) inside the first floor of the City Hall building at 901 Bagby Street, Houston, Texas 77002. The entrance is on Walker Street. The VC opens at 9:00 AM.
Underground parking is available at 510 Rusk Street, between Bagby Street and Smith Street, under Tranquility Park. The price is a maximum of $12.00 for the day.
The tours normally begin at 10:00 AM. However, we can be flexible to accommodate our clientele.
Select the tour that sounds best to you.
This is the most popular walk. It has lots of visual images as we go by several shops and food courts. This is the most balanced tour of being outside and indoors. The first half of the tour takes us southwest into Sam Houston Park. We see 10 historical buildings ranging from 1823 to 1905. These include a cabin, an 1847 plantation style house, the 1850 home of William Marsh Rice, the benefactor for Rice University, the 1870 Victorian home of Jack Yates, the most important civil rights leader in Houston in the 1800s, and an 1891 church. We’ll walk through the reconstructed Duncan General Store from Egypt, Texas in 1878. The tour runs west and east across downtown Houston. The second half of the tour takes us through a myriad of food courts in the underground tunnels, the observation decks on the 59th and 58th floors of the Wells Fargo Plaza, skybridges, and 3 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including Holy Cross Chapel. From May through September because of the heat and humidity, the first half of this tour is omitted and the second half of Tour A is combined with the interior portions of Tour B.
Normal Lunch Stop: The food court at the Shops at Houston Center.
This tour is mostly inside, but sandwiched in the middle is an extended period when we are outside. We start with the former tallest building in Houston from 1971 to 1974: One Shell Plaza. This tour has the most number of historic buildings that we enter, including architect John Eberson’s married couple of the Mellie Esperson Building (1942), and the Niels Esperson Building (1927) AKA the Wedding Cake Building, the old Gulf Oil Building (1929), the Post Rice Lofts (c. 1912), and Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral (with a Tiffany stained-glass window) (1893). We also go to the 60th floor observation deck of architect I. M. Pei’s JP Morgan Chase Tower, which, with 75 floors, is the tallest building in Texas. One of the last buildings that we enter is architect Philip Johnson’s distinctive black glass trapezoidal Pennzoil Place. From May through September because of the heat and humidity, the exterior portion is omitted and the interior portions of this tour are combined with the second half of Tour A.
Normal Lunch Stop: Treebeards in Christchurch Episcopal Cathedral.
This tour focuses on the business industry south of City Hall. This tour spends more time inside the tunnels and skybridges than any of the other tours. It goes through the Heritage Plaza, Doubletree Hotel, One Allen Center, Two Allen Center, Three Allen Center, past the 1875 Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (the oldest African American church in Houston), the former Continental Center I, into the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Total Plaza, 1111 Louisiana, and the Wells Fargo Plaza. We go by architect Cesar Pelli’s former Enron II building.
Normal Lunch Stop: A food court.
This is an exclusively outdoor walk. It goes north by northwest and then northeast. It focuses on Buffalo Bayou, parks, plazas, entertainment venues, high culture, historic buildings and sites, and several statues. We start by walking along the river walk and see artificial aterfalls. The parks and plazas that we visit include Tranquility Park, Sesquicentennial Park, the Lauren Griffith Associates’s Market Square Park, Fish Plaza, Jones Plaza, and Allen’s Landing, where the city’s history began on August 30, 1836. We walk by the Downtown Aquarium and Bayou Place, where the only Hard Rock Cafe is located in Houston. We walk by the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, home of our off-Broadway musicals; the Wortham Theater Center, where the ballet and opera perform; the Houston Ballet Center for Dance, the Alley Theatre, the largest venue for locally produced plays, and Jones Hall, home of the world-famous symphony. The historic buildings include the oldest building in active use in downtown Houston, the former Kennedy Bakery from at least 1860. We also walk by the 1911 Magnolia Ballroom, the 1884 Old Houston Cotton Exchange building, and the 1921 Hogg building, all of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. Statues include “In Minds” by Tony Cragg, George Herbert Walker Bush, James Baker, and Virtuoso. Other historic sites are the 1876 fire bell and 1904 City Hall clock. This tour is only available October through April.
Normal Lunch Stop: Subway, the Spaghetti Warehouse, Niko Nikos in Market Square Park or Treebeards across the street from Market Square Park.
For prices of these tours, click here. Note that you will require the free Adobe Reader in order to read these pricing documents. You can download the latest version of this software by clicking this link.