Things to see and do in Huntsville

This little Texas town is home to the Texas State Penitentiary and Sam Houston State University, but there is a lot more to see here!  Take a quick detour off the interstate, or spend a weekend exploring this fun location just an hour north of Downtown Houston!


Boot House

2640 11th St., Huntsville

This unique house is located right off I-45.  Built by Dan Phillips, the boot is an homage to the storybook homes made of shoes.  We were told that there is a rooftop patio inside the top of the boot!

The house is private property, so you can’t walk around it or tour it.  Just admire it from the road.


Cowboy Hat House

Located right next door, Phillips has also built a house with a cowboy hat on top!

Phillips used mostly recycled products to build both houses.  Phillips is also one of the artist of Smither Park in Houston.  Click HERE to visit his website and read more about his work.


1836 Steakhouse and Grill

2641 11th St., Huntsville

We stopped across the street at the 1836 Steakhouse and Grill to take our pictures, and get a few of this old home, built in 1872.  Named for the year that Texas became a state, the steakhouse is often said to be haunted by Sam Houston’s ghost (doubtful since it was built 9 years after his death in 1863.  Executive chef Eric McClanahan offers a nice menu and dining in the old home is an experience.   Click HERE to visit their website.

Houston Memorial Museum  1402 18th St. Huntsville

Huntsville is home to 3 museums, and the Sam Houston Memorial Museum is my favorite.  Built on 15 acres of the Sam Houston Homestead, and part of the Sam Houston State University, it consist of historic buildings, and lovely grounds.  offering a glimpse into the life of the first president of TEXAS, highlighting his triumphs as well as his failures.

Each year on Texas Independence Day, March 2nd, which is also Sam Houston’s birthday, the students at Sam Houston march from the museum to his grave at Oakwood Cemetery.

Click HERE to visit the museum website.

H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum  463 State Highway 75 N., Huntsville

A museum not about the military but about the people who served it.

Click HERE to visit their website.

Texas Prison Museum  491 State Highway 75 N,, Huntsville

The museum offers a fantastic insight into the lives of inmates, as well as the history of the prison system in Texas.

Click HERE to visit their website.

Some people enjoy seeing the famous Walls Unit in Huntsville, which opened in 1849 and is the oldest prison in Texas.  Known for the red brick walls, which were made by prisons, the unit also houses the “death house”, where prisoners are executed.  There are protest here during an execution.  As an active prison, the walls are protected by armed guards, so DO NOT APPROACH.  Prisoners are also released from the front door, and are either picked up by family or walk to the bus station.

A colony of Mexican free-tailed bats live in one of the abandoned building here, and can be seen each evening as they leave to search for bugs, making this an enjoyable attraction.  The best place to see them is a the intersection of Ave I and 14th Street at dusk.

Huntsville is also known for 2 of it’s famous cemeteries.

Oakwood Cemetery is the finial resting place of Sam Houston.  You can stop and see his grave, which is located near the road and easily identifiable.

The Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery on Bowers Blvd. is the largest Prison Cemetery in the U.S., where inmates are buried if no one comes to claim the body.  The graves are dug by inmates, and most of the services are attended by inmates.  Opened in 1855, records were not originally kept and there are many unmarked graves.  It is open to the public.

Click HERE to read more.

sam houston statue

Sam Houston Statue

Created by Huntsville artist David Addicks, the illuminated statue welcomes all to Huntsville along I-45.  Many cars stop along the highway to see the statue, which is illegal.  It’s worth your time to exit and visit the Visitors Center!

Click HERE to read more.

Huntsville State Park 

If you’re looking for a short hike to stretch your legs, a summer dip in Raven Lake or a place to spend the weekend, Huntsville State Park is a terrific park!  It is popular, so do make summer reservations early!

2E Stables also offers trail rides in the piney woods of the state park.  While reservations are recommended, you can often get walk-up rides.

The Blue Lagoon Scuba Center

One of the prettiest lakes in East Texas, it is only accessible to Scuba Divers, although they will allow their families to cool off in the lake while they dive.  However, they will sometimes allow snorkeling, and it never hurts to call and see if it’s a slow day for diving. Click HERE to visit their website.

More Things to See and Do in Huntsville


For a quick bite, we love Mr. Hamburger on 918 11th St.

The Farmhouse Café is another favorite at 1004 14th St. Huntsville.


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