From the largest African American performing theater in the country to an elaborate Asian temple, Houston brings an international flavor to its cultural side.

Surprise in Texas
Altars dedicated to Taoism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religions are set up throughout the Tien Hou Temple.
| Credit: Allen Rokach

Just when you think you know a town well, you uncover another side to it. Such is the case in Houston.

This big city, known for its glitzy shopping, slick rodeos, and innovative restaurants, also boasts an impressively diverse cultural side. On your next visit, make time to spend an afternoon at these unique places.

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
Paul J. Matthews wanted a place where people could come to remember African Americans in the military. He used his personal collection of memorabilia to open the facility in 2000. Paying tribute to soldiers from the American Revolution to today, the museum features letters, photographs, and uniforms of every type of soldier, from unknown slaves to Gen. Colin Powell. 1834 Southmore Blvd; (713) 942-8920 or www.buffalosoldier Admission is $2.

The Ensemble Theatre
When you see a play in this intimate theater on Main Street, you'll feel as if you are a part of it. When one character punches another, you'll feel the pain in your jaw. The setting fits the group known as the largest African American professional theater in the U.S. 3535 Main Street; (713) 520-0055 or

Tien Hou Temple
Tucked away in the middle of old Chinatown, this glorious Asian temple comes adorned with elaborately carved columns, altars, and dragon figurines. You'll find Buddhism, Taoism, and other Eastern religions represented. The English here is limited. Still, a visit is worth it and welcome. 1507 Delano Street. Open daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

More Cultural Finds

  • Kuumba House Dance Theatre: A theater that produces African dance. 3001 Cleburne Street; (713) 524-1079 or
  • Talento Bilingüe de Houston: Latino cultural center that houses exhibitions and puts on plays for the public. 333 South Jensen Drive; (713) 222-1213 or
  • Project Row Houses: An art center set up in 22 renovated shotgun-style homes where you'll find art installments based on African American issues. 2500 block of Holman Street, between Dowling and Live Oak Streets; (713) 526-7662 or

"Global Surprise in Houston, Texas" is from the February 2006 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.