Things to Do
Between the beautiful scenery, arts and recreation, and local businesses with educational opportunities sprinkled in, you'll never be bored. Take a gander at some of our local attractions and activities or check out our annual events.
International Owl Center
The leader in owl-based education and research, the International Owl Center features live owls and programming, displays, and a gift shop stocked with owl merchandise. This non-profit is also responsible for many much-loved local events like the internationally-known Festival of Owls and owl prowls. The Center welcomes visitors and can arrange special programming for schools and groups.
Parks & Playgrounds
We boast a number of community parks and playgrounds including the natural playground at Trailhead Park. Thanks to the folks at Mission 66, an all-inclusive playground was recently completed at our city park. We're all home to multipurpose Bluffview Community Park with two ballfields and South Park with an archery range all in the City of Houston. Outside of town, you'll find the Oak Ridge/Wetbark Recreation Area with trails for many activities and the Mound Prairie Scientific and Natural Area.
Root River Trail
Start your adventure on the Root River Trail System at Houston's Trailhead Park. The paved trail winds through miles of bluff country with endless views and connects with another system to give you a 60-mile trail network right in Southeast Minnesota. Bike, hike, bird-watch and more all the way through our fellow Root River Trail Towns- Rushford, Rushford Valley, Peterson, Whalan, Lanesboro, Preston, Harmony, and Fountain.
Homegrown & Handmade
Get to know the homegrown and handmade around Houston. With talented artists, artisans, and businesses, we've got paintings, sculptures, stories, music, and more. Join us for an arts and on-farm events, find Parade of Owls sculptures around town, or explore scenic and historical routes on your own. Local farms produce and sell fresh flowers and food, hosts events and get the community involved. Discover the Driftless Grown farmers, producers, makers and more.
Houston Nature Center
Trailhead park's Houston Nature Center features visitor information, hands-on nature displays, and clean restroom and showers. The Center offers a variety of educational nature programming for all ages and provides further fun with a natural playground, zip line, and primitive camping sites. It's also home to a band shell, thanks to our local Lions, where you'll find a number of events throughout the year.
Sports & Recreation
Houston is the perfect setting for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor sports. Local non-profit Sheldon Valley Sportsman's Association promotes the area's tradition of hunting, fishing, shooting sports, and archery. It also features a private range and annual youth activities like a fishing derby, firearms safety training, and coaching of the Houston High School trap team. During the winter months, the Houston-Money Creek Snowriders, a local club, maintains our local snowmobile trail system.
More Places to Check Out
Don't miss our wealth of annual community events and festivals. All year long, there's something to look forward to whether you're here for the arts, education, outdoors, or to just have a good time.
International Festival of Owls
March 5-7, 2021
Held annually the first full weekend of March, this festival is fun for all, featuring both activities for kids and attractions for series owl aficionados. The event began in 2003 as a "hatch day" party for Houston's original celebrity owl, Alice. Since then, it's grown to attract visitors internationally and to include an abundance of owl-themed food, live owl programs, merchandise and vendors, bus trips, a banquet, and more.
July 24-26, 2020
Celebrated annual the last full weekend of July, Houston Hoedown attracts too many visitors to count. The three-day celebration is jam-packed with fun and games for the whole family. Live music, tractor pulls, fireworks, a flea market, ball tournaments, a hat race, and a grand parade are just a few activities that take place. Ya'll come!
Houston Craft Fair
November 7, 2020
The Houston Lions host an annual craft fair the first Saturday of November at Houston High School. Perfect for finding gifts, arts, and holiday treats, you'll find lots of unique items from vendors and local organizations.
Root River Triathlon
May 16, 2020
The Houston Lions Club hosts the Root River Triathlon each year. Running on volunteer power along, and known as the "doable" triathlon, the event includes a 6.5-mil canoe/kayak trip on the Root River, 8-mile bike ride, and a 3-mile run. Awards are presented at Trailhead Park after.
Houston Block Party
September 26, 2020
This annual party is held the third Saturday after Labor Day. It's how we celebrate the Root River Trail Towns Taste of the Trail event and gives our businesses and community members a chance to get together. The party features live music, food, kids' games and prizes, police car, ambulance and firetruck tours, face painting and balloon art, airlift shooting range, a cornhole tournament, and cheese and wine-tasting.
Houston Arts Festival
November 30, 2019
The Houston Arts Resource Council hosts this festival the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Held at the community center, you'll find local artwork including photography, stained glass, stoneware pottery, carvings, soaps and lotions, garden art, and much more. The event has free admission and activities for kids.
Lawn Chair Concert Series
This weekly outdoor music event is a staple of the Houston community. Each summer, lawn chairs fill Trailhead Park as live music of different genres drifts from the band shell. These concerts provide amateur and professional musicians the opportunity to perform in beautiful surrounding and preserve the legacy of evening band shell performances and rural social life.
October 30, 2020
The Chamber puts on a special trick-or-treat occasion for kids each year the Friday before Halloween. Area business offer treats and other goodies while kids and their families get a chance to visit with their owners and staff. We also have a pumpkin carving contest and complimentary food and beverages from Bremer Bank and Houston Dental Clinic.
December 7, 2019
Houston Hollidazzle is our big winner celebration where businesses and individuals deck out their buildings and homes with their best holiday lights and displays. We also decorate trees at city park, have a holiday market and activities for kids, 1-mile "Dashing Through the Snow" run, and a lighted nighttime parade.
Arts & Recreation Listings
Chisholm Valley Wildlife Art
22388 Daley Creek Drive, Rushford, MN 55971
This local art gallery is owned and operated by artist Michael Sieve. Come see this amazing display of wildlife art. Call ahead. Gallery does not have set hours.
Houston Arts Resource Council - HARC
HARC is a nonprofit that promotes the work and vision of local artists and artisans. Supporting a variety of arts from visual to performing, storytelling and sculpture, this organization is to thank for the Parade of Owls and the annual Houston Arts Festival.
Houston County Historical Society
104 S History Ln, Caledonia, MN 55921, USA
The Houston County Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution run by an all-volunteer staff. Volunteers help to collect, preserve, and tell the story of the county's past through museum exhibits, photographs, research materials, educational programs, and tours.
Houston Lions Club
This organization is always giving back to the community. The Lions host pancake breakfasts, organize the annual Root River Triathlon, are responsible for the band shell in Trailhead Park and much more.
Houston Nature Center
215 W Plum St, Houston, MN 55943, USA
Situated in Trailhead Park, the eastern terminus of the Root River Bike Trail System, the Center is the perfect place to start or end your bike trail adventure. It offers sites for primitive camping in the Park, is home to visitor info, hands-on nature displays, a natural playground, and clean showers and restrooms. It also offers educational programming for all ages.
International Owl Center
126 E Cedar St, Houston, MN 55943, USA
The leader in owl-based education and programming, the Center features live owls and pogromming, displays, and a gift shop stocked with owl-themed merchandise. It's also responsible for the internationally-known Festival of Owls.
Root River Trail Towns
PO Box 141, Harmony, MN
This nonprofit consists of representatives from all nine towns along the Root River Trail. Together they work to promote the Root River Bike Trail System as a regional destination and to link people to an outdoor experience. These 60 miles of paved trails are the spot for biking, jogging, walking, and even cross-country skiing. It can be used by all skill level and offers a variety of views and stops along the way.
Sheldon Valley Sportsman's Association
11511 County Rd 10, Caledonia, MN 55921, USA
This nonprofit promotes the area's traditions of hunting, fishing, shooting sports, and archery. Youth activities include an annual fishing derby, firearms safety training, and coaching the Houston High School trap team. Its private range is located in the beautiful bluffs near Sheldon and provides a safe, friendly environment to enjoy shooting sports.
Wet Bark/Oak Ridge Trail
Wet Bark Recreation Area offers 11 miles of trails for horseback riding and hiking, six miles of designated mountain biking trails in summer, 11 miles of ski touring trails, and six miles of snowmobile trails in winter.