Architecture Center of Houston / Houston AIA
Walking tours of Montrose neighborhood, Buffalo Bayou, and Museum District
Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park
1100 Bagby Street Houston, Texas 77002 713.655.1912
Various tours for adults and children (several grade levels and scouting programs) COST
Candlelight Tour in December COST
Telephone tour of Sam Houston Park Architecture @ 713 568 9190 – Subsequently press numbers 1 – 9 for individual audio commentary regarding (1) Kellum-Noble Home, (2) 4th Ward Cottage, (3) Nichols-Rice-Cherry Home, (4) Old Place, (5) St. John Church, (6) Jack Yates Home, (7) Staiti Home (8) San Felipe Cottage, (9) Pillot House. This telephone tour can be used in conjunction with photos at http://www.heritagesociety.org/historicstructures.html
Annual Moderne buildings tour in April, occasional special tours of neighborhoods and threatened buildings - Website allows searching by neighborhood which is quite adaptable to designing tours. COST
Rice Design Alliance
Annual architectural tour on a particular topic, also provides a variety of occasional tours of buildings, sites, and neighborhoods, over a dozen of which are summarized online COST
Greater Houston Preservation Alliance
712 Main Street #110 Houston, TX 77002 (713) 216-5000
Monthly walking tours and provides, as arranged, 3 dozen tours of buildings, sites, and neighborhoods COST
Annual opening of art studios and galleries in the Downtown warehouse district on the Saturday before Thanksgiving – brochure available FREE
Art Houston / Art Scene
Annual July opening of about 30 major art galleries - Participating galleries in the Colquitt, Museum, Heights districts, and other areas. Brochure available. FREE
Art On The Avenue
Winter Street Studios 2101 Winter Street Houston, TX 77007 - FREE
A fall evening, usually November, with more than 200 Texas artists
GPS My City Houston Online Virtual Tour
An online Museum District tour by Doris with a photo and text
John Biggers Murals Virtual Tour
Murals at several locations
Houston Museum District
Museum Day - Annually in September, openings of Museum District museums - free buses circulate. FREE
Museum of Fine Arts, Central Campus
1001 Bissonnet Houston, TX 77005 713-639-7300 COST
Gallery Talks are offered daily. Self-Guided Group Visits and Custom Group Tours can be arranged.
Museum of Fine Arts, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
1 Westcott St @ Memorial Drive Houston, TX 77007 (713) 639-7300
Home and Gardens are separate tours. Group tours can be arranged. COST
Museum of Fine Arts, Rienzi Center for European Decorative Arts
Home tours by regular schedule and garden tour by self-guiding.
1406 Kirby Drive Houston, Texas 77019 713.639.7800 COST
UH Campus Art Collection – Online Virtual Tour
Eight media are separately collected and location on campus is given. Numerous examples in each category
|Art – Performing Arts Interests||Top
615 Texas Avenue Houston 77002 713.220.5700
Arrange a group tour COST
3535 Main Street Houston, TX 77002 (713) 520-0055
Arrange group tours
Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
800 Bagby Street, Ste. 300 Houston, TX 77002 713.315.2400
Three virtual tours, one general, one of the Sarofim Hall, and one of the Zilkha Hall – each with several photos and each of those with 360 degree views, all with narrative commentary
Arrange a group tour
Jones Hall for the Performing Arts
615 Louisiana St # 101, Houston -
Short photo tour of work and public spaces
Group tours arranged via 713-250-3654
Main Street Theater
2540 Times Blvd. Houston, TX 77005 713-524-3622
Arrange a group tour
Stages Repertory Theatre
3201 Allen Parkway Suite #101 Houston, TX 77019 (713) 527-0220
Group tours can be arranged
Wortham Theater Center
501 Texas / Houston, TX 77002 713.237.1439
Short photo tour of work and public spaces
Group tours to be arranged
|Colleges & Universities||Top
Houston Baptist University
7502 Fondren Rd • Houston, TX 77074 • (281) 649-3000
Arrange a personal tour
Bible Museum Online Tour
Lone Star College
Each of the several campuses has a video tour.
University of Houston
To schedule a guided tour visit this link.
To experience a virtual tour visit this link
Self-guided Tour Packet (pdf)
Nine Virtual Tours, with map
Rice’s Fondren Library Video Tour
South Texas College of Law, Fred Parks Library Online Photo Tour
1303 San Jacinto Street, Houston, Texas 77002 · 713-659-8040
Texas Southern University
3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, TX 77004 713-313-7011
Virtual photographic tour online
|Commercial Touring Companies||Top
Emerson Arnold, Tour Guide
Conducts tours via motor coaches and motorcycles. COST
936.894.3426 hm 713.417.2371 cell
Bayou City Tours
Specializes in guided walking tours of Downtown Houston COST
Betty Bruno, Tour Guide
A specialist in African American aspects of Houston area COST
Destination Houston Tours
912 Prairie Houston, TX 77002 713-227-8300
General Houston city tours, neighborhood tours, tunnels walks, rail tours COST
Downtown walking tours is the specialty - Tunnel Walks, Rail Tours, Broomstick Adventures, Ghost Walks, and Downtown Holiday Walk COST
Lynn Gaines, Tour Guide
Specialist in Downtown, the Museum District, the Montrose area, Reliant Stadium, and walking tours COST
713.524.2381 hm 832.721.0597 cell
Andrew Groocock, Tour Guide
Specialist in art, architecture, and history COST
Dot Honeycutt, Tour Guide
Specialist in historical tours of Downtown and neighborhoods - COST
281.398.0659 hm 713.582.2502 cell
Houston Historical Tours
Houston 713 392 0867
About 50 diverse tours, general city tours (2-10 hours), theme tours, NASA, neighborhood tours, commercial and shopping tours, and about 50 out of town tours by locale and theme COST
8915 Bellaire Blvd. Houston TX 77036 (713) 988-5900 (832) 630-9188
General Houston tour, Space Center, San Jacinto, Battleship, etc. COST
Michael R. Kees, Tour Guide
Specialist in the tunnels, downtown, Minute Maid, and general tours COST
Moderne Metropolis Tours
Driving, walking, and rail tours – architecture, history, Downtown; Midtown; Medical Center; Hermann Park; Rice University; Reliant Stadium
713-680-1955 or 1-800-895-4667 Ask for a City Tour by town car with Michael Zargarov as your driver. COST
Lucette Rieger, Tour Guide
Provides a variety of tours, with the strength of conversing in several languages COST
Texas Tour Connection
2303 Shane Road Richmond TX, 77469 713-826-6963
Tour emphasis - Texas History, Houston City, NASA, etc
Spring TX, 77393 - 281-772-9526
A general Houston tour & tours of NASA, San Jacinto Battleground, and Minute Maid Park
General Houston tour, Space City, stadiums, art, architecture, shopping, Medical Center, nature, history, theaters, nightlife
Tours with Kathleen
Seabrook, Texas 77586 713-542-5100
Ecological, historical, and cultural surveys, NASA, & Galveston Bay
Randall L. Woods. Tour Guide
Spring, Texas (281) 367-6156
Walking Ghost Tours of Old Town Spring - for groups COST
Good narrative on webpage.
Bob Zurik, Tour Guide
14603 Carolcrest Houston, TX 77079 281-497-3417
General tours with special knowledge of the Brown Convention Center and Minute Maid. COST
|Downtown Telephone – Audio Tours||Top
1500 McKinney Houston, TX 77010 713-650-3022
Maps and audio walking tours of Discovery Green Park, Downtown, and Museum District
Downtown Management District
909 Fannin, Suite 1650 Houston, TX 77010 713-650-3022
The Art Deco Walking Tour - The tour pamphlet can be downloaded from the district's website which also offers audio downloads for three additional tours – Downtown buildings, Downtown public art, and the Museum District.
Downtown Mobile Info
Downtown telephone tour near Wortham Center by dialing 713-300-0892 – map on website
Houston Solar Tour
|Food and Drink Interests||Top
775 Gellhorn Drive, Houston, TX 77028 713-670-1695
Regularly scheduled tours COST
Houston Culinary Tours
The city’s top chefs take groups to eat in Houston’s mom and pop restaurants to showing them where they eat on their days off. COST
Saint Arnold Brewery Tours
2000 Lyons Avenue Houston, TX 77020 713-686-9494
Regularly scheduled tours COST
River Oaks Garden Club
2503 Westheimer Houston, TX 77098 713.523.2483
Annual Azalea Trail in March
Audio tours of Miss Ima Hogg’s Bayou Bend
Lone Star Koi Club & Houston Pond Society
Houston - Annual Water Garden and Pond Tour in June
Woodlands Spring Home & Garden Show
Annually in March
African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street, Houston, Texas, 77019 (832) 393-1440 (enter on Cleveland St.)
Arrange a group tour of the exhibits and collections
Battleship Texas Foundation & Battleship Texas State Historic Site
3523 Highway 134 LaPorte TX 77571 281/479-2431
Individual tours always available, COST. Special “Hard Hat” group tours with special docents (First Texas Volunteers) arranged via 281-479-2431 COST
Harris County Historical Society
Occasional tours for members. COST
Houston Archeological Society
Occasional tours for members
Museum of Printing History
1324 W. Clay Street, Houston, Texas 77019 713-522-4652
Visit to browse or schedule a guided group tour
San Jacinto Battleground, Friends of, Flickr Account
Tour of the Lorenzo de Zavala Family Cemetery via photos
San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Park
3523 Battleground Road LaPorte TX 77571 281/479-2431
Self-guided Walking Tour of Battleground narrative
Self-guided Walking Tour Marsh Restoration and Boardwalk Interpretive Trail Guide narrative
Tomball Heritage Museum
510 N Pine Street, Tomball, Texas (281) 255-2148
Call to arrange group tours. COST
Tour de Hood
A historic bicycle ride goes to landmarks of Houston's civil rights movement on March 26, Saturday. The Tour will leave from the Menil Collection at 1515 Sul Ross, at 9:00 am and will last about 2 1/2 hours.
8500 Bay Area Blvd. Pasadena, TX 77507 281-474-2551
Buffalo Bayou Preservation / Partnership
1113 Vine Street Suite 200 Houston TX, 77002 713-752-0314
Canoe, kayak, and pontoon boat tours along Buffalo Bayou, near downtown Houston, as well as a tour of the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony..
Buffalo Bayou Shuttle Service
100 Sabine Street, Houston - (713) 538-7433
Canoe and kayak tours of Buffalo Bayou
Edith Moore Nature Sanctuary
440 Wilcester Blvd. 440 Wilchester Blvd, Houston, 77079 713-932-1639
Personal browsing tour, always - Guided tours by arrangement.
Harris County Precinct 4
Precinct 4 offers launches at Collins Park, Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, and Pundt Park for those interested in canoeing/kayaking Spring Creek or Cypress Creek and associated waterways.
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
4501 Woodway Drive Houston, TX 77024-7708 713.681.8433
Many of the programs and classes include tours of the remarkable grounds, some seasonal, some thematic.
Regular scheduled Saturday tours at 2:00 and 3:00. COST Call ahead for large group.
Pre-arrange Friday’s “Wine and Cheese Night Hike.” COST
A driving tour of “Wildflowers & Texas History” by arrangement in the spring, usually May. COST
Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center
20634 Kenswick Drive Humble, Texas 77338 (281) 446-8588
Various tours available for various ages.
Mercer Arboretum & Nature Center
22306 Aldine Westfield Rd Humble, TX 77338 - (281) 443-8731
Pre-arrange a regularly scheduled tour on Tuesday and Thursday. Third Saturday morning has open invitation to tour the grounds. “Scavenger Hunt” tour brochure available for children.
Sims Bayou Urban Nature Center
3997 River Drive Houston, TX 77017-3016 (713) 640-2407
Center is open by appointment. Groups schedule a tour in advance
About.com - Lower Westheimer
Virtual tour with 10 photos and narrative
About.com - West University’s Rice Village Virtual Walking Tour
Virtual tour of 10 photos with narrative
Art & Environmental Architecture, Inc. (AEA
Arrange a group tour of old Frost Town area and James Bute Park near McKee Street Bridge.
Asian Heritage Tours
Specializes in Southwest Houston including tea tasting, herbology, Chinese calligraphy, Dim Sum, shopping, and Buddhist temples. COST
Asian Pacific American Heritage Association
6220 Westpark Dr. #245 B, Houston, 77057 713 784 1112
Annual Cultural/Interfaith Bus Tour: APAHA/Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston for a guided bus tour to Asian places of worship and a lunch stop in Chinatown. COST
Bellaire Arts Commission & Bellaire Parks Patrons & Bellaire Historical Society
Bellaire's Centennial History Walk, a self-guided tour of landmarks that illustrate the city's past, in Paseo Park where several informative metal plates are added to the Texas historical markers there. Near the Trolley @ Bellaire Boulevard & South Rice
Brochure at http://www.bellairehistoricalsociety.org/HistoryWalkPamphlet.pdf
6502 N Shepherd Dr Houston, TX 77091 (713) 695-3444 COST
Arrange a group tour of Independence Heights.
East Montrose Association
See previous Home Tour online with photos, map, and commentary, during May
See previous Art Walk sites online with photos, map, and commentary, during May
Eastwood Neighborhood Civic Association
Annual fall Home Tour, see printed narrative and map on website in October
Friendswood Heritage Gardeners Club
112 W. Spreading Oaks, Friendswood 77546 281 992 4438
Annual tour of decorated homes in November
Garden Oaks Neighborhood
Tour on even numbered years
Houston Heights Association
831 Harvard Street Houston, Texas 77007 713-880-2832
Annual Winter Holiday Home Tour, usually in December, with docents and brochure
Annual Spring Home & Garden Tour, often in April, with docents and brochure
Tour of the Heights via the National Geographic Magazine
Old Sixth Ward
Houston - Annual Home Tour is in October.
Walking Tour narrative with photos is available online.
Arrange a walking tour via the Descendants of Olivewood.
Rutherford B. H. Yates Home
1314 Andrews Street, Houston, Texas 713-739-0163
Regular tours of home on 3rd Saturday or arrange a tour of the Rutherford Yates home and its surrounding lots or a separate tour of the 4th Ward Residential District
Woodland Heights Civic Association
Annual Home & Garden tour, often in March COST
Winter “Lights in the Heights” tour and map - in December
Westmoreland Preservation Alliance
Houston - Westmoreland Historic District Walking Tour with pamphlet
|Port & Outer Space Interests||Top
Houston Space Center - NASA
1601 NASA Parkway Houston, TX 77058 281-244-2100
Tram Tour of Grounds 2 – 3 different tours of the actual grounds and buildings
Level 9 Tour – A day long special tour
Port of Houston Sam Houston Boat Tour of the Ship Channel
Tours are arranged via the website. No tours in September.
Annunciation Catholic Church
1618 Texas Street Houston, TX 77003 (713) 222-2289
Group tours available
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church
500 Clay Street, Houston - (713) 652-0738
Arrange a group tour.
Catholic Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart
1111 St. Joseph Parkway Houston 713-659-1561
Pre-arranged group tours or regularly scheduled tours on 2nd Sunday, and printed booklet for self-guided tours
Congregation Beth Israel
5600 North Braeswood Blvd., Houston, TX 713.771.6221
Photographic tour of campus
First United Methodist Church
1320 Main Street @ Clay Houston, TX 77002 1-800-652-2999
Arrange a group tour or visit the brief online virtual 360 degree visual tour of the sanctuary.
Islamic Da’wah Center
201 Travis @ Franklin Houston, Texas 77002 713.223.3311
Virtual photographic tour, click each to enlarge and see commentary
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
5501 Main Street 8 Houston, Texas 77004 8 Phone - 713-528-0527
Call to arrange a group tour or visit the link for a brief virtual tour.
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
717 Sage Road, Houston (713) 830-4117
Regularly scheduled tours are given on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. Other times can be arranged
Second Baptist Church, Woodway Campus
Virtual tour, using an online photographic map, click on the sites for information
Minute Maid Ball Park
501 Crawford Street Houston, Texas, 77002 713-259-8000
Regularly scheduled tours Monday-Friday. Larger group tours by arrangement. COST
1510 Polk Street Houston, TX 77002 713.758.7715
Regular, scheduled tours and special group tours COST
One Reliant Park, Houston, TX 77054 832.667.1842
Regular scheduled tours ands special group tours COST
Several virtual tours via “360” camera shots
Houston Arts Alliance
3201 Allen Parkway Suite 250 Houston, TX 77019- 713.527.9330
“The Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is a 501C3 non-profit arts organization. The mission is to support and promote artistic life in the Houston region through programs, initiatives and alliances. Advancing the nonprofit arts industry in Greater Houston improves the region's quality of life, ensures a competitive economy, and creates an appealing tourist destination.”
901 Bagby, Ste. 100 Houston, TX 77002 713-473-3837
“Houston Greeters is a free visitor service that offers a unique look at Houston through the eyes and hearts of its residents. Local volunteers serving as Houston Greeters host individuals for two to four hour visits to one of the city’s local attractions or cultural destinations.”
Professional Tour Guides Association of Houston
The PTGAH provides an initial contact to some tour guides in the Houston area.
City houses: The urban landscape By the Rice Design Alliance. Houston: Rice Design Alliance, 
Discover Houston Downtown: Tunnelwalk & rail tour, 3rd edition. By Sandra S Lord, photographs by Sandra S. Lord, Aryelle Amador & Larry Morris. Houston: Discover Houston Tours, 2007.
Golden triangle tour for new residents, volume IV. Houston: [The Woman’s Club of Houston], [ca. 1968]
Guide to the Texas Medical Center. By Clyde W. Burleson and Suzy Williams. Austin: University of Texas, Press, 1987.
Heights historical home tour. Houston : Houston Heights Association, .
Homes of the stars: A who's who tour of Houston. By: Barbara Jo Morgan Publisher: Houston: Houston Metropolitan, 1993.
Houston architectural guide. By Stephen Fox; photographs and editing by Gerald Moorhead and Yolita Schmidt; foreword by Joel Wayne Barna, 2nd edition. Houston : American Institute of Architects, Houston Chapter; Herring Press, 1999.
Houston’s cradle of culture & environs: Three architectural walking tours of the museums area. Prepared by the Anchorage Foundation. Houston: Rice Design Alliance, 1985.
Houston's gallery of Architecture: Walking tour of downtown Houston, 2nd edition. By Phyllis Harris. Houston: Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects , 1989.
Houston tours for children and other people. Houston: Ebenezer Press, 1976
Houston, bold and beautiful; your complete tour guide. Publisher: [Chicago, 1964]
Intrepid walker's guide to Houston: Exploring the city on foot & bike. By Eli Zal & Doug Milburn and with photos by Tom Richmond. Houston: Texas Chapbook Press, 1975.
Last American city: An intrepid walker's guide to Houston. By Douglas Milburn. Houston: Texas Chapbook Press, c1979.
Official tour book. By the Space Center Houston. Houston: Aerographics, Inc., 2005.
Pictorial trip through the Niels Esperson Building. [Houston : s.n., ca. 1926]
Rice University: An architectural tour. By Stephen Fox and photos by Paul Hester and foreword by Lars Larup. NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001.
River Oaks: Three self-guided tours of its architecture. Prepared by the Anchorage Foundation of Texas for the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Houston: Houston Chapter, AIA, 1984.
Scenic tours through Houston and vicinity. Houston: Motor League of South Texas, [ca. 1930]. Vol. 5, no. 11 of Plymouth Traveler.
Shadowlawn: An architectural tour. By the Rice Design Alliance. Houston: Rice Design Alliance, [ca. 1983].
Southampton: A walking tour and history of the neighborhood. By Stephen Fox. [Houston]: [s.n.]; c2007.
Step by step: A walking tour of downtown Houston with maps. By Shirley Oakes and A. Pat Daniels. Houston: O. M. S. Pub. Co., 1976.
Telephone Road, Texas: A history and guide to Telephone Road and southeast Houston. By Burton Chapman. Friendswood, Tex : Baxter Press, 2007.
Walking tour, Main Street / Market Square historic district. By the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance. Houston : Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, [ca. 1983].
Walking tour of Rice University. By James C. Morehead, Jr. Houston: Rice University Studies, 1984. Digital version at http://www.archive.org/stream/walkingtourofric00more
What is a tour? Five hundred years ago, the only excursions over the Houston area would have been by the local original Texans, ancestors of the local Karankawas, Bidais and other tribes, probably in search of food and shelter provisions and other resources, although keeping an occasional eye for the novel or amusing circumstance. Their later recounting through oral tradition of their travels could constitute the first “virtual” or “audio” tours.
Shortly thereafter in the 1500’s a Spanish shipwreck cast Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and fellow castaways upon the nearby Texas coast, and he later wrote two accounts, including light references to his travels and times in this area, establishing a “tour” commentary in printed form. Subsequent other Spanish conquistadors, missionaries, military officers, and bureaucrats provided accounts (some extensive and detailed) of their Texas travels, but there was little reason to dwell on the Houston area although the naming of the San Jacinto River and occasional such mementos occurred. The Spanish lack of records on our area is primarily due to their own prohibition of settling near the Gulf coast and the consequent attention paid elsewhere. Later, scattered missions, forts, settlements, and ranches in parts distant from later Houston tended to focus on those individual’s practical concerns rather than unauthorized exotic excursions and explorations.
The 1568 shipwrecked three Englishmen’s northward travels apply far beyond the bayou. The 1600’s English settlement on the Buffalo Bayou has not been found described in British records as yet.
LaSalle’s 1680’s French settlement near Matagorda Bay and its subsequent survivors’ narratives do not touch us here. Much later the French did provide the first novel about Texas in L’heroine du Texas (Paris, 1819).
In American English most early accounts were in newspapers, e.g., Nile’s Register, or in military sources such as Zebulon Pike, of Pike’s Peak fame, who also did not see the double yellow line in the highway and wandered into Spanish Texas in 1806 and published his Expeditions account in 1810. Moses and Stephen Austin’s colonizing efforts were remarkably successful in the 1820’s. Spots in Harris County were occupied. Harrisburg’s John Harris came in 1824. Cousin Mary Austin Holley’s 1833 volume simply titled Texas is the first extensive English language description and describes colonial life, typical of times nearby. The Gustav Dresel and Fairfax Gray diaries are commonly used. Adele Looscan’s work is often cited.
Common and uncommon folks came and went after the 1836 revolution and establishment of Houston. John James Audubon documented local birdlife.
A hundred years ago, 1900, tours were still primarily for the wealthy. General mobility was restricted, and tours were thought of as exotic. Newspapers were the main source of exotic “virtual” tours; the Chronicle being established in 1901 after a $30 investment in a wild oil speculation yielded $5,000 – it was a Spindletop investment. What out-of-town newspapers said about Houston and Harris County has yet to be investigated. Stage productions were augmented with movie houses. For a nickel you could see far away lands. Travel magazines emerged. Occasional train rides to Galveston for weekend holidays came within reach of more families. Hunting and fishing along the Bay were popular. Boat rides on the Bayou were common, and Pasadena’s petroleum refineries could have been a herd of elephants for the notice they drew and still do. Annual trips on San Jacinto Day to the Battleground were common for the rich and the un-rich.
Automobiles and their subsequent travel clubs were augmented by radio and then television as means of projecting a public profile of Harris County and Houston attributes – other than the cotton, rail, port, and the oil businesses. Fishing and swimming at Sylvan Beach became the rage. The Houston Fat Stock Show and Exhibition came to town in the 1930’s, and so have countless visitors looking at the sights every year.
With the arrival of the Democratic National Convention in 1928, Jesse Jones made Houston a destination spot for the nation. The training facilities of World War I, the military industry of World War II, and the related port business of those and other wars all sensitized outsiders’ awareness of Houston. Houstonians kept a continuous presence in Washington, D.C., exemplified by the House family, the Jones family, and on through the Bush and Baker families. Even Lyndon Johnson taught school here before moving to the Capital as a young man. Houston earned a place in folk’s imagination as worthy of notice and tours.
Printed booklets are preserved from the 1920’s and 1930’s to show the formal development of “tour” publications, including those from the Esperson Building, the Motor Club of South Texas, and even the Woman Club of Houston.
Fifty years ago, 1960, a tour was a tour. A tour was still a real-time, real-world event. Tourists were carted around by friends. Professionals were shown the highlights by office staff. Visits of the Texas State Historical Association, and later the Texas Library Association and the Texas Historical Commission, led to lists of sights to see, in addition to San Jacinto. The Chamber of Commerce was not a laggard touting points here and there and was willing to arrange a guide to provide informed comments while escorting folks through a sequence of places tied together with some theme. Sometimes a printed itinerary for a self-guided tour gave addresses and instructions to travel from place to place. A “tour” conducted by oneself in a serendipitous browsing manner was a tour in the most casual definition. Printed brochures, booklets, and formal volumes were available, and magazines also printed itineraries and abbreviated commentary.
The 21st electronics environment and the Internet offer a carnival of other options. But what is a tour? Short videos on Youtube are available but the fuzziness of what is a tour or just a few minutes caught on tape can be difficult to discern. Checking “Will’s Texana Youtube Collection” shows a superficial but remarkable diversity of opportunities. Web photo databases offer other options. Flickr accounts offer the option of loading and sequencing photos and providing written commentary for each photo, as from the Friends of San Jacinto. Audio commentary is available to listen to at points along a tour as with the Heritage Society’s Sam Houston Park collection of saved homes. Some historical and religious institutions and organizations have websites with formally organized visual tours of their architectural and social history. Others offer written narrative with illustrative photos in sequence to a walking tour, e.g., the Old Sixth Ward Neighborhood Association. E-mail attachments now permit the distribution of slide show presentations quite usable for virtual tours. Indeed, a driving tour of the East End, using Navigation, Canal, Harrisburg, Polk, and Lawndale as the backbone, would be a prime candidate for such a photo narrative.
The modern world’s aggressive print publication option is still healthy and offers may new channels for authors and organizations to publish or manufacture short run books and booklets. Guidebooks, surveys, essays abound which while not actually tourist itineraries, they do offer the raw material from which many different tours can be developed. Indeed, even the national tourist industry which often relies on the ever growing number of city sightseeing books, includeing Fodor, Frommer, and Marmac offering volumes on Houston. - WH