Quirky Houston: Art Cars & Beer Can Houses

Conservative Houston has a quirky, creative streak – one the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art fosters with a few oddball museums and one fabulous parade.

The late Jeff McKissack spent decades molding his house into a junk-art tribute to his favorite fruit. Today the giant, welded steel oranges and plastic flower art takes up a mazelike 300 sq ft at the Orange Show Center.

Meanwhile, is it a house or is it a sculpture? More than 50,000 aluminum cans cover the Beer Can House as siding, as edging, as wind chimes. It's worth buying a self-guide booklet or taking a tour to learn more. Either way, don't miss the video on the house's history.

If you're not in town for the fabulous Houston Art Car Parade in April, the next best thing is to view a few of the decorated vehicles at the Art Car Museum. The handful of art cars represented here are all wild examples of why you should try to be in town for the parade. Check out the quirky-cool rotating exhibits, which have included subjects such as road refuse and bone art but also serious exhibits by noted contemporary artists.

What the...? Funeral Museum

'Any day above ground is a good one.' That's the trademark of the National Museum of Funeral History. If you've ever wanted to see a coffin collection that includes a casket made of money, literally, or one that's crab-shaped, now's your chance. Exhibits cover embalming, famous memorials and historical hearses. Halloween would seem a good time to check out the Day of the Dead festival room.

Downtown

You'll see few pedestrians braving the hot downtown sidewalks as underground air-conditioned pedestrian tunnels link most downtown buildings. However there's plenty to explore at street level and along the river.

Montrose & Museum District

Museum-lovers, you've hit the jackpot in the area north around Hermann Park. To get full details of all 19 museums or to plot your route, check out the Houston Museum District (www.houstonmuseumdistrict.org) website.