The Best Things to Do in Houston, Texas – Southern Living

Cynthia J. Drake has been a travel writer since 2009. Based in Austin, Texas, she has written for Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, Parents, AAA, Texas Monthly, and other publications.
As the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest city in the U.S., Houston offers visitors a huge helping of culture and cuisine, along with a side of sports and swagger.
No two visits to Houston are quite the same, as there is always something new to discover in this diverse and vibrant metropolitan area that has contributed many gifts to the world, from the U.S. space exploration program to Beyoncé. Read on for our latest recommendations for how to spend a few days in the Bayou City.
An estimated 21,000 performances, concerts, plays, and exhibits pop up in Houston each year. Along with mainstays like the recently expanded Museum of Fine Arts and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in the city’s Museum District, visitors can explore fresh new immersive and interactive art galleries such as Color Factory and Seismique. Arts District Houston, located in the city’s First and Sixth wards, is filled with private studios, galleries, and public art spaces and murals—group tours can be arranged, or simply spend a day exploring with your camera.
For some out-of-this-world inspiration, explore Mission Control in Houston at the Johnson Space Center, the awe-inspiring home base for America’s first mission to the moon and many other space journeys since 1961. Visitors can climb aboard replica vessels and even do simulated rocket launches.To cap off your stay, sports fans will want to be sure to cheer on the ‘Stros (also known as the Houston Astros) during a game at Minute Maid Park, or in the fall and winter, catch the Texans at NRG Stadium.
H-Town’s dining scene is infused with flavors from around the world in addition to its Southern culinary heritage, giving rise to innovative cuisine that consistently earns Houston chefs top spots on James Beard Award lists. Among the latest buzzworthy restaurants is Le Jardinier, a new upscale French restaurant housed inside the Museum of Fine Arts’ newly-opened Kinder Building; chef Hugo Ortega’s Oaxacan restaurant Xochi, located inside the Marriott Marquis; the artful Japanese cuisine experience at Kuu in Memorial City; and Pondicheri, an Indian restaurant which has earned chef Anita Jaisinghani multiple James Beard Award nominations, including as a finalist for Best Chef in Texas in 2020.
Want an unusual dessert recommendation? Head over to Red Circle Ice Cream for some really outside-the-cone flavors (including flavors like Hot Cheetos and crawfish!).
Once serving as the residence of President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, the stately Houstonian offers a live oak-filled tranquil getaway tucked away from the busy surrounding city environs. It has a newly expanded on-site spa, Trellis (currently the largest in Texas), plus three pools, hiking trails, and a health and fitness club offering classes to hotel guests, as well as members.
Hotel ZaZa in Houston’s Museum District makes for a swanky stay to complement an art-filled itinerary. Its themed concept suites are a worthy splurge—the Houston We Have a Problem room includes your very own in-room astronaut and futuristic space-age decor.
The Hyatt Regency Houston recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation of its 955 guest rooms and offers views of the downtown skyline from its heated rooftop pool.
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