What to do in Houston
Travel Guide: Houston Edition
Y'all, Welcome to Texas!
Want to get a feel for Texas before your plane lands? Listen to this Texas-inspired Spotify playlist. Bonus: It's perfect for driving around the city, which is often too big to walk.
Houston in 3 words: big, country, and cheap
The first time I visited the Houston, I walked around for hours and never left Downtown. Houston is enchanting; I keep coming back. 8 times now. Here's your guide to the best H-town has to offer.
Houston may not have mountains, cliffs, and oceans like other destinations, but it does offer many opportunities to get outside during the day from hiking to shopping. On Friday night, every visitor and Texan alike needs to go to a country bar for two-stepping, line dancing, and waltzing!
Make sushi & laugh a lot
Imagine sitting in a small culinary classroom with about 10 people, staring down at a plate of shrimp, tuna, avocado, cucumber, and Krab. A witty instructor from the Sushi Club of Houston shares not only a meal with you, but also his immense knowledge on the nonsense that is the sushi experience here in the US. You shouldn't feel dumb eating sushi. You shouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg. You shouldn't be swindled into eating a different fish than what you ordered. Oh, and you should eat whatever kind of sushi you like with whatever sauce you like. Like instructor Carl Rosa says, "Sushi is about the rice. Not the fish."
Most importantly, the secret recipe for the cult favorite orange sauce, Spicy Mayo, is revealed. Price: $180 for 2 people, but you can typically find a Groupon deal for $95 a couple or $45 as a singleton. Learn more about Sushi 101 here.
Walk & Hike off the great food
If going to art museums is not how you like to experience a place, may I suggest a hike? It's usually free. Burn some calories. Get away from technology and other people. H-town has some hikes within it and some more secluded hikes about an hour outside.
Head to Memorial Park, park your car, and take the trail on your right. Most people will be on your right, and hardly anyone will be on the trail across the parking lot. I do not know why. Both trails run parallel, but the distribution of people seems to be 90% left trail: 10% right trail. You can continue your walk by entering the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center for free!
Sample leaves from the edible plant/flower garden. Restock on Pokémon GO items (if you still play) with the many pokéstops surrounded by Mankeys!
Other great places to walk include Rice University, the Discovery Green, and all around Downtown!
Longs walks on the beach
Make good on your online dating profile bio by heading to Galveston Island State Park. The state park has beaches void of homes or cars. Once you walk past the state park boundaries, you'll see the cutest beach houses and people tailgating right on the beach.
Get outside your comfort zone
Most people want to shrink away from the atrocities that humans have committed against each other. The Holocaust Museum of Houston, free with student ID, illustrates how the Holocaust affected the residents and the Jewish population of Houston. I left crying. I wonder, "how could people do this?" My only critique is it seemed one sided. Bear with me. The holocaust was terrible. Yet, I'd like to know the view point of the Germans and the Nazi supporters. Why did anyone think this was a good idea or even remotely okay? Knowing the other side may help us not to repeat history. If you're in the area, it's worth the trip.
Cheer up with retail therapy
Most Houston To-Do Guides will recommend the Galleria, an "everything is bigger in Texas" mall. Don't miss the Waterwall right next to the Galleria. Do yourself a favor and also drive 1 mile down the road to the Highland Village Shopping District. You'll find many of the same stores, Madewell, J. Crew, Vineyard Vines, and my favorite, Restoration Hardware. If you want to take instagram worthy photos, Highland Village will be your savior.
Texas-style Night life
It's Friday night and you should be country line dancing, throwing back $3 you-call-its, and two steppin'. Head to Wild West Houston, show the following ad at the door for No Cover and First Drink Free ticket, and get a beginner lesson in Two-Steppin' from 6-7 PM. Around 10-11 PM the younger crowd shows up and a few line dances start. Bonus points if you wear any type of leather boot and get them professionally conditioned and shined for $10.
Keep the party going with caffeine & cocktails & tacos
If hipster bars intrigue you, head over to Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails for a jolt of coffee and more alcohol. Then sober up with amazing tacos, at least amazing while drunk, at Tacos A Go Go. Beware of the hot sauce. It's hellfire.
Watch a game & feel American
Is there anything more stereotypical American than baseball, apple pies, and peaceful protests? Experience 1 of the 3 at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.
To Eat & Drink
Get mouth-watering Texas BBQ and bathe it in delicious sauces.
None better than Killen's Barbecue in Pearland, TX. After a quick breakfast, drive about a half hour south of Houston into Pearland. Be prepared to get there early, wait in line, and make friends with everyone else in line. Doors open at 11 AM, but the line starts forming around 9 AM. Somedays they offer free beer to waiting patrons. Doors close when the food runs out, often before 2 PM. If you like BBQ, you'll like Killen's. If you're like me and don't like BBQ, you'll still enjoy the atmosphere, the thrill of waiting to try the best BBQ in Texas and 2nd best in the country, at least according to Top 5 Restaurants on the Food Network. Must order: potato salad.
- Embassy Suites Houston Downtown
- Spirit Airlines - IAH (George Bush Intercontinental Airport) - budget
- United Airlines - IAH - traditional carrier
- Southwest Airlines - Hobby Airport - Pearland, TX
Products to travel with
Disclaimer: I use the following products and recommend them. If you should purchase them, I'll earn a small commission.
- Sushi-Making Class ($45/person)
- Memorial Park (FREE)
- Houston Arboretum & Nature Center (FREE)
- Galveston Island State Park (FREE, sometimes $5 parking fee)
- Highland Village
- Wild West Houston (No cover Fridays or $2)
- Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails
- Tacos A Go Go
- Holocaust Museum Houston (FREE with Student ID)
- Minute Maid Park
- Water Wall (FREE)
- Rice University Campus
- Discovery Green
- Killen's BBQ Pearland, TX