The fourth-largest city in the United States, Houston is a big city with enough art, food, and fun to sate anyone’s appetite. And now, following 2017’s devastating Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent relief efforts, Houston and its abundance of Texas style are back in action, meaning anyone can enjoy a slice of the city, where locals are friendly a quick with recommendations or stories about their favorite hometown areas. To help you experience Houston’s culture, we’ve pulled together some of our traveler’s favorite spots and experiences in town. Buckle up for a taste of the new Texas, and take some time to find your twang.
Where to Eat in Houston
Houston contains within its broad borders a food scene that reflects the myriad cultures and flavors of its residents. Here, you can get not just a great steak but also some of the best Mexican, Indian, and African food in the country, each served with regional flair.
Peli Peli Galleria
One of the most exciting Houston restaurants right now, Peli Peli delivers the flavors of its own African diaspora. Chef Paul Friedman, who hails from Johannesburg, cooks traditional dishes such as a classic sausage known as biltong, as well as Dutch kebabs marinated in a sweet curry sauce, and bobotie, a mincemeat pie. The dining room, framed with metal netting and a shifting lightscape, evokes the feel of the South African savannah at dusk. Other locations include Peli Peli Kitchen and Peli Peli in Vintage Park.
A nearly all-day café (open daily from 8am to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm), Pondicheri manages to strike an enviable balance between modern and traditional foods of the Indian subcontinent. Stop in for breakfast—with bite-sized portions of seven dishes, the Morning Thali is a quick trip through the flavors and textures of this family-friendly must-try. Upstairs is a bake lab and shop where treats are infused with heady spices like cardamom and mace. Many of these sweets, made with mesquite or garbanzo bean flour, are naturally gluten-free. (The chocolate mithai fudge is a great example of Pondicheri’s innovative flavors and techniques.)
The Breakfast Klub
Rumored to be Beyonce’s favorite hangout when she is in town (the singer grew up in Houston), the Breakfast Klub attracts a crowd even when celebrities aren’t present. Big portions of classic Southern dishes (think chicken and waffles or “biskits” and gravy) are not for the faint of appetite. The Breakfast Klub line may be long, but the service is cheery and you will not leave hungry.
Things to Do in Houston
From underground tunnels to outer space, Houston offers a huge number of activities suited for any traveler.
Learn the NASA history behind “Houston, we have a problem”
Houston is justifiably proud of its role launching American astronauts into space, and no visit to this city is complete without a visit to Space Center Houston. Choose a combo tour for a 90-minute, personalized Space Center visit in addition to a 90-minute city sightseeing tour by bus, during which you’ll see Hermann Park, City Hall, and Buffalo Bayou Park.
Discover Magnolia City culture
Those looking for quintessential Houston experiences can check out one of the city’s coolest features on an underground tunnels tour that takes visitors 20 feet below the downtown area to explore Houston’s six miles of underground pedestrian passageways that connect downtown Houston’s top spots. Food and drink enthusiasts should try a Sugar Land neighborhood restaurant tour or an Old Town historic pub crawl. To understand a bit about Houston’s cowboy and ranchero past, as well as its present, spend a day at the Houston Rodeo.
Hit the museum circuit
Houston is home to an impressive array of cultural museums, all set in the same Museum District neighborhood. See them all on a hop-on, hop-off Houston city tour, or pick and choose which to visit based on your interests—the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, and the Children’s Museum of Houston are some top picks. Ample green space between buildings means a chance to sit on a park bench and rest your feet.
Where to Stay in Houston
Because Houston is quite spread out, a centrally located hotel guarantees that you can quickly reach any destination in the city.
JW Marriott Houston Downtown
Located in the heart of the financial district and not far from Minute Maid Park (the home of the 2017 World Series champion Astros) JW Marriott Downtown makes it easy to explore the area by foot. Rooms are well-sized with nearly silent cooling and heating systems, plus turndown service that includes housemade beignets. The hotel’s restaurant, Main Kitchen, serves up an ideal late-night snack: some great tacos.
Four Seasons Hotel Houston
The Four Seasons is located within easy distance of the Houston Museum District, home to the Menil Collection and more. Spending time in the lobby among its marble fixtures and comfortable couches often yields celebrity sightings. The Bayou & Bottle whiskey and bourbon bar offers private bourbon lockers for return visitors and tastings every Saturday.
Marriott Marquis Houston
Overlooking downtown’s Discovery Green, the Marriott Marquis is attractive to a somewhat young crowd, perhaps because of the rooftop pool modeled in the shape of the Lone Star State. (It is very lounge-worthy and a seen-and-be-seen locale.) The onsite Xochi restaurant dishes up some of the best Mexican food in Texas, specifically in the style of the Mexican state of Oaxaca.