Weekend City Picks: Houston
The fourth-most populous city in the United States wears its cosmopolitan influences with a load of Lone Star charm. Here are our picks for a great escape to Space City.
Arts & Entertainment
Founded in 1900, this is one of the largest art museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 65,000 works from antiquities to the present-day. One of the most striking displays is James Turrell's "The Light Inside," a mesmerizing tunnel of light that connects the museum's two main buildings. Admission is free on Thursdays.
A five-person resident performing company of actor-singers, the new Music Box Theater writes and produces four two-act comedies each year, centered on popular music from across the decades, for an intimate evening of cabaret-style musical theatre.
The Houston outpost of this established national chain is a 43,000-square foot entertainment complex, centering on a multi-level Music Hall. It bears all of the HOB hallmarks: Walls adorned with Outsider Art, a general admission dance floor, a seated balcony and private box seats, and a Gospel Brunch most Sundays.
Food & Drink
It’s a fascinating concept: Two adjoining restaurants, both run by award-winning chefs, under one roof: Provisions is the casual neighborhood joint and The Pass is the open-kitchen fine-dining eatery specializing in locally focused New American cuisine. Houston area foodies and local and national dining critics consistently rank P&P among Houston’s “Don’t Miss’’ experiences.
This airy, industrial-chic spot on Lower Westheimer in Montrose is the standard-bearer in the Houston craft cocktail movement. Ask about the “100 List,’’ a definitive list of recipes every cocktail aficionado must try once.
Like its famous Big Easy sibling, Commander's Palace, Brennan's is a Houston institution, executing refined Creole cuisine with Southern flair. Don’t miss the Bananas Foster flambéed at the table. Weekend brunch offers live jazz, fried oysters, and cups of chicory java.
Houstonians’ treasure the authentic modern Mexican fare and the tableside shaken Margaritas in the middle of Montrose’s hip restaurant row. If you’re around on the weekend, and don’t mind the lines, five-time James Beard Award nominee Chef Hugo Ortega lays out a tremendous brunch.
This dual-concept butcher and upscale steakhouse near Downtown Houston has a décor that combines an urban feel and historic beauty of the nearly 100-year-old two-story brick structure of the space. Meat selections are all dry-aged in-house, and the restaurant is one of nine restaurants in the country certified to carry true Kobe Beef. Enjoy an expansive downtown view when you dine upstairs or the outdoor rooftop patio area to create a memorable ambiance.
This California-based whiskey bar and comfort food purveyor recently made its Houston first expansion outside of California. Featuring an “industrial-chic” décor, stained concrete floors, and fixtures and furniture made with reclaimed wood, steel and brick; their menu will feel just as welcoming with a variety of comfort food dishes made with local wares. You can also check out the glass-enclosed whiskey room that houses a large selection of local and imported whiskeys from rare, sought-after allocations from around the world.
This casual neighborhood restaurant bakery and bar, in a 1970s-esque industrial setting in Midtown, is a gem in itself. Stop by in the morning for bread, pastries and a few breakfast items; wood-fired meats, vegetables and pizzas for lunch and dinner; or stop by for late-night craft beers, cocktails and small bites at the full bar in the back known by a different name: “Love and Squalor’’.
Still one of Houston’s top attractions, plan ahead so your family can enjoy both of the featured tram tours: the Red, centers on the Astronaut Training Facility, including a mockup of the International Space Station, and the Blue, based in the historic Mission Control room.
Home to more than 200 species in 500,000 gallons of aquatic exhibits, an aquatic-themed Ferris Wheel, a white tiger enclosure, a Louisiana swamp, a shark adventure and much more. During dinner, keep an eye out for scuba divers feeding fish in the restaurant-set tank.
This interactive, educational museum, affiliated with the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, aims to spark young interest in healthier lifestyles, fitness and good physical, mental and spiritual health. The permanent exhibits engage and explain how the brain works and even offer the opportunity to don a lab jacket and goggles and work in a cell-research lab.
Billed as Houston’s first “certified green restaurant,’’ Ruggles uses local and organic ingredients that adhere to gluten-free, dairy-free and other vegetarian restrictions, but omnivores can thrive here as well. Check out the extensive pizza selections – steak is a local favorite – as well as the high protein beef-and-raisins “hempanadas”.
Whether you’re looking for a simple massage, facial, or mani/pedi, this luxury boutique spa set in a Tuscan-style villa in Uptown, near the Galleria, earns raves from locals and visitors alike. While soaking in the serenity and solitude, take note of the tiny details, such as the ice towels by the sauna or the cantaloupe water by the underground thermal mineral pool.
Top-notch facilities and equipment in the River Oaks neighborhood, with a reputationo for hiring and retaining inspiring instructors across various classes including, barre, cycling, yoga, trampoline and hammock classes.
A 12-acre urban park in the middle of Downtown with something for everyone: Playgrounds, dog runs, a jogging trail, a walking promenade with 360-degree views of downtown and picnic grounds, restaurants, fountains and mist trees, an ice rink, bocce courts, kayaking on Kinder Lake.
Free entertainment – children’s theatre, musicals, symphonies, Shakespeare, jazz, Mexican conjunto and even Bollywood productions – in the park near the Houston Zoo and the McGovern Centennial Gardens.
This water park located a half hour south of Houston features cable wakeboarding: Riders are pulled around the 12-acre lake by a state-of-the-art overhead cable system. Water skiing, knee-boarding, and an aerial ropes course are available and staffed with highly skilled instructors for beginners of all ages.
A Texas-sized shopping and entertainment experience, The Galleria mall in Uptown is the largest in the Lone Star State, with more than 2.4 million square feet and 375 stores from which to choose.
Located on Lower Westheimer, this high-end women’s fashion shop, features established and emerging designers. Everything from casual to cocktail-ready gala wear is on display in a classic Texas country space that speaks to the Mio mission: “Live Love Houston’’
A general-goods store with great gifts for men – and a pretty cool backstory -- that emphasizes made-in-the-USA craftsmanship. The flagship store, in the Historic Heights neighborhood, is one-stop-shopping for everything: Clothing, cocktail mixers, grooming supplies, leather goods and an array of vintage goods like Mexican Souvenir Biker Rings, even 24K gold plated axes!