Even though Houston is the fourth most populated city in the United States, it is rarely thought of as a vacation destination. Houston is a cosmopolitan yet friendly city with many cultural attractions. And unlike bigger American cities, it’s quite affordable to visit, eat, and stay right in the heart of Houston.
When to Go
Houston can be hot and humid in the summer, but it is lovely and mild for the other three seasons. Plan your Houston vacation for sometime between October and April.
Where to Stay
Houston is very spread out and known for its rush hour traffic. Save time by staying in the center of the city. Best Western Downtown Inn and Suites is an economical and centrally located hotel with a great pool. Robin’s Nest is an affordable, pet-friendly bed and breakfast near museums and the trendy Montrose district.
What to See
Enjoy high art and street food at the Museum of Fine Arts ($15 admission). The museum has an extensive permanent collection, and every day different food trucks visit outside from 11-3.
If you’re more of an eclectic art fan, take in John and Dominique de Menil’s personal art collection at the Menil Collection. The architecture and surrounding sculpture park is worth the visit alone. Admission to the Menil is always free.
Quality independent bookstores are hard to find these days, but Houston has one of the best in the country, Brazos Bookstore. The selection is smaller than a big box store, but almost every book in the store is worth reading. Brazos also has an interesting and unusual selection of periodicals.
What to Eat and Drink
Double Trouble is a hole in the wall in an up and coming area that doubles as a coffeeshop and cocktail bar. They only close in the wee hours of the morning, so hit them up day or night for the drink of your choice. Their cappuccinos can’t be beat and are served with an extra shot of espresso on the side.
Houston is full of surprises, including Hobbit Cafe. The cafe is a Hobbit-themed restaurant that predates any Lord of the Rings movies and features tons of thematic artwork. The food is simple, hearty, and generous enough to feed the hungriest Hobbit. Try the Gandalf sandwich, which puts a delicious avocado twist on grilled cheese.
For a more upscale experience that you’d expect in a coastal city, head over to Uchi for top quality sushi and Japanese cuisine. Reservations are easier to come by then you might expect for a restaurant for so much buzz. Go early and order off the sake social menu before 6:30 p.m. The food is just as delicious and is a fraction of the price.