Where is it?
Beeline to Houston’s buzzy, newly resurrected Central Business District — home to pro sports teams like the Astros, Rockets, and Aeros, as well as year-round performing arts companies. And thanks to recent efforts to develop the area’s culinary and nightlife scene, downtown enjoys a following that extends beyond the 9-to-5 hours. Catch a show or enjoy a night out at Houston Pavilions. The four-block, mixed-use development brings fresh energy to the area with House of Blues, Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, and Lucky Strike Lanes. There’s also a two-story Forever 21, Books- A-Million, and nearly a dozen restaurants. While in the area, swing by the 12-acre Discovery Green for live music, a farmers market, fitness classes, and (in the winter) ice-skating on Kinder Lake.
Explore the neighborhoods south of downtown, offering a range of restaurants, quaint coffee shops, energetic nightlife, boutique and thrift-store shopping, and galleries galore. On Saturday mornings, stock up on locally grown produce, organic coffee, freshly baked breads, and Texas cheeses at Midtown Farmers Market. Grab a bite at one of the award-winning restaurants, such as The Breakfast Klub, Reef, and t’afia. At night, chill at one of the lounges, dance clubs, and dives or grab a group and hit Howl at the Moon piano bar for high-energy entertainment. Anything goes in Montrose, from neon-lit tattoo parlors and 24-hour drive-thrus to tree-covered bungalows and quaint coffee shops.
Welcome visitors to Houston’s shopping trifecta: Anchored by Westheimer Road — Houston’s main thoroughfare — and Post Oak Boulevard, the Uptown area is a fashionista’s paradise. More than 700 retailers, fine dining, sports, and hotels sit within two square miles. In the Galleria, more than 375 stores, two hotels, an ice rink, a post office, and endless food options make it a popular destination. For an alfresco experience, follow Post Oak Boulevard north to Uptown Park, where well-heeled boutiques fill the Italian-inspired shopping villa, or drive (just inside the Loop) to Highland Village, where national-brand restaurants and retailers mix with locally owned shops.
Bit of culture
One of the city’s most significant areas — sandwiched between Highway 59 and 610 Loop — is home to Reliant Park, where the Houston Texans touchdown and the rodeo heats up. Catch the light rail from downtown to Reliant. Along the way, stop and see one of the 18 cultural institutions in the Museum District. At nearby, pedestrian-friendly Rice Village, young professionals head for coffee (and a little retail therapy) between classes at Rice University or shifts at the medical center. Swing by the open-air center to shop, dine, and enjoy happy hour at one of many restaurants.
Walks in the park
Northeast of downtown sits a section of historic neighborhoods that date to the late 1800s. Residents once came here to escape the big city. Today, hipsters and young couples seek its character, defined by its architecture, funky restaurants, mom-and-pop shops, and proximity to Washington Avenue nightlife. Find something you never knew you wanted at one of 19th Street’s quaint boutiques. Thrift stores, antique havens, and cafes prove popular at the Heights strip. Stop by for First Saturday Arts Market (the first Saturday of the month) for live music, crafts, plants, and artwork. When the sun goes down, head to Washington Avenue, where wine bars, lounges, and restaurants rule the night.
Although Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, has plenty to see and do inside the city itself, sometimes it is nice to "take a drive" and visit some of the sites in the outlying area. Luckily for Houston area tourists and residents alike, there are a great many attractions within a short drive of the Bayou City. Visit the beach in Galveston; the famous NASA Space Center; quaint winery's in Brenham; the outlet malls in Cypress; or the Big Thicket National Preserve.