Houston Highlights: Things to do in the Bayou City

Biscuit Paint Wall, by Houston artist Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau (photo: Paulina Lelo de Larrea, Houstonia)
Downtown Houston – Explore the neighborhood around your conference site.
Downtown Houston (image: RaulCano82, flickr)

The Heritage Society – Tour Houston’s historic downtown buildings and discover the city’s past
Walking tours offered Thursday-Sunday, see website for details
Museum open Tuesday-Saturday, $5 admission
Market Square Park – Outdoor dining, public art, performances, and movie nights
Discovery Green – 12-acre park with summer programming
Alley Theatre – Local performing arts venue with an in-house company
Wortham Theater Center – Home to the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera
Urban Harvest Farmers Market at City Hall – Held every Wednesday

Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lounge – Southern-style “speakeasy” with creative spirits and a roof deck
Tongue-Cut Sparrow – Go-to spot for craft cocktails
Hearsay Market Square – Contemporary American cuisine
La Carafe Wine Bar – Located in what is believed to be Houston’s oldest commercial building
Treebeards – Cafeteria-style eatery for hearty Southern fare (with five Downtown locations)
Conservatory – Underground beer garden and food hall
Prohibition Theatre – Glitzy prohibition-era theater serving up cocktails, dinner, and live burlesque
Coterie – Airy and stylish cafe (great for brunch!)
The Nightingale Room – Music-centric bar and lounge
La Calle Tacos – Casual taqueria

First Ward / Warehouse District – This historic area adjacent to Downtown is home to the Washington Avenue Arts District, a state-recognized cultural community.
Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern – Century-old underground reservoir offering guided history tours and featuring installations by contemporary artists
Open Wednesday-Sunday, see website for details
Sawyer Yards – Eight city blocks of industrial warehouses converted into artist studios, commercial galleries, event venues, breweries, distilleries, and more
FotoFest – Photography and new media art (check website for events / exhibitions)

Julep – Graceful cocktail bar with seafood towers
B+B Butchers & Restaurant – Steakhouse attached to a traditional butcher shop
Last Concert Cafe – Casual yet festive Tex-Mex joint with live music

Museum District / Midtown / Rice Village – Houston’s Museum District, a quick shuttle trip or METRO ride from Downtown,
boasts an array of cultural attractions (many of which are free to visit).
Lawndale Art Center

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Open Tuesday-Sunday, free admission
Houston Museum of African American Culture
Open Tuesday-Saturday, free admission
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Open Tuesday-Sunday, free admission on Thursdays (normally $15)
Cullen Sculpture Garden – Created by sculptor Isamu Noguchi (part of MFAH)
Open daily, free admission
Moody Center for the Arts – Experimental, multi-disciplinary arts space (part of Rice University)
Open Tuesday-Saturday, free admission
Lawndale Art Center – Features the work of local contemporary artists in an iconic Art Deco building
Open Wednesday-Sunday, free admission
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft – Discover the process, product, and history of craft
Open Wednesday-Sunday, free admission
The Czech Center Museum Houston – Experience authentic objects, art, music, stories, and lives
Open Monday-Saturday, $6 admission
DiverseWorks – Commissions and presents new visual, performing, and literary art
Open Thursday-Saturday, free admission
Hermann Park – Houston’s 445-acre urban oasis

Lucille’s – Delicious Southern fare
The Breakfast Klub – Scrumptious soul food any time of day
Grand Prize Bar – Unique, low-key space with a jukebox, pool table, rooftop, and couches

Montrose – An eclectic neighborhood just north of the Museum District.
Rothko Chapel

The Menil Collection – Impressive collection (paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, and rare books) housed in an equally impressive museum complex
Open daily, free admission
Rothko Chapel – One of Houston’s most beautiful and meditative spaces
Check website for hours, free admission
Houston Center for Photography – Dedicated to the art of contemporary photography
Open Wednesday-Sunday, free admission

Biscuit Home – Delightfully dreamy bedding and home decor

Hugo’s – Delicious Mexican food
The Pit Room – Handcrafted Texas BBQ
The Hay Merchant – Another great option for meat lovers
Poison Girl – Cocktail lounge with pinball machines
Catbirds – No-frills bar with trivia nights and jazz music
Padna’s Cajun Eatery – Serving up Cajun favorites

Greater Third Ward / Second Ward / East Downtown
Orange Show Center for Visionary Art

Project Row Houses – Community arts initiative with a site encompassing five city blocks and 39 historic structures
Open Wednesday-Sunday, free admission
Orange Show Center for Visionary Art – Outdoor folk-art installation called “one of the most unique attractions in the United States!”
Open weekends, $5 admission

The French Fry House – All things fries!
Nancy’s Hustle – Elevated comfort food in a cozy neighborhood bistro
8th Wonder Brewery – Taproom and distillery inspired by the spirit of Houston
Around the Corner – Cute little coffee shop and cocktail bar
Moon Tower Inn – Friendly gathering spot with burgers and hot dogs, 60+ beers on tap, themed movie nights, and a commodious outdoor patio space

Galleria / Uptown / Rice Military / Memorial Park
Bayou Bend

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
Open daily, free admission
Beer Can House – Tour this offbeat little house covered entirely in beer cans and other beer ephemera
Open weekends, $5 entrance fee
Bayou Bend – Historic house museum of American decorative arts, situated on 14 beautiful acres of gardens
Open Tuesday-Sunday, see website for admission details
Water Wall – One of Houston’s most photogenic (and most photographed) backdrops

The Galleria – Upscale shopping mall with an indoor ice rink
Steak 48 – For those seeking a truly decadent steakhouse experience
Firehouse Saloon – Fun country music dancehall (“honky tonk”)

If you’re feeling adventurous… 

Space Center Houston – Home to NASA’s Mission Control Center, this educational complex (a Smithsonian Affiliate) features an abundance of space-related artifacts and attractions
Open daily, $25 admission
Trader’s Village – The largest flea market in Texas, with outdoor rides and events
Galveston – Charming, historic seaside city about an hour’s drive from Downtown Houston

Is there something you’d like to contribute to this list? Please send us your suggestions.
We’d love to hear from you! 



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