As the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States, Houston is often considered the gateway to your Texan adventure in the Lone Star State. With plenty of diversity you’ll not only be spoiled for choice with Tex Mex cuisine, but also virtually any cuisine you can imagine! Such diversity is what makes this such an enjoyable city to experience for two or three days before you begin to explore more of what Texas has to offer.
So what are you waiting for, here is your guide to Houston, Texas!
With a city as big as this, it is difficult to know where to start. The first thing I noticed when I landed in Texas for the first time (technically I have flown in and out of Dallas before without leaving the airport), was that it is true when people say “everything is bigger in Texas”. It really is.
The motorways were flowing with large trucks, the houses were often blown so far out of proportion I wondered how many pools they had inside, rather than if they had a pool, and the meals served in restaurants could rival a hungry sports players’ choice at an all-you-can-eat buffet!
But hey, I’m not complaining. More is more and more is, well, better.
Overall I’d suggest centring yourself in the Downtown area as you’ll find plenty of great restaurants nearby, nightlife, the Theatre District and if you happen to arrive in town for a sports game, you’re just a short stroll from the game (for any of the three stadiums).
Check In: Down Town
And so I checked myself in to the Four Seasons Houston in Down Town. The hotel is currently undergoing a large renovation so my photos are limited, but let me tell you the staff, the service, the food… everything was on point! Before I even had time to catch up on some sleep after the 13.5 hour flight, I made my way down to the spa to volunteer as tribute for a “Jet Lag Recovery” spa treatment. The treatment involved a body scrub and back massage… which was just enough to send me to sleep right there on the massage bed after my long haul flight!
This hotel was my first choice due to its location – right in the centre of town and with plenty of eateries nearby. I’d highly recommend checking out MKT, a one-minute walk from the hotel and serving typical gastropub meals. Situated adjacent is a gourmet supermarket which acts kind of like a less healthy Wholefoods store and serves up some of the most delicious quiche I have ever tasted in my life! I’d highly recommend stopping by.
Eats & Drinks
Well, I hope you’re hungry… ‘cos you don’t come to the South to start a diet. Being a vegetarian my recommendations are anything but usual in a city that prides itself on the quality (and most of the time quantity) of their meat, but if you’re up for some great options (that still serve meat, don’t worry!!!), then I’ve got you covered.
Common Bond Bakery
More on the hipster side of the radar is the ever busy Common Bond Bakery in Montrose residential area. I decided to catch an uber here despite it being a little out of my way, because the comments I read online about it being the best bakery in town were too much to resist! Try the salted caramel macaron for a definite win.
1706 Westheimer Rd, Montrose Houston
If you’re looking for a great, authentic, upscale Mexican restaurant then look no further than Hugo’s — its hard to beat! Open for both lunch and dinner, this is one of the pricier options but still incredibly popular (due to the quality) so be sure to reserve a table in advance.
1600 Westheimer Rd, Montrose Houston
Andalucia Tapas & Taverna
If you’re after typical latin flavours tapas style (so you can try loads of flavours) then head here for a rustic atmosphere, live music and flamenco dancers on weekends!
1204 Caroline St, Downtown Houston
If you’re looking for something casual, a great place to meet people and surprisingly good food, this gastropub has it all.
1001 Austin St, Downtown Houston
Everything you MUST See & Do in Houston
I’ll skip all the niceties and give it to you straight: here are the things you must do in Houston (according to me).
To put it bluntly, “Southern Boulevard” isn’t really an attraction of sorts but it was, hands down, my favourite area of Houston to wander around. This is in the fancy part of town, where houses fetch millions of dollars and are palatial residences that look so pircture perfect, you wander if you’re on the set of Desperate Housewives (just a richer, way way way more swankier version). Real estate aside, this street is home to a glorious avenue of old oak trees – incredibly romantic and tranquil for a city escape!
If you visit just one shopping centre, make it this – the crowning jewel in Houston’s mega shopping malls. The impressive gallery boasts more than 400 shops, striking a good balance between high end and high street (you’ll even find the likes of Zara a stones throw from Miu Miu, rather than stretched out in different areas). There’s a food court downstairs if you’re after a quick snack and if you’re up for it, there’s even an ice skating rink!
Located on the edge of Downtown and with one of the best views of the city skyline, a visit to Buffalo Bayou is a local as experiences come. You’ll find plenty of Houston(ites?) walking their dogs, running, or having a good ol’ fashioned picnic in the park here.
Even though I didn’t go (I prefer to limit my head to the clouds and don’t usually venture any further), the NASA space centre is a huge hit with tourists, especially those travelling with kids. The centre provides a close up view of the NASA space program and if I’m entirely honest with you, if I had more time I would have popped along to see what all the fuss is about. Even the customs officer convinced me I had to go but in the end, it boiled down to time and how little I had!
Baseball or Basketball?
If you chance a visit on a game night during season, you really have no excuse not to catch a match at either the Toyota Centre (home to the Houston Rockets NBA team) or the Minute Maid Park (home to the Houston Astros MLB team).
Walking on Westheimer
Thanks to the Four Seasons Houston for welcoming me to this lovely city! I flew to Houston direct from Auckland with Air New Zealand, who make the direct flight x5 times per week. It was really, really, really comfy. See a snap here!