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America’s fourth-largest city is brimming with fun ways to fill a weekend, from world-class cuisine to a vibrant art scene. Check out this Houston weekend guide for a sampler of some of the best sights and eats around town.
The Hotel: Marriott Marquis Houston
It’s hard to find a more centrally located hotel than the Marriott Marquis Houston, located within easy walking distance of the convention center, Discovery Green, Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center, and the city’s downtown core. And it’s got just about every amenity you can think of for a weekend in Houston, from one of the city’s largest spas to multiple on-site restaurants and a 24-hour fitness center.
But its most distinctive feature is the sprawling pool deck, where you can float along a lazy river shaped like the state of Texas. (Pool-view rooms on the higher floors are understandably popular.) The area also has a hot tub and infinity pool.
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The Itinerary: How to Do a Weekend in Houston
Arrive in the afternoon and check into the Marriott Marquis. Enjoy a late-afternoon stroll through Discovery Green, a large park located right across the street, or spend a few hours at the hotel, enjoying a spa treatment or a ride along the lazy river.
You’ve got a couple of options for the evening. If you’re a sports lover and the Astros are in town, grab dinner at Biggio’s Sports Bar, located in the Marriott and named after the Astros’ former all-star second baseman (who occasionally stops by for a visit). Popular menu options include burgers, tacos, and flatbreads. Then make your way to Minute Maid Park for the game, just a short walk away.
Your other alternative is to take a quick Uber or cab ride to Rosie Cannonball, a brand-new Italian restaurant in the Montrose, Houston’s funky “gayborhood.” There are excellent options for vegetarians here, from the wood-fired three-cheese pizza to the delicious charred brassica, featuring broccolini, cauliflower, and endives in a lira rossa cheese sauce. Non-vegetarian dishes include Basque-style chicken with braised tomatoes and sweet peppers, and wood-grilled bone-in steak.
Right next door to Rosie Cannonball is Goodnight Charlie’s, a modern-day honky-tonk where you can listen to live music, have a drink, and play a game of shuffleboard on the outdoor patio.
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Today you’ll get to see some of Houston’s most unique sites. Start with breakfast in the gorgeous dining room of The Kitchen at the Dunlavy, where chandeliers glitter overhead and the floor-to-ceiling windows are surrounded by the green trees of Buffalo Bayou. Menu options here range from omelets to avocado toast.
If it’s a pleasant morning, join the locals walking or jogging along the bayou to get to your next stop (it’s about a 40-minute walk), or take a quick ride over to the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, a former 1920s-era subterranean drinking water reservoir that is now open for tours. The shadowy lighting and hundreds of concrete columns make for otherworldly, almost eerie photos. Advance reservations are recommended.
Walk about 10 minutes north to Platypus Brewing for lunch and a pint of craft beer. Then spend the afternoon exploring Houston’s growing local art scene. One option is to visit a trio of visionary art sites: the Orange Show, Smither Park, and the Beer Can House.
The Orange Show is a fantastical space built by a retired postal worker between 1956 and 1979 to promote his favorite fruit, the orange; its eclectic design includes colorful metalwork, circus-style striped tents, wagon wheels meant to represent the cross-section of an orange, and inspirational messages written in mosaic tiles.
Right next door is Smither Park, a community park full of colorful mosaics created by some 300 local artists. On the other side of town (about a 15-minute drive away), the Beer Can House is also worth a stop; as its name suggests, it’s a home that’s been covered in some 50,000 flattened aluminum cans, including garlands that make a tinkling sound in the wind.
If you’re in town on the second Saturday of the month, consider spending your afternoon at Sawyer Yards instead. Here a cluster of former industrial warehouses has been transformed into studio space for hundreds of Houston artists, and on the second Saturday of the month, they open their doors to visitors. Choose a building and wander in, enjoying the exhibition space in the main halls and keeping an eye out for “open” signs outside the doors to one colorful studio after another. It’s a great chance to chat with the artists and even pick up a new art piece for your home.
Have dinner at nearby Poitin, featuring a Southern menu with global influences. Popular menu items include the shrimp and grits, the buttermilk-fried chicken tikka masala, and the vegan jambalaya with seasonal vegetables. Don’t miss the crispy Brussels sprouts, whose cane syrup vinaigrette and queso fresco offer the perfect combination of sweet and savory.
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Start your day with brunch at Breakfast Klub, a Houston institution beloved for its two signature dishes: “katfish” and grits, and wings and waffles. Omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and platters are also available.
Today you’ve got your choice of museums and major attractions to explore. Consider driving about 30 minutes outside of town to Space Center Houston, where you can tour astronaut training facilities, peek inside a model of the International Space Station, and discover what it takes to travel to Mars.
You’ll find plenty of other alternatives in Houston’s Museum District, where you can marvel over dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural Science, stroll the wide-ranging galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts, or learn about 20th-century Jewish history at the Holocaust Museum.
End your Houston weekend with high tea at the St. Regis Hotel. This elegant mid-afternoon affair is accompanied by live harp music and includes sandwiches, pastries, and a fresh, warm scone alongside your choice of teas.
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Restaurants and Bars
- 8th Wonder Brewery
- Bravery Chef Hall
- The Breakfast Klub
- Goodnight Charlie’s
- The Kitchen at Dunlavy
- Platypus Brewing
- Rosie Cannonball
Things to Do
- Beer Can House
- Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
- Discovery Green
- Holocaust Museum Houston
- Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
- Houston Museum of Natural Science
- Houston Zoo
- The Menil Collection
- Minute Maid Park
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- The Orange Show Monument
- Sawyer Yards
- Smither Park
- Space Center Houston
- Tea at The St. Regis Houston
More from SmarterTravel:
- 19 Fun Things to Do in Houston
- SmarterTravel Spotlight: Magnolia Hotel Houston
- 18 Houston Restaurants You Need to Try
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