Best Things To Do in Houston

BY Amber Ambrose | October 26, 2021

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Houston? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Houston?”

Houston is famous for many things: Moon landings. Oil and gas production. Miles of intertwining interstates. Bayous. Beyoncé. But another famous thing about Houston is its ability to surprise and delight visitors from all over the world. Because it’s not an easy-to-define destination, it also has the advantage of harder-to-define expectations, which leads to unexpected treasures everywhere you turn (just please use a blinker). Here are a few options you should consider right now when visiting the fourth largest city — and growing — in the United States.

You’re here for Tex-Mex and margaritas

Cheese, beans, meat, tortillas, pico de gallo, salsa and cilantro in various combinations make for some of the biggest, best and — be careful — literally hottest plates in all of Texas. Also margaritas because, well, they’re margaritas. 

Ninfa's on Navigation
#1
Ninfa's on Navigation

The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation

2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX, USA

Necessity is the mother of invention, and in the same way, Ninfa’s is the mother of fajitas. Ninfa Laurenzo began grilling skirt steak as a means to help her family’s struggling tortilla factory after the death of her husband in 1969, and the rest, they say, is history. 

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El Tiempo Cantina
#2
El Tiempo Cantina

El Tiempo Cantina

El Tiempo Cantina, Navigation Boulevard, Houston, TX, USA

Mama Ninfa’s son Roland is the founder of this regional Tex-Mex chain serving up massive plates of enchiladas, flautas, fajitas and more alongside warm chips and salsa. 

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...And to enjoy food from famous and award-winning chefs

Houston is having a moment when it comes to culinary prowess and national recognition. These are just a handful.

Urbe in Houston
#3
Urbe in Houston

Urbe

1101 Uptown Park Blvd, Houston, TX, USA

Mexican street food inspired by James Beard Foundation Award winner chef Hugo Ortega’s childhood is the draw at this 2021-opened casual concept serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Lucille’s in Houston
#4
Lucille’s in Houston

Lucille’s

5512 La Branch Street, Houston, TX, USA

From namesake Lucille Smith’s legacy in culinary innovation from the 1940s to the 2020 meeting between George Floyd’s family and then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, Lucille’s is as full of history as it is Southern charm. Come for the high-energy brunch and don’t forget their famous chili biscuits.

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UB Preserv in Houston
#5
UB Preserv in Houston

UB Preserv

1609 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX, USA

Consider the menu here a fish-sauce-stained love letter to Houston’s diverse immigrant population, seasonal ingredients and the convergence of high-concept with humble authenticity.

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Bravery Chef Hall
#6
Bravery Chef Hall in Houston.

Bravery Chef Hall

409 Travis Street, Houston, TX, USA

Hit up this food hall for variety via access to BOH Pasta & Pizza, The Blind Goat (from “MasterChef” winner Christine Há), Cherry Block Craft Butcher + Kitchen, Kokoro Sushi & Yakitori, plus a wine bar, cocktail bar incubator and The Secret Garden Coffee & Cocktails. 

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...And to enjoy locally brewed pints in their native habitats

It’s a golden age for golden ales with breweries new, established and in-between serving up suds all over town.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston
#7
Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston

Saint Arnold Brewing Company

2000 Lyons Avenue, Houston, TX, USA

Come for the H-Town Pils on tap at the beer garden and restaurant, stay for the pizza and skyline views. There’s plenty of outdoor seating, but do yourself a favor and check out the six “chapels” inside, adorned with murals from six local artists.

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Senate Avenue Brewing Company in Houston
#8
Senate Avenue Brewing Company in Houston

Senate Avenue Brewing Company

16000 Dillard Drive, Jersey Village, TX, USA

A local brewpub on the outskirts of Houston with a family-friendly vibe is the place to go for low-key pints with kids in tow. Fun facts: Owners Andrew and Michelle Mitcham are the town’s former mayor and current council member, respectively.

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True Anomaly in Houston
#9
True Anomaly in Houston

True Anomaly

2012 Dallas Street, Houston, TX, USA

“Wild and sour,” “experimental” and “small-batch” are a few adjectives describing the styles you’ll find at this friendly taproom on the east side of town.

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Explore entire sections of the city like…

Sharpstown in Houston. Pic via Shutterstock.
#10
Sharpstown in Houston. Pic via Shutterstock.

Sharpstown

Sharpstown, Houston, TX, USA

A vast wonderland of diverse cultures, this southwestern section of Houston is home to Asiatown and the Mahatma Gandhi District. You’ll find food from across the Asian continent in a wide range of establishments, plus bargain shopping on Harwin Drive. 

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East End in Houston
#11
East End in Houston

East End & EaDo

Greater East End, Houston, TX, USA

The two are different neighborhoods with completely different vibes, but easily accessible from one another via ride share, car or the Houston METRORail. 

East End: Stroll the Navigation Esplanade on Sundays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the farmers market. Listen to the bells toll at Our Lady of Guadalupe, founded in 1911 as the first Mexican-American church in Houston. Enjoy fajitas at the original Ninfa’s and get your pinball fix at Cidercade. 

EaDo (short for East of Downtown): Nightlife is the draw here in the form of bar hopping and live performances at venues like Warehouse Live (concerts) or The Secret Group (comedy). However, when the sun is up, check out the area’s murals, where you’re sure to find plenty of Instagram-worthy backdrops.

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Museum District in Houston
#12
Museum District in Houston

Museum District

Museum District, Houston, TX, USA

Aptly named, this region near Rice University is home to 18 museums as well as the Houston Zoo and plenty of meticulously manicured parks. Walk it, bike it, ride the METRORail or hop on the Hermann Park train, but don’t skip this part of town if this is your first time here.

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Find some peace & (mostly) quiet at…

Houston Botanic Garden. Pic via Shutterstock.
#13
Houston Botanic Garden. Pic via Shutterstock.

Houston Botanic Garden

1 Botanic Lane, Houston, TX, USA

The garden sits on the edge of Sims Bayou integrating both native plants, water features and entire ecosystems into its 132 acres of beauty. 

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Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Pic via Shutterstock.
#14
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Pic via Shutterstock.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

4501 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX, USA

An oasis of nature in the middle of the city offering 13 hiking trails, native birding opportunities and immersion into a peaceful, quiet and natural environment.

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Get a first-look at innovative concepts like…

Post Houston. Pic via Shutterstock.
#15
Post Houston. Pic via Shutterstock.

POST Houston

401 Franklin St, Houston, TX, USA

There’s no catchall term to describe this cultural campus, but here are things you should know about it: 1. It’s an adaptive reuse project bringing new life into the former Barbara Jordan Post Office. 2. It’s 550,000 square feet! 3. It’s opening in slow but steady phases as of November 2021. 4. When completed fully, it will house a food hall, co-working and traditional office space, retail, immersive art experiences, a performance venue, a rooftop park with multiple gardens, event space and more yet to be announced. 

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Get adventurous authenticity at…

Smither Park in Houston.
#16
Smither Park in Houston

The Orange Show + Smither Park

2401 Munger St, Houston, TX, USA

Accidental artist Jeff McKissack’s homage to his favorite fruit is now a folk-art monument and Houston landmark celebrating the creativity and joy of expression in all its quirky, wonderful forms. Next door is Smither Park, a mosaic-filled space featuring the work of over 300 individuals.

 

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Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Pic via Shutterstock.
#17
Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Pic via Shutterstock.

Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

105b Sabine St, Houston, TX, USA

Plumb the depths of Houston’s underground history with guided tours and innovative, rotating art installations located inside a former water reservoir facility.

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Take a short drive to…

Galveston. Pic via Shutterstock.
#18
Galveston. Pic via Shutterstock.

Galveston

Galveston, TX, USA

Head south on I-45 until you hit the Gulf of Mexico. While you’re there, walk the Seawall, visit one of the three still-sailing tall ships in the world, The Elissa at the Texas Seaport Museum and shop to your touristy heart’s content along the historic section of shops known as The Strand.

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Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park, Texas. Pic via Shutterstock.
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Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park, Texas. Pic via Shutterstock.

Brazos Bend State Park

21901 FM 762 Road, Needville, TX, USA

With 37 miles of trails, camping options, wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing and more, it’s an easy drive for a daylong or overnight excursion. Don’t feed the alligators, but do bring picnic supplies.

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Buc-ee’s in Houston. Pic via Shutterstock.
#20
Buc-ee’s in Houston. Pic via Shutterstock.

Buc-ee’s

Buc-ee's, Interstate 45, Madisonville, TX, USA

Is it a convenience store? Is it a gas station? Is it…something more? All of the above. Known for their cheeky billboards touting spotless bathrooms, visitors also get a kick out of their buck-toothed mascot, huge snack selection, road-trip-ready prepared foods and one-of-a-kind merch.

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Catch live music and good vibes at…

Heights Theater in Houston
#21
Heights Theater in Houston

Heights Theater

339 West 19th Street, Houston, TX, USA

Live music. A thoughtfully restored 1900s-era theater. Smack dab in the middle of the historic Heights neighborhood.

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McGonigel’s Mucky Duck
#22
McGonigel’s Mucky Duck

McGonigel’s Mucky Duck

2425 Norfolk St, Houston, TX, USA

Cozy, familiar, quaint and welcoming, this Irish pub is one of the most intimate venues to catch local and touring singer-songwriters.

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Make a special trip into town for...

The Art Car Parade. Pic via Shutterstock.
#23
The Art Car Parade. Pic via Shutterstock.

The Art Car Parade

2334 Gulf Terminal Drive, Houston, TX, USA

For over 30 years, the city has thrown the coolest, quirkiest party where artists of all kinds literally parade their car canvases through town, honking, smiling, waving and livin’ life as life should be lived. Check for exact dates, but plan for April.

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