A few bees have asked me for ideas of places to stay and things to do in Houston for their honeymoon, so I thought I’d share some insider knowledge with the rest of the hive. So, without further ado…
Honeymooning in Houston 101!
Image via Wikipedia Commons
The first thing you should know about Houston is that it has something for everyone. College and pro sports, a thriving arts scene, shopping galore (from Forever 21 to Louis Vuitton), bike trails and outdoor spaces, historic mansions and pioneer parks for the history nerd, huntin’ and fishin’ and rodeos, thrift stores and dive bars that would satisfy the pickiest hipster, nearby beaches, and endless bars and restaurants for foodies. Here are some of our favorite things.
Where to Stay
Hands down, my favorite hotel in Houston is Hotel Zsa Zsa. It’s located in the heart of the Museum District, across the street from Hermann Park and walking distance to many museums. The hotel spa is said to be stellar, and the hotel is a stone’s throw away from plenty restaurants, bars, and things to do. It’s also right on the Light Rail, which you can hop on for a quick ride to Midtown, Downtown, or Reliant Stadium.
Image via CNN Money
The Houstonian in the Galleria area is also a romantic upscale place to relax in the city. The spa is great, the new outdoor “arbor grill” is an oasis, and the Houstonian has been a mainstay in the city for years.
Paradise. / Image via The Houstonian
No matter where you stay, you’ll probably want to rent a car. Houston’s light rail system is being expanded, but it’s hard to get around town without a car.
What to Do
For the art lover: Houston has some great museums. My favorite two are the Museum of Fine Arts and the Menil Collection (which is free!). The Bayou Bend Collection is a cool historic mansion that showcases crafts and paintings. If you’re here in late fall, you can peek into hundreds of artists’ galleries during the annual Art Crawl. For quirkier art, head to the Art Car Museum to see the crazy things people have done to their cars. (You’ll see art cars around the city as well, especially in The Heights neighborhood.)
The lush gardens surrounding the Bayou Bend Collection / Image via Elle Decor
If you’re more interested in the visual arts, the Theater District is alive with performances every night. I’d recommend catching a performance by the Houston Ballet, the symphony, or a play at Alley Theater while you’re here. In the summer, there are often free outdoor concerts at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park. (Just bring a blanket and a bottle of bubbly.)
For the sports fan: Catch a Rockets, Texans, Astros, or Dynamo game. University of Houston and Rice University have beloved sports teams as well. Or just pull up a seat at a bar (my recommendations: Buffalo Wild Wings or Little Woodrow’s) and watch the game for free.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to eat a burger and sip a cocktail while shooting golf balls at a driving range, you should head to Top Golf. I’ve never set foot on a golf course before, and yet I always have a good time at Top Golf. I’ll warn you, though, the Houston location is pretty new and there’s usually a long wait to get a stall.
To get in your daily work-out (if you’re so compelled on your honeymoon…I’ll just say that we didn’t work out once on ours!) try a free exercise class downtown at the Discovery Green. Or go for a run at Hermann Park or Memorial Park.
Mr. W and I love bike riding, and there are B-Cycle bike rental stations scattered throughout the city. For a few bucks, you can rent a cruiser bike (complete with a little basket in front to carry your purse and picnic supplies) and ride all around town. Houston’s bike paths are expanding, and there are some pretty scenic rides.
Bike rental station / Image via Houston Press
For the foodie: You must check out Houston’s gourmet grocery stores. Central Market and Phoenicia are absolutely incredible, and you can get food for a picnic at their deli counters. You may also want to pick up a copy of The Ultimate Food Lover’s Guide to Houston for thousands of up-to-date restaurant recs. If you like to eat and walk, check out one of Houston’s farmers markets.
Houston has a growing micro-brewery scene, and some of the breweries offer tours. I’ve been to St. Arnold’s brewery for a tour and tasting, and it’s the best-known brewery in Houston. I love me some Karbach Beer, but I’ve never been on their brewery tour—I’d bet it’s worth the visit. 8th Wonder Brewery and Buffalo Bayou Brewing are some other good bets.
The food truck craze hit Houston a couple years ago and is still going strong. The best way to track down a food truck is by stalking their Twitter page. My favorites are the Golden Grill (grilled cheese sandwiches), Eatsie Boys, The Waffle Bus, and Monster PB&J (gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches). Roaming Hunger has a complete list of Houston’s food trucks, and a lot of them can be found hanging out at the Houston Food Park downtown.
An hour from Houston is the Bluebell Ice Cream Factory (warning: only open on weekdays), and it will awaken your inner child—there’s nothing like watching hot chocolate sauce ooze through industrial-sized funnels and huge vats of creamy ice cream being churned. It’s in a charming little town called Brenham, worth the drive, and you’re rewarded with a free ice cream cone at the end.
Ice cream in the works at Bluebell Factory / Image via Flickr
Can you tell that I love food? 😉
For the shop-a-holic: Welcome to the Mecca of Shopping. (Oh be quiet, Dallas, LA, and New York – give us our moment in the spotlight.) The Galleria will meet all of your shopping needs, and you can even take a break for ice-skating. If the shops are out of your price range (I don’t know about you, but I don’t regularly drop 1k on a pair of shoes) it’s flanked by Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s, and Ulta. Other upscale shopping areas are Uptown Park, Highland Village, and CityCentre – all are outdoor shopping areas, which are a nice, more scenic alternative to strolling around a mall.
A very merry Christmas at the Galleria / Image via Utah Burden
You may also have fun browsing the smaller boutiques in Rice Village (which recently added Kendra Scott and Kate Spade Saturday stores to their ranks). And then, of course, if you’re in search of a bargain, the Cypress Outlets are a short drive from the city.
For the tree hugger: I’ll be honest. It’s easy to cast off Houston as a concrete jungle—there’s a tangle of freeways that seem ubiquitous, miles upon miles of strip shopping centers, and no Yosemite or Yellowstone or any famous natural landmark nearby. But that doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of outdoor activities and green areas to explore. My favorite parks and green areas within the city are the Arboretum, Hermann Park, and the bike trails along the Bayou. The Houston Zoo is home to a whole lot of cute animals (you can even hand-feed a giraffe), and the Downtown Aquarium is worth a visit as well. You’re most likely to encounter an alligator at Brazos Bend State Park, about an hour from the city, where you can also watch some beautiful sunsets and go for a hike amongst the iconic oak trees.
Brazos Bend State Park / Image via Wikipedia Commons
For a warm-weather honeymoon: Rent a car and head down to Galveston. There, you can lounge on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico (I’ll be honest, this is no Palm Beach, but I can guarantee you’ll see sand and waves), walk along the boardwalk, and explore some beautiful historic mansions. The Strand is the historic part of Galveston, and you can get lost in cheesy tourist activities to your heart’s delight. Nearby are Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn Waterpark, for even more warm-weather water activities. Kemah Boardwalk is smaller than Galveston but still offers the fun, beachy boardwalk scene.
Galveston’s Pleasure Pier at sunset / Image via Entertainment Designer
Where to Eat
I could go on, and on, and on, and on about where to eat in Houston. Here’s my attempt to narrow it down to just our favorites. You can generally check out the menus and Yelp reviews online first, and reserve a table on OpenTable if you’re nervous about wait times.
Breakfast: Barnaby’s (standard breakfast fare), The Breakfast Klub (soul food), Buffalo Grille (best migas in town), Sweet Paris Creperie (romantic little spot for crepes, try the s’mores crepe!), and Croissant-Brioche (French pastries, very cozy atmosphere). Houstonians love kolaches for breakfast, too—try the Kolache Shoppe.
Sweet Paris Creperie / Image via Yelp
Mexican food: There is a huge difference between TexMex and authentic Mexican food. If you’re here for awhile, why not try both? Some of Houston’s best TexMex restaurants are Ninfa’s (the original location on Navigation St. is the coolest), Pappasito’s (arguably the best fajitas), and Lupe Tortilla. (All have several locations to check their websites.) I’m probably not the best source for authentic Mexican food, but I think 100% Taquito is pretty dang good and has the taco-truck atmosphere while still being an indoor sit-down restaurant.
BBQ: Goode Company offers classic Texas barbecue brisket in a cozy picnic-table atmosphere. Mr. W prefers Rudy’s. Some people swear by Pappas BBQ. Just make sure you try BBQ of some shape or form while you’re here, or you can’t say you came to Texas. 😉
Goode Company BBQ / Image via Jen-Savery
Steak: If you’re on your honeymoon, you really should splurge on at least one meal. The best Houston has to offer, in my very humble opinion, is fine steak. Our favorite steak place is Brenner’s on the Bayou. Fleming’s and Vic & Anthony’s are swanky and worth the splurge. Churrascos has great South American cuisine, and their steaks are award-winning.
Asian food: Houston’s a diverse city, and it actually has a very large population of immigrants from Asia. In Chinatown in southwest Houston, there’s a vibrant pan-Asian community and the area is brimming with good restaurants. Lee’s Sandwiches has great banh-mi sandwiches, and Jenni’s Noodle House is our go-to place for pho. If you’re looking for something more upscale, Indika serves up really inventive Indian fusion dishes, and Uchi is run by sushi master Tyson Cole.
Wallaby faves: Torchy’s Tacos has been our absolute favorite place to eat out recently. Their tacos are fresh, not too greasy, and pretty creative—this is not your standard rice-and-beans TexMex. Also, their queso is to.die.for. We love filling up on gourmet mac-n-cheese at Jus’ Mac. Down House in the Heights has the best burger in Houston and all of their food is produced locally. Benjy’s is our favorite place to celebrate birthdays, there are several chefs and the menu’s always changing—super cozy, and super delicious.
Benjy’s Restaurant / Image via Elle Decor
Dessert: The Chocolate Bar offers chocolate everything. Chocolate-orange ganache ice cream, decadent chocolate cakes, chocolate bars shaped like lipstick and calculators and terriers—you name it. I love the Mexican vanilla flavor at Amy’s Ice Cream, or if you want something healthier, there’s fro-yo on practically every block. Crave Cupcakes will satisfy your sugar tooth, as will the macarons at Maison Burdisso.
Hopefully this helps give you some ideas of things to do while you’re in Bayou City. If you have any specific questions, feel free to PM me.
Where are you headed for your honeymoon? Any other Houston tips from locals?