A Perfect Weekend in Houston

You can still get a great taste of Houston even if you only have a few days to visit. The city is full of surprises and intrigue if you know where to look. Delve into Houston’s open-air markets, global cuisines, vibrant arts community and recreational activities.

222 Malone St, Houston, TX 77007, USA
What started as one man’s simple hobby has turned into a Houston landmark that attracts visitors from across the country: The Beer Can House. Back in 1968, owner John Milkovisch, a retired upholsterer for Southern Pacific Railroad, realized he really enjoyed drinking beer but was tired of throwing his cans away. Instead, he decided to recycle them as decorations for his house, from aluminum beer-can siding to beer can garland that hangs from the roof’s edge. Now, 50,000 cans later, it’s a stunning work of art that stands as a testament to, well, beer. Admission is $5; children 12 and under are free. From June through August, the Beer Can House is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 12-5pm. From September through May, it’s open Saturdays and Sundays from 2-6pm. The Beer Can House is closed on most major holidays.
1972 Fairview St, Houston, TX 77019, USA
140 Heights Boulevard
One of the most beloved Houston celebrations is its annual Art Car Parade, which takes places in downtown Houston every spring and showcases cars decorated in every material imaginable. Even if you can’t make it to the parade, you can still find the flavor of the festivities at the Art Car Museum, which is free and open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The museum includes a variety of exhibits by local, national and international artists as well as actual art cars. It was founded in 1998 and has since become an excellent place for up-and-coming artists to be seen while also paying tribute to the postmodern age of car culture. Even the building facade, which is covered in scrap metal and chrome, is a work of art.
2000 Lyons Ave, Houston, TX 77020, USA
Houston‘s beer scene has commanded national attention for years thanks to its quality craft brews, and there’s no better place to sample some than at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Founded in the mid-1990s, it has the esteemed title of being the oldest craft brewery in Texas. Monday through Friday the beer hall is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; there’s no charge for admission and brewery tours are offered at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. On Saturdays, the beer hall is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is $10, which includes a souvenir glass and four 8 oz. tastings; tours are held at noon, 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. One lesser-known secret about the beer hall? It serves up excellent à la carte food, too.
1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010, USA
Since opening to the public in April 2008, this 12-acre park has quickly become the heartbeat of downtown. Here you’ll find a playground, a man-made lake, a dog park, and the Grace Event Lawn, which frequently hosts events like yoga classes, concerts, movie screenings, art shows, and farmers’ markets. The new adjacent Marriott Marquis Houston even features a lazy river in the shape of Texas! It may look familiar from TV: Discovery Green was one of the main event zones during 2017’s Super Bowl LI.
88 Dennis St, Houston, TX 77006, USA
One word: Hamburgers. Hamburgers are the reason to come to this tiny grocery store–restaurant that’s still one of Houston’s best-kept secrets. Here’s a sample of the life-changing combinations you’ll find on the menu: the South of the Border (Monterey Jack, pico de gallo, avocado, and cilantro dressing); the Grim Burger (mac and cheese, bacon, a fried egg, and jalapeño); and the loaded Triple-Meat burger. If for some inexplicable reason you want to order something without beef, try the heavenly chicken strip sandwich. And keep an eye out for the daily specials, too—they’re fantastic. Open Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003, USA
For an authentic Houston experience, head to the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, where the food is always top-notch and the longtime servers are revered as rock stars. With chef Alex Padilla at the helm, you can expect everything from handmade tamales and grilled octopus salad to mole grilled salmon and oven-roasted chicken enchiladas. Don’t miss the tacos al carbon with a margarita on the side—both are legendary with locals. Grab a patio seat and see who you see—it’s not unusual to notice a celebrity or two. Houston has a booming Tex-Mex scene, and Ninfa’s can show you why in a single bite.
Hotels
5701 Main St, Houston, TX 77005, USA
After 80 some odd years as one of Houston’s most lauded and refined hotels, the historic Warwick Hotel went from Bach to rock, when new owners gave it a slick makeover and renamed it Hotel ZaZa in 2007. A bold beacon in the Museum District, the dimly lit hotel is a virtual playground for adults, with daring decor, baroque details, and an outdoor pool with private piazza-themed cabanas. While it maintains much of its original 1920s architectural elegance and details, including Baccarat chandeliers, the interior walls are splashed with modern art and iconic editorial-photo shots of beloved celebs.

Many rooms and event spaces are themed, including the space-inspired “Houston, We Have a Problem” Suite and the Conspiracy Room, which nods to Prohibition. A recent refresh includes newly renovated 11th-floor meeting rooms, new mattresses, new carpet, spa and fitness center upgrades (including treatment room tweaks and the addition of innovative infrared saunas), and new in-room flat-screen TVs. Bottom line: even an overnight stay feels like a true escape.
4210 Roseland St, Houston, TX 77006, USA
Wish you could instantly transport yourself to Barcelona? At BCN Taste & Tradition, you can—all it takes is a single bite of food. The restaurant, helmed by chef Luis Roger, who grew up in Barcelona and was once hired to travel the world on a private sailboat, combines traditional and modern Spanish cuisine in dishes that will make your mouth water and mind wander. The menu includes beef tartare with waffle chips; free-range sunny-side-up eggs with potatoes and cured Spanish Ibérico ham; pan-seared wild-caught branzino with sautéed garlic, confit potato, roasted tomato, and piquillo peppers; and confit pork cheeks with sweet pea puree, compressed carrot, and grilled carabineros shrimp.
314 S Main St, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Notsuoh (that’s Houston backward) is a funky little dive bar that’s nearly impossible to fully describe—it’s one of those offbeat finds you have to visit in person to understand. The artists’ haven hosts poetry readings, live music, and film screenings around the clock, and the crowd here tends to be equally engaging; actor Robert Pattinson added the spot to his must-see list when he swung through town a few years ago. Check the Facebook page for news on upcoming events.
3614 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77027, USA
Ah, Tiny Boxwood’s—this place is super relaxing. It’s a bit tucked away, inside a plant nursery complex, but absolutely lovely once you find it. It’s a great place to get brunch and a delicious lemonade.
1600 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77006
When the James Beard Foundation named chef Hugo Ortega the 2017 Best Chef in the Southwest, it confirmed what Houstonians have known for decades. His namesake restaurant has long been a go-to spot for anyone seeking delicious regional Mexican cuisine. Expect fresh seafood appetizers such as shrimp cocktail with cherry tomato, avocado, and diablo sauce; excellent salads and soups; and entrées such as roasted duck in mole poblano, braised tender suckling pig, and fish tamales in tomato sauce. If you can make it to Hugo’s for only one meal, get here for weekend brunch—you can try a little bit of everything.
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