Welcome to Houston, the City with No Limits! In just a few weeks, football fans all over the country will flock here for Super Bowl LI. In the spirit of Texas’ famous hospitality, we’ve put together this guide to give you ideas of things to do, places to stay, and how to get around. We hope you enjoy this quick Houston primer!
We are the size of several major cities – and even some states! You could actually fit the cities of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago inside the city limits of Houston, AT ONE TIME! According to our Mayor Sylvester Turner, we have consulate offices representing over 94 countries and our residents speak well over 180 languages. There are many things to do, sights to see, and plenty to eat; it just depends on how far you want to travel!
How to get around
While there are public buses and a developing rail line, there isn’t much public transportation to speak of in Houston. We Houstonians love our cars, so driving is the best way to get around. If you plan on seeing a lot of sights while you’re in town, renting a car would be your best option. Some attractions, such as NASA, are as far as 30 miles away from Downtown.
If you don’t plan on going far or you’re looking for late-night transportation, Uber is thriving here. No matter what part of town you’re staying in, there are sure to be several Uber drivers ready to take you to your next destination.
Where to stay
NRG Stadium, where the big game will be played, is on the south side of town, just south of the Med Center. While there aren’t a ton of great options within walking distance, there are several close by neighborhoods with plenty of places to stay and tons of things to do.
The Galleria, found on the west side of town, just outside the 610 Loop, has a plethora of hotel options, shopping, and more. When the Final Four was in town last March, all four teams stayed here and many of their fans did the same. From here, you’re a quick Uber ride from the game, and many other area attractions.
If you’ve visited Houston before, you may have skipped over Downtown, but the area has been revitalized of late and offers some great hotel and nightlife options. The NFL will be hosting many of their events here, so if you want to experience all of those activities, Downtown may be the best option for you. This is another area within a few miles of NRG Stadium.
If you don’t mind staying just outside of town, CITYCENTRE is a great option. This development is packed with hotels, shopping, dining, arts, and entertainment. Located about 15 miles from NRG Stadium (relative to other Houston distances, this is just down the road), renting a car would probably be the best option for getting around.
Things to do
Houston is big and diverse with a million things to do, so we’re sure you’ll have a great time no matter what your preference is. Some of the most popular things to do in Houston include eating (and drinking) authentic Tex-Mex, visiting NASA or San Jacinto Monument, shopping in The Galleria or River Oaks, and viewing endless art!
Speaking of authentic Tex-Mex, we’d love for you to stop by one of our six Houston-area locations for scratch-made Tex-Mex favorites and world-class service. We’re a family owned and operated restaurant that just celebrated our 50th Anniversary! Started by Cyclone Anaya, a professional wrestling champion from Mexico, and his wife Carolina, a former Miss Houston, we’ve been a Houston staple since 1966! If you have a minute, you can read our full story, here.
Find the location closest to you, here: http://cycloneanaya.com/locations
Art + Museums + Galleries
From the Museum of Natural Science*, Museum of Fine Arts*, Menil, to the Buffalo Bayou Collection, Houston has over 19 museums and galleries. Find out what you would be most interested in here: http://houmuse.com/explore/
Rice University Skyspace 6100 Main St, Houston, TX 77005
Rice University campus is home to the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion, James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace, which is a sight to be seen just around sunset every evening. Plan to park and arrive 30 minutes before sunset so you can experience the beauty! More information here: http://skyspace.rice.edu/
The Galleria 5085 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056
If you enjoy shopping, the Galleria is a must see on your tour of Houston! The constantly expanding and changing shopping center can be overwhelming, but it is well worth it for the people watching! Plan for at least an hour and be sure to stop by the ice rink. http://www.simon.com/mall/the-galleria
Bagby Park 415 Gray St, Houston, TX 77002
Check out the “Midtown” sign at Bagby Park and take a picture with the downtown skyline behind you.
Astrodome 8400 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77054
The 8th Wonder of the World, while no longer in use, still stands proud and majestic in NRG Park. When you head to the game, make sure you’re there early enough to make the short walk to the Astrodome to grab a quick photo and see her in all of her glory. Can you tell we Houstonians are a little sentimental about it?
If you are planning to stop by the NFL Experience or NFL Live at the George R Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas, Houston, TX 77010) and Discovery Green (1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010), stick around and check out the sights! You can plan to see a show at the Hobby Center, Alley, or Wortham (more information here: http://www.houstonfirsttheaters.com) or walk through downtown and see the sights…
Just East of Discovery Green you will see Minute Maid Park, which incorporates the original train station called the Union Station… http://www.houstonsports.org/houstons-union-station/ and the Annunciation Catholic Church, the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Houston.
Making you way across downtown, you can stop by “U.S. Post Office Building” at 701 San Jacinto Street no longer a Post Office but still a federal building. You can still walk inside the lobby to see the original architecture and old post office boxes….and then walk past Courthouse Square to see the Original Harris County Courthouse.
Next, stop in at the Christ Church [www.christchurchcathedral.org/]. Founded in 1839, Christ Church is the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and is located in the heart of downtown Houston. Christ Church Cathedral was Houston’s first religious congregation and is the only one still worshiping on its original site from the days when Houston was the capital of the Republic of Texas.
Then, make your way to the 32 story Niels Esperson Building at 808 Travis Street which was one of the tallest buildings in town at one time with beautiful original architecture in the main lobby. Making your way to City Hall, you will pass the theater district. Once you stop by City Hall, you will see the Houston Public Library and Sam Houston Park showcasing original building and homes of Houston [http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/].
After leaving downtown, drive along Memorial Drive and you will pass the
Police Officer Memorial http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/artinparks/policeofficersmemorial.html, and along the Buffalo Bayou trails, towards Memorial Park [http://memorialparkconservancy.org/] and the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center [https://houstonarboretum.org/]. If it’s a nice day, pull over and take a walk to enjoy the greenery in the middle of town!
If you get through all of the sights between Downtown and The Galleria area, take a road trip! Here are a few options less than an hour drive from downtown:
San Jacinto Monument 3523 Independence Pkwy, La Porte, TX 77571
A must see is the great San Jacinto Monument, which is taller than the Washington Monument in D.C. and this is only 25 miles east of our City Hall. Stop by the Monument and Museum first, take the elevator to the top and be sure you greet the volunteers working! From the observation deck, you will be able to see the industrial area below, the Galveston Bay, and the city skyline if it isn’t too foggy. After the Monument, stop by the Battleship Texas as it is one of the few battleships left that fought in both world wars. Budget at least 2.5 hours including travel time.
NASA Johnson Space Center 2101 E NASA Pkwy
Less than 27 miles from City Hall, NASA’s Johnson Space Center is one of the most famous Houston-area sites. This is where Mission Control is based. If you don’t have time to tour the whole Space Center Houston, you can still see the Saturn V Rocket for free. It’s considered property of the American Taxpayers so you are able to pull up to the main gate of JSC (turn left onto Saturn from NASA 1, will be on Right) and tell the guards you are going to Rocket Park. They will allow you pull an immediate U-Turn into the visitor parking lot to see the rocket.
While you are in the Clear Lake area, you can stop by Kemah for some shopping or to check out the boardwalk and watch the sailboats head out to race in the bay!
Roughly an hour drive from downtown, you could visit Galveston Island which was one of the nation’s busiest ports at one point in time. This historic town has a lot to offer, including the Moody Gardens [ www.moodygardens.com], depending on what you are interested in seeing. Take a look here to get a better idea: