Spending 2 days in Houston? Here’s our detailed Houston itinerary with everything you need to know about visiting Houston, where to stay, what to eat, and the best things to do!
Although Austin is where we called home together, for the first 18 years of Adam’s life, he called the Houston area home. Between Adam’s family and Kathryn’s best friend’s family living in Houston, we have spent a lot of time together in Houston, but until recently, we hadn’t spent much time actually exploring the city.
Throughout the last few years, whenever we would go to Houston to visit family and friends, we have made it a priority to spend at least a day exploring around town, from the top sights to the best food. Adam is a very proud Houstonian and a diehard Houston sports fan, so it has been extremely fun for us to explore the city together and see his favorite spots from his childhood, as well as new spots that have popped up in the last few years.
We’re excited to share a 2 days in Houston itinerary and guide to help you learn more about Houston, where to stay, what to eat, and the best things to do! Have more than 2 days in Houston? Make sure to check out the “if you have extra time” section for more awesome things to do in Houston, including a couple day trip ideas!
Want to explore more of Texas? Check out our other Texas travel guides:
- A Weekend in Austin
- 3 Days in West Texas: Marfa and Big Bend
- 5 Things to do at Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Houston is home to six professional sports teams, is one of the major locations for NASA (giving it the nickname Space City), and is a huge hub for the oil and gas industry. And despite being a huge metropolitan area, it has the largest total area of parks and green space out of the most populous 10 cities in the US and is in close proximity to the ocean. A few other fun facts:
- Houston is said to be the air conditioning capital of the world!
- Houston is a foodie city and Houstonians eat out more than in any other major city in the US.
- Houston has “a Theater District second only to New York City in terms of a concentration of seats (more than 12,000) in a single (17-block) geographic area.”
- Famous local resident Mattress Mack’s Gallery Furniture reportedly sells more furniture per square foot than any store in the world.
If you’re looking for a combination of city life, delicious food, professional sports, parks, museums, and the beach, Houston’s gotcha covered!
When to visit Houston
Our biggest advice for visiting Houston: don’t visit during the summer! Well, if you have to, it’ll still be fun, but be prepared for lots of heat and humidity! Houston, similar to the rest of Texas, can get very, very warm in the summer months (with some days over 100ºF). But the big difference between Houston and other cities in Texas is how humid it can be. We’ll never forget driving to Houston for the 4th of July one year and having our phone and sunglasses fog up as soon as we left the car. It sometimes feels like a sauna!
While summers can be very warm and humid in Houston, the rest of the year is pretty nice! Winters in Houston are pretty mild, with temperatures rarely below freezing. We just spent Christmas in Houston and had short sleeves and tank tops on most days! It’s not uncommon for it to be very warm one day and then freezing the next though, so make sure to bring layers if visiting in the colder months. 🙂
One thing that is very good to know about Houston is that It can rain pretty hard, sometimes causing some pretty big flooding. In fact, Houston gets more inches of rain per year than Seattle! And since Houston is located near the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes can be a big threat to the city, so if you’re visiting during hurricane season (June through November), make sure to keep an eye on any tropical storms or hurricanes!
Getting to Houston
There are two major airports in Houston: Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).
IAH is located north of Houston and Hobby is located south of the city, but both are about 20-30 minutes to the city center depending on traffic. IAH is a great international airport, with many flights coming and going to destinations all over the world, while Hobby is a great airport for more domestic destinations and airlines, like Southwest Airlines.
If you’re starting your Houston adventure from somewhere else in Texas, here’s what your estimated driving time would be:
- From Austin: 2.5-3 hours
- From Dallas: 3.5-4 hours
- From San Antonio: 2 hours, 40 mins-5 hours
Getting around Houston
We’d highly suggest renting a car to get around Houston, which on average costs $35/day. While there are buses and a metrorail to get around, they may not reach everywhere you want to go and may take a bit longer to get around. Uber and Lyft are also good options, especially if you’re planning on drinking, but they can get expensive very fast.
If you plan to just stick around the area you are staying in, Uber and Lyft would be your best bet, but if you want to explore the entire city (which is very large!) and do everything on this guide, renting a car would be most cost effective. During our most recent day trip around Houston, we paid between $5-10 for parking the whole day. While this may vary depending on when and where you go, it still is relatively affordable.
Where to Stay in Houston
As we mentioned before, Houston is a huge city! While the city as a whole isn’t super walkable, there are lots of little neighborhoods in Houston that are walkable, have lots of restaurants and shops, and their own character.
Here are some of our favorite neighborhoods in Houston and some suggestions of where to stay in each! As always, our top suggestion is to stay in an Airbnb to get a more local feel, especially since many of these areas don’t have any hotels.
The Heights is one of our favorite areas in Houston! It has cute, historic houses, lots of coffee shops and restaurants, and is close to all of the main sights!
- Airbnb Option #1: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom garage apartment
- Airbnb Option #2: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with bike and trail access
- Airbnb Option #3: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom guest house with a fire pit to use
- Airbnb Option #4: A studio apartment with an espresso machine…holla!
- Airbnb Option #5: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom guest house that can sleep 3
Montrose is known as being a hip area of town with art galleries, trendy shops, food scene, and cool murals!
- Airbnb Option #1: A 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom bright and modern apartment with a shared backyard and access to a BBQ
- Airbnb Option #2: A studio guesthouse with access to a pool
- Airbnb Option #3: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment that can sleep up to 4 people
East Downtown (EaDo)
This area is awesome if you love sports! You’re close to BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston Dynamo), Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros), and the Toyota Center (Houston Rockets). It’s also close to the convention center and there are also lots of breweries and restaurants nearby.
- Airbnb Option #1: A studio loft with exposed brick and wood ceilings
- Airbnb Option #2: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom warehouse apartment
- Airbnb Option #3: A cool 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom loft with city views
- Airbnb Option #4: A super nice 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom house
While downtown isn’t necessarily our favorite area in Houston to hang out (we love the smaller neighborhoods), it has tons of places to stay, especially hotels!
- Airbnb Option #1: A cool 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with exposed brick
- Airbnb Option #2: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with a rooftop pool
- Airbnb Option #3: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with a shared rooftop lounge and pool
- Marriott Marquis (it has a Texas shaped pool!)
- Hilton Americas
- Embassy Suites
- Hotel Alessandra
- Hampton Inn
2 days in Houston itinerary
While it’s impossible to fit everything Houston has to offer into 2 days, here’s our go-to itinerary filled with food, coffee, treats, breweries, and sights if you only have 2 days in Houston!
- Kick off your Houston adventure with breakfast at Baby Barnaby’s! This spot is known for having some killer breakfast, especially their green eggs!
- Get your caffeine fix at one of Houston’s awesome coffee shops! We love Southside Espresso or Luce Ave Coffee Roasters.
- Stand in awe of a 64 ft waterwall at Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park! This waterwall re-circulates 11,000 gallons of water per minute. The water turns on at 8 AM everyday and shuts off at 9 PM.
- If you want to see something pretty unique, go by the Beer Can House! As the name implies, this is a house covered in flattened beer cans! Admire it from the outside or check out the inside on Saturdays and Sundays (from 12 PM-5 PM).
- Walk around The Heights, one of our favorite areas in Houston. They have some cool, local shops on W 19th street and make sure to stop by the Greetings from Houston mural!
- When in Texas you have to eat tacos! For lunch, head to one of these delicious taco spots:
- El Taconazo: This food truck has super legit tacos! There is nowhere to sit and it’s cash only, but it is amazing!
- Tacos Tierra Caliente: This is another cash only spot, but supposed to be awesome!
- Tacos a Go Go: We hear their breakfast tacos are especially good, which they serve all day! Woo!
- Liberty Taco: This spot is kind of like a Torchy’s (our fav!), but local to Houston! The tacos are a bit less traditional and more unique.
- Explore Buffalo Bayou Park, 160 acre park right by downtown! This is our favorite park in Houston because of the awesome skyline views and Bayou that runs through it! They have lots of pathways to walk on or you can rent kayaks starting at $30/hour.
- While you’re at Buffalo Bayou Park, go on a Cistern Tour! The Cistern is a former drinking water reservoir built in 1926 that after decades of being used, was discovered to have an irreparable leak and has now become a public space housing art installations. It’s 87,500 square feet and holds 15 million gallons of water when functioning at capacity! The tours range from 15 minutes-1 hour long depending on the type of tour and the day of the week. See the schedule and get your tickets here!
- For dinner, explore one of Houston’s top spots, ranging from cheap to fancier eats!
- $- Roostar Vietnamese Grill: Fun fact- Houston has one of the highest Vietnamese populations in the US! Roostar is a fast casual Vietnamese spot with awesome banh mis!
- $$- Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen: Kenny & Ziggy’s is a classic New York Jewish deli and loved by locals!
- $$$- Peli Peli: This South African spot has a super cool interior and delicious food!
- If you’re a beer fan, check out Heights Bier Garten or Great Heights Brewing for an after dinner drink. More of an ice cream fan like us? Head to Fat Cat Creamery!
- Fuel up for your second day in Houston with breakfast at The Breakfast Klub! This spot is crazy popular (we drove by it and saw a line out the door) and is known for having bomb chicken and waffles and fried catfish and grits!
- Grab coffee at Retrospect Coffee Bar, an awesome coffee shop with a lot of history! This coffee shop is in the building of one of Houston’s first gas stations and Houston’s first “Kelvinator,” which was a gas station that also served cold beverages. You can learn more about the history here!
- Visit Hermann Park, which is a beautiful 445 acre park in the heart of Houston! It has paths to walk on, a reflection pool, a little lake, lots of green space, a train to ride on, and gardens. It’s also located right next to Rice University and the Museum District. While you’re at the park we suggest checking out:
- Admire the Cloud Column. This is a mirror sculpture similar to the Bean (Cloud Gate) in Chicago!
- Walk around Rice University. The campus is beautiful!
- Visit a museum! Houston is home to over 150 museums, but a couple popular ones are the Houston Museum of Natural Science and The Museum of Fine Arts. The Children’s Museum of Houston is also popular for kiddos! All of these museums have specific free hours on Thursdays if you are visiting on a Thursday and want a fun free activity.
- You can’t come to Houston and not get some BBQ! For lunch, check out one of Houston’s top BBQ spots. If you’re not a meat eater, we have lots of other restaurant recommendations in this guide!
- Truth BBQ (Closed Mondays): This spot was rated #3 in all of Texas by Texas Monthly in 2021 and WOW, it is SO good! Their brisket is phenomenal, as are the ribs and sausage, plus they make killer sides (get the tater tot casserole, corn pudding, and creamed spinach). We hear their cakes are amazing too!
- The Pit Room: We love their brisket, beef ribs, homemade sausage, and their homemade tortillas!
- Pinkerton’s BBQ (Closed Mondays & Tuesdays)
- Head over to EaDo (East Downtown), which is a really neat area full of breweries, murals, and downtown views. While you’re there check out:
- The Graffiti Park! This is a really cool block of buildings covered in graffiti and murals! We were super impressed by the artwork and it makes for an amazing spot to snap some photos.
- If you like beer, go to some breweries! We hear that 8th Wonder Brewery, Sigma Brewing Company, and True Anomaly Brewing Company are all great!
- Snap a photo of the We Love Houston sign, Giant Beatles statue
- Walk by the BBVA Compass Stadium
- Visit the James Turrell Skyspace at sunset. The skyspace is a cool looking pyramid structure on the Rice University campus. And every Wednesday-Monday at sunset it has a free light sequence!
- For dinner, try one of the many global cuisines that Houston is filled with! From Asian to Greek to Mexican food, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!
- $- Fat Bao: so many awesome bao options and very affordable!
- $$- Niko Niko’s: this quick service Greek spot is a Houston fav!
- $$- JINYA Ramen Bar: a very popular ramen restaurant!
- $$- The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation: this spot is a bit further than some of the other spots, but it’s a Houston Tex-Mex institution and is said to have started the fajita craze!
- End the night with some ice cream at Milk + sugar or SweetCup!
If you have extra time…
It was impossible to fit everything we love into 2 days, so if you have more than 2 days in Houston, here are some more ideas of things to do! From awesome coffee shops, to more bbq joints, to day trip ideas, here are tons of other suggestions to create your perfect Houston adventure!
Day Trip Ideas
There are a couple destinations close to Houston that would make for a great day trip! These activities are something you’d want to dedicate most of a day to see and not feel rushed. If you have 3 days in Houston, we highly suggest making one of these your third day!
- Johnson Space Center + Kemah Boardwalk: As we mentioned earlier, Houston is known for being the home of NASA. We really wanted to include NASA on our guide, but it requires many hours to see it all and we’d highly recommend dedicating a whole day for it. NASA is a 30 minute drive from downtown Houston and has many different exhibits and experiences to enjoy. After NASA, swing by the Kemah Boardwalk and grab yourself a Tookie’s Hamburger!
- Visit Galveston! While the beaches in Texas aren’t like the ones you’ll find in Florida or Hawaii, Galveston is still a really cool place to visit. The downtown area is super cute, there are multiple amusement parks, historic buildings, the seawall, and of course, the beach! While you’re there, grab a bite to eat at Miller’s Seawall Grill, Shark Shack Beach Bar and Grill, or Fish Company Taco.
- Laredo Taqueria
- Velvet Taco
- Torchy’s Tacos (our favorite queso EVER!)
- Cantina Barba
- The Original Kolache Shoppe
- Local Foods
- Bosscat Kitchen & Libations
- Les Girval’s Sandwich & Cafe
- Bravery Chef Hall
- Conservatory Food Hall
- Yoyo’s Hot Dog
- Stanton’s City Bites
- Lua Viet Kitchen
- Lankford Grocery
- Old Saigon Cafe
- M&M Grill
- Cielito Cafe
- Boomtown Coffee
- Coral Sword
- Throughgood Coffee
- A 2nd Cup
- The Yellow Cup
- Catalina Coffee
- Paper Co Cafe
- Karbach Brewing Company
- Astral Brewing
- Saint Arnold Brewing Company
- Under the Radar Brewery
- Holler Brewing
- Check out a pro sports game! Houston is home to 6 major league teams: Houston Astros (MLB), Houston Texans (NFL), Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Dynamo (MLS), Houston Dash (NWSL), and Houston SaberCats (MLR). No matter when you visit, there should be a game for you to go to!
- If you’re visiting during the month of March, you have to check out the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It’s the largest rodeo in the world!
- See the incredible Houston Symphony!
- If you’re feeling artsy, make a quick visit to the Art Car Museum! This free museum (open Wednesdays-Sunday only) is home to a collection of art cars, which are cars that have been decorated artistically.
- Go see a show! Houston has a great Theatre District with many shows to choose from!
- Explore Discovery Green, a great little urban park in downtown Houston.
- Check out the quirky, mosaic filled Smither Park!
- Wander around Memorial Park, Houston’s largest park at over 1,400 acres. There are walking and running trails, a golf course, and the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center!
- If you like to shop, go visit The Woodlands, a huge master planned community with multiple shopping centers, including many high end stores, and tons of restaurants!
- Go dive at the Blue Lagoon in Huntsville. We had no idea this place existed and it looks beautiful!
Ready to explore Houston?
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Great post, Thanks for sharing this effective post for those people who want to make a plan for Texas trip.
Hi Gjana! You’re so welcome! We’re glad you found it helpful 🙂
Thanks for the great information! My husband and I are traveling to Houston next March on a little weekend get-away. We haven’t booked a hotel yet but after reading this we might actually go with an Airbnb. You shared so many great ideas! I think we’ll follow your itinerary pretty closely, because it all seems very fun. Hopefully the weather’s decent when we go! Thanks again.
We are so glad this was helpful! An Airbnb in Houston would be such a fun way to see the city and feel more like a local. We’ll be crossing our fingers that the weather is good for you!
I recently moved back to Houston and given me so many options to explore so that I can approach Houston like it’s my first time living here. So many fun places to eat I haven’t been to yet. Awesome post.
Yay! We are so happy to hear that! We love playing tourist in our own town 😀 Have a blast being back in TX!