People walking on pier in Hermann Park

Stroll along the pier in Hermann Park. (Photo: Marriott International)

Weekend Getaways

Find Out Why Houston, Texas, Is the Cultural Hub of the Lone Star State on a Weekend Escape

Houston is a diverse, cosmopolitan city driven by commerce. In fact, there’s probably no better shopping destination in all of Texas. The unique combination is woven throughout its many districts, including the trendy Uptown area — home to the largest mall in the state — and the Museum District, host to an impressive 19 museums, making it the foremost cultural destination in the city.

Then there’s the quaint Houston Heights, where you can spend your day strolling an expansive esplanade lined by shops, cafés and restaurants. Explore it all with a three-day weekend in Space City.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Shop Till You Drop

Begin your exploration of Houston by visiting Uptown, one of the premier shopping areas in the entire state. Begin at the Galleria — an expansive indoor retail complex and the largest mall in Texas — with a supercharged Korean specialty coffee and fruit smoothie from Tom N Tom’s.

Then it’s time to hit the luxury shops. Think Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Chanel. After you’ve made your purchases, head to the mall’s lowest level to put your skating skills to the test at an ice rink frequented by the famous Olympian and Texas native Tara Lipinski.

Women looking at Gerald D. Hines Waterfall Park
The Gerald D. Hines Waterfall Park is a must-see. (Photo: Marriott International)

Opt for a lunch spread of pork, fish or grilled avocado tacos at Blanco Tacos & Tequila. In the afternoon, take your shopping outdoors in the districts of Uptown Park and Highland Village, where you can browse products by artisans and contemporary designers.

End your day with a stroll through Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, shaded by 180 oak trees. The must-see cool (and cooling!) waterwall is a nearly 64-foot U-shaped fountain.

For dinner, visit Stray Horse in the JW Marriott Houston by the Galleria for farm-to-table creations. Order the “Dean and Peeler Ribeye” and say cheers to the Lone Star State with one of the local craft beers on tap.

Saturday: Stroll a Quaint Esplanade Lined With Victorian Architecture

Spend your Saturday in Houston by exploring its most picturesque neighborhoods. One of the first planned communities in all of Texas, Houston Heights — which got its name from being 23 feet higher than downtown Houston — was first developed in the late 1800s as a utopian community and streetcar suburb for city dwellers seeking a more natural experience.

Today, the former trolley tracks have been repurposed, now boasting an expansive esplanade and walking trail. Opt to do as the locals do: Walk your dog along the trail or go for a morning run.

Strawberry banana crepe and cup of coffee
Fuel up for the day with some crepes and coffee. (Photo: Marriott International)

To see the borough’s historical flair at its finest, take a stroll down 19th Street, the area’s main thoroughfare, lined with shops, restaurants and Victorian-style mansions.

For brunch, stop for small-batch artisan coffee and pastries (or one of six styles of delicious breakfast tacos) at Boomtown Coffee, before venturing nearby to Vinal Edge Records. Get lost browsing the shop’s curated selection of hard-to-find records, both vintage and contemporary.

For men’s apparel, head to Manready Mercantile, and for womenswear, jewelry and home goods be sure to visit Mary & Moss and Emerson Rose.

In the afternoon, check out Heights Mercantile, an urban market district set near the verdant Donovan Park. After you’re done browsing the area’s selection of shops, grab a smoked-salmon sandwich or vegan salad at Local Foods, followed by a scoop of coconut milk sorbet or maple-butter-pecan ice cream at Cloud 10 Creamery.

Or visit Melange Creperie, a former street cart now dishing up sweet and savory Parisian-style treats.

When evening comes, book a table at Alice Blue, where you can enjoy fresh-baked sourdough bread with whipped butter before diving in to the pecan-crusted trout or shrimp scampi.

Then catch a show at the Heights Theater, one of the oldest live music venues in all of Houston, or check the concert schedule at White Oak Music Hall, where you’ll want to have a cocktail or craft beer on the roof, which offers an unmatched view of the Houston skyline.

Sunday: Visit Houston’s Most Impressive Museums

On your last day in Houston, spend the afternoon exploring the Museum District. Living up to its name with an impressive 19 museums, this cultural destination thrives. Begin your day with brunch at Lucille’s, where you can take your pick of Southern-style fare such as Gulf shrimp and grits and sweet potato waffles drenched in bourbon-pecan syrup.

Women on bridge in Hermann Park
Hermann Park is like the Central Park of Houston. (Photo: Marriott International)

Then it’s time to take a leisurely stroll through Hermann Park, a 445-acre urban green space at the southern end of the area. Visit the park’s McGovern Centennial Gardens, host to arrays of roses and azaleas.

Visit the Houston Zoo or catch an open-air show at the family-friendly Miller Outdoor Theatre. And don’t miss the Houston Museum of Natural Science, especially its Cockrell Butterfly Center, a living exhibit where hundreds of butterflies roam free in a rainforest habitat.

You can also take a (virtual) space flight at the museum’s Burke Baker Planetarium, where you can experience the vastness of the universe, roam planetary surfaces and navigate asteroid fields.

Make your last stop the Museum of Fine Arts, home to a staggering 70,000 works that span from antiquity to the present day. One stellar curation is the 2,000 modern and contemporary paintings, artifacts and sculptures from Latin America. Or opt for the antiquities collection, host to more than 450 masterpieces ranging from Egyptian coffins to a Roman statue of Dionysus.

You don’t have to stray far for dinner if you’ve booked a table at Le Jardinier, the museum’s on-site restaurant helmed by Michelin-acclaimed French chef Alain Verzeroli. Savor fresh fish- and vegetable-forward dishes while enjoying floor-to-ceiling views of the lush Isamu Noguchi-designed Cullen Sculpture Garden.