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The Ultimate Guide to a Staycation In Houston

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This is an article with ideas for a staycation in Houston.

If you’re running low on paid time off or you’re jonesing for a quick “getaway”, consider a staycation in Houston.  A staycation is defined as a vacation spent exploring local treasures.  With a city as dynamic and diverse as Houston, there are plenty of ideas!  We go through all the fun areas in Houston with ideas on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay for your ideal Houston staycation.

Table Of Contents
  1. Staycation in Houston: 3rd Ward [Midtown]
  2. Staycation in Houston: Downtown Houston
  3. Staycation in Houston: Galleria & Uptown
  4. Staycation in Houston: Sugar Land
  5. Staycation in Houston: Katy
  6.  Staycation in Houston: Woodlands

Staycation in Houston: 3rd Ward [Midtown]

3rd Ward, also known as Midtown, is a bustling area in Houston that is in the middle of a revitalization.  This Houston neighborhood is full of gems that will make for a perfect staycation in Houston.

Staycation in Houston: 3rd Ward [Midtown] – What to Do

Project Row Houses

Project Row Houses is one of those hometown gems that is incredibly treasured but also undervalued.  With events like book readings, cultural collaborative workshops, and art exhibits, Project Row Houses aims to empower people through engagement, art, and direct action.  Take some time to explore this local haven during your staycation in Houston.

Hermann Park

Revel in your inner child by visiting Hermann Park and taking a roll down Hippie Hill.  The park covers over 400 acres and is a green haven in the middle of an urban city center.  There’s a golf course, train tracks, playgrounds, a centennial garden, a lake with paddleboats, an outdoor theater, and more.

Miller Outdoor Theater

What’s better than a play?  A free play! Take in an outdoor performance at Miller Outdoor Theater while lounging on Hippe Hill completely free of charge. [Note: be sure to bring your own folding seats and/or blanket.  Don’t forget snacks!]

Houston Zoo

Tap into your inner child and enjoy one of the best zoos in the nation.  It’s missing some of the exotic animals you might find at a drive through safari in Texas but there is plenty here for a fun afternoon during your staycation in Houston.

Houston Museum District

The Houston Museum District is second to none and has many exciting exhibits available to view during your staycation in Houston.  The Houston Museum District has 19 museums in total:

Staycation in Houston: 3rd Ward/Midtown – Where to Eat

3rd Ward and Midtown are home to some of the best restaurants in Houston!  Take advantage of your staycation in Houston and feast at the area’s prime spots.

Turkey Leg Hut

This restaurant is all the rage!  Dine on turkey legs smothered with different kinds of pasta, seafood dishes, and other delights.  Reservations are strongly recommended or be prepared for a wait.

The Breakfast Klub

As the self-proclaimed best breakfast in Houston, this restaurant really delivers the perfect Southern cuisine for your staycation in Houston.  From fried chicken and waffles to catfish and grits, Breakfast Klub has it all.  Reservations are not accepted so be prepared for a wait.

Crumbville, TX

Your staycation in Houston deserves something sweet!  Stop by Crumbville, TX for vegan cupcakes, cookies, and other baked goods.  Try a stuffed cup – a cupcake stuffed with one of their delicious cookies – for a unique treat!

Taste Bar + Kitchen

If you’re up for some late-night eats, stop by Taste Bar + Kitchen for their southern cuisine. They are also well known for their specialty-crafted cocktails.

Staycation in Houston: 3rd Ward/Midtown – Where to Stay

You’re in luck if you choose to have your staycation Houston in 3rd Ward/Midtown!  There are some fabulous hotels in this area of Houston.

Hotel Zaza Museum District

Houston Staycation - Hotel Zaza
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Hotel Zaza in the Museum District is a boutique hotel that assigns a unique theme to the rooms in their hotel.  Lounge by the pool, dine at one of their restaurants or grab a cocktail at the bar.  Whatever you do during your stay, you’re likely to enjoy your staycation Houston at Hotel Zaza in the Museum District.

La Maison in Midtown

Staycation Houston - La Maison in Midtown
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La Maison in Midtown is a quaint European B&B in the heart of Houston.  This hotel only offers 7 rooms so you will get a unique, intimate lodging experience that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Staycation in Houston: Downtown Houston

Houston has made wonderful strides in the last couple of years to help bring new life into downtown Houston.  With tons to do, see, and eat, downtown Houston is a great spot for a staycation Houston.

Staycation in Houston: Downtown Houston – What to Do

Urban Parks

  • Discovery Green – Discovery Green is located right in the heart of downtown Houston and offers plenty of entertainment for your Houston staycation. From kayaking in the lake to yoga on the green, there are lots of things to do here.
  • Smithers Park – Smithers Park is one of the lesser-known urban parks in Houston but one of the most interesting. It’s a creative space owned by a group called The Orange Show where local artists leave their mark – literally.
  • Buffalo Bayou Park – Take a break from the concrete jungle of Houston and enjoy 160 acres of green space at Buffalo Bayou Park during your staycation Houston. There are bike and boat rentals, hiking trails, a nature play area, and a skate park. Visit at dusk and you can see one of Texas’ largest bat colonies fly out from under the Waugh Bridge.

Hobby Center

Houston’s Theater District is one of the best in the world and has some of the world’s most famous plays right here in Houston.  Consider treating yourself to a Broadway show at the Hobby Center during your Houston staycation.

Rec Room

If you’re into the theater but crave a more intimate setting, the Rec Room is the perfect option for your Houston staycation downtown.  Seating is limited to only 30 patrons so be sure to book your tickets early.

Sporting Events

Houston is a lucky city in the fact that we have several amazing pro teams in our city.  Why not go catch a game for one of the teams playing downtown during your Houston staycation?

Downtown Aquarium

Bring out the inner kid in you at the Houston Downtown Aquarium.  There’s a Ferris Wheel, animal meet & greets, a carousel, and of course an aquarium.  The on-site restaurant has rave reviews as well.

Revention Music Center

Catch a concert in downtown Houston during your staycation Houston.  Revention Music Center is not only conveniently located downtown but has a smaller, more intimate feel than other venues in Houston.

Staycation in Houston: Downtown – Where to Eat

The food scene in Houston is dynamic and bustling.  Downtown Houston is a prime example of that.  Try these amazing restaurants downtown during your Houston staycation.


The self-described Urban Comfort Kitchen is a wonderful addition to your staycation Houston.  Dine on southern comfort classics with a customized twist.

Downtown Aquarium

This entertainment megaplex is also a one-of-a-kind restaurant in the heart of downtown.  As the name suggests, the primary cuisine here is seafood but they offer a little bit of everything for everyone. [It’s also considered one of the best amusement parks in Texas!]

Saint Arnold

Add a visit to Houston’s own Saint Arnold’s Brewery to your staycation Houston itinerary.  You can, of course, indulge in their many beers and ciders during your visit or take one of their complimentary tours.  But they also have an on-site restaurant that serves up dishes like braised short ribs, country-fried steak, and jerk chicken.  [Don’t worry, parents, children are welcome here!]

Hard Rock Cafe

Nothing screams staycation like a visit to a Hard Rock restaurant.  The Hard Rock in Bayou Place downtown is the only full-sized Hard Rock in town.  While you’re there, explore the rest of the venues in Bayou Place and enjoy your Houston staycation.

Finn Hall

There is a special place in my heart for food halls so I had to include Finn Hall in this list of places to eat during your staycation Houston.  This European-style food hall features 9 restaurants and a full-service bar.  As they say: Come, eat your heart out.

The Funnel Bar

If you’re itching to satisfy your sweet tooth during your Houston staycation visit the Funnel Cake Bar in East Downtown. With fried masterpieces like Simone’s Cobbler [a traditional funnel cake topped with peach cobbler, ice cream, and cinnamon sugar] and the Salted Caramel Carousel [funnel cake with real cheesecake pieces and ice cream drizzles with salted dulce de leche], it will be hard to choose a favorite!

POST Houston

One of Houston’s newest dining scenes, POST Houston boasts to be a hub of culture, food, and workspace. So what better spot to see and be seen during your Houston staycation? Try one of several food options in the building and enjoy it all on their sky lawn with awesome views of downtown Houston.

Staycation in Houston: Downtown – Where to Stay

From historical to fun to chic, hotels in downtown Houston cover all the bases.  Consider these options for your staycation in Houston.

Magnolia Hotel

Houston Staycation - Magnoila Hotel Houston
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The Magnolia Hotel is the perfect hotel for your Houston staycation.  Originally built in 1926, the building is a historic part of the city and is considered a landmark.  It was beautifully renovated into a hotel and since then has garnered all kinds of awards from industry experts like Conde Nast.

Hotel Alessandra

Houston staycation - Hotel Alessandra
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Hotel Alessandra is one of the nicest 5-star hotels in the city.  Located right within downtown’s GreenStreet, this hotel puts most of the area’s amenities within walking distance. Enjoy their rooftop pool, luxury car service, 24-hour room service, and in-house spa during your Houston staycation.

Marriott Marquis

Houston Staycation - Marriott Marquis
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The Marriott Marquis is one of the most kid-friendly hotels in downtown Houston.  It is known nationwide for its lazy river in the shape of the state of Texas but there’s much more to it than that.  It is directly across the street from Discovery Green [an acreage park in the middle of downtown Houston] and has multiple on-site restaurants.  This is a great choice to add a little fun to your Houston staycation.

Le Meridien Hotel

Houston Staycation Le Meridien
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Le Meridien Hotel in downtown Houston is a personal favorite.  It has all the amenities for your Houston staycation in downtown Houston within reach.  There’s complimentary wine at check-in, a terrace bar, and 24-hour room service.  Do yourself a favor and eat at the on-site restaurant during your stay.

Staycation in Houston: Galleria & Uptown

The Galleria area is arguably one of the most popular and upscale areas in Houston.  Its many amenities, attractions, and restaurants make it a great choice for your Houston staycation.

Staycation in Houston: Galleria & Uptown – What to Do

Galleria Mall

Stop by the Houston Galleria to visit one of the most iconic malls in the state of Texas.  Shop til you drop, indulge yourself with a salon appointment, and dine at some of the best restaurants in the city.  You can even go ice skating right in the middle of the mall.

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

Affectionately referred to as The Water Wall, this park is an urban oasis. It is located directly behind the Galleria Mall and offers almost 3 acres of green space in the middle of the bustling Galleria and Uptown area. Relax during your Houston staycation by picnicking on the lawn or staring at the 64-foot waterfall in the park.

Memorial Park

Stay and play at one of the largest urban parks in the country during your Houston staycation.  Memorial Park spans close to 1500 acres and features a golf course, tennis courts, multiple exercise trails, and more.

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

It may be hard to believe that an urban city like Houston is home to a rural sanctuary but it is! Stop by the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center during your Houston staycation and immerse yourself in its green landscape. There are nature trails with forest, wetland, and pond habitats as well as specialty gardens.

Staycation in Houston: Galleria & Uptown – Where to Eat

  • Galleria Houston Food Truck Spot

    While not formally a restaurant, the Galleria Houston Food Truck Spot is one of the hottest places to visit during your staycation in Houston.  Some of the most popular eateries in the city offer a food truck option in this space.  Try a stuffed turkey leg from Turkey Leg Hut or get a brisket grilled cheese sandwich from Twisted Grilled Cheese.  Lines can be long here so arrive early and bring your patience!

  • Crave Cupcake

    Start your staycation in Houston with some of the best cupcakes in Houston!  Crave Cupcake only has three locations in town so indulge in their goodies while you’re in the Galleria & Uptown area.  Their cupcake flavors rotate daily, they offer seasonal favorites, and there are even other treats besides cupcakes.

  • JOEY Uptown

    Yes, I know this post for a Houston staycation mostly highlights local businesses but JOEY Uptown is well worth the addition.  [Besides, local people work there so it counts!]  Their menu is extensive and has something for everyone.  Their lunch and dinner options are great with great offerings and even a specialty cocktail menu for those that like to imbibe.

  • Fig & Olive / Tasting Kitchen + Bar

    This small artisan restaurant is a must-visit during your staycation in Houston.  From their craft cocktails to their ritzy ambiance, this is the perfect meal for your staycation.

Staycation in Houston: Galleria & Uptown – Where to Stay

The Westin Galleria Houston

Houston Staycation - Westin Galleria
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The Westin Galleria Houston is one of my favorite hotels in the area and is often where I stay during my own Houston staycation [or as I often call it: my momcation on a budget]. This hotel, and its sister property Westin Oaks Houston at the Galleria, are directly attached to the Galleria Mall, Houston’s most popular shopping destination.

The Houstonian Hotel

Houston Staycation - The Houstonian Hotel
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The Houstonian Hotel is highly recommended for your staycation in Houston.  This one-of-a-kind hotel is located in the heart of the Houston Galleria but can feel miles away.  The lush property is surrounded by trees and is a foliage-lined retreat from the traditional city concrete.  Guests at the hotel gain access to their city club with top-of-the-line amenities and their extravagant spa.

Staycation in Houston: Sugar Land

The suburbs of Houston are often overlooked when planning a Houston staycation.  However, Sugar Land is an area filled with many options for entertainment and good food!

Staycation in Houston: Sugar Land – What to Do

Sugar Land Town Square

Sugar Land Town Square is in the core of Sugar Land, TX, and is the premier place to visit during your staycation in Houston.  In fact, the University of Houston named Sugar Land Town Square the best place to hang out in 2019.  There are dozens of top-rated shopping venues and eateries here.  There are even seasonal events held right in the piazza right in front of the town hall.

Smart Financial Centre

Catch an entertaining performance at the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land during your Houston staycation.  They host all types of performances from comedic stand-up with the legendary Chris Rock to musical performances from the acclaimed Marc Anthony, they have something for everyone.

Cullinan Park Conservancy

Escape to nature by visiting Cullinan Park in Sugar Land during your staycation Houston. It is one of the largest nature parks in the city. Get lost [but find yourself] on one of their numerous nature trails, climb the observation tower, or just simply bird watch. Whatever you decide to do there, Cullinan Park is a refreshing breath of fresh air during your staycation in Houston.

Staycation in Houston: Sugar Land – Where to Eat

  • The Sweet Boutique Bakery

    French macarons, cupcakes, and cookies – oh my!  The Sweet Boutique Bakery in Sugar Land is loaded with all types of tasty confectioneries for your Houston staycation.  The owner, Christine Nguyen, was one of the top 5 contestants on the 2019 season of Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship and is about as sweet as the treats she makes.  Try their famous mochi donuts which were a hit on the show!

  • Jupiter Pizza and Waffles Co.

    With menu items like morning belle [fried chicken breast topped with poached eggs, bacon, and country gravy all on top of a homemade waffle] and monte callisto [honey ham, mozzarella, and strawberry preserves on french toast served with eggs], Jupiter Pizza and Waffles Co. is one of the tastiest places to eat during your staycation Houston.  I, admittedly, drooled a little while typing that.

Staycation in Houston: Sugar Land – Where to Stay

Houston Marriott Sugar Land

Staycation in Houston - Marriott Sugarland
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If you’re looking to stay in the middle of things during your staycation, the Houston Marriott Sugar Land is your best bet.  It is located in Sugar Land Town Square and is designed to be a one-stop shop.  Entertainment, food, and shopping are only a few steps away!  Simply park your car and explore the area on foot for the duration of your staycation.

Hyatt Place Sugar Land

Staycation in Houston - Hyatt Place Sugar Land
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Hyatt Place Sugar Land is a great option for your staycation in Houston if you’re looking for spacious accommodations with helpful amenities.  Not only are the rooms incredibly large [plenty of space to spread your wings during your Houston staycation], but they offer things like free breakfast and a complimentary shuttle to all the area attractions.

Staycation in Houston: Katy

Katy, TX is more than just a suburb of Houston.  It’s a beautiful blend of both urban and rural with plenty to do during your staycation Houston.

Staycation in Houston: Katy – What to Do

Paloma Trails

Tap into your Texan roots by spending some time during your staycation Houston at Paloma Trails in Katy, TX.  This small farm offers all kinds of equestrian activities like grooming, therapeutic rides, and riding lessons.  They work with all skill levels to ensure you’ll enjoy your time there.

Typhoon Texas

There are plenty of water parks in Texas but Typhoon texas reigns supreme! Stop in during your staycation in Houston and experience the rides, slides, waves, and splashes in the park. They often hold concerts in the wave pool as well! [Check out these water park essentials before your visit. If you’re taking this Houston staycation with family, follow these sanity-saving water park tips too!]

Staycation in Houston: Katy – Where to Eat

  • Proud Pie

    Why, yes, there is an entire store in Katy dedicated to pies!  This locally owned bakery has some of the most delicious pies in town – all baked into an irresistibly delicious butter crust and served by the friendliest pie-ristas around.  If pies aren’t your thing [eat some anyway] they also serve cookies and other treats.

  • Daddy Duncan’s BBQ

    This is one of our favorite places to eat in all of Houston and is the perfect place to eat during your staycation Houston. Their unique take on BBQ is an invaluable contribution to craft BBQ in the city.  Try dishes like Mexican Street corn topped with brisket or BBQ macaroni and cheese.  You can’t go wrong with any of Daddy Duncan’s food!

Staycation in Houston: Katy – Where to Stay

Your best lodging options when having a Houston staycation in Katy is to stay in a house rental. VRBO has a ton of wonderful options in Katy, TX. You can check out all the options on VRBO here.

The hotel scene in Katy is still emerging but there are a couple of good options! If you’d prefer a hotel over a rental, choose one of these awesome options near Katy Mills Mall [and the upcoming entertainment district]:

Staycation in Houston: Woodlands

With its luscious landscape and laid-back appeal, The Woodlands is a destination unto itself and a wonderful option for your staycation in Houston.

Staycation in Houston: Woodlands – What to Do

Woodlands Waterway

The Woodlands Waterway is truly a destination like none other in the Houston area.  It is entirely walkable with many restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues.  There are also outdoor green spaces where you can relax and enjoy the scenery during your staycation in Houston.

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion

Listen to live music and chill on their large green scape at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion.  As one of the most heavily used amphitheaters in the world, it is a monument to the performing and contemporary arts.  Check their website for their event calendar for entertainment during your Houston staycation.

Staycation in Houston: Woodlands- Where to Eat

  • The Kitchen

    This locally owned eatery has rave reviews for its weekend brunches but any meal at The Kitchen is sure to please. From mimosas and pancakes to tacos and a milkshake, their large variety menu is chockful of options for your Houston staycation.

  • Tris

    Tris is located right on the Woodlands Waterway and offers wonderful views of the area. If you’re looking for more fine dining options during your staycation in Houston, this is where you want to be. Their curated dining options and cushy interior are sure to add an upscale vibe to your staycation.

Staycation in Houston: Woodlands – Where to Stay

The Westin at the Woodlands

The Westin Woodlands is a personal favorite in The Woodlands, TX. It has a luxe feel but remains family-friendly for those traveling with kids in tow. It’s located right within the Woodlands Waterway so you can walk directly out to the riverwalk from the hotel.

That, with the numerous dining and entertainment options within walking distance, makes this hotel one of the top options for a Houston staycation in The Woodlands.

The Woodlands Resort

Houston Staycation - The Woodlands Resort
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The Woodlands Resort is all-encompassing for your Houston staycation.  The resort features many shops, several sports courts, a golf course, a full-service spa, a few pools, and even a water slide.  They also offer curated itineraries during the year to help keep guests entertained.

The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel

Houston Staycation - Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center
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As you can probably tell from the name, The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel is located directly along the Woodlands Waterway.  Guests are treated to a full-service spa, two restaurant options, and an outdoor pool. Some floors even feature concierge service with free breakfast and evening happy hours. [Please note that in late 2022, this hotel was undergoing a full-scale renovation with noisy construction reported by guests.]

Have you taken a Houston staycation? Which is your favorite neighborhood for a staycation in Houston?

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