How to Make the Most of One Day in Houston, TX: Build the Ideal Itinerary

So, you’ve got one day in Houston, TX, and want to make the most of it – you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re exploring the town for vacation or trying to decide on renting an apartment in Houston or even buying a home, ApartmentGuide can help you with planning the ideal day.

Here’s how this is gonna work: Below is a list of restaurants, destinations, and activities curated by Houston locals. Think of this as the formula for your ideal Houston adventure. Pick one or more things from each step and you’ll be left with a focused itinerary to see what it’s like to live in Houston.

Step one:

Get fueled up

You can’t start an adventurous day in Houston without stopping to get some coffee and breakfast. But since it’s your first day, it’s hard to know where to go. Luckily, author and event planner, Frederick Goodall, has provided his recommendation on where to visit.

Doshi House: “I’d start with coffee at Doshi House. I enjoy the vibe because I can hang out with my fellow artists and creatives. The owners also focus on community engagement and outreach,” says Frederick Goodall of lifestyle blog Mocha Man Style and event company Mocha Man Productions.

Step two:

Take a stroll through a park

Once you’ve gotten all fueled up at one of Houston’s breakfast joints, it’s time to enjoy the beautiful weather and take a stroll through one of Houston’s parks.

Eleanor Tinsley Park: “Look no further for a gorgeous view of the skyline,” shares Claire Thom of Claire Thom Photography.

Discovery Green: “Take advantage of Houston’s nice weather with a stroll through Discovery Green. You will not be visiting a park, but a destination of endless activity and greenery. From beautiful walking paths and lush gardens to playgrounds and interactive water features, Discovery Green is the perfect spot for families with kids to relax, play, and explore. Opportunities for fun are endless: outdoor concerts, fitness classes, or even a picnic under the trees,” shares Houston Kid City Guide.

Hermann Park: “We love Hermann Park. It’s next to the zoo, has a beautiful trail, and centennial gardens with beautiful waterfalls that allow you to see the views of Houston. There is also a peaceful Japanese garden that is a tranquil retreat. There are so many great things to do that allow you to enjoy the outdoors and activities such as the Miller Outdoor Theatre for entertainment, paddle boats, and trains to explore the area deeper,” says Felice Reyes of beauty blog Lifestyle Beauty and Skin.

Terry Hershey Park: “Since I spend so much time inside in kitchens, when I’m not at work I like to get outside. One of the things I like to do most is ride my bike, and one of my favorite places to do that is Terry Hershey Park. It’s a great stretch of nature along Buffalo Bayou, and you hardly feel like you are just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Katy Freeway,” recommends Chef Hugo Ortega, head chef and owner of H-Town Restaurant Group, which includes Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol, Xochi, and URBE.

White Oak Bayou Trail: “Another place I like to ride is White Oak Bayou Trail – it is close to my house and convenient when I want to fit in a quick ride.  I can ride 30 miles here safely and inside the loop,” recommends Chef Hugo Ortega.

Pick a place for shopping

If parks aren’t your thing, maybe exploring some of Houston’s popular shopping locations is more your speed. Lucky for you, there are plenty of opportunities in Houston for both.

The Galleria: “Houston boasts the best in shopping and there’s no better retail-therapy destination than The Galleria. You’ll find everything from high-end luxury stores like Gucci and Burberry to more affordable retailers like H&M and Zara,” shares Maria of Bella Style Living, a style blog aimed towards women.

POST Houston: “For an exciting and eclectic experience I’d recommend Post Houston. You can find an assortment of cuisines, micro-retail shops, and the skylawn on the roof where you get the most spectacular Downtown Houston views,” recommends Maria of Bella Style Living.

Step three:

Find a lunch spot

Time for a quick break to refuel. Houston is famous for its Tex-Mex and barbecue cuisine, but this city also has some pretty spectacular seafood restaurants.

Ambriza – “For lunch, I’d go with Mexican food. I’d probably go to a branch of Ambriza for their delicious food and margaritas,” shares Claire Thom.

Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack – “For my lunch, I’d enjoy some ribs, brisket, and sausage at Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack,” says Frederick Goodall.

Fainmous: “Next door to us, there’s an amazing barbeque joint called Fainmous, that’s run by the sweetest couple Jamie and Karen Fain. We are actually doing a collaboration with them right now on our Rodeo Pizza that’s made with their brisket,” says Carissa Aguirre of local brewery City Orchard HTX.

Little’s Oyster Bar: “We like the Pappas family and know they are sticklers for quality.  I really enjoy the grouper here, and of course oysters, and any cold seafood.  Great place to celebrate birthdays or occasions, too!” says Chef Hugo Ortega.

Step four:

Pick a new learning experience

Our next stop on our tour of Houston is a stop at one of the many educational facilities located throughout the city.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center: “If you have little ones interested in outdoor activities, nothing beats this urban nature sanctuary, famous for its enchanting blend of natural beauty and hands-on learning opportunities. Here, they can wander along peaceful trails, observe native wildlife in their habitats, and participate in educational programs designed to spark an appreciation for the environment. From interactive exhibits to guided nature walks, every visit offers a chance for kids to explore and discover the wonders of the natural world,” recommends Kid City Guide.

Museum of Natural Science: “For families, the museum district is a favorite of ours. We love the Museum of Natural Science. We also love that Hermann Park and the Houston Zoo are within walking distance,” says Maria of Bella Style Living.

Space Center Houston: “Kids are amazed by Space Center Houston for many reasons, igniting their imagination and curiosity about the vast universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere. At this one-of-a-kind destination, children can explore interactive exhibits, marvel at real spacecraft, and engage in hands-on activities that simulate the experience of space travel.

From touching moon rocks to experiencing simulated missions, every corner offers a thrilling adventure that sparks a sense of wonder and possibility. The opportunity to learn about space exploration firsthand, combined with the chance to see iconic artifacts up close, makes Space Center Houston an unforgettable experience for children, fostering a lifelong fascination with the cosmos and inspiring future astronauts and scientists,” shares Houston Kid City Guide.

Explore a gallery

You may not know this, but Houston is recognized internationally as a hub for visual and performing arts. Take some time during the day to view some of Houston’s finest art pieces.

The Gite Gallery: “I’d head over to The Gite Gallery. It specializes in fine art by African artists. The art is beautiful and always inspires me to create,” says Frederick Goodall.

The Menil Collection: “Spend an afternoon walking through this unique and spectacular collection of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs and rare books, free to the public,” says Kelly Medrano of Watercolor Art Society-Houston.

The Rothko Chapel: “This non-denominational chapel is the perfect respite if you need a quiet place to rest, pray and reflect in the company of iconic modern art,” recommends Kelly Medrano of Watercolor Art Society-Houston.

Do something out of your comfort zone

If you’re traveling, you’re already out of your comfort zone. Why not shake things up even more and do something you’d never do at home?

Rodeo Houston: “During Rodeo season, you can find me with my friends in the Championship Wine Garden, raising money for youth scholarships,” shares Ryan Levy, winemaker at Nice Winery.

The Rustic Brush Memorial: “When I’m in a creative mood, I head over to The Rustic Brush Memorial to work on my crafting projects,” says Frederick Goodall.

Watercolor Art Society-Houston:We’re proud to be Houston’s hub for local watercolor artists. Feel free to visit the gallery or sign up for a class,” says Kelly Medrano.

Step five:

Select your prime dinner spot

You’ve got one day in Houston, we’re not holding back with dinner. Below are some of the most ideal restaurants in all of Houston. If you’re only here for a day, go big or go home.

Rainbow Lodge: “I enjoy taking out-of-town guests to Rainbow Lodge for a taste of wild game and an elevated Texas dining experience,” says Ryan Levy.

Nice Winery – “On Friday nights, I suggest the 5-course winemaker dinners at Nice Winery, featuring their organically grown produce and sustainably farmed wines.  The dinners are usually booked months in advance, so if you can get a ticket, you are one of the lucky ones!” recommends Ryan Levy.

Oporto: “When we want to sneak away for a weekday dinner, we often go to Oporto.  I always get the camarones piri piri, scallops farrotto or the seafood curry.  My wife Tracy and I have gotten very particular about our margaritas, and we really enjoy them there – a former bartender from Backstreet Café is there now and makes them just how we like them.  The manager is always so gracious and welcoming,” says Chef Hugo Ortega.

Take a stroll down Bellaire Boulevard: “I would recommend going down Bellaire Boulevard for great Asian food. It’s some of the best in the country, I think. You can find great Vietnamese food along with your Viet-Cajun restaurants on this long stretch of ‘Chinatown,’” says Lung Ly of 93’til, a restaurant and record store.

Step six:

End the day with a pint

After a long day of exploring and adventuring, it’s time to think through it all and reflect on the day you had. What did you like about Houston? How do you picture yourself moving through the city as a local? Where would you want to rent a place in the city? So, grab a drink from one of the bars below and start reflecting.

No Label: “The perfect way to end a day is to visit some of the many breweries–ideally one with live music. My favorite is No Label in Katy,” shares Claire Thom.

Pur Noire: “I’d end the day with some wine at Pur Noire where there is usually some live music to be enjoyed,” says Frederick Goodall.

City Orchard: “City Orchard is a pretty cool place to visit. We are a joint cidery and brewery that serves a wide variety of ciders and beers that are all made in house. We also host a variety of different events such as trivia nights every Thursday, comedy nights, and paint and sip nights!” says Carissa Aguirre.

Urban South: “They have a variety of different beers and are known for their experimental brews! They are originally from New Orleans, but expanded with their Houston Taproom about four years ago,” says Carissa Aguirre.

Do a Bar Crawl: “The Houston Metro area craft beer scene is top notch! From well-known Houston staples like Saint Arnold Brewing Company and Karbach Brewing to local favorites like 11 Below, Excalibur, and Back Pew – Houston and its surrounding neighborhoods have something for everyone!” says Lesley Haenny, founder and editor of the blog What’s Up Southwest.

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