City Break: Houston

By Amanda Wowk

February 01, 2023

City break (noun): a short holiday spent in a city, such as when on business travel.

Before there was bleisure travel, there was the city break—the short space of leisure time that grants you access to the cultural and culinary amenities that big cities offer. In this series from TripIt, we explore some of the world’s best cities for planning a quick getaway or extending a work trip.

Here are our tips for making the most of your city break in Houston.

Where to fly in

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is the main airport serving the city of Houston. It’s located 20 miles north of downtown.  

Once on the ground, travelers have myriad transportation options for continuing on to their final destination, including the METRO bus system, shuttles, cabs, and ride shares. 

Rented a car? Take the shuttle from the airport to the IAH Rental Car Center. Shuttles arrive every five minutes from Terminals A, B, C, and D; the ride takes just five minutes, as well. 

Houston is also served by Houston William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), located seven miles from downtown. It is the main airport for Southwest Airlines. Passengers arriving at HOU can likewise take a bus, shuttle, cab, ride share, or pick up a rental car to continue on to their final destination. 

Where to stay during your city break

Need a place to stay on your city break in Houston? Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District is easy walking distance to many of the city’s top attractions (more on what to do in Houston, below).

Likewise, the Blossom Hotel Houston is a unique boutique hotel located near NRG Stadium, shopping, and nightlife. And when walking isn’t feasible, you can take the complimentary shuttle to these nearby destinations. 

The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston and The Moran CITYCENTRE are known for their spacious rooms and friendly staff. 

Attending a conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center? You can’t beat the convenience of the Marriott Marquis Houston

Vacation rentals, like those booked through Airbnb, are also available in Houston.

How to get around

Houston’s public transit system, METRO, offers both bus and light rail options for getting around the city. The bus system has more than 80 routes and thousands of stops. The light rail system has three lines that serve downtown Houston. To learn about stops near where you’re staying, and to plan your journey(s), download the Ride METRO app or visit the website.  

Thinking about exploring Houston on two wheels? You have several micromobility options for getting around, including bikes and eBikes provided by Houston BCycle. Bikes cost $3.00 for 30 minutes; eBikes cost $5.00 for 30 minutes. 

You can also rent electric scooters, bikes, and trikes from ERYD Houston. Rentals start at $25/hour. Other local rental shops include ScootsTX, Skootr, and HTown Scooters

Taxis and Uber are also available in Houston.

Pro tip: Use TripIt’s Navigator feature to search transportation options available to you. It will show you the estimated costs and travel times for each option, so you can decide which works best. For example, if you add a restaurant reservation to your itinerary (more on where to eat, below), Navigator also helps you find the best transportation options for getting to your table. You can find Navigator within your plan details screens. 

Where to eat

If you only have time for one meal in Houston, make it at Amrina. Named Eater Houston’s 2022 Restaurant of the Year, Amrina is “culinary storytelling at its finest.” To take a journey through Indian cuisine, be sure to book your reservations early. 

Have time for more meals on your Houston itinerary? Try some of the city’s most iconic dishes, including tacos birria at Tacos Doña Lena; lobster pot pie at Bludorn; Viet-Cajun crawfish at Crawfish & Noodles; wings and waffles at The Breakfast Klub; and kolaches at Shipley Do-nuts

Have breakfast on the brain? You can’t go wrong with a breakfast sandwich from GristworkzYou can also head to Koffeteria for sweet and savory pastries, or La Guadalupana Cafe and Bakery for traditional Mexican breakfast essentials.

Just need a quick cup of joe? Tenfold Coffee Company, La La Land, Catalina Coffee, and Common Grounds Uncommon Coffee (among many others) have you covered. 

What to do on your city break

Major league sports fans, you're spoiled for choice in Houston. Depending on the time of year you visit, check out a Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Astros (MLB), Houston Texans (NFL), and/or Houston Dynamo (MLS) game. 

Museums more your speed? The city is home to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Space Center Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and many more. 

Prefer to spend your free time outdoors? The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is open daily and admission is free. Or, if you love street art, head to the colorful walls of Graffiti Park in Houston’s East End. 

If the whole family made the trip to Houston, be sure to check out the Houston Zoo, the Children’s Museum, and the Downtown Aquarium

Adults only? Discover some of the city’s best breweries, including Southern Star Brewing (known for being the first in Texas to can its beers), Ingenuous Brewing (known for small batch, and constantly changing brews), Astral Brewing (featuring a taproom fitted with space-themed murals), and Great Heights Brewing Company (enjoy with some food from the rotating list of food trucks parked outside). 

Or, if you prefer shopping over sipping, head to City Centre, The Galleria, or Highland Village for everything from local boutiques to high-end brands.