How to Pack the Most Into a Trip to Houston if You Only Have 24 Hours

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Killer brunch, mezcal bars, tacos galore, an 160-acre park, and eclectic neighborhoods are just a few of the things to do in Houston. 

Courtesy Xochi

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Houston is known for quite a few things. It’s big (like, the fourth-largest city in the country kind of big); it’s got some out-of-this-world Mexican cuisine and really good tequila bars (more on that soon); and the opportunity for cultural exploration seemingly has no limits. You can spend far more than 24 hours in this bustling southern metropolis, but if you’ve only got a day, here’s what you can’t miss.

Our top picks for things to do in Houston, below.

Related: This West Texas Art Town Is Giving Austin a Run for Its Money

Kirsten Gilliam/Courtesy Eunice


10:00 a.m.: Look, if you’re looking for things to do in Houston for just one day, you’ve got to do brunch—there are just no two ways about it. You’ll certainly have your pick of incredible restaurants to choose from, but we’re going to suggest you opt for Greenway Plaza’s Sunday morning brunch at Eunice, helmed by Louisiana-born chef Drake Leonards. You’ll sit in a light and airy room, accented with navy blue and wood furnishings, whilst dining on an inspired Cajun-Creole menu. Fresh NOLA gumbo, anyone?

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11:30 a.m.: Buffalo Bayou Park is a precious gem of the city (recently restored), and one of the finest green spaces in all of Texas. You’ll be mesmerized by the vibrancy of this 160-acre lush park, which is home to dozens of hiking and biking trails, several historic monuments, boat launches, and beautiful gardens. Rent a bike from the Bike Barn on Sabine Street and get to explorin’.

12:30 p.m.: After returning your bikes, follow the Sabine Promenade over to Sesquicentennial Park in downtown Houston (it will leave you right in the heart of the theater district). From here, you can wander around shops and attractions, then grab a fresh brew at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, the oldest craft brewery in the Lone Star State. While you’re downtown, opt for a pre-lunch taco (trust us) at La Calle Tacos, some of the city’s best authentic Mexican tacos.

Lenard Smith/Courtesy Lucille's

2:00 p.m.: We hope you worked up an appetite on your bike ride. Head to Lucille’s for a true southern fried experience. The establishment’s tagline, “well-refined southern cuisine, defined by history,” pretty much says it all.

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3:30 p.m.: Lunch at Lucille’s will place you right in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, which is broken down into four walkable zones that consist of 19 institutions (including the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts) many of which are free to visitors year-round. Opt for the 1-Day Houston Museum Pass ($27.95) for admission to nine of the museums.

6:30 p.m.: It’s finally that time of the night: time to try Houston’s Mexican cuisine. You’re quite spoiled for choice when it comes to options, but one of the very best is right downtown at Xochi, which brings the dynamic flavors of Oaxaca to Houston. You’ll feast on dishes like Pollo en Mole (crispy half chicken, mole negro, creamy corn meloso) and Callo de Hacha (scallops in mole verde, white beans, green beans, chayote, masa dumplings).

Jenn Duncan/Courtesy The Pastry War

8:30 p.m.: After dinner, make your way to tequila and mezcal bar The Pastry War or, for more libation variety, ample mood lighting, and great 80’s and 90’s jams, check out the craft cocktails The Cottonmouth Club.

Courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

10:30 p.m.: Head to the five-star American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property Four Seasons Hotel Houston (nicknamed “Houston’s living room), where you can collapse into a plush bed surrounded by a spacious living area appointed with chic and sophisticated furnishings. Pro tip: opt for one of the apartments, where you’ll find a home-away-from-home, marble bathrooms, and sprawling views of downtown Houston.