Downtown is the central business district of Houston. It is bounded by the I-10, I-45, and I-69 freeways.
Downtown is, like many American cities, strictly a 9AM-5PM operation. Most restaurants close after business hours, but there have been some efforts lately to encourage more activity.
If you visit downtown during the day, don't be surprised to see fewer people on the street than a typical city. Most people use an underground walkway system that connects many buildings and food courts.
Just north of the core of downtown, across the Buffalo Bayou, is a warehouse district that has somewhat recently attracted unique music venues, artists, and Oxheart, a popular upscale restaurant. Houston's biggest brewery, St. Arnold's, lies just a mile from the UH-Downtown rail station, but the journey requires crossing a freeway and walking through a sleepy industrial area.
Interstates 10 and 45 link together and form a tight loop around downtown. Many exits are marked as leading to downtown.
By public transit
The METRO Rail light rail has several downtown stops along the red line: Downtown Transit Center, Bell, Main Street Square, Preston, and UH-Downtown. Most of the restaurants and bars are located near Preston and Main Street Square.
Megabus, Greyhound and the Mexican bus services all have their stations located near the Downtown Transit Center light rail station.
- 1 Chase Tower Observatory, 600 Travis St. The Chase Tower is the tallest building in Texas and the tallest five-sided building in the world. The sky lobby on the 60th floor of the building is the observatory. Since 2016 this observatory has been permanently closed to the public.
- 2 Discovery Green Park. Discovery Green opened April 13, 2008. The downtown Houston park is located across Avenida de las Americas from the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel. Toyota Center, Houston Center and Minute Maid Park are only blocks away.
- 3 Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby St (at Memorial Dr), ☏ . Seen as pretty mundane by locals, but might still appeal to fish fanatics. Situated right on Buffalo Bayou. Not just an aquarium, it has a ferris wheel and other carnival-style rides. $9.25 (adult), rides cost extra.
- Downtown Tunnel System. The majority of Downtown Houston's buildings are connected by an intertwining, complex tunnel system. Scores of lunch restaurants and easy access to building entrances from underground keep Houston's workforce primarily underground during the day. Only open during the weekdays, the tunnels are an interesting spectacle to observe, but try to avoid getting lost. There are a few street level entrances, but it can also be accessed from various buildings.
- 4 Market Square Park, 301 Milam. 6AM-11PM, daily. Surrounded by some of the city's oldest buildings, the site was once home to City Hall in previous years. In 2010, the block-sized space was transformed into a modern park, with features akin to Discovery Green but on a more compact scale. At the center of the park is local favorite Niko Niko's.
- 5 Sam Houston Park, 1000 Bagby.
- 1 Houston Grand Opera, 510 Preston St (Wortham Theatre Center), ☏ . World-class opera in the heart of downtown's Theatre District.
- 2 Houston Symphony Orchestra, 615 Louisiana Ave (Jones Hall). Concerts throughout the year including both a classical series and a pops series.
- Mercury Baroque, 510 Preston St (Cullen Theatre, Wortham Center), ☏ . Baroque music for the historical purist.
- 3 Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), 800 Bagby TUTS (Hobby Center for the Performing Arts), ☏ . Broadway style big theatre productions in one of Houston's newest downtown arts venues.
- 4 Houston Astros, 510 Crawford St.., ☏ . The city's Major League Baseball team, playing at Minute Maid Park, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012. It was also the last season for the Astros in the National League; they moved to the American League in 2013.
- 5 Houston Rockets, 1510 Polk St, ☏ , toll-free: . The city's NBA (basketball) team plays at the Toyota Center.
- 6 Houston Dynamo, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, Ste. 200, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Houston's Major League Soccer team plays in BBVA Stadium. Located in the East End, it is the first major soccer-specific stadium in the US in a downtown area.
- 7 Houston Dash, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, Ste. 200, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Houston's representative in the National Women's Soccer League. The team is owned and operated by the Dynamo and also plays at BBVA Stadium.
Events & Festivals
- 8 Art Car Parade. The worlds largest and oldest Art Car Parade. The event features over 250 Art Cars, 200,000+ live spectators, and media from all over the world, making Houston ground zero of an international phenomenon. Held in April.
- 9 Bayou City Art Festival. Built on an 8/10 mile asphalt loop surrounded by lush trees, foliage, and picnic areas, the annual fine art event boasts a stress-free outdoor gallery brimming with 300 artists working in 19 artistic media. Held in October.
- FotoFest. Exhibitions and art installations, film and video programs, lectures and forums.
- 10 Houston Children's Festival, 901 Bagby. The largest celebration for children in the United States. The Houston Children's Festival offers over 350 events packed into a couple of hectic days. Held in April
- [dead link] The Houston International Festival (AKA iFest). Annual international festival featuring juried arts, crafts, food, music, games and events for adults and children. Held in April.
- 1 Tejas Grill & Sports Bar, 1201 Lamar St, ☏ . Western-style sports bar featuring several TVs, draft brews & a menu of Tex-Mex food & burgers.
- 2 [dead link] Oxheart, 1302 Nance St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Th-M 5:30PM-10PM. Nestled in a small, nondescript space in the Warehouse District, culinary couple Justin Yu and pastry chef Karen Mann dish out 4- or 8-course seasonal Texas Gulf Coast tasting menus (including a veg-centric option - "oxheart" is also a type of carrot, cabbage, and tomato, after all) in a restaurant lauded locally and nationally as one of the best around, period. Sit back with a beer or glass of bubbly from the expertly curated beverage list, watch the crack team of chefs go to work, and be prepared to be wowed. By reservation only. $49-$79.
- 3 Treebeards, 315 Travis St,, ☏ . Located right on Old Market Square, this restaurant serving New Orleans style Creole cuisine.
- 4 Zydeco Louisiana Diner, 1119 Pease St, ☏ . If you are unable to head into Louisiana for whatever reason just go to this restaurant instead. This restaurant specializes in Cajun/Creole fare such as oyster po'boys, jambalaya and étouffée. They even have frequent after work crawfish boils too.
- 5 Bombay Pizza Company, 914 Main St, Suite #105, ☏ . Restaurant known for their unique take on combining Indian/Italian cuisine. It was also featured on the Food Network and they also offer online ordering and delivery.
- 6 Irma's Original, 22 N. Chenevert St, ☏ . A Houston institution! Fun, traditional atmosphere with authentic, unwatered down Tex-Mex cuisine.
- 7 [dead link] Hearsay Gastro Lounge, 218 Travis Street, ☏ . Located in a historic building, the restaurant has a creative menu and bar.
- 8 La Calle Tacos, 909 Franklin St,, ☏ . Vibrant taqueria in warm, funky digs serving classic tacos, tortas & tostadas, plus beer & horchata.
- 9 Thai Cafe, 917 Franklin St #101, ☏ . Relaxed Thai choice serving curries, noodles & other classic fare in a lofty space with a warm vibe.
- 10 Andalucía Tapas Restaurant & Bar, 1204 Caroline St Unit # 161, ☏ . Traditional Spanish small plates, paella & more accompanied by sangria & live flamenco dancing.
- 11 Pappas Bar B Q, 1217 Pierce St, ☏ .
- 1 Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, 705 Main St. A staggering variety of beers, some wine, scantily clad staff. $3-$6/pt.
- 2 The Saint Arnold Brewery, 2000 Lyons Ave. Billed as Texas' oldest microbrewery. Their brews are often sold in local bars. Very popular beers are the Texas Wheat, Oktoberfest (August through October), and Christmas Ale (November through December). Brewery tour every Saturday at 1:00.
- 3 Public Services Wine & Whisky, 202 Travis St #100,, ☏ . Spacious wine & whiskey bar with art deco furnishings in the historic 1884 Cotton Exchange building.
- 4 Lilly & BLOOM, 110 Main St,, ☏ . 2-story lounge with velvet furniture for bespoke cocktails, guest bartenders & rotating DJs.
- 5 Dirt Bar, 1209 Caroline, ☏ . 6pm-2am. Dive bar located right across from the House of Blues. They mainly play rock music.
- 6 Molly's Irish Pub, 509 Main Street, ☏ . This pub has the feel of a small town Irish pub transplanted into downtown Houston. The pub offers a good selection of Irish and American beers on tap as well as respectable pub food.
- 7 Hard Rock Cafe, 502 Texas St, ☏ .
- 8 House of Blues, 1204 Caroline St,, ☏ . Rock- & blues-themed chain with Southern dishes such as po' boys & jambalaya, plus live music.
- 9 Pete's Dueling Piano Bar, 1201 Fannin St #310,, ☏ . Lively local bar chain offering speciality cocktails, dueling-piano shows & singing waitstaff.
- 10 Spire Night Club, 1720 Main St,, ☏ . Swanky multi-room nightclub offering a range of dance music styles most weekend evenings.
- 11 Jet Lounge, 1515 Pease St,. Local party destination for DJ dance parties & live musical performances, from metal to hip-hop.
- 1 Club Quarters, 720 Fannin St. This hotel is private and club-like but it has 24 hour room service and it accommodates your needs, for example there are state of the art televisions.
- 2 Courtyard by Marriott Houston Convention Center, 916 Dallas St, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. $189-$239.
- 3 Holiday Inn Houston Downtown, 1616 Main St, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. $189-$239.
- 4 Houston Downtown Residence Inn, 904 Dallas St., ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. In the historic 1921 Humble Oil Building. Offers free shuttle to George R. Brown Convention Center and Minute Maid Park. $199-$329.
- 5 Aloft Houston Downtown, 820 Fannin St,, ☏ . Pet friendly hotel.
- 6 Hampton Inn Houston Downtown, 710 Crawford St,, ☏ . Pet friendly hotel located a few blocks away from Discovery Green, with a rooftop pool, and free hot breakfast.
- 7 Holiday Inn Express & Suites Houston-Dwtn Conv Ctr, 1810 Bell St,, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM.
- 8 The Sam Houston Hotel, 1117 Prairie St, ☏ . Boasts a modern minimalist interior and is one of Houston's top boutique luxury hotels.
- 9 The Whitehall Houston, 1700 Smith St, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Two noteworthy onsite restaurants, fitness center, business center, and valet parking.
- 10 Four Seasons Hotel Houston, 1300 Lamar St, ☏ , fax: .
- 11 Hotel Icon, 220 Main St (Congress St.), ☏ .
- 12 Magnolia Hotel, 1100 Texas Ave, ☏ , fax: .
- 13 The Westin Houston Downtown, 1520 Texas Ave,, ☏ . Check-in: 3:00 PM, check-out: 12:00 PM. Pet-friendly hotel with onsite dining options, 24-hour room service, and fitness center. near Minute Maid Park and the George R. Brown Convention Center.
- 14 Embassy Suites by Hilton Houston Downtown, 1515 Dallas St, (across the street from Discovery Green), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Hotel that has a heated pool on the roof.
- 15 Marriott Marquis Houston, 1777 Walker St, (connected to the Brown Convention Center via skywalk and is across the street from Discovery Green), ☏ . Hotel with three onsite restaurants, an infinity pool and a lazy river shaped like the state of Texas on the roof.