South and west of downtown, South Inner Loop is home to the Museum District, Hermann Park, Rice University, the Texas Medical Center, and Reliant Stadium.
This district is bounded by freeways I-45 on the east, I-69 on the north, and I-610 (the "loop") on the south and west.
Best ways to reach this part of Houston are Metro light rail trains, Metro city buses, and by car.
Houston's Metro light rail system is an easy, comfortable way to get to the Medical Center, Rice University, and Museum District. Trains run down the center of Main Street beginning as early as 4:30AM and running as late as 2:15AM.
Several Houston Metrobus routes run through this part of the city. Use bus lines 1, 8, 34, 65, 87, 292, and 298. There is also a local trolley service for the Medical Center. Bus lines for this area connect to the Metro light rail train line at the TMC Transit Center at Fannin and Pressler. Bus stop locations and schedules are on the Houston Metro web site.
Houston is a sprawling city in which everyone drives everywhere. The Medical Center/Rice/Museum District area lies in between the Southwest Freeway (U.S. 59) and the South Freeway (TX 288).
- From U.S. 59 southbound, exit Fannin, then head left
- From U.S. 59 northbound, exit Greenbrier, then head right
- From TX 288 either direction, exit McGregor
- From I-610, exit Fannin and either head north, or use the Park and Ride lot and ride Metro
Street parking is available in much of this area, and there are public parking lots at the major museums, in Hermann Park, and around the Medical Center (the latter are most expensive).
- 1 Children's Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz St, ☏ . Tu-W 9AM-6PM, Th 10AM-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-6pm. Fun, educational, hands-on museum featuring a whimsical courtyard with a rail caboose and a bayou river, and indoor exhibits with both a cultural and a scientific element. $12, Th 5PM-8PM free.
- 2 Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose Blvd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-W 10A-7PM, Th 10AM-9PM, F 10AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM. Non-collecting museum with rotating exhibits focusing on the ever-changing landscape of today's visual arts. Free.
- 3 The Health Museum, 1515 Hermann Dr, ☏ , email@example.com. Tu-W 9AM-5PM, Th 9AM-7PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Formerly known as the "Museum of Health and Medical Sciences", this museum is affiliated with the Texas Medical Center. Explore human anatomy, the life of a germ, the human genome, and more. $9 adults, $7 kids 3-12 and seniors, Th 2PM-7PM free.
- 4 Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su Noon-5PM, Th 2PM-5PM free. Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and millions of other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy to tens of thousands of people worldwide each year. Not recommended for children under the age of 10. $12.
- 5 Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr., ☏ , email@example.com. 9AM-5PM. Permanent venues include the butterfly center, exhibit halls, planetarium, and IMAX theater, others vary by availability. Adult $25, Child $15, Thursday 2PM-5PM free, additional fees for shows and special exhibits.
- 6 Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-W 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-9PM, F-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su 12.15PM-7PM, M closed. Adult $15, youth (13-18) $7.50, 12 and under free, Thursdays free.
- 7 Houston Maritime Museum, 2204 Dorrington St., ☏ , email@example.com. Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM. Great museum in a converted house. Lots of maritime history from the Spanish Conquest onward. Must see for history or sailing buffs. 13 and older $5, 3-12 $3, 2 and under free.
- Menil Collection, 1533 Sul Ross, ☏ . 11am-7pm, closed Monday and Tuesday. Eclectic and diverse collection of art and artifacts. The collection consists of about 17,000 works spanning all time periods and geographies. Popular cafe across the street. The lawns invite picnic relaxation under the towering magnolia trees. Free.
- 8 Hermann Park, ☏ , fax: . Approximately 455 acres (about half the size of Central Park in New York City). George Hermann gave the parkland to the City of Houston in 1914. It is accessible via the MetroRail. Encompasses the Miller Outdoor Theater, the Houston Zoo, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Hermann Park Golf Course.
- 9 Hermann Park Railroad, 6102 Hermann Park Dr, ☏ . 10AM-5PM. The Hermann Park Railroad takes a two-mile, 18 minute journey around Hermann Park with three stops along the way. $3.25.
- 10 Houston Zoo, 1513 N. MacGregor Dr, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-7PM. Mid-size zoo with several large animal exhibits worth visiting such as the gorillas and elephants. Visiting early in the day is advised as most of the zoo-keeper talks are before noon and the animals go into hiding if the day is hot. Adult $17, Child $13, 1st Tu of month Sept-May free.
- 11 Hermann Park Golf Course, 2155 N. MacGregor Way, ☏ . M-Th $ 18, F-Su $28.
- 12 Japanese Garden, Main St & Sunset Blvd, Hermann Park (at the south end of the Reflection Pool), ☏ . Mar 1-Oct 31: 9AM–6PM, Nov 1-Feb 28: 9AM–5PM. Designed by world-renowned Japanese landscape architect, Ken Nakajima, the garden was built to symbolize the friendship between the United States and Japan, and to recognize Houston's thriving Japanese community. free.
- 13 Texas Medical Center. A sprawling medical complex which is home to some of the world's best hospitals.
- 1 Houston Texans, Two NRG Park, toll-free: (+1-866-GO-TEXANS), fax: . Houston's National Football League (NFL) team plays at NRG Stadium in the South Loop area, next to the now-vacant Astrodome.
- 2 Miller Outdoor Theater, 6000 Hermann Park Drive, in Hermann Park, ☏ , fax: . vary. Free professional theater offering a wide variety of shows in warmer months (which in Houston, span April through November). Hillside (lawn) seating is always free, some shows have ticket seating under the pavilion, varies by show.
- 3 ZaSpa, 5701 Main St, ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 10AM-8PM Sa 9AM-8PM Su 9AM-7PM. A secluded, luxury spa located on the private 2nd floor of Hotel ZaZa Houston offering a variety of spa treatments for both men and women. Facilities include a pool and spa café. $60-295.
- 4 Pedal Boats, 6102 Hermann Park Dr, ☏ . F-Su 11AM-4PM. Pedal your way around the lake in Hermann Park. $10 per boat for 30 minutes.
Events & Festivals
- 5 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, 1 Reliant Parkway (NRG Park), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Month of March. NRG Stadium and NRG Park. Annually in March. The world's largest rodeo and includes rodeo events, calf scramble, and music concerts. It is known for its big-name music acts as much as it is for the rodeo. The livestock show attracts professional breeders who bring in their world-class livestock to be judged. There is also a carnival on the grounds.
- 6 International Literature Festival Houston, 5216 Montrose Boulevard (Contemporary Art Museum of Houston & Rice University). Hosts a world class array of panels, authors, celebrities and entertainment for your enjoyment and enlightenment. Focuses on Hispanic literature. Held in October.
- 1 Rice Village. Some of Houston's most eclectic shopping is in the small businesses of Rice Village, roughly between Kirby and Greenbrier and around Rice Blvd. and University Blvd.
- 1 Benjy's, 2424 Dunstan Rd, ☏ , email@example.com. Su-M 10:45AM-9PM, Tu-Th 10:45AM-10PM, F-Sa 10:45AM-11PM. Modern American dining. This is a favorite of many locals.
- 2 Bombay Brasserie, 2414 University Blvd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Lunch: M-F 11AM-2:30PM, Sa-Su 11AM-3PM, Dinner: M-Th, Su 5:30PM-10AM F-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. Indian cuisine.
- 3 Croissant Brioche, 2435 Rice Blvd, ☏ . French bakery.
- 4 El Meson, 2525 University Blvd, ☏ , email@example.com. Su noon-9PM, M-Th and Sa 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-11PM. Great choice when you're hungry for ropa vieja or any classic Cuban dish.
- 5 Monarch Restaurant & Lounge, 5701 Main St, ☏ . A fine dining option at Hotel ZaZa Houston serving seafood and steak entrees with Mediterranean flair. The Lounge is available for dancing and Monarch Terrace overlooks Main Street & Mecom Fountains.
- 6 Lucille's, 5512 La Branch St,, ☏ . Modern takes on Southern classics by a classically trained chef served in a cozy, vintage house.
- 7 Bodegas Taco Shop, 1200 Binz St #160, ☏ . Tex-Mex spot for build-your-own burritos, tostadas, tacos & salads, with a tequila bar & patio.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Kelvin Arms, 2424 Dunstan Rd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Traditional Scottish pub atmosphere. Good variety of draft beers (including Belhaven), though their strong point is their outstanding selection of fine single-malt Scotch whisky.
- 2 The Ginger Man, 5607 Morningside Dr, ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 2PM-2AM Sa-Su 1PM-2AM. Fun, casual pub atmosphere with an outstanding selection of microbrewed, regional, and import beers. Where else are you likely to find Youngs ales on tap alongside a Belgian kriek? Nothing beats relaxing out in the Ginger Man's courtyard with a chilly beverage on a warm Houston evening.
- 1 Houston International Hostel, 5302 Crawford St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. More of a large family house than a hostel, with bedrooms containing bunk beds for travelers. The house is in the downtown museum district so there is a lot to do within walking distance (Thursday is free museum day!) but it's in a residential area, so shops and restaurants are not immediately nearby. The bathrooms are shared and the facilities are clean. Hostel customs are observed at the hostel.
- 2 Holiday Inn - NRG Area Medical Center, 8111 Kirby Dr, ☏ . Offers complimentary internet access.
- 3 Hilton Houston Plaza / Medical Center, 6633 Travis St, ☏ . Location in the midst of the Texas Medical Center. 80% suites. 100% non-smoking.
- MainStay Suites Texas Medical Center/Reliant Park, 3134 Old Spanish Trail, ☏ . Offers free wireless high-speed Internet access.
- 4 Houston Marriott at the Texas Medical Center, 6580 Fannin St. Adjacent to several hospitals of the Texas Medical Center and connected to Methodist Hospital via the skywalk.
- 5 Hotel ZaZa, 5701 Main St, ☏ . Upscale boutique hotel with an outstanding location next to Hermann Park and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, with easy Metro access, elegantly appointed rooms, and an atmosphere of pampered luxury.