This post is sponsored by Chase/United Airlines Explorer Card, all opinions are my own. Thank you to our generous sponsors who continue to support The LA Girl!
Headed south? Houston is not a problem. Helmets off to my Apollo 13 fans! Here’s everything you need to know if to Space City – a weekend getaway guide to Houston with things to do, where to eat and more!
How to Get There
From Los Angeles, you can catch a quick, non-stop 3-hour flight to Houston from LAX. On the way there, I got to experience for the first time ever a “gate party” in Terminal 7 hosted by United Airlines. Everyone with a ticket for the flight to Houston was eligible to spin the prize wheel and win a variety of gift cards including $10 coffee, $50 dining, and even a $200 dining credit.
On the flight to Houston, there were even more surprises! Everyone on the flight was rewarded with 25,000 bonus MileagePlus miles that could be used on any United Airlines fight, in promotion of the United Explorer Credit Card by Chase. I have the Explorer Card and not only do you get in-flight discounts, bonus miles and lounge passes, they are now offering you free Global Entry or TSA Pre-check – a must for frequent travelers like me!
When to Go
If you’ve ever been to Texas, you know it can get hot. I had never been to Houston before, but I have been to Dallas and Austin, and have experienced 100-degree plus weather. Make sure you check the weather before you go. While I was there, the forecast showed rain and thunderstorms so I made sure to pack an umbrella and rain jacket. It rained a little bit but nothing crazy!
Where to Stay
My husband and I stayed at luxury boutique hotel, Hotel Derek. It’s very stylish and close to the Downtown area. Book a SkyDeluxe to get a room on the top two floors with views Downtown Houston. They are pet-friendly and have a pool!
Where to Eat
I am a huge foodie so whenever I visit a new city, I’m always looking for the best places to eat.
Riel Restaurant came highly recommended and we pretty much had everything on the menu that we could eat (we’re pescatarian so we only had the veggies and seafood!). I was so excited to go there and read up on the restaurant so I can know more about it. What made it interesting was the the chef is of Ukranian descent and from Manitoba, Canada so there was a lot of fusion going on.
My favorites include the grouper crudo, tempura cauliflower, and the grilled eggplant. Let’s just say I’m not sure if I want to have alligator ever again. We tried to eat the delicious Bee’s Knees for dessert, but was too stuffed to finish. You know it’s a good dinner when you can’t finish dessert.
For lunch, we went to another highly-recommended spot called Irma’s Original. We were told it had to be the original and not any other Irma’s. It was a fun place right next to Minute Maid Park where the Astros play. We were glad that there wasn’t a game that night!
Irma’s is really special because there is no menu, they just tell you what they have that day. I couldn’t stop eating chips and salsa and the lemonade was super good. We ordered fish and shrimp tacos that were really good and worth the wait. Next time, I’d like to try to Red Snapper dish – if it’s still available.
On our second night, we got to go to Uchi with some friends. I was hoping to try this place in Austin but never had the chance.
As a sushi lover, I had high expectations! The thing I loved most about this place was that they fly in fresh fish daily from the Tsukiji market in Japan, so you know that it’s fresh and it’s quality. Some favorites included the Brussels sprouts (weird for a sushi place, I know!), eggplant, scallop, otoro, uni and unagi sushi.
Things to Do
Space Center Houston
It was a last-minute trip to Houston so we didn’t get to do too much research on where to go and what to do.
As giant nerds, my husband and I knew we had to go to the Space Center in Houston. We really wanted to do the Level 9 VIP tour, but it was sold out!
So we just did the regular admission instead. With this, we got to do the tram tour to the astronaut training facility, mission control and rocket park.
There’s a lot to see at the Space Center including the actual Boeing-747 plane that carried space shuttle, Independence, and the Saturn V rocket that was used to send the Apollo missions to the moon. You can even book a lunch with an astronaut. We’ll definitely be back to take the Level 9 VIP tour!
It’s a must-visit for anyone into anything space, science and astronauts!
We didn’t get a chance to do this while in Houston, but we heard it was fun! You can head to the Museum of Natural Science to see their collection of mineral specimens, space station models, a planetarium, and large skeleton mounts – which even includes a Tyrannosaurus Rex!
There’s also the Children’s Museum, with interactive hands-on exhibits to keep the kids happy and busy!
If you’re looking for some high-end art, the Museum of Fine Arts includes over 64,000 pieces from all over the world. This world-class museum is home to treasures such as Gleizes’s La Femme, Memling’s portrait, Monet’s Water Lilies and an impressive amount of Roman period sculptures and paintings.
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