Have vacation on the brain? If you’re headed to the great state of Texas and looking for a city full of activity, Houston is a prime location. When it comes to travel-bucket-list items and fun things to explore, Houston, and its surrounding areas, have a ton for visitors - and residents - to experience.
While some things to do within the city of Houston seem obvious (visiting the Johnson Space Center, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, and the Theater District), there are places right outside the city that are just as exciting. To help plan your visit to Houston, or just have a fun weekend exploring somewhere new, we wanted to list 5 must-see areas around the Houston area.
Located 20 miles southwest of Houston, Sugar Land gives residents proximity to a large city while exuding the small town charm many people appreciate. That doesn’t mean that Sugar Land is all country, though, as there is plenty of culture and quite a cosmopolitan vibe to this city. Drop into the Town Square for some upscale shopping and grab a bite at one of their many eateries. Sports fans will have a ball at a minor league game for the local Sugar Land Skeeters at Constellation Field, which is also a popular concert venue. Enjoy the balmy Texas temperatures with the kiddos with a day of fishing at Sugar Land Memorial Park or biking in Oyster Creek Park. It’s often said that life is sweet in Sugar Land, and we tend to agree.
A community built within a natural forest and featuring a waterway within, The Woodlands is one of the most scenic towns in Texas. Whether you want to kayak at Riva Row Boat House or get lost in the trees at the George Mitchell Nature Preserve, there are plenty of fun ways to beat the Texas heat. Even better, you can enjoy the sultry summer evenings by taking in a concert at the picturesque Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion—the home of the Houston Symphony. This pavilion is actually connected to Waterway Square and The Woodlands Mall—all by the super scenic The Woodlands Waterway. You’ll want to gaze at the gorgeous waterfalls and choreographed fountains in the square but, should you decide to get in on the action, you can hop on the Waterway Taxi and take in the sights by cruise.
The Woodlands has become a hugely popular place to live in the U.S. so, if you set your sights on this charming Texas town, you should also pop in and see the two stunning model homes in Canopy Green in Creekside Park by Shea Homes.
Located near Houston and Sugar Land, Missouri City offers plenty to do in its own right. Those looking to sink some putts will love Quail Valley Golf Course. Originally designed to be a country club, this scenic course offers a luxurious feel at a reasonable price. Movie maniacs will never want to see a flick another way again after visiting Missouri City’s Star Cinema Grill. Serving up aptly named bites like “Lord of the Onion Rings” and “Say Hello to My Little Fries,” you will enjoy kicking back in one of their super comfy reclining chairs, snacking and catching a movie. Or, you might want to “Breakfast on the Bayou” at the largest urban wildlife refuge in the U.S., the Armand Bayou Nature Center. Learn about bayou life and nosh on pastries and more as you take a leisurely pontoon boat ride. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll lose your heart to this charming city.
Looking to experience some hiking and biking? Check out the trails at Sienna Plantation in the Village of Sawmill Lake. With resort-style amenities, an ultramodern fitness center, and hundreds of acres of parks, Sienna is something truly special.
A former rice farming town and a train center, Katy has a lot of old town heritage, combined with modern amenities. Katy has four large annual events that draw people to the area: the Katy Home and Garden Show in January, FFA Rodeo in March, Folk Life Festival in April, and the Katy Rice Harvest Festival in October. You can mark your calendars for these big events, or simply enjoy the beautiful nature scene Katy has to offer on a daily basis.
There is no shortage of dining options in Katy. If you’re looking to channel your inner honky tonk, belly up at Katy’s oldest bar—Duke’s Tavern. Shopaholics have plenty of options, as La Centerra offers upscale shopping while many deals can be had at Katy Mills Outlet Mall.
While this area offers living choices for everyone, families looking to move to this booming area of Texas should join the Interest List for Shea Homes’ Cane Island. Located on 1,000 acres of lush land and with access to the top-rated Katy Independent School district, this is going to be an idyllic place to plant roots.
Pearland is often touted as one of Texas’s safest cities but there’s much more to this Houston ‘burb. With a state-of-the-art rec center and a bustling Town Center, there’s something for everyone from runners and Zumba-enthusiasts to foodies and shoppers. While there are plenty of great Texas-style restaurants here, we highly recommend a stop at Killen’s Steakhouse. Voted as one of America’s best steakhouses in Yahoo! Travel’s 2013 picks, Killen’s is a carnivore’s dream.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Pearland in mid-April, you have to put the Crawfish Festival on your to-do list. With world-class boilers cooking up the best of their Gulf Coast haul and lively Zydeco bands bringing their funky beats, this is a party for the ages. Lastly, as everyone knows, Texas summers can be a bit oppressive but the best thing about Pearland is it’s only a 45-minute jaunt to sunny Surfside Beach. Pearland is perfection when it comes to entertainment.
Do you know the Houston area? What are some of your favorite spots? Share them with us in the comments below!