If you've been around before, you know 2022 was an awful year for my family and I. Did you miss it? You can read the full story here. That being said, it had been quite some time since my husband and I had gone somewhere alone.
I noticed my husband's favorite comedian would be in Houston, so I booked us tickets in March for his Christmas present! It was a refreshing, relaxing, and a total nostalgic trip. Let me break down how to have a restful and adventurous weekend in Houston...
day 1 - baytown, texas
Baytown, a waterfront town east of Houston, is where I chose for us to stay. It's safe, packed with plenty of restaurants, and has affordable hotel prices! We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Baytown-Houston and it was a beautiful. Take a look for yourself!
It was spotless, shiny, and in a great location. The room rate was $125 a night, with taxes & fees included. Did I mention these were weekend rates? This hotel was perfect and definitely looked like it could be charging $175 a night. I booked with hotels.com and always do, because I love their reward night system. Every 10 stays, you receive one free night! The $ amount they give you is based on your nightly average you spent on a hotel stay.
Okay, so you've checked into your stunning hotel and now you're hungry for seafood. Head over to Pinchin' Crab, which is literally a two minute drive from your hotel! The decor is a vibe, the seafood is delicious, and you notice many locals ordering take out (the best sign). We ordered the Juicy Special combo with snow crab, shrimp, crawfish, sausage, potato, and corn.
If we went back, I'd probably add an appetizer or side to our order. It was delicious, but didn't quite fill us up! However, I wasn't mad. That just meant it was time for an ice cream stop! So, we made our way over to Marble Slab Creamery. I ordered a dish of cotton candy. It was the perfect snack to end the night!
day 2 - clear lake
My original plan was to stay in Clear Lake, which is close to Space Center Houston. It is a gorgeous area and is great suburb to stay in if you want to be even closer to the water. Saturday morning, we took off to the Space Center Houston, which was a 30 minute drive from our hotel. We purchased our tickets the day before, just so we wouldn't have to worry about it when we arrived. The tickets we purchased were general admission and then we added an Apollo Mission Control Tour!
We decided to try lunch here and it was pretty underwhelming. At first, you're entranced by the different food stations and the space themed food stalls, but the quality of food and the attitude of staff was just not great. The prices were also super high.
However, Grounds Control, the coffee bar in the Food Lab was quite impressive. The coffees were affordable and delicious. At one point, I tried grabbing a Starbucks coffee out of their vending machine and it didn't work. I think I paid less for the coffee I ordered at Grounds Control then in the machine, so.
The Space Center was very cool. Their exhibits were well done and I loved roaming around their shuttle replica of Independence outside. My favorite part however, was completely free and random. When we walked into the museum that morning, we read a sign that said, "Meet an Astronaut Day."
Around lunchtime, we funneled into a room that looked like a college lecture hall. Don Thomas, an astronaut from a few Columbia and Discovery missions, talked to us about his experience. It was way cool and unexpected. I definitely recommend going out of your way to visit on a Meet an Astronaut Day!
I'd definitely recommend eating a heavy breakfast before your museum trip or planning a late lunch, since each day the museum opens at 10am. If you're doing lunch, you've got to head to Sam's Boat.
Sam's Boat is an out of this world Gulf Coast Kitchen + Sports Bar. The greatest part is that it is right on the water! Another reason to stop here after the museum is this restaurant is only a ten minute drive.
Initially, we did have to wait to be seated, but it was nearly ten minutes to wait. If possible, I'd visit here in between normal meal times to avoid a long wait. I ordered the grilled shrimp tacos and they were so light and full of flavor. It was definitely one of my favorite seafood meals of the trip!
TIP: Wander outside and down to the dock. There is a beautiful view of Nassau Bay!
day 3 - kemah boardwalk
On our third day, we had to check out of our hotel at a 11am, so we figured resting and hanging out until then was the best idea. This was our biggest day for activities! Around 11, we started our drive to Kemah, Texas. I had seen gorgeous photos of a boardwalk on the water and wanted to visit.
The drive was about 30 minutes, so we stopped at Pelican Grill for lunch in Seabrook, which was right on our way. It was the cutest little breakfast & lunch spot, tucked into a strip mall near the water. Let me tell ya, there are not many tables in this place, but if you have to wait, it will be worth it.
Our food was phenomenal. They were still serving breakfast, so I ordered their chicken and waffles! I about ate the whole thing and the prices were super fair.
With full stomachs, we were ready to hit the road again. Arriving at the Kemah Boardwalk was absolutely magical. The population of Kemah is only 1,800 people, so I was stoked to stroll around the small beach town. This boardwalk is glittered with roller coasters, waterfront restaurants, and food stalls with the classic fair foods.
We spent hours walking the boardwalk, listening to live music, and munching on shrimp. One roller coaster we tried was the Boardwalk Bullet, which was terrifying. I don't mind roller coasters, but this thing was crazy. I could not believe we saw 12 year olds on it. I felt like someone tossed me in a dumpster truck! The Boardwalk Bullet is over the water too, so you definitely feel like you could fall in once or twice!
For a late lunch, we decided on Bubba Gump Shrimp. I had never been! We had a few minute wait, but it didn't bother me at all because we eventually sat on a beautiful wood deck, overlooking the water. Can you guess what we ordered? YES! Shrimp.
The shrimp were good, but I'd put Bubba Gump at #3 compared to the shrimp at the other local restaurants. The view, service, and location still made it an enjoyable choice for an early dinner!
Late afternoon, we left and began driving to our last stop, The Hobby Center. This performing arts hall was in downtown Houston. Our favorite comedian was in town, Theo Von.
I had only been to Houston once before for a mission trip, so I hadn't spent much time downtown. Not knowing the best place to park and not knowing your way around can feel daunting, but getting to the Hobby Center was a breeze. (Or at least Trey made it look like that, lol). We parked in the garage behind the center and it was about $10 to $15, which was well worth it since all we had to do was walk inside. It felt super safe too! I was really impressed.
If I was in Houston again, I'd definitely go back to the Hobby Center. It is so spacious, well staffed, and the interior is classy as heck. Theo was hilarious, per usual. I wish the show was longer! It was a little crowded getting out and we waited a bit in the parking garage, but I'd take that any day then walking in the dark, downtown a city I don't know.
For driving home, we had two options: book a hotel in Houston or drive a bit after the show and then stop to sleep. The show ended around 9:00pm, so we decided to hit the road. If you have a baby and you have a baby free weekend, you're energy levels are just sky high, ya know?
Trey drove us to outside of Dallas and then we found a hotel for the night. On the way, I realized we hadn't eaten at In and Out yet! Thankfully, we found one in The Woodlands and my burger + pink lemonade ended this trip on a perfect note.
Houston was the best place to reset and relax! I hope this guide helps you plan a trip you love and think about often. Texas really has some gems, I cannot wait to visit Austin sometime. Tell me your favorite Houston favorites below, I need them!
Travel bucket list:
Countries visited: 5
states left: 11