Cool Things to Do in Houston to Kick Off the Best Summer
Beer and wine fests, Pride parades, crawfish feasts, and much more Houston happenings this season.
It’s about to get real, real hot in Houston, but that hasn’t stopped locals from having a damn good time before—it’s sure as hell not about to now. We’ve got local landmarks that just seem to get better as the years go by, spring and summertime festivals to hit up, and seasonal flavors to savor (including Cajun and Asian-Cajun mudbugs). Plus other true-to-Houston experiences to check out this season. Whether you’ve lived here all your life or are in town for five minutes, here are the cool things to do in Houston you should do this spring.
Do all the spring and summer festivals and events
Get ready because there are a Texas-sized ton of upcoming events worth marking your calendars for, including but not limited to Comicpalooza (May 26-28), Wine & Food Week (June 5-11 with events through October), the Houston Pride Parade (June 24), Brewsology Beer Fest (July 15), the Taste of Louisiana Festival (returning this summer), Houston Restaurant Weeks (August 1 through Labor Day), and the Galveston Island Wine Festival (September 1-3). Stay tuned to our weekend guides to discover the latest and greatest.
Home Run Dugout is one of the newest interactive sensations in town. Think of it like TopGolf, but for baseball, a high-tech social batting experience with a full-service restaurant and bar to go along with it. Indoor soft-toss batting bays are available by walk-in and reservation, so sign up or show up to smack some balls, drink more than 20 craft beers, enjoy live music and brunch, and catch some rays in the biergarten baseball mini-field.
And maybe rinse with some beer in between. Arguably Houston’s favorite season—that’d be crawfish season—is still kickin through July (some spots keep mudbuggin’ even longer). You’ll definitely want to partake in that while you still can, and don’t forget, real Houstonians suck the head. Among our favorite crawfish slingers are powerhouses BB’s Tex-Orleans, Crawfish & Noodles, Crawfish Cafe, and the usually seasonal Boil House which just announced it’s adding crab and going year-round.
Al fresco arts, music, and theater experience Miller Outdoor Theater has officially opened for its spring/summer season, with performances from big deal companies including the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, and Theater Under the Stars. The best parts: You can pack your own picnic and it’s totally free! Grab a spot on the lawn or score tickets for free covered seating the day before showtime.
Not many tourist attractions are actually worthy of your time, but this totally rad light and sound installation most definitely is. Sittin’ pretty right next to the Shepherd School of Music on the Rice University campus, the acoustically engineered masterpiece, which is designed to host musical performances, is dubbed “Twilight Epiphany” thanks to a trippy LED light sequence. It projects onto and through the structure’s open knife-edge roof just before sunrise and at sunset. Money isn’t needed and neither are reservations, just walk up and take an open seat.
Show your love for homegrown art
Washington Avenue & Theatre District
After a rough few years, Houston’s theater companies, musicians, and artists have been spreading the love and resharing their talents with the world. Now’s the time to visit Theater District favorites like the Alley Theatre, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, Stages, TUTS, and more. Or shoot over to Arts District Houston, where you’ll find over 300 studios and artists camped out at creative hub Sawyer Yards.
Brazos Bend State Park
The stars at night are legit “big and bright” if you head deep in the heart of Brazos Bend State Park, where you’ll find the historic George Observatory, a satellite facility of the Houston Museum of Natural Science that recently re-emerged after a two-year facelift. On Saturday evenings, the deck is open for your star-viewing pleasure, with real-time camera feeds from the observatory’s monster telescopes (you can also bring your own telescopes and binoculars). Snag the required advance tickets for $10 a pop.
Bring live music into your life
Nothing gives you energy like a live concert at one of Houston’s local standbys. There’s crowd-drawing haunts like Warehouse Live, The Continental Club, and the sprawling indoor-outdoor spot White Oak Music Hall, super cool 713 Music Hall, acoustic-kissed AvantGarden, dive vibe Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, underground music venue Last Concert Cafe, and country-lovin’ patio bar The Rustic. Or you could just make your very own live music with some questionable singing at Midtown favorite Glitter Karaoke.
When the Waugh Bridge was built, no one realized it was the perfect structure to host a whole bunch of Mexican free-tailed bats. Well, apparently it was, because locals started noticing a bat colony around ‘99. Before Hurricane Harvey and 2021’s devastating ice storm, the bridge sheltered about 300,000 of the little guys, and though some sadly didn’t make it, a bulk of the colony remains intact. Today, you’ll find the bats hanging tight until they spiral out from the bridge’s crevices on warm nights around sunset. Head to the viewing platform and you may just catch a bat show, which never fails to both fascinate and creep the hell out of anyone you bring along (especially if you’re visiting around Halloween).
Bask in the glory of patio season
Patio season is basically year-round here, and it’s most definitely important to get in some patio action before the heat of Houston summer literally knocks the socks off of us all. Some of our favorite al fresco watering holes include spunky Mexican American haunt Monkey’s Tail, super chill craft beer garden Axelrad, even chiller old school dive West Alabama Ice House, King’s BierHaus’ sprawling biergarten, and Truck Yard, a bonafide adult playground with an actual Ferris wheel. Not to mention our rooftop bars and al fresco restaurant spaces. Go forth and imbibe.
This local jewel is always free and always open to the public, with reservations available for timed entry if you’d like to plan ahead. Hit the art museum for one of the best collections in town, complete with new exhibitions and Insta-worthy standbys like the Dan Flavin installation and the spiritual Rothko Chapel (because we could all use a little zen these days), plus its charming, oak-shaded green space. Though admission is free, donations are more than welcome.
People have been craving nostalgic experiences, and drive-in movies have become today’s comeback kid. Check out pop-up Moonstruck (which rocks views of the Downtown skyline) over in EaDo and the OG Showboat Drive-In in Hockley. Or go for an updated al fresco experience at the super cool Rooftop Cinema Club in Uptown (where you won’t need your car, outside of getting yourself there).
This city’s barbecue game has officially proven its worth, garnering national attention and being just plain delicious. You should probably pay it some attention, too—and you can do so by getting your ‘cue on at as many local barbecue joints as your stomach will allow. Our top picks (straight from the mouths of Houston’s finest pitmasters) include Blood Bros. BBQ, Corkscrew, Feges BBQ, Harlem Road, Khói Barbecue, Truth, and more.
Stretching from Shepherd to Sabine between Allen Parkway and Memorial, Buffalo Bayou Park is one of the best places to take in the views of the city skyline. Wander along the winding hiking and cycling paths and you’ll be rewarded with grassy plateaus framed by trees, massive dog and skate parks, picnic spots and kayak opportunities, and pavilions perfect for al fresco activities and live entertainment. There’s also plenty of cool art installations that add an extra layer of vivacity to the already exhilarating landmark, from the blooming Dandelion Fountain to Monumental Moments, six-foot-four-tall sculptures stationed along the curved Kinder Footpath. Plus, a colossal Underground Cistern that looks like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Take Houston by BCycle Downtown
One of the best ways to get to know a city is by biking it, and if you don’t have wheels of your own, you can always hit up one of the BCycle stations parked throughout the city to rent yourself a ride. It’ll run you $5 for 30 minutes ($7 for an e-bike), or you can go full-on Tour de Houston and sign up for the $25 monthly membership, which will unlock unlimited 60-minute trips for the entire month.