The Coolest Things to Do in Houston After Dark

Sweat *slightly* less.

Guess what? Matchmaking platform just ranked the sweatiest cities in the US, and Houston came out in the top ten (no. six to be exact). We know that’s not exactly awesome news, but we do have a tiny sliver of silver lining for you—turns out, Houston is way less sweaty by night, and the city is a pretty excellent place to be after dark. While happy hour-ing your face off until you turn into a literal night owl is always a super fun time, there are many more unexpected plays to run during your post-sunset time. Stargazing in the park, catching a jazzy burlesque show, anteing up at a poker club until the wee hours of the night, it’s all on the agenda while the rest of the city sleeps.

Social Beer Garden HTX
Social Beer Garden HTX

Dance like no one’s watching (or listening) at a Silent Disco

Fun-loving hangout Social Beer Garden puts on a funky Silent Disco every fourth Saturday of the month, with 12 live DJs spinning tunes for your ears only (okay, and anyone else who dons the three-channel headset). The fun starts at 9pm.

Let loose at a burlesque show

Because burlesque would feel kinda weird in the daytime, the night is the perfect time to catch a show by a sultry burlesque troupe. Swanky dance and nightclub Hencke & Pillot hosts alluring burlesque and titillating cabaret performances from Red Velvet Entertainment on Thursdays-Sundays, with tickets starting at $35.

Unwind over hookah

Various locations
A longtime westside favorite, Cafe Mawal is a Mediterranean restaurant by day and happening hookah lounge by night, rocking traditional Bedouin tents, comfy pillows, and festivities till 1 am seven days a week; and the nearby Nomad is a sultry hookah and dining experience until 2 am, with house mixes from the Mesmerize hit with white gummy bear, lemon, mint, and ambrosia flavors to the white peach and kiwi kissed Astroworld. For a real chill time, Midtown’s laidback Cafe Layal is it. And those looking for a pump-up experience can check out the patio, balcony bar, and kitchen Lost & Found as well as soon-to-open hookah, music, and cocktail lounge Ratio.

george observatory
George Observatory

Go stargazing in the park

Brazos Bend State Park
Escape the city lights and go stargazing with George Observatory’s telescopes in Brazos Bend State Park. Depending on the season and time of the month, you can experience incredible phenomena from bright meteors and eclipses to Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s cloud belts. Saturday Stargazing goes down at 9 pm and 10 pm for $10 a person (plus park entrance fees).

Have a moonlit movie experience on a rooftop

Settle in for an outdoor movie experience at the Rooftop Cinema Club, which rocks skyline views and a curated selection of cult films, classics, and new releases. The latest lineup includes flicks like Purple Rain, La La Land, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the old school Top Gun. Snag some tickets in advance (the shows are known to sell out), hit the bar, dig into endless popcorn, and show up early to play some corn hole or giant Connect Four. Those looking for a Drive-Inn experience can check out Moonstruck Drive In and Showboat Houston.

Have a sensible chuckle at a comedy show

Various locations
The Houston Improv—known for booking national acts—is always a good choice, but there are some other, more underground comedic options to explore, too. Hit The Secret Group, half bar, half entertainment venue with stand-up comedy shows and open-mic nights; go the way of improv (and try a class yourself) at Station Theater; and check out the famous Open Mic Mondays and The Riot Comedy Show (Thursday - Sunday) at Rudyard’s.

Bust out your running man at an ‘80s dance party

Weekends are throwback nights at Etro Nightclub with “I Love the ‘80s” video and DJ dance parties every Friday and Saturday and an ‘80s Tribute Night the last Friday of every month. This is your chance to dust off your funkiest dance moves and the neon-coated everything you’ve been stashing since your last college mixer. Doors open at 9 pm Thursday - Sunday, and the tubular times go till 2 am.

joystix games
Joystix Classic Games & Pinballs

Get PacMan Fever at the arcade

During its PacMan Fever events on the first and last Friday of each month, Joystix Classic Games and Pinballs opens up its arcade showroom for unlimited gameplay from 9 pm to 2 am (21-and-up, $15 per person at the door). You’ll find both new and vintage games, including classics like NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat 2, The Simpsons, Guitar Hero, and Mario Kart DX, and you can always pop over to the adjoining Eighteen Twenty Lounge for drinks. Nearby in the East End, Cidercade is another fun option for late night boozing and arcading.

Burn the midnight oil (or drink wine) at a late-night cafe

Various locations
Some of Houston’s coolest coffee shops keep late-night hours for those last minute study sessions and chill after-hours hangs. Sip beers and spend the night playing board games at EaDo’s Coral Sword, cozy up for Greek wines and good conversation at the quaint Agora cafe in Montrose, or turn your coffee into cocktails at Midtown’s beloved Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails.

Ante up at the poker table

You’ll find members-only poker clubs all over Houston, including two popular ones in the Galleria area. Open 24 hours a day, 101 Poker Richmond hosts daily and weekly tourney alongside a full bar and kitchen; and Prime Social Poker Club rocks 24/7 tournament poker, live poker, backgammon, chess, cribbage, dominoes, and pool throughout its facilities, as well as a full bar, upscale lounge, and food delivered straight to your table so you can keep on WINNING.

Dine with divas at Hamburger Mary’s

Dinner, dancing, and drag shows are on the menu at this local all-are-welcome hangout, which moved its digs to the bustling streets of downtown. Head here for a lineup of flamboyant dining experiences, from “Dining with the Divas” drag shows and “Cynful” Fridays to sing shows and trivia nights.

Slurp some late-night pho

Various locations
We’ve got some of the country’s best Vietnamese restaurants in our backyard, and bellying up for some pho before you go belly down for the night is a quintessential Houston experience. Just hit your nearest after-hours Vietnamese joint, including favorites like Mai’s, Pho Binh by Night, and Bun Bo Hue Duc Chuong Midnight; or switch gears and get your noodle fix at Ninja Ramen.

Bowl & Barrel
Bowl & Barrel

Knock down pins (or swing some clubs) while you drink

Bowling has made a big nightlife comeback thanks to a score of “fancy” bowling alleys, including CityCentre’s Bowl & Barrel, Memorial’s Bowlmor, Downtown’s 810 Billiards & Bowling, Pinstripes over in River Oaks (which offers bocce, too), and nostalgic good time spot Palace Social, a remake of the legendary Palace Bowling Lanes over in Bellaire. Each rocks craft brews, cocktails, and tasty pub grub to keep the night interesting even when you’re living that #GutterballLife. If golf is more your thing, then the totally fun interactive golf game, TopGolf, is your new thing.

Hike by moonlight at the Arboretum

Memorial Park
The Arboretum at Night series invites y’all to experience the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center after dark, offering night hikes and up-close encounters with live nocturnal animals (plus adult beverages for those 21+). There are a few select dates throughout the year, so be on the lookout for the next available opportunity to enjoy a safe/boozy hike at night.

Relax in a Topaz Cave or Igloo Ice Room

Northwest Houston
Before hitting the hay, hit the GangNam Spa: a 24-hour luxury wellness experience rooted in Korean culture, with over 30,000 square feet of specialty baths, saunas, treatment rooms, lounging space, and dining areas. That includes things like the Topaz Cave, a private relaxing space made of Topaz stones to improve memory and mental concentration and relieve stress; a Himalayan Salt Room made of 350 million-year-old natural salt base rocks for healing; and an Igloo Ice Room to close the pores, smooth skin, and enhance skin elasticity. Access the facilities for $39 on weekdays and $49 on weekends (but note that spa services will cost extra).

white oak music hall confetti
White Oak Music Hall

Catch some live music around town

Various locations
No matter what scene you’re after, Houston’s got a live music venue for you. Check out the lineup at the indoor/outdoor White Oak Music Hall, located right in the Heights with patio bar The Raven Tower right next door. Over on the eastside, The Continental Club and Warehouse Live (EaDo) and Satellite Bar (East End) are usually hosting a rock show of some kind; Downtown plays home to Bayou Music Center, House of Blues, and the hot new 713 Music Hall; Midtown’s rocking out at places like Continental Club and Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge; and you’ll often find big name acts at spots like the Toyota Center, NRG Stadium, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands. Country fans will also want to check out The Rustic (Downtown) and McGonigel's Mucky Duck (Upper Kirby); and acoustic folk acts take the stage at local institution Anderson Fair.

Get kinky on a Tuesday

Numbers Nightclub hosts a wide variety of events (like Doomsday Wrestling, for instance), but Kinky Tuesdays are one of its most popular. You’ll get a kinky-yet-classy and respectful glimpse into the BDSM lifestyle, with local vendors and performers, rope classes, and an open stage for aerial performers. There’s even dungeon equipment available—and if you have to ask what that means, you’re probably not ready for it. Doors open at 8 pm, and the cover is $10 for singles and $15 for couples.

sam houston dog race
Sam Houston Race Park

Watch the wieners run at Sam Houston Race Park

Betting on horses isn’t the only attraction at this race track; you can also sip $2 beer cans and mini wines every Friday from 7 pm to 9 pm. Or you could swing by for the live Yorkie, Corgi, Pug, and Wiener races, too—it’s quite possibly the cutest way to spend an evening in Houston.

Take a twilight tour of the Bayou

Buffalo Bayou
In the summertime, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership offers 30-minute twilight boat rides along the Buffalo Bayou ($15 for adults, the last tour departs at 8 pm). You’ll start at Allen’s Landing, then escape the city and glide along Buffalo Bayou’s waters, looking out for graceful herons, jumping fish, and if you’re lucky (or maybe not), alligators chillin’ on the banks.

Wortham Theater Center
Wortham Theater Center

Take in some live theatre

Various locations
While you can always check out the current season of productions in the Theater District, with venues including The Hobby Center (favorite plays and Broadway productions), Alley Theatre (Tony Award winner of Outstanding Regional Theatre), Wortham Theater Center and Jones Hall (homes to the Houston Ballet and Houston Symphony, respectively), there are a number of smaller production companies that are worth a visit, too.

Over in EaDo, the funky Rec Room tells innovative stories through theatre, music, dance, and comedy; Midtown’s MATCH Houston takes any pretension out of the theatre experience, with affordable options in music, theatre, dance, visual art, and film; and 4th Wall Theatre Company offers cutting-edge live theatre and a Pay What You Can performance of every production (on Mondays in the last week of the run) over in Arts District Houston.

Sign up here for our daily Houston email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who guesses she isn’t sleeping anymore. Stay up with her at @brookiefafa on IG or @brookeviggiano on Twitter.