Stay warm & cozy with things to do in Houston when it’s way too cold

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Photo courtesy of Anvil Bar & Refuge

Ride out the cold and stay warm with a few of our favorite cold weather ideas and things to do around Houston.

With Arctic fronts, wind gusts, and bone-chilling cold in store, now is the perfect time to cozy up inside, but there’s no need to stay at home.

From museums and movie theaters to dinner and drinks, we’ve got you covered with our list of indoor activities perfectly suited for cold weather in Houston.

Note: In extreme wintery weather, be sure to call ahead and make sure your chosen destination hasn’t opted to close its doors for the day.

Attractions & Destinations

In addition to the museums and theaters you’ll find below, be sure to explore 365 Houston’s Current Museum Exhibitions & Art Installations guide for notable temporary exhibitions that offer a reprieve from the chilly weather.

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) – With more than 300,000 square feet and 63,000 works of art, the MFAH is one of the largest collections in the country. Featuring a cafe filled with food/drinks and James Turrell’s The Light Inside underground tunnel connecting the museum’s two main buildings, it’s easy to see how a museum-goer could spend an entire day (or more) exploring the vast collection without ever needing to step foot outside.
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) – Roar with the dinosaurs in the Paleontology Hall, stare awestruck as a rainbow of winged insects fly past you at the Butterfly Center, check out the African safari exhibit, geek out over the mummies in the Hall of Ancient Egypt and more at this museum with more exhibits that you’ll know what to do with. If you’re banking on a relaxed time basking in the warmth of a museum, visitors should note that the HMNS tends to get extremely packed on the weekends and during the week if schools choose the museum as their field trip destination. Be sure to take advantage of free admission on Thursdays from 3pm to 6pm.
  • The Menil Collection – If you’re looking for a smaller museum to escape both the crowds and the cold, check out this Museum District mainstay. Visitors can wander from room to room taking in the free museum’s Byzantine collection, African antiquities, modern works, and incredible Surrealist selection. What’s more, the Menil campus has a little something for every visitor, with short walks to the Menil Drawing Institute, Dan Flavin installation, Cy Twombly Gallery and Bistro Menil so you won’t have to brave the chill for too long.
  • Houston Center for Photography – With more than 300+ photography workshops and classes and an ongoing stream of exhibitions offered year-round, just about everyone photo-inclined—be they ‘Grammers with a good eye, budding amateur photogs, or skilled talents—has the option to brush up their skills and learn more about the craft. Located in the heart of the Museum District, visitors can escape the cold with workshops ranging from beginner to master level courses, all encouraging collaboration, stimulating dialogue, and promoting photography through instruction, practice, and exhibition.
  • Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) – Located smack dab in the middle of Houston’s eclectic Mid-Main neighborhood, MATCH plays home to a range of Houston’s dance, theater, and arts organizations. With an art gallery and four theaters varying in size from 70 to 350 seats (all indoors), the theater helps bring Houstonians together through art in the neighborhood.
  • Downtown Houston Tunnel System – Though the Tunnels are considered to be a hidden gem, most of the city’s Downtown workforce and tourists use it throughout the week for the network’s convenience and easy sanctuary from Houston’s rainy days, heatwaves, and of course, unseasonably cold weather. Currently linking 95 city blocks in the western half of Downtown, the network of underground, climate-controlled, pedestrian walkways links 80 office towers to hotels, banks, corporate and government offices, restaurants, retail stores, and the Houston Theater District.
  • Space Center Houston – If you need to make a cold day disappear in no time flat, hit the Space Center near Clear Lake to marvel at a plethora of attractions and special exhibitions. Check out a full-scale replica of the space shuttle, get up close and personal with the most powerful rocket ever built and operated in Rocket Park, get a glimpse of what life is like on the International Space Station, take a tram tour of the facilities to see the historic Mission Control and more.

Food

  • Tiger Den – Don’t miss the perfect chance to warm yourself over tonkotsu ramen at this Chinatown staple. A Japanese Ramen and Izakaya restaurant, Tiger Den specializes in house-made noodles and a broth that slowly simmers for 20 hours to create a deep, rich, flavorful experience. Check out a variety of ramen flavors including garlic black bean, original tonkotsu, miso, and spicy miso or unique items from the authentic charcoal grill Izakaya, including grilled beef tongue, pork jowl, chicken hearts, chicken skins, lamb, beef ribeye, grilled squid, shrimp, and a variety of mushrooms.
  • Ramen Tatsu-ya – Try ramen filled with things like corn bombs, yuzu kosho bombs, and Thai chili, and habanero “fire in a bowl”, for that perfect dash of heat when you’re in need during unseasonably cold times.
  • Jinya Ramen Bar – With locations gracing most of the Greater Houston Area, this favorite noodle joint is perfect for warming up over a bowl of ramen and plenty of $3 to $4 bites like Jinya buns, caramelized cauliflower, salmon poke, and crispy chicken.
  • Mai’s Restaurant – This Midtown standby rocks late night hours for those burning the midnight oil, making it a favorite of the post-bar crowd. But if you’re looking to warm up instead of sober up, you’ll find yourself in good hands with a menu filled with grilled pork and shrimp spring rolls, salt-and-pepper wings, piping hot bowls of spicy noodle soup, and bo luc lac, Mai’s signature dish of stir-fried filet mignon with garlic, peppers, and jalapeño.
  • Izakaya – This Japanese gastropub offers plenty of hot pots including an interesting spicy menudo-ramen hybrid that is definitely worth warming your bones with. Located in the heart of Midtown at the intersection of Bagby and Gray Streets, Izakaya hits all the high points with an international take on Japanese-inspired cuisine including the aforementioned ramen, poke, a clever bar program, and even colorful mural décor via the talents of local graffiti artist, Catfish Perez.
  • Simply Pho – Located in the heart of Midtown on Milam Street, this casual Vietnamese cafe is beloved for their large selection (and portions) of pho, mouth-watering broth, delectable Vietnamese sandwiches, fresh ingredients, and very reasonably priced dishes for their size and quality. If you’re looking for vegan options, make your noodle soup  100% vegan pho with veggie broth, tofu, and a plethora of vegetables.

Drink

  • Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails – Get caffeinated, enjoy a cocktail, but, most importantly, have a hot toddy at this cool coffee shop/bar in Mid Main that offers killer brews and refreshing tiki drinks.
  • Grand Prize Bar – Hit up one of Montrose’s favorite watering holes that not only offers hot toddies but a rooftop patio, jukebox, a billiards table, stiff drinks and more. The shelves behind the bar itself are well-stocked and, like many Inner Loop watering holes, they take craft beers and cocktails seriously.
  • Wooster’s Garden – With hot toddy concoctions currently occupying their menu, Wooster’s Garden is the perfect spot to warm yourself with a cocktail. While you’re there, check out the Midtown bar’s selection of brews, which run from the hoppy and bitter to the tart and alluring, and their 42 impressive house cocktails—which pack things like bitters, syrups, and flames—are refreshing and spicy, tropical and tiki, and spirit-forward.
  • Anvil Bar & Refuge – This sleek and handsome bar is pretty much the O.G. of Houston’s craft cocktail scene and their winter cocktails help get you through the cold. Check out the Lock & Key, which features famous Grouse blended Scotch, Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow blended scotch, Drambuie, butterscotch, heavy cream, and hot water while you’re there. In general, this Montrose mainstay is a great spot to check out iconic classics like the Bee’s Knees, Sidecar, Vieux Carre, and Queens Park Swizzle.
  • Lei Low – Don’t be fooled by this cocktail bar’s unassuming exterior; inside this Heights haunt you’ll find a tropical paradise that rocks some serious tiki spirit. With plenty of hot drinks and coffee grogs on their menu, this island-style watering hole is perfect if you’re looking for a winter drink fix. And with a thoughtful approach to classic tiki cocktails, using top-shelf rums and liquors, even if the warm drinks aren’t for you, the knowledgeable mixologists will walk you through the menu to find something that suits you.

Coffee Shops & Dessert Bars

  • Blacksmith – Small in size, but big in taste, Blacksmith not only touts a stellar coffee selection but also dishes decadent breakfast sandwiches and biscuits. Try the bacon, egg, and cheddar croissant or one of many warm, hearty choices available for breakfast and lunch.
  • Southside Espresso – Tucked behind trendy Uchi off Westheimer, Southside makes the list as the smallest coffee house. Plant down and warm your bones with a locally-roasted cup of joe that is to kick the chill of winter.
  • Tout Suite – Located in the heart of EaDo near the intersection of Chartres and Commerce Streets, this café and bakery offers a much-needed warm, friendly environment met with upbeat servers and staff well-trained in the in’s and out’s of the pastry and coffee worlds. Warm up with a locally-roasted coffee, delight in the tasty (and huge) selection of macarons, and swing by early on the weekends to check out the bakery’s brunch goods.
  • The Chocolate Bar – Stop by this local sweet shop with locations in both Rice Village and Montrose for gourmet chocolate, dipped cookies and popcorn, fresh fruit, novelty sweets, and, of course, hot chocolate. While you’re warming yourself over hot chocolate, be sure to check out the impressive lineup of delicious cakes.
  • Siphon Coffee – With ambient natural lighting pushing through the ample glass outline, this clean-cut Montrose ‘shop houses a cozy charm perfect for long hauling it through the day. In addition to the in-house namesake siphoned drip coffee, the shop also offers hot sandwiches to beat the cold.
  • Sweet Paris Crêperie & Café – For sweet treats to get your mind on heat, check out this Rice Village café where you’ll find an array of crepes stuffed with fresh berries and sweet cream, Nutella and marshmallow, and apple cinnamon crème brûlée. There are also warm savory choices packed with things like smoked ham, béchamel, or all the fillings of a chicken enchilada.

Entertainment

  • iPic Theater – Sit back, relax, and transport yourself from the cold to a luxury movie-going experience at iPic theater in River Oaks. iPic offers a modern and stylish environment with a choice of “premium” or “premium plus” seating featuring large, plush leather seats which recline and come with blankets and pillows. At the touch of a button, servers arrive, take your order, and deliver gourmet food curated by James Beard Award-winning chef Sherry Yard and handcrafted cocktails by Master mixologist/advanced sommelier Adam Seger straight to your seat.
  • Studio Movie Grill – If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly movie-going experience, check out Studio Movie Grill in the Energy Corridor. Located in CityCentre, this affordable theater not only offers sanctuary on a cold day, but also a fully-stocked bar and menu filled with delicious starters, salads, and entrees.
  • Alamo Drafthouse – See first-run movies and classics alike at Alamo Drafthouse which currently entertains Houston audiences at its Mason Road location in Katy. ADC provides a movie experience with creature comforts and minimized distraction from fellow moviegoers by way of strict enforcement of a no texting/talking rule during movies. And with waiters and waitresses ready to bring food and drink, including alcoholic beverages, right to your seat, you won’t have to brave the cold outside of the theater to find sustenance.
  • The Escape Game Houston at CityCentre – Escape Game Houston entertains and delights as it puzzles its players. Four distinct 60-minute games and experiences offer you the chance to be an art thief (or catch one), find a prospector’s hidden gold, break out of prison, or get out of a fifth grade classroom early on the last day of school. The Escape Game Houston stands out for its professionally crafted challenges, movie set-worthy game room design, and operating prowess gleaned from running sister locations in Chicago, Nashville, Orlando, Minneapolis, Austin, and elsewhere. Most games are playable by two to eight players, plus one designed for four to twelve. Click here to check out the games, learn more, or reserve a game time.
  • Zero Latency Houston in Memorial – Take a step into the surreal when you put on a virtual reality headset and, together with up to eight players, experience an engrossing video gaming session at Houston’s first free-roam, warehouse-scale, fully immersive virtual reality venue. Battle a zombie outbreak, killer robots in space, or explore a mind-bending mystical world with up to eight players per session. Gaming is open to ages 13 and older, and requires a reservation to play.
  • Balaxi Entertainment in Willowbrook – Located in the Willowbrook area of Northwest Houston, Balaxi Entertainment provides all-day fun with an arcade, affordable admission on any day of the week, and several indoor attractions including; go-karts, mini-golf, climbing wall, lazer maze and more.
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7 Hot Toddies | Photo courtesy of Wooster’s Garden