Warm up & stay cozy with things to do in Houston when it’s way too cold

Take to the underground tunnels and escape the cold at MFAH | Photo: Justin Jerkins/365 Houston

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

It’s that time of year when Houston starts flirting with Arctic fronts, wind gusts and bone-chilling cold, which also makes this the perfect time to cozy up inside—but you don’t have to do it at home.

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

Note: in extreme wintery weather, it’s always a great idea to call ahead and make sure your chosen destination hasn’t opted to close its doors for the day.

Things to Do in Houston When It’s Cold

Attractions & Destinations

The Skylawn at POST Houston | Courtesy of POST Houston

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

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) in Museum District – With more than 300,000 square feet and 63,000 works of art, the MFAH is one of the largest collections in the country. Plus, across its multiple exhibition spaces (including its latest in the Kinder Building), casual and upscale restaurants, and illuminating underground tunnels from James Turrell, Carlos Cruz-Diez, and Olafur Eliasson, you’ll never have to bear the elements above ground to explore the lofty holdings of MFAH. $19; $12 for college students and ages 13 to 18; free for ages 12 and under.
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) in Museum District – A longtime staple in Houston’s museum scene, HMNS offers a sprawling indoor experience filled with towering fossils in the Paleontology Hall, a colorful spectacle of fluttering insects in the glass pyramid of the Butterfly Center, unearthed artifacts of ancient civilizations, the ornate tombs of Egyptian royalty, and much more. Time your visit and avoid crowds by hitting up HMNS on weekdays or during the free admission hours on Thursdays from 3pm to 6pm. Prices vary by exhibit; permanent exhibition tickets are $25 for ages 12 and up; $16 for ages 3 to 11; free for ages 2 and under.
  • Menil Collection in Montrose | FREE – For a scaled down collection to escape the crowds and cold, check out this nestled-in-Montrose museum. Explore the collection of prominent Houston connoisseurs, Dominique and John de Menil, which features a renown Surrealist gallery, African and Byzantine antiquities, and monumental artworks by pivotal figures in Modern and Contemporary art. If you can brave the brief walks, delve deeper in the Menil campus to see the nearby Menil Drawing Institute, Dan Flavin installation at Richmond Hall, Cy Twombly Gallery and Rothko Chapel.
  • Space Center Houston in Clear Lake – Peer into the vastness of space at the headquarters for NASA’s Mission Control and educational zone where you can take in the history of space exploration, get a look at real artifacts from various missions, touch a real moon rock, marvel at the staggering scale of powerful rockets, and (if you’re bundled up properly) hop aboard a tram tour of the facilities and see Mission Control personnel keeping the astronauts safe aboard the ISS. $29.95; $24.95 for ages 4 to 11; free for ages 3 and under.
  • Post Houston in Downtown – Opened in 2021, this massive complex on the northeast corner of Downtown brings multiple levels of eating, drinking, shopping, and even a concert hall. Explore the chic interior, bunker down for some remote work, or hop atop the Skylawn for some of the best views of Downtown and the night sky.

Restaurants & Cafés

Grab a bowl of pho on a cold afternoon | Courtesy of Simply Pho
  • Tiger Den in Asiatown – Cold weather means ramen weather, and this Asiatown staple is tough to beat with house-made noodles and a rich tonkotsu broth simmered for 20 hours to create a deep, flavorful experience. Check out the variety of ramen flavors like garlic black bean and miso broth, plus unique items from the grill like beef tongue, pork jowl, chicken hearts, lamb, beef ribeye, grilled squid, shrimp and a variety of mushrooms. Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 11pm.
  • Jinya Ramen Bar at Multiple Locations – With spots that stretch from Midtown toward Cypress, Jinya features packed bowls of ramen fixin’s with a variety of soul-warming broths and rich flavors, along with meat options like chicken or shrimp wonton, fatty pork, ground pork soboro and tofu. Don’t be afraid to step into their extended menu with delicious fried offerings, pork gyoza, bun, shishito peppers and more. Hours vary by location.
  • Simply Pho in Midtown – Along Milam Street, this casual Vietnamese café is beloved for its extensive menu of pho options (with huge portions), banh mi, and affordable dishes with fresh ingredients that can be enjoyed in their spacious dining area. If you’re looking for vegan options, you can make your noodle soup 100% vegan with veggie broth, tofu and a plethora of vegetables. 11am to 10pm daily.
  • Finn Hall in Downtown – If you’re looking to appease all in your party, then swing through Downtown’s Finn Hall for a selection of eateries that span the globe with traditional cold weather faves. Munch on the pre-Columbian fare of Mexico from Papalo Taqueria, grab a bowl of delicious pho from Pho Binh, dig into Korean cuisine at Yong, and enjoy fried chicken and pizza at LIT Chicken and Pizza Zquare. Hours vary by restaurant.
  • La Guadalupana in Montrose – The family-owned Mexican mainstay on Dunlavy delivers all your cold weather dishes, including pozole and caldo de mariscos, alongside a spicy breakfast menu and traditional Tex-Mex faves. Make sure you swing by the sweets counter for some pan dulce and savory breads on your way out. Tuesday to Sunday 7am to 2pm.
  • The Pit Room in Montrose – This popular BBQ spot serves Central Texas-style smoked meats, tacos and desserts to the masses, promising a full plate of belly-warming barbecue and sides. And, if you want to stick around awhile, head next door to The Patio at the Pit Room and enjoy easygoing vibes with a cold one, karaoke, and outdoor patio seating.

Bars & Nightlife

Grab a drink and head to the lanes at Palace Social in Bellaire | Courtesy of Palace Social
  • Grand Prize Bar in Museum District – The beloved watering hole off Montrose Boulevard churns up cold weather drinks for your hot toddy fix, but also features a rooftop patio, billiards table, photo booth, deep pours and a wide selection of bottled and draft beer. The hip haunt also serves up craft cocktails for you get cozy with on the upstairs or downstairs lounge areas.
  • Anvil Bar & Refuge in Montrose – This sleek bar is pretty much the O.G. of Houston’s craft cocktail scene since it opened in 2009, serving up the perfect winter cocktails to get you through the cold. Take your pick from the periodically-updated Original cocktails, or dig into the 100 List, which features classic cocktails and familiar favorites divided by guided sections. The bar staff here are some of the best in the city and can help pair you with the perfect drink if you ask.
  • Lei Low in the Heights – Don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior because inside, you’ll find this colorful Heights haunt is a tropical paradise rocking some serious tiki spirit. Toast to rum-based tiki drinks like mai tais and zombies, plus hot drinks like the hot-buttered banana—macademia nut liqueuer, lime and tiki butter with banana-infused Jamaican rum.
  • 8th Wonder Brewery & Distillery in EaDo – Take a double dip at this EaDo brewery and adjacent distillery from the thoroughly hometown crew at 8th Wonder. Enjoy some of the brewery’s signature beers at the indoor/outdoor taproom, or hop over to the distillery side across Dallas Street and enjoy cocktails crafted with 8th Wonder’s gin, whiskey, vodka or rum. Make sure to say hi to the Fab Four sculptures parked out back.
  • Buffalo Bayou Brewing in Sawyer Yards – A destination brewery in Houston, this three-story brewing floor, restaurant, and rooftop patio provides plenty of space for visitors across three bars with dozens of taps. The Downtown skylines from the rooftop are tough to beat at other place in town, so make sure to swing by if you’ve never been.
  • Palace Social in Bellaire – The former Palace Bowling Lanes has gotten a makeover, turning it into a nightlife destination with full food service, craft cocktails, and good times while bowling, playing arcade games, diving into VR and video games, and more. Swing by Monday to Thursday from 3pm and 6pm and capitalize on great happy hour specials.

Coffee Shops & Dessert Bars

The seating area at Segundo Coffee Lab | Photo: Justin Jerkins/365Houston
  • Southside Espresso in Montrose – Tucked behind the trendy Uchi and across from the brand new Montrose Collective, this quaint coffee shop offers cozy digs and an exceptional cup of coffee roasted from Fusion Beans. The interior is quite small, so head over early to stake out a spot if you plan to stay for long. Free parking is available at the Montrose Collective garage across the street.
  • Tout Suite in EaDo – Near the intersection of Chartres and Commerce Streets on the cusp of Downtown, this café and bakery offers a much-needed warm, friendly environment with spacious seating that sprawls across two tiers, and a selection of locally-roasted coffee, tasty macarons and pastries, and savory brunch goodies.
  • Siphon Coffee in Montrose – Filled with beautiful ambient light, this clean-cut coffee shop on West Alabama houses a cozy charm perfect for long hauling through the day. In addition to the in-house siphoned drip coffee (for which it gets its namesake), the shop also offers hot sandwiches, tacos, toast and pastries.
  • Coral Sword in Eastwood – Level up with a hot coffee drink at this vibrant coffee shop on Telephone Road that’s splashed with DUAL murals from the Houston artist. Fans of tabletop games, video games and Dungeons & Dragons will find a respite from the cold here, as you can shop dozens of new games, or head to the used game pile and get the dice rolling at your own table.
  • Common Bond Bakery at Multiple Locations – What began in 2014 on the corner of Dunlavy and Westheimer has grown into several locations across the inner loop area and an expansion into Spring. The bakery, which also provides bistro menus and on-the-go service at various locations, is known for its intricate cakes and pastries, fresh-baked breads, muffins, tarts and macarons.
  • Segundo Coffee Lab in Second Ward – This low-key spot on Milby Street is housed in the Ironworks building (which is also home to a vintage resale shop and other small businesses) and serves up delicious coffees and teas that can be splashed with a dose of CBD or Delta-8. Swing by early for breakfast tacos or take advantage of the sweet pastries they have in the front counter.

Entertainment

Enjoy a drink then take the high score on more than 275 arcade games in Second Ward | Courtesy of Cidercade
  • iPic Theater in River Oaks – Recline, relax and transport yourself into a luxury movie-going experience in River Oaks. Catch the latest blockbusters and kill a few hours in the modern and stylish environment of iPic Theater, as you burrow into the plush leather seats with gourmet food and craft cocktails available through seat-side service.
  • 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.
  • The Escape Game Houston in CityCentre & the Galleria – Find something else to escape in addition to the weather at either location of this popular Escape Game that operates across the country. Five games play out in 60-minute increments in highly detailed settings, offering players the chance to be an art thief (or catch one), find a prospector’s hidden gold, break out of prison, and more. Most games are playable for 2 to 8 players, with one game designed for 4 to 12.
  • Kaboom Books in the Heights – Cozying up with a book is a time-honored tradition in cold weather, and what better way to find your next read than to dive into the curated collection at Kaboom Books in Woodland Heights? With more than 75 subsections of books that reach from floor to ceiling, Kaboom offers hours of book browsing and author hunting within its humble storefront along Houston Avenue.
  • Theater District in Downtown – You don’t need to wait for cold weather to find an excuse to tuck away in Downtown’s Theater District for a few hours. Find your seat at one of the stellar upcoming productions taking place at Alley Theatre, Jones Hall, Wortham Center, Hobby Center, Houston Grand Opera or any of the other theater companies that can be found throughout town.
  • Cidercade in Second Ward – Rule the sticks at this bar and arcade a few blocks from Downtown that offers more than 275 new and classic arcade games; a drink menu featuring 48 taps of hard ciders, kombuchas, seltzers and smoothies; and a family-friendly atmosphere until 8pm. No kitchen service is available, but guests are welcome to bring their own food.

Find More Things to Do in Houston All Year Long

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A longtime Houstonian, Justin Jerkins keeps an eye out for all sorts of happenings in H-Town, including breweries, sports, concerts, must-see destinations and much more while serving as Editor-in-Chief of 365 Things to Do in Houston.