Beat the heat with things to do in Houston when it’s way too hot

Go for the high score when the heat gets too much at Cidercade in East Downtown | Courtesy of Cidercade

Ride out the heat waves of summer with our favorite hot weather ideas and things to do around Houston.

We’re officially knee deep in the typical 10 months of summer that graces H-Town every year. And while plenty are willing to brave the outdoors for some fun in the sun, you’re gonna need a respite from that brutal summer heat.

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

Things to Do in Houston When It’s Hot

Attractions & Destinations

Hit the food court at Post Houston for some indoor dining | 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 heat, 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 primed for outdoors) 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

Saint Arnold’s partially covered outdoor area and cathedral-like indoors offer the best of both worlds | Courtesy Saint Arnold Brewing Company
  • Tiny Champions in East Downtown – This pizza spot along McKinney in East Downtown has quickly become a crowd favorite for their seasonal offerings of pizza pies, homestyle Italian cooking, and tough-to-beat happy hour specials that offer half-off pizzas, oysters, and refreshing craft cocktails. If the outdoor patio is a little too warm for you, then be sure to book a reservation for the bohemian vibe indoors.
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Greater Fifth Ward – The oldest brewery in Houston, Saint Arnold’s massive brewery footprint expanded in 2018, offering an expansive, semi-covered beer garden that works in many types of weather. The cathedral-like space features fanned out tables that provide plenty of room for crowds on gamedays, weekly events, or those in search of stunning skyline views. Stop by to enjoy the storied brewery’s taproom lineup alongside an elevated pub food menu.
  • Houston’s best places to get crawfish – In all corners of the Greater Houston area, you’ll find varieties of these mudbugs that include classic boiled to spicy Viet-Cajun, and everything in between. We love the little critters so much, we’ve compiled more than 65 spots dishing out the seafood delicacies, all summer long.
  • 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. 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.
  • The Pit Room in Montrose – This popular BBQ spot serves Central Texas-style smoked meats, tacos and desserts to the masses, promising a belly-filling plate of 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

Cool off with tiki drinks at Lei Low in the Heights | Courtesy of Lei Low
  • Grand Prize Bar in Museum District – The beloved watering hole off Montrose Boulevard 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 to 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 cocktails to get you through any season in Houston. 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.
  • West Alabama Ice House in Montrose – Nearly 100 years ago, this neighborhood haunt got its start as a literal ice house, selling blocks for home refrigerators, but now provides a smattering of its signature red picnic tables along the street and in the spacious backyard to become one of the city’s bona fide communal watering holes. Swing by for an ice cold brew and pair it with offerings from the on-site taco trucks.
  • 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

Chill out in Second Ward with a drink and Delta-8 | Photo: Justin Jerkins/365Houston
  • Tout Suite in EaDo – Near the intersection of Chartres and Commerce Streets on the cusp of Downtown, this café and bakery offers a 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.
  • The Tipping Point in Downtown – Across from Market Square Park, this tucked-away lifestyle shop slings coffee and a quintessential Houston vibe. Grab a cup to sit in the cozy front room, or take a walk through the rest of the space and find vintage clothing, Houston-centric apparel, sneakers, caps and more.
  • Coral Sword in Eastwood – Level up with an iced 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 heat 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

Minute Maid Park is one of the best places to beat the heat in Houston’s summer | Courtesy of Houston Astros
  • 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.
  • Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park – All summer long, you can find the ‘Stros hitting the diamond on practically any day of the week. Tickets can be had for around $10 on many days and the roof stays closed for most of the season, which means sweet, sweet air conditioning as you root on the hometeam. Keep an eye out for upcoming promotions and you can score limited fan giveaways or enjoy discounts at the ballpark on drinks, hot dogs, and more.
  • 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 any 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 rising temps 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.