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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 H-Town with 150+ hot weather ideas and things to do during summer around Houston.

Temps are in triple digits in Houston, and that means summer has officially arrived. 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 summer activities perfectly suited for hot weather in Houston.

Things to Do in Houston When It’s Hot

A Texas-shaped pool with skyscrapers in the background
The Texas-shaped lazy river at Marriott Marquis Houston | Courtesy of Marriott International

Snag a day pass for Houston’s best pools

Summer in Houston doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire time indoors.

In fact, several of the city’s signature hotels and resorts open their refreshing pools to the public—even if you’re not an overnight guest at the hotel. All you’ll need is a day pass, which can be purchased for each of the eleven pools that we’ve gathered in our summer pool guide.

Find a spot nearest you, gather your family and friends, and take a dip at some of the best spots for lazy river laps, tropical drinks and places to perfect your tan in Houston.

The Carlos Cruz-Diez tunnel at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston | Photo: Justin Jerkins/365Houston

Head indoors at the city’s cultural escapes

When the temps top out, Houston’s world-class museums are known to pack world-class air conditioning while delivering captivating cultural experiences.

From masterpieces of fine art to awe-inspiring scientific wonders, these museums serve as immersive sanctuaries of creativity, knowledge, and chilly escapes.

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in Museum District – The MFAH campus has seen sprawling additions in recent years, packing more than 60,000 works of art across hundreds of thousands of square feet, making it one of the largest collections in the country. Even better, thanks to a series of illuminating underground tunnels designed by artists James Turrell, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Olafur Eliasson, you can shuffle between buildings without ever having to bear the elements topside. Take advantage of the upscale and casual restaurants on offer to make a full day of it. Admission is $19, with discounts available to students and age groups; free for ages 12 and under. Free admission on Thursdays.
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science in Museum District – Across from Hermann Park, this longtime staple of the city’s museum scene offers a wide-ranging 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. Admission is $25; $16 for ages 3 to 11; free for ages 2 and under. Free admission on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm.
  • Menil Collection in Montrose | FREE – For a smaller, tightly curated collection to escape the heat, check out this nestled-in-Montrose museum. Explore the collection of prominent Houston art connoisseurs Dominique and John de Menil, featuring a renown Surrealist gallery, African and Byzantine antiquities, and monumental artworks by pivotal figures in Modern and Contemporary art. Brief walks around the campus will also take you to the Menil Drawing Institute, Dan Flavin installation at Richmond Hall, Cy Twombly Gallery and Rothko Chapel. Admission is always free.
  • Space Center Houston in Clear Lake – About twenty minutes south of Downtown Houston lies the headquarters for NASA’s Mission Control and one of the world’s birthplaces of space exploration. Here, you can peer into the vastness of space through interactive exhibitions, a vast collection of real artifacts and moon rocks from various missions, powerful rockets that are staggering in scale, and tram tours that will get you inside facilities to see how astronauts and NASA personnel train and conduct vital scientific work. Advance tickets are $29.95; $24.95 for ages 4 to 11; free for ages 3 and under.
Cool off with some icy treats from the roving Unicorn Snow Cones truck | Courtesy of Unicorn Snow Cones

Beat the heat with Houston’s best eats & treats

Weather you’re looking for something icy to take the edge off Houston’s heat, or you’re ready to dig into quintessential summer cuisine, we have you covered with our guides below that unlock more than 100 restaurants and must-try hotspots.

  • Snow Cone Shops in Greater Houston – On Houston’s hottest days, it’s tough to beat icy treats bursting with fruity flavors and sweet drizzles. Fortunately, in every corner of the city, you can find pop-up stalls and trusted shops scooping up shaved ice and snow cones to help you cool off. We’ve gathered more than 20 of them to stop by nearest you.
  • Daiquiris & Frozen Margaritas in Greater Houston – And if snow cones sound good, but you want to mix up your icy treats with a tropical touch of alcohol, then we’ve found ten standbys across the city where you can get a fruity frozen fix to-go.
  • Asian Cuisine Gems in Greater Houston – Representing countries from across the Asian continent, our guide to 15 of the city’s top restaurants for Asian cuisine will take you around the world right from the plate in front of you.
  • Houston’s Best Places for Crawfish – You can still take advantage of the plumpest crawdads before the season officially ends in July, but even then, many of Houston’s go-to places for the delicious Gulf Coast delicacies will keep serving them year-round. From classic boils to spicy Viet-Cajun flavors and everything in between, we’ve gathered more than 60 spots across Greater Houston where you can shuck to your heart’s content.
  • Korean BBQ Highlights of Houston – Summer is grilling weather, but why not take the barbecuing indoors? Houston is full of Korean BBQ hotspots, and we’ve highlighted ten of the best across the city where you can grill delicious meats at your table in a unique communal eating experience.
  • Post Houston in Downtown – This massive complex on the northwest corner of Downtown already boasts must-try culinary delights in its neon-gilded international food hall with local offerings like Central and South American fare from Andes Cafe, West African delicacies from ChòpnBlọk, Gulf seafood with a Norwegian bent at Golfstrømmen, and much more. Explore the spacious interiors, find a nook to chill out, or take a peek at the Skylawn for some of the best views of Downtown.
Lei Low in the Heights offers a tropical-fueled way to beat the heat | Courtesy of Lei Low

Raise a cold one at bars & nightlife hotspots

When the sultry summer nights set in, Houston’s nightlife scene really comes alive at lively rooftop bars, cherished watering holes, and boozy staples of the city.

Take to any of our picks below and you’ll find cool cocktails, frozen delights and laidback vibes where you can ride out Houston’s heat.

  • Top Patios & Rooftop Bars in Houston – These 15 picks are perfect in great weather, but many of them also offer immaculate summer vibes from downhome patios to cocktails among the skyscrapers.
  • 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—a tropical concoction of macademia nut liqueuer, lime and tiki butter with banana-infused Jamaican rum.
  • 8th Wonder Brewery, Distillery & Dispensary in EaDo – Take a triple dip at the popular EaDo brewery that reps Houston through and through. Enjoy signature beers at the indoor/outdoor taproom, or hop over a block to the distillery for craft cocktails, cannabis-infused drinks, and other chill goodies. Make sure to stop by some of the city’s iconic sculptures parked out back in the brewery’s patio.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Chill out in Second Ward with a drink and Delta-8 | Photo: Justin Jerkins/365Houston

Ride out the heat at Houston’s laid-back coffee shops

Few things are more sublime in Houston summers than an iced coffee, and the city is full of cozy coffee shops doling out drinks for any taste, and offering a chill respite from the oppressive heat.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • More laid-back Houston hangouts – If you’re studying up for a summer session, need a new remote work spot, or just looking to chill out for a little while, our guide to more than 20 spots will help you settle in during the summer.
Minute Maid Park is one of the best places to beat the heat in Houston’s summer | Courtesy of Houston Astros

Soak up some fun & games across the city

Get out of scorching temps this summer and into some of the city’s classic ways to beat the heat while having fun—plus a few new immersive entertainment experiences that have popped up in recent years.

  • Department of Wonder in Sugar Land – Equal parts theater, arcade, art gallery, theme park and escape room, Department of Wonder at Sugar Land Town Square defies simple categorization. Weaving together wondrous environments, memorable characters and hands-on exploration, this one-of-a-kind experience immerses visitors in an interactive realm of fantasy designed to engage your senses and ignite your imagination. Together with your crew, you’ll decipher intricate puzzles, unravel mysteries and embark on an adventure that rewards curiosity at every turn.
  • 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 home team. 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.

Find More Things to Do in Houston All Year Long

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