Deciding where to stay in Houston can be overwhelming. Houston is the most populated city in Texas and the Southern states, as well as the 4th most populous city in the United States. This guide will help you make the best choice possible
As culturally diverse as it is proud of its heritage, Houston holds a prominent place in America’s race to space, westward expansion, and booming tycoon history.
Today visitors and locals can partake in the city’s world-famous foodie scene, visit nearly 200 museums and countless more venues, and savor life like a true Texan.
The Space Center of Houston is one of the city’s top attractions and #1 attraction for international travelers to the area.
Known first and foremost as the home of NASA Mission Control, International Space Station Mission Control, and astronaut training, the educational complex and space museum holds over 400 artifacts from space, boasting the world’s largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples.
Below we’ve compiled a list of the best places to stay in Houston, as well as notable lodging and sightseeing recommendations.
Where to stay in Houston: Best Areas
1. Downtown Houston, where to stay in Houston for first timers
Busy, bustling Downtown is where you will find the beating heart of Houston. Both a business hub and major tourist center, Downtown is where visitors and locals gather to dine, shop, stroll, and explore.
Families of all ages won’t want to miss the Houston Aquarium, which features a shark tank and multiple touch pools, while the nearby Hobby Center for the Performing Arts presents year-round concerts and theatrical shows.
For larger sporting events and concerts, you won’t find a bigger, better venue than the Toyota Center.
If you plan to promenade the Downtown area make sure to check out Discovery Green, a 12-acre public park where guests can picnic and stroll around the one-acre lake and choose from several tree-shaded promenades and trails offering 60-degree views of Downtown Houston.
The park additionally hosts weekly festivals and events such as film screenings to dance concerts. Couples will appreciate the romantic ambience of Discovery Green at night, and can even dine at one of the park’s upscale bistros.
Don’t be fooled by what’s above-ground in Downtown, as there’s plenty to see below. The Downtown Houston Tunnel System lets visitors explore the city’s subterranean world that stretches over 90 blocks via an illuminated 6-mile-long labyrinth.
Tunnel maps can be easily downloaded via a mobile app, and tours are scheduled regularly.
The Heritage Society Museum is a not-to-be-missed stop during your stay in Houston. Located in the Sam Houston Park just off Lamar Street, the site consists of painstakingly restored historic buildings contained within ten pristine acres of land.
Here guests can see what Houston life was like in the 19th century and peek into working kitchens and interiors recreated with antiques and period furnishings, stop by a uniquely constructed timber church, and enjoy the lovely surrounding gardens.
There are a number of hotels, hostels, and private rentals to choose from in the Downtown area, with special rates and event pricing available online.
- ($$$) Four Seasons Hotel Houston
- ($$) Club Quarters Hotel in Houston
- ($) Holiday Inn Houston Downtown, an IHG Hotel
2. Galleria – Uptown, best area to stay in Houston for shopping and nightlife
The Uptown area is Houston’s most popular shopping district, with Texas’s largest mall of over 50 years, The Galleria.
Dazzling residents and visitors alike with its abundance of department stores, designer boutiques, retail chains, beauty salons, post office, and year-round indoor ice rink.
There are two connecting hotels to the Galleria, which ensure instant access to all your shopping needs during your stay in Houston.
The nearby open-air mall of Uptown Park offers additional shopping as well as dining options ranging from Japanese to French, while the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park features an astonishing semi-circular, multi-story fountain surrounded by live oak trees.
Constructed to stand 64 feet tall, the Waterwall was created to mirror the 64-story Williams Tower just a few steps away.
While it may be recognized as a world-famous shopping vista, Uptown is where you can also find the best nightlife and dining options, along with plenty of towering skyscrapers, lush landscaping, and walkable sights to see along your route.
There are plenty of lodging options to be found in Uptown Houston, with malls such as the Galleria offering on-site and connecting hotels for added luxury and convenience.
- ($$$) The Post Oak Hotel
- ($$) Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria
- ($) Holiday Inn Express – Houston – Galleria Area, an IHG Hotel
3. Midtown Houston, where to stay in Houston close to everything
The central Midtown neighborhood is a continuation of the Downtown grid, bordered by Main Street and the METRORail Red Line.
Here guests will find a relaxed but no less exciting city pace, with parks, historic homes, and eateries to enjoy.
The John Henry Kirby Mansion is a jewel of early 20th century design, and is open for public viewing. Built for the namesake entrepreneur, the manor may be nestled among modern skyscrapers and office buildings, but has maintained an identity of its own.
The nearby Houston Fire Museum will be a delight for visitors of all ages; built in 1898, the station was in use until 1969 and opened to the public as a museum a decade later.
Guests can learn about fire safety and preserving the history of Houston’s oldest fire department, as well as view exhibits that include three antique fire trucks and a special station play room for children.
The Elizabeth Baldwin Park makes for a lovely resting spot, with over 4 acres of oak tree-lined trails to hike at your leisure.
A designated recreation spot since 1910, the park is perfect for picnicking, strolling, jogging, and relaxing. (Guests can even take in a game of chess or tennis.)
Lovers of the performance arts will definitely want to check out the Ensemble Theatre’s calendar of events.
Founded by George Hawkins in 1976 to showcase African American works, the venue is now the largest of its kind in the Southwest. The space also hosts youth enrichment and artistic outreach programs.
Another great live music option is the Continental Club, Midtown’s premier music venue that began as a supper club in 1955 and now showcases music acts from around the world.
The Midtown area is a great “home base” where to stay in Houston, thanks to its low-key residential atmosphere and visitor appeal.
Here you will find plenty of rental options and a few hotels.
4. Museum District, best place to stay in Houston for museums
Arguably the cultural pulse point of Houston, the Museum District is where you will find any and every kind of museum and venue.
The Museum of Fine Arts boasts collections spanning over 6,000 years, from Egyptian Antiquity to the age of Impressionism and modern sculpture.
Museums like The Menil Collection, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Moody Center for the Arts, and Asia Society all offer exquisite–and largely free–exhibitions year-round.
For lovers of outdoor beauty, the Cullen Sculpture Garden and Herman Park are highly recommended.
For the science-minded, there is the Cockrell Butterfly Center, Health Museum, and Houston Museum of Natural Science, all three of which offer fun and informative experiences for all ages.
Other notable museums and destinations in the district include the Houston Center for Photography, Holocaust Museum, Diverseworks, and Houston’s own Children’s Museum.
A popular destination for families, the Houston Zoo consists of 55 acres located inside Herman Park. The zoo houses over 6,000 animals from nearly 900 species, and is the second most visited zoo in the U.S., receiving approximately 2.1 million visitors each year.
There are plenty of lodging options to choose from in the Museum District, from larger hotel chains to smaller boutique options and private rentals, all within a conveniently centralized location.
- ($$$) Hotel Zaza Houston Museum District
- ($$) InterContinental Houston Medical Center, an IHG Hotel
- ($) Hilton Garden Inn Houston Medical Center, TX
5. Montrose, coolest neighborhood to stay in Houston
This quirky and colorful neighborhood is famed for its bars, nightclubs, vintage stores, galleries, and fusion eateries, and is home to the hippest of Houston’s indie art scene.
With its graffiti-lined streets and stunning views of the downtown skyline via Eleanor Tinsley Park, it’s no wonder Montrose is quickly coming up as Houston’s most in-demand locale for residents and visitors alike.
Because it shares part of the Museum District, guests will find an assortment of museums and venues situated within the Montrose neighborhood.
The octagon-shaped Rothko Chapel features 14 enormous abstract murals by Mark Rothko, while the Menil Collection has long been celebrated as one of Houston’s most important art institutions.
Montrose is home to the University of St. Thomas.The campus includes several galleries as well as a bookstore, cafe, and park. Exhibitions are ever-revolving, with the campus’s peaceful atmosphere providing a much-needed retreat from the city bustle.
For those who are interested in the printed word, make sure to check out the Printing Museum, which was temporarily closed for repairs following a fire outbreak in 2016.
Buffalo Bayou Park, located on 160 acres of land, is a popular spot for running, biking, sports, and picnicking, with an additional enclosed dog park and–not for the faint of heart–a protected bat sanctuary. The park also has a special performance space and year-round lineup of events.
Stages Repertory Theatre has been an important part of Houston’s performance community since 1978, and has since garnered nationwide acclaim for its bold and innovative approach to theatrical adaptations.
The company provides Houston with year-round musicals, plays, and professional productions, often accompanied by live bands.
Montrose is one of the most exciting and unique places to stay in Houston, and guests will no doubt want to take advantage of the neighborhood’s trendy lodgings that offer a glimpse into local life.
- ($$$) La Colombe d’Or Hotel
- ($$) Buffalo Bayou Apartments by Barsala
- ($) Crowne Plaza Hotel Houston River Oaks, an IHG Hotel
6. Westchase, business area with interesting sights and activities
Part business district and part residential area, Westchase is often overlooked during one’s stay in Houston which is a real pity, as there are plenty of interesting sights and activities to enjoy along with some of Houston’s most mouthwatering dining options.
The interactive Seismique space produces immersive art shows and installations covering over 40,000 square feet. Perfect for guests of all ages, Seismique offers a truly stand-alone experience where light, sound, color, and concept are all made tangible.
For more rigorous activity, Westchase also has axe-throwing and virtual reality spaces, as well as race tracks and smashing rooms.
Eating is a serious pastime in Westchase, so be sure to bring your appetite! Eateries ranging from the trendy and upscale to casual and funky abound, with both local and global fare on offer.
There are a number of craft breweries and wine bars to dip your snifter, with special tasting events and samplings regular happenings.
Though technically located in Galveston, Moody Manor is an easy trip from Westchase and a fantastic excursion for lovers of historic homes and architecture.
Built and inhabited by a family of Texan tycoons during the late Gilded Age, guests can now explore 20 of the mansion’s rooms, learn about life among Houston’s elite, and stroll manor’s the palatial grounds.
Westchase holds a sizable number of big name chain hotels and resorts with very affordable prices, and is an ideal option for families looking for suburban amenities during their stay in Houston.
- ($$) Houston Marriott Westchase
- ($) Sleep Inn & Suites near Westchase
- ($) La Quinta by Wyndham Houston – Westchase
7. Northwest Houston, where to stay in Houston on a budget
The sizable and residential neighborhood of Northwest Houston is one of the best places to stay in Houston on a budget.
A fun stopover no matter one’s age or interests, the ArtCar Museum is renowned for its main showroom that pays homage to post-modern age of car-culture.
Here is where automobiles are merged with art, resulting in an unforgettable and ever-evolving exhibition.
Northwest Houston boasts one of the best dining cultures in the city, with something on the menu for every traveler.
Traditional Texan barbecue, classic Southern American fare, and fusion pairings from around the world can all be found in the Northwest area, with food trucks and year-round festivals an added bonus.
As with many of Houston’s larger areas, the Northwest district has an expansive selection of affordable lodging options, from familiar hotel chains to luxury inns and private rentals.
- ($$) Hotel ZaZa Houston Memorial City
- ($) Homewood Suites By Hilton Houston Memorial
- ($) Sonesta Simply Suites Houston City Centre
8. Energy Corridor, good area for outdoor activities
Owing its name to the housing of major energy corporate headquarters, the Energy Corridor is an idyllic meeting place for immersive activities and family-friendly to-dos.
The Energy Corridor is home to a sizable number of energy firms and plays a key role in the operation of its energy companies, with the neighborhood boasting the second largest employment center in the region.
Ease of commuting (Downtown Houston is less than 20 miles to the east), ample dining options, and thousands of acres of parkland are just some of the area’s draws, and visitors should have no trouble carving out a full day’s itinerary during their stay in Houston.
George Bush Park covers an eye-opening 7,800 acres and provides some of the city’s best hiking, biking, and sports facilities, with additional playgrounds, pavilions, and even a shooting range.
For a smaller, more low-key setting there is the 500-acre Terry Hershey Park, which conveniently runs through the Corridor’s connecting neighborhoods, and is perfect for picnicking and taking it easy.
The Energy Corridor District features brand-name hotel and motel chains, with longer-stay suites and rentals available as well.
If you are looking for a unique area targeted towards families and residential activities, you won’t find a more appropriate place to stay in Houston.
- ($$) Embassy Suites by Hilton Houston-Energy Corridor
- ($) Fairfield Inn & Suites Houston Memorial City Area
- ($) Home2 Suites by Hilton Houston Energy Corridor
9. George Bush Intercontinental Airport, where to stay in Houston near the airport
Serving the Greater Houston metropolitan area, the George Bush Intercontinental Airport frequently ranks among the best airports in the U.S. thanks to its state-of-the-art amenities and ease of hotel transportation.
Visitors looking to lodge near the airport will find every imaginable hotel option, with additional shuttle, transportation, and visitor services widely available.
Spending a day in the airport area is more than doable, with a number of museums, outdoor excursions, and dining options to make it worth your while.
Located just 4 miles from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens have been referred to as “Monet’s garden in Texas,” while the Cypress Trails Ranch, located within 2 miles of the airport, offers horseback riding lessons and guided trail excursions.
The Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Reserve, also just 2 miles from the airport, offers a quiet and convenient haven for families and nature devotees.
For a more macabre experience there is the gothic National Museum of Funeral History.
- ($$) Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental
- ($) Fairfield Inn & Suites Houston Intercontinental Airport
- ($) TownePlace Suites Houston Intercontinental Airport
Traveler’s Tip: Know Before You Go
While Houston has a reliable METRO bus and rail service, it can be tricky getting around outside of immediate downtown zones.
If you plan to do some serious exploring both within and outside of Houston, it may be worth your while to look into a car rental service (if you don’t plan to drive) to optimize your time and convenience.