When you go to a known tourist destination, you usually can see right away why it’s known – it could be pretty popular for a particular view, or it’s a historic place, or it’s a place that serves really delicious food!
But these places also tend to be pretty crowded most days, and some of these types of places also get very commercialized and “touristy”.
Houston’s Hidden Gems
If you’re the type of traveler that wants a more authentic and perhaps “raw” experience, you may wonder what the locals are up to.
Where do locals go – locally – when they want to eat something delicious? When do they want to see something pretty? When do they want to relax or have fun?
If you’re planning a trip to Houston, Texas (or maybe you’re in Houston now) and you’re wondering what is there to see and do (and eat!), here’s a Hidden Gems list – written by locals for tourists – of the best places in the city they should definitely check out!
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Houston’s Downtown Underground
If you’re not a Houston local, then you may not know that Houston has miles of amazing tunnels underground that are filled with retail stores, restaurants, and even movie theaters!
It’s literally a hidden gem and a great place to explore!
👉 A fun little backstory – back in the 1930s, a guy named Ross Sterling owned two buildings and he connected both buildings to each other via an underground tunnel.
Then a guy named Will Horwitz decided to connect his movie theaters to those tunnels, and today these tunnels span 95 underground city blocks (and about 6 miles worth of passageways) full of fun things to do! Flower shops, gift shops, technology centers, food courts, banks and even dry cleaners (who would have thought?).
These tunnels are climate controlled with heat and air conditioning, and you may want to clear a day to explore all of it!
You can enter these tunnels from the Wells Fargo Plaza and McKinney Garage on Main Street, or from a number of street-level stairs, escalators, and elevators from inside office buildings throughout Houston. Hope you are enjoying this guide on things to do in Houston.
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Anvil Bar and Refuge
If you enjoy cocktails, then definitely check out Anvil Bar and Refuge on 1424 Westheimer Road.
This place is all about making the best drinks in Houston, and they deliver on that promise.
They use only the highest quality spirits and ingredients – and hold their staff to the same level of excellent quality.
They’re passionate about the drinks they make and will happily answer your alcohol-related questions! They have over 100 custom drinks you can choose from and a great selection of beers.
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And if you’re hungry, they also serve cheese, meat plates, pretzels, chicken pot pies and more so you can munch while enjoying the best drinks in town.
Dress code is casual, and there are no reservations. What are you waiting for?
Battlefield Houston (Best things to do in Houston)
It’s the largest indoor tactical battlefield in the US. Imagine a first-person shooter game in the same vein as Battlefield™, Call of Duty™, or Halo™ but as live gameplay and that’s Battlefield Houston.
They have gaming options like search and destroy domination, sniper, deathmatch, and a lot more – want to deliver moonshine? Rob a bank? There are 60 exciting missions to choose from!
Not only is the arena great, but they use only the best equipment – their guns even weigh the same weigh as real rifles would!
They cater to walk-in players, but if you’d like to make a reservation you can call them at 713-409-1990. Games are 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes long with a game starting at every 30 minutes at the top and bottom of the hour (e.g. 1:30 PM, 2:00 PM).
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Be there half an hour before starting a game to allow for check-in and training time, with training starting at the quarter-hour.
If you’d like less of an exercise but just as much fun (if not more), then try Battlefield VR Suites – they have the latest VR technology and games!
They hold the Houston Exclusive for Ubisoft’s Escape the Lost Pyramid” escape room adventure. Seriously, check them out!
Shiloh Gun Range and 3D Archery
It’s one of the best gun ranges in the city – seasoned instructors, latest technology, the best equipment but what really sets this place apart from other gun ranges is its 3D archery.
You choose a spot in their archer’s platform where they strategically set up foam animals for you to “hunt”, and mind you, it’s a 2 ¾ acre property. If you’d like to hone your archery skills (or just pretend to be Katniss Everdeen for a little bit) then check them out at 12703 Shiloh Church Rd, Houston! The archer’s park is open from 10 AM to 8 PM on Tuesdays through Saturdays and Sundays from 12 PM to 6 PM.
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Yoyo’s Hot Dogs (Best to try in Houston)
It’s a hot dog stand through and through – they don’t serve burgers or sandwiches or any other food – just big, juicy, hand-grilled hot dogs and toasted buns with a selection of toppings (warm cream cheese, spicy mustard, curry ketchup, honey mayo and more). If you want everything on it, say “All the Way” and you won’t regret it!
They have 2 stands, one manned by Yoyo himself and the other by his brother, Jonjon (ha!) and their typical spots would be outside of Little Woodrow at 2306 Brazos Street and Midtown, inside Capitol Bar (back patio) at 2415 Main Street. This does change though, so you may want to check their website (http://yoyoshotdog.com/) or give them a call at 713-839-6207 before heading out.
For other spots you can visit, check out our Houston Hidden Gems infographic!
Author bio: Dane Kolbaba is an owner at HoustonPartyRide.com. He resides in Chandler, Arizona with his wife and four furry friends. He has a passion for helping others and enjoys surrounding himself with interesting and motivating people.