Situated in between Fort Worth and Dallas, Arlington, Texas, is home to tons of sights and activities. Best known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys football team and a couple of major amusement parks, Arlington is a fun, touristy city. Many visitors overlook the city's best attractions, though. The next time you find yourself passing through Arlington, check out some of these unique and offbeat destinations
When people think of Arlington, the first thing that invariably pops into their heads is the sprawling Six Flags Over Texas amusement park. Travel just down the road from the rollercoasters and rides, and you'll find the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. Located right next to the highway, this place isn't exactly off the beaten path, but it's definitely unique.
photo via eagrick
Did you know that bowling was originally invented by the ancient Egyptians? Or how a bowling ball is made? You can learn lots of interesting things at the bowling museum, even if you're not a big fan of the sport. The museum is full of historical information, a bowlers' hall of fame, and interactive exhibits that offer a great way to kill an hour. There's even a miniature bowling alley at the end for you to get in a round or two before leaving.
If you're a bowler, then visiting this place is a must. The Bowling International Training & Research Center is also located on site, so you could run into a professional bowler during your visit.
Anyone who lived in the United States in the late 1990s remembers the commercials for the singing fish mounted on a plaque, the Big Mouth Billy Bass. The commercial had one of those annoying jingles that gets stuck in your head. Between the jingle and the sheer ridiculousness of a singing fish hanging on the wall, these things actually proved to be a brief hit before they found their permanent home tucked away in a closet.
The Billy Bass Adoption Center is located within a popular Arlington restaurant known as the Flying Fish. This places serves excellent seafood with a Cajun twist, and it's worth visiting just for the food. The massive collection of novelty singing bass is an added bonus, though. Have one somewhere around your house? Bring it with you and make a donation!
As the name implies, "Sky Mirror" is a 6-meter-wide stainless-steel dish that serves as a giant mirror. It's angled so that one side reflects down on the people standing in front of it, while the other side reflects up toward the sky. Anish Kapoor, the same artist who created Chicago's famous "Cloud Gate" reflective sculpture, also designed "Sky Mirror."
photo via vincehuang
Originally unveiled in 2001 in Nottingham, England, "Sky Mirror" quickly became a popular sculpture. It's moved several times over the years and even spawned a couple of imitations. Since 2013, it has resided outside Arlington's AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Make some late summer or early trip plans to explore Amarillo, McAllen or Irving, Texas or skip over the ocean to Puerto Rico for an adventurous time in Fajardo.
Start planning the perfect fall trip to Amarillo. This time of year brings much more mild temperatures in the Panhandle town. Driving on Route 66, horseback riding, and visiting the Texas Air and Space Museum are just a few activities to get you started in this exciting city. If you plan ahead far enough, you can score a great Airbnb location. But if that's not your thing Amarillo has traditional luxury hotels and a smattering of cheap hotels. Fifth Season Inn has pretty good ratings and is consistently under $50 a night. Even the Marriott is under $100 per night.
The Mustangs of Las Colinas by wonders of back roads via Trover
If visiting Cowboy stadium is on your list, consider staying at Irving instead of Dallas for a more affordable trip. Spend a day watching football and stay a while to explore Irving; don't miss the plethora of outdoor activities along with the sites and landmarks like the Mustangs of Las Colinas. The Hotel Las Colinas is centrally located and has a pool to cool off. Plus, they've got a free cancellation policy, if needed.
Unless you're a big bird watcher, chances are you haven't heard of McAllen, Texas. The most popular stop is Quinta Mazatlan, a bird and nature center located in an old historic mansion. You'll find other family-friendly activities around town in their malls, golf courses, and more. The Best Western Garden Inn & Suites along with many other budget hotels run around $50 or $80 per night.
It's not hard to find a great hotel deal in Round Rock, Texas. Most good-to-great rated hotels will run you between $75 and $100/night. The Austin Marriott North ranks top of the list, boasting amenities like spas, pools, a business center, and child activities. When you're out and about the city, experience Flix BrewHouse, America's first cinema brewery, or take the kids to the Play for All park for a memorable day in the sun.
Puerto Rican beach vacations are often overshadowed by California, Hawaii, and Mexico for most Americans. But what most travelers don't know is that visiting a city like Fajardo, on the Eastern side of the island, is completely affordable and luxurious. Visitors most memorable experiences are full of beauty and adventure: kayak along Bioluminescent Bay, explore Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve (day or night), or ride horseback on the beach. Airbnbs are a great option for large groups and families. But even the local Waldorf Astoria hotel is around $200/night.
This post was originally published on Project Domestication by Becky on June 15th.
Disclosure: Thank you for supporting posts like this with partners I believe in and who allow me to pursue creative content for this blog. I am currently writing for Hipmunk, and would love for you to check out their helpful site and articles! They have great resources for traveling domestically and abroad.
Thanks in part to its wide-open landscape and sprawling interstate system, the United States has maintained a long-term love affair with the automobile. The romance certainly hasn’t waned over the years, as more cars were sold in the United States in 2015 than during any other year in history. Many of those sales were pragmatic vehicles like Crossover Utility Vehicles, but you don’t have to cover many miles to encounter far more interesting autos. So hit the highway and take the exit for these motor-friendly metropolises!
Portland may conjure up images of farm-to-table brunch spots and thick-bearded Millennials pedaling past organic coffee shops and tattoo parlors, but this hipster-friendly city knows how to burn some rubber. Portland International Raceway, just south of the Columbia River, features a full calendar, including Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events, motorcycle road-racing, ⅛-mile dragstrip, karting, and unique events featuring vintage racecars, rally cars, British autos, and the surprisingly versatile Volkswagen Beetle. Sign up for their Pro Drive racing school and learn how to handle your car both on and off the track. If you’re more into aesthetics than pure speed, PDX Car Culture can point you towards the myriad car shows, cruise-ins, and custom builders in the area!
Often seen as Las Vegas’ smaller cousin, Reno provides a gearhead culture unlike anything Vegas has to offer. The National Automobile Museum presents The Harrah Collection, the eponymous casino-owner’s world-renowned collection of over 200 of the world’s rarest, most historic automobiles. Nowhere else can you see the 1938 Phantom Corsair, or the only original example of Buckminster Fuller’s “Car of the Future” – the 1934 Dymaxion – or the 1907 Thomas Flyer, the American-built car that conquered the world in the 22,000-mile 1908 New York to Paris Race. Once a year, Reno offers an adrenaline-pumping alternative to the static displays at the museum: the Reno Air Races, where some of the fastest propeller-driven aircraft in the world tear through the air at over 400 mph. At that speed, they could cover the 7-hour drive from Vegas to Reno in just over an hour!
Another Millennial favorite, Austin boasts something no other city in the contemporary United States can claim: a chance to see Formula One cars at full-tilt. This racing series represents the pinnacle of automotive technology, and, in terms of global popularity, is the soccer of the auto-racing world. The Circuit of the Americas also hosts a number of other high-octane events throughout the year, including a weekend of MotoGP in April (the motorcycling equivalent of Formula One), the Summer X-Games, and the Pirelli World-Challenge in March, contested by racecar versions of the world’s fastest street cars, including McClarens, Ferraris, Porsches, and American iron like Fords, Chevys, and Cadillacs. COTA’s Austin360 Amphitheatre also plays host to huge music and comedy events throughout the year, packing in upwards of 14,000 fans to see headliners like Duran Duran, Florence and the Machine, and Jeff Foxworthy’s RedFest.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hallowed ground in the world of motorsport, and no tour of American automotive history would be complete without paying homage to ‘The Brickyard.’ Except for brief hiatuses during the First and Second World Wars, the world-famous Indy 500 has been run on this site every year since 1911. Contemporary racers cover the 500-mile distance in under three hours, at average speeds nearing 200 mph! The Brickyard also plays host to many other top-notch racing series, including NASCAR, MotoGP, and the Red Bull Air Race. For a more sedate experience, be sure to pay a visit to the Speedway’s Hall of Fame Museum, where a rotating selection of historically significant racecars, around 75 at a time, are on display.
Better known as the Country Music Capitol of the World, Nashville also offers a little something for those who prefer the music of internal combustion. While the Musician's Hall of Fame features musician-owned cars like Elvis’ Gold Cadillac, the true gearhead won’t want to miss the Lane Motor Museum. Featuring one of the most extensive collections of eccentric cars in the world, be sure to pay a visit to gawk at bizarre gems like their 1966 Citroen DS Ice Racer, the three-wheeled (and elegantly named) 1934 B.S.A. TW33-10-4 Cylinder, and the 1951 Hoffmann, which Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky gleefully dubbed "the worst car ever built." Who wouldn't want to see that?
No motorsport is more American than NASCAR, and no city in the United States is more steeped in it than Charlotte, North Carolina. Take a lap through NASCAR history at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, tour the headquarters of one of the many NASCAR teams who call Charlotte home, and feel the thunder of horsepower at the legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway. In addition to multiple NASCAR races and events throughout the year – including the only Saturday night race in the NASCAR Chase – the Speedway hosts events featuring monster trucks, MXGP motocross, World of Outlaws, and the 8,000 horsepower, 320 mph acceleration-machines known as NHRA Top-Fuel Dragsters. Let your gearhead flag fly, and don’t forget your earplugs!
This article was published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on February 15th.
Be sure to check out these famous sandwiches on your next trip, which are must-tries whenever you visit their region of origin.
The Windy City draws large crowds for deep-dish pizza and Chicago dogs, but the Italian beef is a long-time local favorite. Thinly sliced seasoned beef is piled high on an Italian sub roll, dredged in gravy or au jus, and topped with hot or sweet peppers. You can find these bad boys at a local dog stall down the street from yourChicago hotel or other street-food style restaurants around the city.
If you’ve ever spent time in the Carolinas, you’ve likely caught wind of the BBQ standoff between the eastern and western parts of the state (and don’t get them started on South Carolina BBQ). Visit the state's capital, Raleigh, or stay close to the coast at a Wilmington hotel and check out little hole-in-the-wall joints that boast vinegar-based sauces and a mix of dark and white meat. Or head to the western part of the state, which holds onto the belief that dark meat and a ketchup-based sauce is the ticket. We’ll let you decide.
Buffalo chicken may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of upstate delicacies, but beef en weck is an equally famous local crowd-pleaser. Sliced roast beef is stacked on a salted and seeded bun and served with a side of au jus for a simple but satisfying meal.
In the South, pimento cheese goes with just about everything. Use it as a topping, a dip or the main ingredient of a good ole Southern sandwich. Georgia’s laid claim to the sandwich as the signature eat of the Master’s at Augusta National, but you can find this sandwich on many a Southern menu. Make it your own with additions like bacon or tomato.
You can bake ‘em, boil ‘em, or smother 'em in butter. Or you can add a bit of mayo and herbs to fresh lobster meat for a knock-your-socks-off lobster roll. Eat your way up and down the New England coast on a self-guided food tour. Whether you're staying at a hotel in Bar Harbor or spending a few nights in a Boston hotel, you wont be far from one of these delicious seafood sammies.
If you’ve ever been so hungry you could eat a horse, getting a meal fit for a cowboy could be the next best thing. Not to be confused in any way with the pork BBQ on the East Coast, Texas BBQ is made with brisket, with sauces ranging from a tomato-based sweet sauce in East Texas to molasses-based sauce in the South and spiced rub in the central part of the state.
Tasting these culinary masterpieces in the places where they were perfected is the best way to enjoy an authentic sandwich experience.
This article was published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on January 12th.
There’s nothing under the sun that captures the imagination quite like outer space. With the discovery of water on Mars, the meteoric rise of Matt Damon’s new film, “The Martian”, and the impending release of the new Stars Wars flick, the universe has been, well, everywhere lately.
Back here on the earth, the closest most of us mere mortals will come to outer space is a visit to one of America’s NASA-run Space Centers: the Johnson Space Center, located in Houston, TX, and the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, FL. We wondered, which Space Center location's vacation price is down-to-earth and which one is other-worldly expensive?
To find out, we analyzed our 2015 data for average flight prices to each center's nearest airport from the 30 most popular airports in the U.S. and daily car rental prices, in addition to the average prices for hotel stays in Houston and Cape Canaveral. We also looked at the average ticket prices and, just for fun, how much it would cost to eat lunch with an astronaut, a program offered at both locations.
Here’s what we found it would cost, on average, a family of four for a 3-day, 2-night trip:
In other words, a family of four can save an average of $600 by choosing Space Center Houston over Cape Canaveral, most of which is saved through airfare and Space Center admission prices. Here's how that breaks down, per person:
|Avg. RT Airfare||$387 Melbourne Intl Airport (MLB)||$294 George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)|
|Avg. Nightly Hotel||$144||$116|
|Daily Admission||$50 Adult/ $40 Child||$21 Adult/ $16 Child|
|Lunch with Astronaut||$30 Adult/ $16 Child||$50 Adult/ $30 Child|
|Car Rental||From $26/ day||From $27/ day|
While this may appear like pretty steep price tag for a short vacation, both centers offer numerous discount opportunities and are generally all-inclusive. For example, Kennedy Space Center admission includes all exhibits and shows, IMAX space films, the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour and free next-day admission to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame when a general admission ticket is purchased. Multi-day packages that can reduce the overall price are also available.
Meanwhile, Space Center Houston offers a CityPASS if you plan to visit other Houston attractions, which allows visitors to save 50 percent on admission to Space Center Houston and four more top Houston attractions: 1) Downtown Aquarium, 2) Houston Museum of Natural Science, 3) Houston Zoo or Museum of Fine Arts, and 4) Houston Children’s Museum or Kemah Boardwalk All-Day Ride Pass. You’ll skip most ticket lines, too.
So while Space Center Houston is inarguably the less expensive of America's two NASA centers, both locations offer multiple opportunities to let your imagination (and inner-astronaut) be free from gravitational pulls for a few days.
Blast off about your Space Center story in the comments below!
Methodology: Hipmunk analyzed 2015 data for average airfare prices to MLB and IAH from the 30 most popular U.S. airports, as well as average nightly hotel prices in both Houston and Cape Canaveral. Car rental prices were the lowest recent price posted on Hipmunk.com departing and returning to MLB and IAH, respectively. All other data was found on each Space Center's website. As always, airfare, hotel, and car rental prices frequently change and Hipmunk does not guarantee that the prices listed in this story reflect what is currently available.
This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on November 11th.
South Padre is known for lots of things. Good beaches. Great fishing. The madness of Spring Break. And of course great seafood. However, there is much more culinary fun to be had on this humble island than mere seafood. Come with me on a culinary odyssey across all of South Padre Island!
It's always important to start your day off with a breakfast that is at least filling, if not healthy. (I'm not here to give you life advice, merely food advice.) For that there is no better place than Yummies Bistro. Their food is so good they don't even need a web site to promote it -- people just know.
The breakfast is all-encompassing. From eggs any way imaginable to pancakes, waffles, burritos and more, there is something here to satisfy everyone. Be careful not too eat too much though. More times than not I've left here eager to crawl back into bed, rather than start an active day. Oh -- and they also make a pretty mean lunch.
A good hamburger requires equal parts good beef, choice toppings, a fresh homemade bun and a dash of secret sauce. Using this powerful formula BURGERFI has managed to create amazing melt-in-your-mouth burgers that will leave you wanting to come back to South Padre Island just for them, forget the beach! Don't believe me? Try one. I recommend The Twenty Eight.
Pizza is delicious anywhere but especially on the beach with a cold beer nearby. Even more so if it is from Gabriella's Italian Grill And Pizzeria. I'm telling you, this place is amazing! Hands-down the best pizza on the island. And trust me, I've tried them all
Their menu features such decadent pizzas as The Soprano (perfect for any meat-loving man), The Leaning Tower of Cheeza and the Leonardo d’Veggie. All of these are cooked in a massive brick wood-fire oven -- as all good pizzas are. For guests who choose to dine in, you will have a magnificent view of this grill from your table. Or order delivery and have the pizza come to you on the beach.
No article on South Padre Island food would be complete without a little seafood. Behold, Pier 19, my favorite seafood restaurant in all of South Padre! They are also the home of the second best breakfast on the island -- although I would not recommend mixing the two.
Set out on the end of a wooden pier, Pier 19 is also a great place for a romantic dinner and great views of the Gulf. Their menu features a bit of everything, from pasta to sandwiches to south of the border; however it's with their seafood that they really shine. Whatever your preference, have confidence that the chef here will leave you impressed.
flickr // jeepersmedia
One of the most popular year-round beach destinations in Texas is South Padre Island. Although the island is most known for being a party haven of college students every spring break, it is also popular with families all summer and snowbirds all winter. The island may be small but is perfect for relaxing (as long as you are not trying to do that during spring break, of course). So the next time you need a quick weekend getaway, South Padre Island is where to go -- and this is how you make the most of it in just 48 hours!
Beaches are fun, but don't spend all your time lying around on them. Get up and go try something new. There are plenty of fun and exciting water-based activities available in South Padre, from kiteboarding to wakeboarding, kayaking, parasailing, snorkeling, scuba diving (and certification), even surfing. Pick one or two that you have never tried before and give it a shot!
Most visitors come to South Padre Island for its beaches, obviously, however there is more to do than that. The island boasts several great parks and nature centers, such as Andy Bowie Park and the SPI Birding and Nature Center. Or for those looking for a bit more adventure, consider trying fly boarding while in South Padre, a hot new water-based activity that you may recognize from TV or the movies. It is essentially a water-powered jetpack that propels the wearer into the air and is wicked fun!
One of the best things about all islands is the abundance of good seafood. Thankfully South Padre is no exception to the rule. Blackbeards' restaurant is a laid-back and affordable place with great seafood. They are also the proud home of the best onion rings on the island. Don't believe me? Try them for yourself!
Or if you want to treat yourself or take your loved one out somewhere nice to enjoy a romantic sunset dinner and a cocktail or two, look no further than the Sea Ranch Restaurant, the island's premiere dining establishment and a local favorite for nearly 40 years. Try the Ahi Tuna, my personal favorite. Or if you've been out fishing recently, bring your catch in here and their chefs will turn it into a delicious dinner.
Just because the sun has set doesn't mean the fun has to stop. If you still have energy left before heading back to your South Padre hotel, consider heading over to Clayton's Beach Bar & Grill. The serve both seafood and traditional American staples such as burgers and buffalo wings, however their real claim to fame is being the largest beach bar in all of Texas. Live music and concerts are regular events here that definitely help make for a memorable South Padre experience!
As a native Texan, I've been to Padre more times than I can count. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask away!
Houston is a more exciting city than most would expect. There are plenty of great outdoor activities during the summertime and plenty of offbeat sights and activities available year-round. Houston is also a great destination for foodies because the has a vast selection of quirky and delicious restaurants. The city is also home to an ample supply of kid-friendly and pet-friendly hotels. And while it is possible to travel Houston on a budget, the city is much more fun as a luxurious, romantic weekend getaway. With that in mind let's take a look at Houston's most luxurious hotels.
This five-star hotel is one of the nicest Four Seasons I have ever had the pleasure of staying at. Centrally located right in downtown Houston, the museum district is nearby as are countless shops and restaurants. Of course leaving the hotel will be difficult. The Four Seasons Houston is home to one of the best spas in town. In addition to relaxing in the sauna or whirlpool, you can also pamper yourself with a variety of options, including massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and body treatments. They also offer couples services, perfect for that romantic getaway. As for the rooms, they are tastefully decorated with a modern, elegant Texan charm and each come with a wonderful city view and twice daily room service.
Designed to resemble an Italian villa, the Hotel Granduca is one of the most iconic and beautiful hotels in all Houston. Of course the beauty doesn't stop on the exterior. Inside guests will be surrounded by the sights and charm of old Italy while being treated with impeccable service by the staff. Designed by Italian-born developer Giorgio Borlenghi, the five-star Hotel Granduca is his crowning achievement. In addition to the plush gardens and a gorgeous courtyard, the hotel comes complete with an authentic Italian restaurant, Ristorante Cavour, serving the finest Northern Italian cuisine. The rooms come in a variety of options, each more luxurious than the last, however all exude a modern Italian warmth that guests have come to expect. They also cater to guests looking for longer stays, especially convenient for anyone traveling to Houston for medical reasons. And for anyone who wants to live like a king, the Granduca's largest suite is a three bedroom Tuscan-inspired villa that will leave you speechless.
With a level of opulence that is unrivaled by any other hotel in town, the St. Regis takes the gold medal as the premiereHouston hotel for the discerning traveler. Their smallest rooms start at 500 square feet (bigger than the studio apartment I had in college) and their largest suite is a whooping 2,500 square feet -- bigger than my house before I became a nomad! Inlaid wood, plush carpet, a desk and work area in every room, spacious bathrooms, granite countertops, state-of-the-art appliances and electronics, as well as an extraordinary view of that magnificent Houston skyline. Yes, St. Regis truly has it all, including a great location just far away enough from downtown to be peaceful without being inconvenient.See More Offbeat Travel Guides United States Travel Ideas
Find it hard to leave your favorite furry friend behind when you travel? Have no fear; thankfully, Houston has a vast selection of pet-friendly hotels in locations all around the city. Regardless of your budget or which amenities you crave, Houston has something for you. So, the next time you find yourself planning a trip to Space City, make sure to check out these amazing pet-friendly Houston hotels.
Summed up in one word, Hotel ZaZa is simply amazing! Located in the museum district, the hotel is near tons of things to see and do only a few minutes away. Of course, there is no guarantee that you will even be able to leave your hotel once you see how nice the rooms are here. There are seven different options, each distinctly themed and exquisitely furnished. However, they also have a $150 pet fee.
Few Houston hotels can compare to the elegance and sheer style of Hotel Icon. The building dates back to 1911 and was originally a bank. Traces of this history can still be seen in the lobby arches and giant stone pillars. However, the entire building has been extensively remodeled and furnished in nothing but the best modern amenities. Stylish rooms, an impressive wine vault, a private dining room, and a friendly staff make this one of Houston's premiere hotels. Their pet fee is only $20.
With several locations around town -- all of which allow pets -- La Quinta is the budget choice for a pet-friendly Houston hotel. Every location also has free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a pool, and zero pet fees. However, my personal favorite is the La Quinta Inn and Suites Houston Galleria because of the location and the fact that they also have a fitness center.
If you're in the mood for an elegant, modern pet-friendly hotel, look no further than the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Strategically located in west Houston near the Galleria, the hotel is surrounded by plenty of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. The hotel itself features jaw-dropping architecture, impeccable rooms, and a top-notch staff willing to cater to your every whim.
Last but not least is the Hotel Derek -- and no, I did not include it on this list specifically because we share the same name. But that was the reason I decided to stay there for two nights last year when I was passing through Houston. And what I found definitely impressed me.
The entire hotel features a contemporary yet colorful design. For example, the furniture in my room was purple, orange, and grey. Colors that ordinarily might clash have been perfectly blended by a master designer. The same colorful sense of style is evident throughout the hotel, from the lobby to the restaurant to the pool.
As far as animals are concerned, Hotel Derek has a $100 pet fee with 10% of that being donated to the local SPCA.
flickr // ynakanishi
Most people consider Houston more of a business city than an ideal tourist destination. However recently I found myself back in Space City for the first time in several years and had the opportunity to explore again. Given that Houston is the fourth most populous city in the United States and therefore has millions of people to keep entertained, it should be no surprise that there are loads of exciting things to do there. Here's how to see the best of Houston.
This is a must. After all Houston's nickname is Space City and it is because of the fine people at NASA that America reached the moon first and Neil Armstrong is a household name. Nearly a million visitors a year visit here to learn the history of America's space program, see the original Mission Control Center, learn how the shuttles are made and get a peek at what NASA has in store for the future. You can browse dozens of exhibits featuring hundreds (if not thousands) of photos, and even get the chance to meet-and-great real astronauts.
Like any metropolis Houston has its fair share of offbeat sights and activities. Did you know the National Museum of Funeral History is there? Nothing like facing your own mortality to make for an interesting day. How about a house covered entirely in beer cans? This work of art took 15 years by a local artist that one can only assume was an alcoholic. Although he is no longer with us, his house is.
Houston has been a city for hundreds of years and still has a very vibrant historic district. One of the daily activities that occurs there every evening is a the historic Houston pub tour -- yes, tour, not crawl. This is an educational experience to downtown watering holes, some of which date back over 150 years. Learn a little, drink a little, and then leave with a sense of having discovered a bit more about this misunderstood metropolis.
Food is a daily necessity but that doesn't mean it has to be predictable or stereotypical. Houston has a wide array of quirky restaurants that will leave you talking as much about the decor as the food. One of my personal favorites is Jus' Mac, which as the name implies serves nothing but macaroni and cheese served in a variety of delicious (and entertaining) ways. The best tacos in Texas can be found here too, as well as Houston's Soup Nazi, a play off the classic Seinfeld episode -- if you know where to look.
Since you'll be spending so much time exploring the city, there is no reason to splurge on an expensive hotel room that you'll hardly even use. Check out my article on budget travel and hotels in Houston for more or find hundreds of cheap Houston hotels on Hipmunk.