Art: While you are on campus, you could check out outdoor and indoor artworks along UH Art Walks around our 892 acre urban campus (Public Art at UH).
Coffee: Cougar Grounds is a student-run coffeehouse located inside the Hilton (Hours: Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 8 am to 2 pm). Student Center South also has a full-service Starbucks location (Hours: Friday 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday 8 am to 5 pm).
Food: Eric's restaurant is located inside the Hilton (Hours: Friday 4 pm to 10pm, Saturday 7 am to 2pm); Moody Towers Dining Commons with UH wifi, food, and beverages is right next to the Hilton (Open 24 hours a day); Student Center South has a number of Dine and Shop options, and it hosts a McDonald’s that is open between 7am and 8pm on Friday and Saturday.
In case you have the time to explore a little more of Houston, here are a few ideas from each of us:
This is where I would take out-of-town guests, from closest to farthest:
El Tiempo (multiple locations). This is where Tex-Mex fajita was invented (see the full story here). Xochi (in downtown) for Mex-Mex (as opposed to Tex-Mex) restaurant.
If you want to see Houston downtown skyline, check out Post It’s an old post office turned into food hall with a nice rooftop.
Visit Rothko Chapel and Menil Museum during the day.
For Sunday afternoon hangout with outdoor space, Under the Radar Brewery (low-key, outdoor patio, craft beer). Grabbing cocktails at night, Anvil or Julip (James Beard Award winning bar)
For BBQ, Truth BBQ (expect a long wait). If it’s too crowded, Killen’s Height is a nearby Southern restaurant for chicken fried chicken/steak and bbq (same as Killen’s bbq, which is 30 min drive from UH).
Visit Houston Farmer’s Market during the day. It’s not your typical farmer’s market. It’s an open-air Mexican-style market. Full of dried chilies, corns, beans, traditional herbal medicine and tropical fruits/vegetables that you may not recognize. Make a quick stop for snacks at the taco truck at the end of the parking lot. Be sure to check out El Bollilo Mexican Bakery, which is opposite of the market.
If you are adventurous and have a car, all these restaurants are in the same part of town (30 min drive from UH): Nam Giao (James Beard Award-Winning Vietnamese restaurant), Peking Expression (call to reserve a duck in advance, best Peking duck in town), Malubianbian (AYCE Chinese hotpot), Lucy’s Ethiopian, Reza Persian Grill, Saffron Kabab (Afghan).
For an evening of food and drinks, check out EaDo. Start with coffee and snacks at Koffeteria; then for beers in patios, try Truckyard (hipster-carnival patio) or 8th Wonder (giant patio) or True Anomaly (NASA-enthusiast patio). For nearby dinner try Indianola (nicer), Huynh (Vietnamese), or Rodeo Goat (burgers, including multiple veg patties). All of these are within a few blocks of each other.
Other great restaurants in order of proximity: Lucille's (fried green tomatoes and a patio), Toasted Coconut (everything), Jun Bykin (Houston Top Chef star!), Lucy's Ethiopian (veg combo), Shiv Sagar (dosas and chaat). Ask me if you need any vegetarian recommendations!
Bluebonnet watching in Texas is like maple leaf peeping in the Northeast. You are lucky because they are in bloom during our conference. Here are a few places to see them.
In Houston: (1) The Best Places to Find Bluebonnets in Houston and Texas; (2) 5 Perfect Houston Parks for Your Annual Bluebonnet Photos; (3) 18 Best Places to See Bluebonnets in Texas 2023.
Around Houston: (1) Ennis Bluebonnet Trails & Festival; (2) Texas Bluebonnet and Wildflower Routes; (3) 40th Annual Bluebonnet Festival.
Check out an installation, museum or show curated by the Orange Show (the Art Car Parade is a highlight, but you’d have to come back for it in a couple of weeks).
I can’t believe no one else has said this: go out to NASA. It’s worth it.
Texas Southern University, a storied HBCU, is UH’s next door neighbor in the Third Ward. Rice University, located next to Hermann Park, is about 15 minutes away by car.