Jenna Careri / January 25th, 2017
Regardless of which team you’re rooting for in Super Bowl LI, there’s one thing football lovers from either fan base can agree on: having a good time. Whether you’re a current Houstonian and want to discover more of what your city has to offer or are planning a visit for the big game, we’ve got you covered. Our team rounded up some of the best hotels to stay, places to eat and things to do in Houston, TX – specifically those that are near NRG Stadium, where this year’s bowl is taking place. To get access to this knowledge, explore our list below.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Houston, Hotel Derek, part of the Destination Hotels family, combines edgy design with excellent service and accommodations. Staying true to its roots of southern hospitality, the hotel recently rolled out six newly redesigned concept suites at its Houston location, each with a varying theme. The purpose behind the update? To set itself apart from other boutique hotels in the area by offering a self-acclaimed “wildly unique” experience that pushes the envelope. Suite themes vary from rooms decorated with psychedelic wallpaper to others exuding delicate femininity. Hotel Derek is 7.9 miles from NRG Stadium.
The Houstonian Hotel
The Houstonian, self-described as “the ultimate urban oasis,” offers guests peaceful seclusion in the midst of the bustling city. Sitting on an 18-acre wooded lot, the hotel has become a huge part of the state’s history. Décor in each of the luxurious suites gives a nod to old-school Texas elegance. Equipped with a spa, three restaurants, bar and café, guests receive treatment fit for royals – it’s no surprise that it received a four-star rating from the Forbes Travel Guide. The Houstonian is located 9.9 miles from NRG Stadium.
Magnolia Hotel Houston
Upon arrival at the Magnolia Hotel Houston, the first thing you’ll notice is the historic building in which it is housed. Built in 1926, the structure has remained a significant part of the city’s history, previously serving as a corporate office for the Houston Post Dispatch Newspaper and Shell Oil Company. In 2003, after extensive renovations, it reopened as the Magnolia Hotel. The integrity of the building’s unique exterior was kept intact, while modern, luxurious touches were added inside. The hotel, winner of several AAA Four Diamond Awards for its exceptional service and facilities, has the reputation of serving the most sophisticated of guests, including various celebrities. The hotel is 8.5 miles from NRG Stadium.
Killen’s Texas Barbecue
Forks and knives – who needs them? Not at Killen’s, where the barbecue is so tender it doesn’t require utensils. Go ahead and use your hands. They won’t judge. When the restaurant opened, the founders of Killen’s had one goal in mind: To make the unadulterated flavor of the meat the main event and never overly season it or drown it in sauce. Because who can resist slow-smoked beef and pork ribs, melt-in-your-mouth brisket and pulled pork? Plus, with its offerings of sides – such as scratch-made creamed corn and gooey macaroni and cheese. Killen’s is open for both lunch and dinner. Killen’s is located in Pearland, just outside of Houston and 16.7 miles from NRG Stadium.
The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation
If you want to experience “the best Mexican food in Texas since Texas was in Mexico,” run – don’t walk – to the original Ninfa’s on Navigation. The most popular dish? Mama Ninfa’s original Tacos Al Carbon, the inspiration behind the restaurant. But that isn’t all the restaurant offers. Featuring an extensive menu of traditional dishes with a flair that only Ninfa’s can produce, you won’t be disappointed, regardless of what you order. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Wood Oven Roasted Quail or the Mole-Encrusted Grilled Salmon. Ninfa’s on Navigation is 8.7 miles away from NRG Stadium.
Being on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t eat fresh and nutritious options. If you want to counteract your intake of game day brews and treats, make your way over to Ruggles Green – the first certified-green restaurant in Houston. The chef-driven menu at Ruggles Green is made to order in a scratch kitchen using naturally sourced ingredients. With more than 35 gluten-free eats, plus dairy-free and vegetarian dishes, Ruggles Green is a great option for anyone with dietary restrictions, proving that eating better doesn’t mean missing out on flavor. With three locations in Houston in River Oaks, Greater Heights and at CityCentre, be sure to check it out before leaving town. The River Oaks location is 4.4 miles from NRG Stadium.
Brennan’s of Houston
If you’re in the mood for fine dining, look no further than Brennan’s of Houston – the city’s “crown jewel” of Southern hospitality. With a history dating to 1967, Brennan’s is known in the Bayou City for serving award-winning cuisine, including its main attraction – Texas-style Creole. Brennan’s Creole Jazz Brunch, limited to weekends, is one of its most popular features. The restaurant adheres to a strict business casual dress code, so make sure you’re looking your best before stepping in the door. Brennan’s of Houston is 12.8 miles from NRG Stadium.
Buffalo Bayou Brewing
Named after the slow-moving waterway that runs through the city, Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. has been slinging beer in the heart of Houston since 2011. The company offers two main series of hop-filled concoctions: Heritage and Secessionist. Beer in the Heritage Series features brews made with classic techniques and rich flavors, crafted to represent aspects of Texas history. But when you order a cold one from the Secessionist Series, your tastebuds will be hit with a “true flavor epiphany,” the company claims – beer in this category is brewed with techniques that are anything but traditional. The brewery is 13.3 miles from NRG Stadium.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company
When you’re craving a pint, what better place to get one than Texas’ oldest craft brewery? Established in 1994, Saint Arnold Brewing Company was around long before craft beer became all the rage – and has increased in popularity ever since. Its beer is brewed in house in small batches to preserve its integrity and taste. Unlike some breweries, Saint Arnold serves food to enhance the taste of the beer, so it’s a great place to unwind and grab a bite to eat while you’re in town. Saint Arnold Brewing Company is 10.2 miles from NRG Stadium.
Texian Brewing Company
At Texian Brewing Company, everything – from the way the beer is brewed and served to the historical story printed on each bottle label – celebrates the rich heart and soul of the state. “Making history by the pint” is one of the core themes, and the company is spreading Texas’ heritage with every bottle sold. The microbrewery offers limited tours and tastings, so call ahead before stopping by. Texian Brewing Company is located in Richmond, 24.8 miles from NRG Stadium.
One of the city’s most-loved attractions, the Houston Zoo is an expansive, 55-acre park in the heart of downtown. With 11 exhibits, the zoo offers something for nearly every age group. You’ll have the chance to get up close and personal with sloths, tamarins and blue-tongued skinks when you walk through the immersive Natural Encounters exhibit. Or, view one of the zoo’s seven elephants swim in an 80,000-gallon pool at the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat. The Houston Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and is committed to not only treating the animals it cares for with excellence, but saving animals in the wild, too, by partnering with organizations that protect wildlife. The Houston Zoo is 3.8 miles from NRG Stadium.
Space Center Houston
Houston, we have liftoff. For an experience that’s out of this world, round up the family for an educational day at Space Center Houston. The center’s newest attraction is Mission Mars – an immersive, interactive exhibit that allows visitors to experience a glimpse of an expedition to Mars as they sit in a simulated Orion space capsule and feel the texture of the planet’s red rocks. If you’re curious about what life is like at an international space station, check out “Living In Space” for a behind-the-scenes tour. Finally, don’t forget to make time for “Lunch with an Astronaut” – a chance to hear firsthand stories from a real NASA astronaut. The Space Center Houston is 3.8 miles from NRG Stadium.
The Museum of Fine Art, Houston
Bring out your inner art critic and head to the Museum of Fine Art, Houston for an afternoon of culture, history and inspiration. The museum features rotating exhibitions from artists around the globe – from American still-life paintings to a display of silver sculptures dating back to the Roman Empire – and seasoned art lovers and newbies alike will be impressed with the diversity of collections. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for a docent-led tour to get the most out of your experience. Check out the MFAH website for special hours and free admissions for the Super Bowl week. The Museum of Fine Art, Houston is 3.5 miles from NRG Stadium.
Tours and transportation
Segway Tours of Houston
Get ready to explore the city in a whole new way. With Segway Tours of Houston – self-described as Houston’s premier Segway tour company – you’ll have a chance to do just that. Choose from five tours with a different theme to each. On the Buffalo Bayou Tour, you’ll have a chance to learn more about Houston’s history, view its prominent parks and buildings and learn more about the Buffalo Bayou – the city’s vital waterway with a rich backstory. On the Twilight Tour, riders have the chance to glide through Houston’s downtown streets as the sun goes down and city lights come up. Other tours offered are: the Houston History Tour, Houston Graffiti and Street Art Tour and a Pokémon Go tour. Segway tour headquarters is 9 miles from NRG Stadium.
A self-described “public transportation service dressed up like a limo,” The Wave is one of the best ways to get around Houston. You’ll ride in a “jitney” – a 9- to 15- passenger shuttle described as a hybrid between a taxi, limo, Uber and public bus. Similar to an Uber, you can request pickup via a mobile app. Ride rates range between $8 and $15 for the whole night. The only catch? The service operates strictly on routes, but serves almost all areas inside Loop 610 and the Galleria. If you’re visiting Houston with a
group of friends and want to plan a memorable night on the town, The Wave is a great option.
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