Heartland Hometowns: A Guide to Houston During Super Bowl LI

Houston is the hottest city in the country right now. Humble hosts to Super Bowl LI, the city is no stranger to football-loving crowds. They first hosted the big game in 2004, when Adam Vinatieri’s 41-yard field goal gave the New England Patriots an amazing victory over the Carolina Panthers. Well, the Pats are back again in Houston this year, but they won’t be seeing the same city.

Since then, Discovery Green – a 12-acre urban park – opened and the Avenida de las Americas, which covers the front of the George R. Brown Convention Center, will be all but gone. Formerly an 8-lane boulevard, it will now be slimmed down to create a pedestrian plaza that kind of the yellow brick road to Houston’s growing culinary scene.

Heading to Houston, too? Here’s the travel guide to help you out.

Where to Stay?

If you haven’t hooked up your AirBnB yet, there are some hotel options that are worth exploring.

Holiday Inn South Loop

The Holiday Inn South Loop is less than a half a mile from the stadium, so if tailgating is your thing, this could be your ideal place to stay and play.

The full service hotel has free shuttles to and from the stadium and features fun stuff like an outdoor pool, gym and in room Wi-Fi.

Hotel ZaZa

Keepin it cozy in in C'est la Vie tonight! #stayzaza

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If you prefer a more boutique experience, the trendy Hotel ZaZa is for you. Three miles from NRG Stadium, this is a swanky, pet-friendly hotel that incorporates art into its unique sensory design.

Expect interesting elements in your room like a NASA astronaut statue, mirrored walls, rock star prints and vintage guitars.

JW Marriott

If you’re making a trip out of it, then the JW Marriott could be your place.

Compete with a rooftop pool, state-of-the-art fitness center, upscale restaurants and concierge-level guest’s rooms, this is the ideal resort for guests looking to lounge in luxury before and after the game.

Where to Go for Breakfast?

B&B Donuts

This is one of Houston’s most popular grab ‘n go breakfast spots.

Hit them up for a sweet start to your day or wait in line for what fans say is the best croissant breakfast sandwich in town.

Blacksmith

Rise + Shine ☕️

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Blacksmith is the kind of coffeehouse hipsters crave as barista-made coffee drinks are the hot menu item here.

Home-baked pastry and morning options like Vietnamese steak & eggs, from scratch square biscuits with smoked ham & red eye gravy and a BLT sandwich made with pickled green tomatoes, mesclun greens and Benton’s bacon are just a few of the delicious options found here.

Chilosos Taco House

The breakfast tacos here can’t be beat. Choose from an array of stuffings (including eggs with either Mexican sausage or Jimmy Dean sausage and a spicy Chappel Hill Taco) piled into a handmade-to-order flour or corn tortilla.

How to Spend Happy Hour?

Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar

If you’re a fan of the brown stuff, Captain Foxheart’s is for you.

Famous for their impressive for whiskey, scotch, bourbon and more, it’s a speakeasy-style setting that any cocktail connoisseur will appreciate.

Bovine & Barley

The marquee sign drew me in. The bacon wrapped jalapeños made me stay. ?? #HTX #TexasForever

A photo posted by Elyssa Dornic Nastalski (@emmkdn) on

The $5 happy hour menu here can’t be beat.

Think cheese fries, beef ribeye rolls, Buffalo wings, chicken cracklings and loads of craft beer options.

Public Services

Suns out buns out #carbloading cc: @mskarenman @public_services_bar @justintvann

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This is Houston’s premiere wine and whisky bar. Newbies tend to have a hard time finding the spot as it’s cleverly hidden past the lobby of the historic Cotton Exchange Building.

Once inside, you’ll be greeted with premium service and one of the most impressive wine and whiskey lists in the country.

Searching for Dinner?

The Pit Room

In Houston right now and this has been our first official meal. No trip to Texas is complete without BBQ ?.

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Houston is quickly becoming one of America’s prime time foodie towns and restaurants like the Pit Room are the reason why. Pitmaster Bram Tripp smokes all the meat for the menu at this hand crafted BBQ joint– including pulled pork, brisket, ribs and house-made sausages.

If you’re with a group, the sharing feast menus are the way to go. They feed from four to eight people, and include all the house favorites plus four to six sides like mustard potato salad and mac ‘n’ cheese.

Riel

Family Meal #rielhouston #shrimpboil #saturdaynight #godblessmanitoba #yesthosearehotdogs #familymeal

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Chef Ryan Lachaine is responsible for the hit-making food at Riel.

Dedicated to pure food, local flavors are highlighted in dishes like head on shrimp with collard greens, brick chicken with winter squash and Texas clue crab with bacon and butter lettuce.

The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation

It would be a shame to hit up Houston and not indulge in authentic Tex-Mex cuisine. When celebs like Martha Stewart and Michael Buble come to town, they make sure to get a table at The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation.

Dishes like grilled Texas redfish tacos with chipotle slaw, enchiladas, flautas and Ninfa’s famous shrimp diablo make this one of the most authentic Tex-Mex in Houston.

Where to Experience the Nightlife?

Etro Lounge

If you love the ‘80s and want to relive it a little, then head to Etro Lounge. DJs and bands play the greatest hits the decade had to offer. And we aren’t talking cover bands.

On any given night you could walk into an Information Society, Psychedelic Furs and Erasure concert. Head upstairs for a more loung-y vibe.

Rosemont

This rooftop bar and lounge is the place to go if you want to experience Houston nightlife with a view.

Snag a cabana and settle in for bottle-service and bar bites.

The Flat 

Having a Blast at the @hxplore New Year's Party

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Be ready to dance when you’re at The Flat. Their award-winning DJ is famous his body-moving beats.

The party goes late into the night so don’t go tired.

Explore Some Local Hobbies?

Buffalo Bayou

Great weather to paddle Buffalo Bayou! Rentals available at Buffalo Bayou Park. #buffalobayou #bayoucityadventures

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The city spent close to $60 million dollars’ renovation the Buffalo Bayou park.

Hike, kayak or bike and see all the beauty the place has to offer.

James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany at Rice Campus

#riceuniversity #TwilightEpiphany

A photo posted by Agnieszka Tajnert (@agniebaba) on

Both the sunrise and sunset light shows at the Skyspace on Rice Campus are free, but you will need a reservation.

The composition of light compliments the natural light of dawn and dusk and is a truly beautiful experience.

The Waterworks ‘Cistern’ Tour

The “Cistern,” was Houston’s first underground drinking-water reservoir.

Built in 1927, it provided decades of service until it was drained and a 30-minute walking tour gets you an up close and personal view of it.

Take Advantage of the Location?

Golf

Had fun today!

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While the rest of the world bundles up in parkas and scarves, Houston residents have the benefit of a close to 70 degree-a-day February. Take advantage of that and spend it outdoors golfing.

Houston is home to many top-rated golf courses from Hermann Park to Wildcat Golf Cub to Topgolf which features a high-tech driving range and swanky lounge.

SuperBowl Live

Even if you aren’t going to the game, you need to be going to SuperBowl Live.

Taking place starting January 29 through February 5, the festival is centered in downtown Houston and Discovery Green and focuses on food, music, attractions, entertainment and just plain fun.

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