Let’s face it: #Adulting is hard work. Sometimes you just need a break from it all — meaning, a break from real life.
If a vacay isn’t in the cards right now, we have good news for you. You can still run away from reality right in your own H-Town backyard.
These 30 places are an escape artist’s dream, with chill scenes, imaginative spaces, and wanderlust-indulging spectacles.
Where: 1517 Alabama
There’s something about hammocks … they always have a certain transporting quality to get you out of your head. There are plenty of them at this beer garden-esque spot in Midtown along with music, drinks, and food, too. What more could you need to escape the day?
Chapel of St. Basil
Where: University of Saint Thomas, 3800 Montrose Blvd.
Geometry never looked so good as in this iconic masterpiece, designed by famous architect Philip Johnson. The structure serves as a working place of worship — with the interior just as mesmerizing as the exterior and prayer garden.
8th Wonder Brewery
Where: 2202 Dallas St.
No need to trek off to those "other" wonders of the world when you can head to the taproom at this place and get one (or more) of their magical brews. You know you’ve arrived when you see the big Houston sign out front — and the oversized Beatles.
Where: 1 Hope Blvd., Galveston
Between the pyramids and palms outside and the sharks and other sea creatures inside, this place definitely gets some major surreal points. It’s also in Galveston, which is a micro-getaway in its own right.
Where: 314 Main St.
Yes, it’s Houston spelled backward. But, if you can get past the play on letters, this trippy bar-art-music-poetry-chess venue (yes, all of it) will certainly take you on a weird adventure.
Where: 5085 Westheimer Rd.
Retail therapy: Found. As Texas’ largest shopping center and the fourth largest domain in the U.S., you can definitely escape into the 2.4 million square feet of this complex — and then cap off a day of browsing and buying with a few spins around the ice rink.
Where: 6201 Hermann Park Dr.
With a grand entrance signaled by the historic Sam Houston Monument that provides a view all the way to the Pioneer Memorial granite obelisk, this park feels like a beautiful break from the rush of the city that surrounds it. If strolling around the trails isn’t enough to clear your head, ride the Hermann Park Railroad train or take a pedal boat out on McGovern Lake.
Where: Marriott Marquis Houston, 1777 Walker St., Ste. A
The flavors of Oaxaca come alive at this foodie escape that will put you in Mexico in no time flat. The brainchild of James Beard award-winning chef Hugo Ortega, the restaurant features many house-made masas, an endless variety of moles, tlayudas (huge fire-roasted tortillas and toppings), beans cooked with avocado leaves, and many other distinctive and diverse Oaxacan-inspired dishes. It’s an adventure on a plate.
Where: 321 W. 19th St.
The groovy vintage shop with a rainbow-stripe exterior is a time warp — in the best way. Flash back to another era with all the retro-fabulous clothing and accessories.
Phoenicia Specialty Foods
Where: 12141 Westheimer Rd.
Experience the flavors of more than 50 countries at this specialty shop that has just about anything you could want to try. You could literally spend hours browsing around. Oh, and be sure to grab a drink at MKT Bar inside.
Byzantine Fresco Chapel
Where: 4011 Yupon St.
Slow and deep reflection is encouraged at this enthralling place that hits all the right angles. Previously home to Byzantine frescoes, the chapel now hosts special art exhibits and installations as an extension of The Menil Collection.
The Health Museum
Where: 1515 Hermann Dr.
Sh** just got real — in an unreal way — at this museum that’s dedicated to an in-depth exploration of the human body. You’re definitely trading one reality for another one here.
Where: 11209 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. C-36
In the heart of Chinatown — which is more like Asiatown — you can combine the best of Vietnamese flavors with local crawfish culture at this place inside Hong Kong City Mall.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Houston
Where: 1150 Brand Ln.
The fantasy is so real here. This traditional Hindu temple is a haven of spirituality and peacefulness; it’s also the first temple of its kind in North America. More than 33,000 pieces of Italian marble and Turkish limestone were hand-carved in India, then shipped to Texas, to create the jaw-dropping structure.
Where: Washington Avenue Arts District, 1502 Sawyer St.
Get your art on amidst this creative community in Houston’ historic First Ward that’s surrounded by an active rail yard. The industrial warehouses have been transformed into working studios, public galleries, and other entertainment venues. Every second Saturday of the month, there’s a curated folk market where makers, artisans, and artists open their studios — and you get a voyeuristic peek inside all the artsy action (think sculpture, jewelry, crafts, paintings, photography, and more).
Where: 5701 Main St.
Influenced by faraway lands and luxe, exotic locales, this hotel is a stay-cation waiting to happen. Plus, you can take advantage of the charming-cool Monarch Bistro, chill pool scene, and spa amenities.
Cacao & Cardamom
Where: 5000 Westheimer Rd., Ste. 602
Chocolate is always a good idea — especially when it’s infused with exotic flavors from Chef Annie Rupani’s South Asian background and world travels. The edible art pieces come in a variety of flavors — think Szechuan peppercorn, chamomile vanilla, garam masala pistachio, black sesame ginger, cardamom (of course), and so many more.
Chùa Bà Thiên Hậu
Where: 1507 Delano St.
The neighborhood Taoist temple will immediately take you to the Far East (minus the long plane ride). Anyone can explore the courtyard and incense-filled, altar-clad interior space.
Where: 9889 Bellaire Blvd., #D232
The Aussie import brings imaginative fluff to Houston with their soft serve floating in a cloud of cotton candy. You just have to taste it to believe it.
Where: 6200 Hermann Park Dr.
Take a walk on the wild side with lions, tigers, and bears — and all the rest.
The Orange Show
Where: 2401 Munger St.
The citrus fruit takes a starring role at this 3,000-square-foot folk-art environment that was built single-handedly by the late Jefferson Davis McKissack, a Houston postal worker, between 1956 and 1979. The maze-like design includes an oasis, wishing well, museum, stage, decks, and more, all extolling the virtues of the orange. It’s so weird — and wonderful.
Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
Where: 2800 Post Oak Blvd.
The 64-foot-tall sculptural wonder is an urban waterfall that’s just as magical as a natural one. Curtain-like sheets of water pour down the towering structure at a rate of 11,000 gallons per minute.
The Glassell School of Art
Where: 5101 Montrose Blvd.
Normally, a school wouldn’t seem like an escape. But, all the sleekly pristine angles in the lobby of this teaching institute of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is not only almost too perfect, they will have you wanting to enroll — stat.
Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
Where: 105 Sabine St.
Go underground — literally —at this subterranean wonderland that was once a water reservoir, built in 1926. Now, the perfectly spaced, skinny concrete columns (all 221 of them) are a sight to behold — and made all the more hypnotic by the current exhibit, Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern: Spatial Chromointerference, which is on view until January 13, 2019. It will have you thinking you’re living inside a kaleidoscope.
BBVA Compass Roof Garden
Where: 5101 Montrose Blvd.
An architectural incline, clothed in Asian jasmine, shoots up towards this rooftop garden at The Glassell School of Art. The 360-degree views of downtown and the surrounding Museum District are on another level.
Blue Trees Memorial Drive at Waugh
Where: Intersection of Waugh and Memorial Drive
A cross between a Dr. Seuss storybook and a fairy-tale forest, these trees are a delight with bright blue- and green- painted trunks.
St. Paul United Methodist Church
Where: 5501 Main St.
You'll be transported to a medieval European town with the grandeur of this church — a testament to the magnificence of neo-Gothic architecture.
Where: Hermann Park, 6100 Hermann Park Dr.
Zen is so “in” at this tranquil urban garden that’s almost too peaceful to be real with lush nature at every turn coupled with waterfalls, bridges, and stone paths. The garden was designed by world-renowned landscape architect, Ken Nakajima, and it’s safe to say he delivered an uncannily serene vibe.
Where: Buffalo Bayou
It’s not Paris, but the romance is alive and well. Houston’s own love locket pedestrian bridge is a special little place to get away — with or without an SO.
Truck Yard Houston
Where: 2118 Lamar St.
It’s an adult playground and a beer garden with funky tree houses, food trucks, and a Ferris wheel, too.