Houston is a strictly air-conditioned city, but that’s fairly recent history. The first air-conditioned building in Houston was the cafeteria at The Rice Hotel (now The Rice Lofts) downtown in 1922. Texans of yesteryear would build big, open porches and transoms above every door in the home that kept breezes moving through the house. There were screened-in sunrooms painted all white with all white furniture, including an all-white bed where residents would sleep on summer nights to keep cooler. Air conditioning was not even the norm until the mid to late 1970s, but ever since, there’s no looking back. Houston’s natural resources are amazing, but the hot summer sun will have you seeking out indoor adventures like a local.
Our famous Museum District is absolutely necessary on the indoor itinerary, and if you’re going to start anywhere, it should be Beyonce’s favorite. The Menil Collection is known for the lovely green space shaded by old live oak trees, but inside the building is modern and contemporary, ancient antiquities, and crisp, cool AC. On the University of Houston campus is Blaffer Art Museum, where free guided tours are held and diverse contemporary works abound. A few miles over is Houston’s actual Museum District, where our biggest institutions neighbor each other. Check out the mummies and dinosaurs at Houston Museum of Natural Science, tour the impressionist collections at Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and walk across the street to see some of the coolest and most evocative contemporary pieces in the country at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
Speaking of art, one of Houston’s vintage crown jewels is Reeves Art + Design, formerly known as Reeves Antiques. In the heart of Montrose aka The Gayborhood, this 50-year-old family business is one of the best places in town to peep original midcentury modern pieces. Now they’ve added modern art among their specialties, sharpening their keen eye for aesthetic. Historic 19th Street in The Heights is littered with antique stores featuring everything from kitschy knickknacks to stunning regency pieces.
The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing is something the entire city of Houston is celebrating, and there couldn’t be a better time to tour NASA and Space Center Houston. Check out actual aircraft that have traversed through space, grab a snack of dried ice cream that astronauts eat while in orbit, tour real shuttles and shuttle carries, and see the iconic Mission Control Center that helped us walk on the moon.
If your legs are tired from walking tours, get nice and comfy in a theatre seat while catching a show. Our amazing Alley Theatre is one of the few American theatre companies that support a company of actors, designers, artisans and craftspeople throughout the year. The Alley presents a wide-ranging repertoire of eleven productions each season, including the new production of A Christmas Carol. MATCH is the beating heart of arts and entertainment in Midtown, presenting everything from comedy to performance art to plays by local writers. For something a little fancier but just as cool, head to The Houston Ballet or The Houston Grand Opera for an air-conditioned feature.