Part of Houston’s charm is its dancing dichotomy between the slow pace of a southern town and the hustle and bustle of a big city. This duality is reflected practically everywhere — five minutes on our freeways and you’ll see the way we effortlessly drive fast while somehow still in traffic. Our inner city is freckled with green spaces between the concrete. We make tea the slow way (in the sun) and then we drink it fast. Speaking in terms of Selena songs, the city’s heartbeat thumps faster than the beat of “Baila Esta Cumbia,” but in the summer, we tend to take things down to a “Dreaming of You” pace. When it gets hotter than a billy goat with a blow torch outside, Houston has an abundance of options to achieve maximum levels of chill.
Newly opened and LGBTQ-owned, Nap Bar in Rice Village was literally built to chill. When owner Khaliah Guillory often found herself napping in her car on breaks at work, she had a lightbulb moment and made her dream (pun absolutely intended) a reality. With black-out curtains, soothing music, tranquil aromatherapy scents like chamomile and lavender, and cozy little pods with organic mattresses, visitors can rent a space to catnap on a one-off basis or buy a package to snooze at a lower price.
Alira Spa and Salon in Montrose gives award-winning massages that can be booked solo or for couples for a low-key date. Winner of Outsmart Magazine’s Best Day Spa in 2017’s Gayest and Greatest issue, Alira also offers luxury facials that invigorate and hydrate while you get to lay back and kick up your pedicured feet.
Axelrad Beer Garden’s sprawling backyard surpasses the definition of a patio — this massive outdoor space is dotted with hammock chairs so everyone in your party can hang while enjoying local craft beer, food trucks, and even catch a movie on a huge projector some nights.
Rice University’s iconic campus art installation, James Turrell’s Skyspace may look familiar because of Drake’s nod to it in the “Hotline Bling” video. The grass-covered pyramid is specifically designed to use light and space to alter the viewer’s perception of the sky on its roof that changes color and appears to float. Spots are available to reserve at either sunrise or sunset, and it doesn’t hurt that admission is free.
Get your zen on in Hermann Park’s famous Japanese Garden, an island of total serenity nestled in a pine grove near the Sam Houston Monument. Built on 5 acres right in the middle of the city, it’s hard to believe that this garden’s waterfalls, bridges, cherry trees, and dogwoods are just miles from downtown.
The absolute pinnacle of summer relaxation in Houston is floating in a pool, but it’s a thousand times cooler if you float in a pool in the shape of Texas. This is peak Houston — The Marriott Marquis’ iconic lazy river makes it the prime choice for locals to pick as a weekend staycation. Booking a stay at the Marriott or booking an appointment with their spa will get you access to this rooftop monument of pure Texas chill.