When the heat is on, head indoors for fun and entertainment—day or night. Here are some ideas to have plenty of fun, but just not in the sun.
Texans are familiar with how quickly the heat arrives (and endures) beginning in spring. And while it’s genuinely difficult to turn down any opportunity for a stroll or run along Hermann Park or an amble inside the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center even when the temperature inches toward triple digits, you may be better off seeking entertainment (and comfort) indoors.
Luckily, throughout Texas, there are plenty of opportunities to head indoors for a day (or night) out. Three Midway districts—CITYCENTRE and GreenStreet, both in Houston, and Century Square, in College Station—provide a number of venues that offer everything from live music and even a brush with puzzle-solving, to ice cream treats and opportunities to simply rest, refresh, rejuvenate, and even play.
When the heat’s got you down, head out to some of these spots and enjoy some indoor fun!
Star Cinema Grill
Movies have always, and will forever, be a great escape from reality…and also the heat! But why go to a mainstream cinema when you can enjoy an elevated experience featuring luxury recliners, a chic atmosphere, and a full menu complete with cocktails and beers. For those looking for dinner and a movie, the Star Cinema Grill offers a constantly evolving menu. “Everything is made fresh in our kitchen,” says Adam Parker, general manager, adding, “We try to offer a welcomed escape to our guests.” Check out the nightly specials, ranging from Bloody Mary’s on Sundays and Wine Wednesdays.
Bowl & Barrel
Eat, drink, and bowl at this hybrid bowling alley, bar, and restaurant, which promises an “elevated” experience not typically found in bowling alleys. With its red-brick walls adorned with colorful paintings, the ambiance of this establishment is hip and inviting. As colorful as the rolling balls are, so are the cocktails and cuisine—which include beer and wine by the glass, as well as an array of mouth-watering cocktails and even “mocktails,” as well as a bevy of dishes ranging from appetizers, or “bites,” including Ghost Pepper Peanuts and Crab Hushpuppies, to crafted charcuterie boards and vibrant pizzas. Looking to add even more color? Order some royal blue cotton candy to finish!
Beverly Hills Revujenation Center
With “Beverly Hills” in the title, you’d expect to walk out of the center’s doors feeling as refreshed as a Hollywood A-lister, and you will. Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center offers services ranging from age-defying regenerative therapies to body contouring, which are typically offered over the course of several visits. However, if you’re looking for a one-time experience solo or to spend some quality downtime with a friend, consider opting for one of several relaxing, restorative, and transformative facials offered here. It’s a great way to fight fatigue and stress and enjoy some “me” time while offsetting the effects of the sun’s harmful rays.
Lick Honest Ice Creams
The ice cream here is so good that it was listed in Thrillist’s “Best Ice Cream Shops in America” in 2021. Indeed, after building a following for its delicious and unique natural flavors in Austin and San Antonio, Lick Honest Ice Creams is making its way to College Station. Best known for crafting desserts with “responsibly sourced, peak-season ingredients from local farmers and food artisans that are soy-free, palm oil-free, and preservative-free,” according to co-founder Anthony Sobotik, this spot marks a perfect escape from the elements and the ordinary. As for what to try on the menu, co-founder Chad Palmatier lists Lick flavors such as Texas Sheet Cake, Hill Country Honey & Vanilla Bean, Goat Cheese, and even Roasted Beets & Fresh Mint among his favorites.
810 Billiards & Bowling
If you are in search of a little variety for your indoor getaway, one of Houston’s newest attractions is 810 Billiards & Bowling, which opened late last year. Offering fun in a relaxed, casual atmosphere, this cozy location offers something for everyone. Whether you want to take the family out for some bonding time or meet the gang for pitchers, sliders, and some frames, 810 Billiards & Bowling offers activity with options. Apart from slamming the pins, you and your guests can partake in games of pool, darts, foosball, corn hole, and team trivia—or even enjoy a rousing round of chess. Lean back into the sleek black leather couches and order shareables from the menu. Wash them down with a Million Dollar Margarita or a draft beer. The happy hour drink specials will keep the fun rolling!
Smashed Clay + Studio
Creating art can be therapeutic. Either alone, in a group, or with a pal or your significant other, Houston’s Smashed Clay provides an opportunity for everyone to connect with their inner artist. This pottery studio provides classes and workshops for novices and experts alike, with memberships available for folks who already know their way around a slab of clay. If you are a newbie, don’t fret: Smashed Clay offers one-hour experiences for those only looking to dabble. Or sign up for a four-week intensive class and grow your pottery skills. Throwing and hand-building clay has never been more creative or fun!
Pete's Dueling Piano Bar
What’s better than one piano? Two, of course! From Tuesday to Saturday, there are few venues as energetic and fired up in Houston as Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar. Pete’s tosses away the sheet music and trades them in for sing-along renditions of pop songs from the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, and the Beatles, as well as Houston crowd favorites, including “Sweet Caroline” and “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” Whether it’s a waiter, a bartender, or even you, anyone can be lured onstage to sing along with the musicians as they tickle the ivories. “It’s one giant party of singing all your favorite songs,” promises co-owner Corey Urbach.
With its motto, “Life is like gelato, enjoy it before it melts,” a visit to this café is like escaping to the sidewalks of Italy. Treat yourself to a coffee drink made with Lavazza coffee from Italy. Or try an Affogato al Caffee, an Italian coffee-based dessert, and indulge yourself with two treats in one! That’s a scoop of plain milk-flavored gelato with chocolate shavings, drowned with a shot of hot espresso.
House of Blues
There’s a reason the House of Blues has nationwide staying power, given the brand’s commitment to music and ability to constantly deliver on stellar performances. Generally speaking, if a national act is touring through Houston, they’re likely making a stop at this 2,100-seat venue. This spring, Houston’s House of Blues is set to host a number of talented artists, including legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy (March 19), moody dream-pop duo Beach House (March 26), pop icon Charli XCX (April 9), and indie alt-rock duo The Talbott Brothers (April 29). If you’re interested in a more intimate experience, check out a show at the Bronze Peacock, located off the main stage. The name of this 200-seat venue pays homage to the Bronze Peacock nightclub, a Houston Fifth Ward staple in the 1940s, which hosted a score of wonderful blues musicians.
Studio Movie Grill
With some sixty spirits listed on its bar menu, there’s no better place in Houston to sip a margarita or cocktail while taking in the latest cinematic features! After a 2016 remodel, the Studio Movie Grill doubled down on its mission to deliver Hollywood’s latest releases with class, comfort, and a full list of options. At the push of a button, moviegoers can order from the menu of fresh and delectable entrees as well as beer, wine, and expertly crafted mixed drinks (and get them delivered to your seat!). On the menu: burgers, pizza, sliders, salads, and dessert. There’s even a kids’ menu and, of course, gourmet popcorn! Plus, the luxe reclining rockers provide comfort and offer a unique experience for any film buff that’s better than home.
The Escape Game
We all want to escape our surroundings on occasion. What if you were to escape to an escape? The Escape Game represents an opportunity to cool off while stretching your group’s brain muscles as you collectively review clues and try to solve puzzles to “escape” the room. Choose between several themes, including a prison break, painting heist, and hunt for gold, among others. It’s an adventure! While it’d be truly daring to sneak into the actual Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and attempt to lift a priceless art piece, The Escape Game offers the chance to pretend you’re living out scenarios like this and others such as you’d see in action films. If you’re an adrenaline junky in search of a rush, try thinking your way out of these rooms! But don’t solve the puzzle too quickly—you’ll only end up right back in the heat.