Houston was recently named among the top shopping destinations in America by U.S. News and World Report. So it’s no surprise that an entire neighborhood of the city is named and anchored by Texas’ largest shopping mall, The Galleria. The shopping destination is home to more than 375 stores, two hotels, an ice rink and 30 restaurants. But the shopping district is also surrounded by countless other attractions, restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment. Here’s a guide to some of our favorite parts of the Galleria/Uptown area:
What to Do
You can’t visit the Galleria without experiencing Houston’s most photographed site, the 64-foot U-shaped Water Wall fountain in the heart of the district. Designed and created in 1985 by the internationally acclaimed architectural team of Philip Johnson and John Burgee, the Water Wall at Williams Tower pumps 78,500 gallons of recycled water every three hours and 20 minutes. More than 180 live oaks shade the three-acre area that plays host to families and couples out for a stroll or picnic.
Head over to The Galleria mall and put your skating skills to the test on an ice rink made famous by Olympian Tara Lipinski. The ice rink operates year round but is decked out with a large Christmas tree for the holiday season. Ice at the Galleria offers private skating lessons as well as camps and birthday parties. While you’re there, take the little ones to the Little Galleria Play Area for a chance to play in a kid-sized Galleria skyline.
Looking for a relaxing afternoon after a busy morning of shopping? Book yourself a massage or facial at one of the area’s many spas. Finish the day off with a paint and sip session at Pinot’s Palette or head to the Boyert Shooting Range to embrace your inner Texan.
Travel just a few miles down the road to the western edge of Memorial Park to experience the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Escape the hustle and bustle of city life for the opportunity to experience the natural world in the 155 acre non-profit urban nature sanctuary.
Where to Shop
Often referred to as the shopping capital of the Southwest, The Galleria hosts more than 24 million visitors annually and offers international shoppers duty-free shopping. The area is home to fashion icons like Coach, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Chanel, Jimmy Choo, and Ralph Lauren, among many others. Sitting alongside the upscale boutiques are anchor stores Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and two Macy's department stores, adding up to more than 2 million square feet of shopping thrills.
Don’t miss the historic Houston men’s wear shop Hollywood A-listers like Daniel Radcliffe and Ricky Gervais frequent.Still owned by the family that started the business in Houston in 1883, Hamilton Shirts specializes in bespoke and made-to-measure shirts of the highest quality. Hand cut from double-ply Italian and Swiss fabrics, the shirts are made at the Richmond Avenue store by trained specialists who have been with the company for years.
Follow the shiny chrome rings suspended above Galleria intersections to Highland Village for national luxury brands and delicious restaurant options. The shopping center is home to shops like Williams-Sonoma, Crate + Barrel, Restoration Hardware, and much more.
What to Eat and Drink
The Galleria is bursting at the seams with award-winning restaurants and bars. Acclaimed James Beard winners and nationally ranked bartenders can be found at nearly every street corner.
Looking for an amazing brunch? Try Pondicheri. Named one of the best 10 restaurants in Texas by Texas Monthly, Pondicheri is a casual breakfast, lunch and dinner eatery serving up bite-sized pakoras, seekh kebabs, goat biryani and Chef Anita’s take on many more Indian favorites. Go with the Morning Thali for an amazing assortment of Indian breakfast favorites.
Chef Hugo Ortega’s restaurant Caracol has been one of the most talked about restaurants in the country since its opening in 2014. The 5-time James Beard nominee chef brings his seafood expertise to a diverse menu that will take your taste buds on a flavorful tour along Mexico's 16 coastal states. The focal point of the main dining room is the oyster bar, where fresh Gulf and appellation oysters are served up raw or wood-roasted with chipotle butter and a spritz of charred lime.
Galleria nightlife is second to none. Head to the Richmond Arms for an authentic English pub experience. Or put your cowboy boots on and stop by Firehouse Saloon for a live country music And dancing. The popular location has been nominated repeatedly for best live music venue in Texas by the Lone Star Magazine.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk steak on a roundup of Galleria restaurants. The area is well-known for its extensive steakhouse offerings. Local favorites include Pappas Bros., Steak 48, Morton’s, Smith & Wollensky, and many more. These legendary steakhouses source only locally raised beef and specialize in unforgettable sides and desserts.
The Galleria is also a great place to find luxury chocolates and desserts. Boutique dessert shops like Cacao & Cardamom Chocolatier, Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe, or Sprinkles Cupcakes to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Where to Stay
It should come as no surprise that there are a variety of premium hotels in the Galleria. Hotel Derek is an updated, contemporary take on luxury. Featuring bright colors, bold patterns, and even some Texas-inspired concept suites, Hotel Derek is a perfect choice to reflect the energy and style of the Galleria.
Aloft Houston, another trendy choice, offers modern furniture, oversized spa showers, 42-inch flat screen tvs, and free WiFi. For a more predictable and less expensive stay, the Galleria also has the JW Marriott, complete with contemporary-style accommodations.
For a more classic type of elegance and service, the Omni Houston Hotel provides amenities such as marble baths, plush robes, lighted mirrors, and a nighty turn-down service. Hotel Granduca is known for the acclaimed Ristorante Cavour, offers Northern Italian fine dining. Hotel Granduca is the only hotel in Texas which is part of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World.
The Royal Sonesta, which recently underwent a $25 million dollar renovation, comes with access to a rooftop swimming pool, as well as improvements to the lobby and all guest rooms.
Click here for our full list of restaurants, attractions, and shopping in the Galleria.