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Bush Intercontinental Airport Concourse
Bush Intercontinental Airport Concourse

Layover in Houston

So you’ve got a layover and some time to kill in Houston. Lucky for you there are some easy ways to experience a quick taste of the cultural and culinary capital of the South! Whether you only have a few hours or half a day, be sure to make the most of your layover with our helpful guide. 

Transportation

Houston has over 23 miles of rail service running through downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, as well as a great bus service to get you to and from the airport. Don’t have time for public transportation? You’re just a short Uber or Taxi ride away from all that America’s 4th largest city has to offer.

William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

To accommodate Houston’s growth and urban sprawl, as well as international travel demand, IAH was situated a short distance outside of downtown. The only way to visit iconic Houston attractions and restaurants is by Uber/Taxi or by catching METRO bus 102 at Terminal C south which travels downtown. The 1-hour ride costs only $3 as part of a day pass with rail service included.

1-3 Hours

Travelers with a short layover can still enjoy a taste of Houston. 

  • Bush Intercontinental offers a handful of local Houston restaurants (with more on the way in 2016) like Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen (Terminal E), Pappasito's Cantina (Terminal E), and Shipley Do-Nuts (Terminal B).
  • Want to get out of the airport? Try Gumbo Jeaux’s just across the road from IAH. It’s been voted one of the best gumbos in town! (3.5 miles, $12 Uber, $16 Taxi)
  • Jimee’s BBQ, 10 minutes from IAH, also promises an authentic Houston BBQ experience not to be forgotten. (5.2 miles, $14 Uber, $25 Taxi)


4-5 Hours

With this much time, you can easily enjoy one or more of Houston’s acclaimed attractions. Just want to grab a bite to eat outside the airport? Check out our list of award-winning Houston restaurants. Houston was ranked No. 1 in Travel + Leisure's "America's Best Cities For Food Snobs" (2015).

  • Downtown (22 miles, $32-$40 Uber, $60-$70 Taxi)
    • Observation Deck of JP Morgan Chase Tower - JPMorgan Chase Tower is the tallest composite building in the world. The 60th floor Sky Lobby offers a spectacular vista of Houston and Joan Miró's 55-foot steel sculpture, Personage With Birds.
    • Heritage Society - The Heritage Society is the city's only outdoor, interactive historic museum and park. Nestled in 10 acres of beautiful green parkland in the heart of downtown Houston, The Heritage Society boasts 9 historic structures dating from 1823 to 1905. 
    • Buffalo Bayou Park - Buffalo Bayou, the 52-mile slow-moving waterway that was the site of Houston's founding in 1836, has become a destination for outdoor recreation near downtown Houston. 
    • Downtown Aquarium - Part attraction, part restaurant, the 500,000-gallon Downtown Aquarium complex is multi-functional destination boasting a Ferris wheel, an aquatic carousel, Shark Voyage, a white tiger exhibit and a restaurant.
  • Museum District (24 miles, $40-$50 Uber, $66-$70 Taxi)
    • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Founded in 1900, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's collection numbers more than 56,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present. 
    • Menil Collection - One of the most significant of the twentieth century, the collection consists of nearly 15,000 works dating from the Paleolithic era to the present day.
    • Rothko Chapel - The Rothko Chapel has become a pilgrimage stop for thousands of visitors who are drawn by its importance both as an artistic masterpiece and as an ecumenical gathering place for people of all religious beliefs. 

6 Hours or more

Have more time to spend in Houston? Check out our Houston Experience Builder to create your perfect trip.

 

William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)

The only way to visit iconic Houston attractions and restaurants is by Uber/Taxi or by catching a METRO bus at Curbzone 13 outside of the baggage claim area which travels downtown. Nearly all destinations downtown and in the museum district will take around 1 hour by bus and will cost $3 for a day pass (also gives you access to the METRO Rail). If using Taxi/Uber, plan for 20-30 minutes to downtown and museum district destinations.


1-3 Hours

Hobby is slightly closer to Houston’s downtown and bay area attraction destinations. In fact, a few are just right down the road from the airport!

  • Looking for some great Texas BBQ? Or maybe you want that famous Houston Tex-Mex or cajun you’ve been crazing? Try Pappas BBQ (Southwest terminal lobby), Pappasitos Cantina (main concourse), Pappa’s Burgers (main concourse), and Pappadeaux (main concourse).
  • On the same campus as Hobby, the 1940 Air Terminal Museum offers a unique look back in time at Houston’s significant aviation history. (1.8 miles, $7-$9 Uber, $10 Taxi)
  • Just 20 minutes down the road, Killen's BBQ is well worth leaving the airport. The restaurant was ranked as the No. 2 BBQ Destination in the U.S. by Food Network (2015). (8.9 miles, $16-$20 Uber, $27 Taxi)

4-5 Hours or more

With this much time, you can easily enjoy one or more of Houston’s acclaimed attractions.  Hoping to get out the airport for a bite to eat? Find fun ideas on our list of the 15 Iconic Houston meals around town. Travel + Leisure featured Houston on "Top Chefs Favorite Food Cities" (2015).

  • Bay Area Houston (20-25 miles, $24-$40 Uber, $50-$64 Taxi)
    • Space Center Houston - Space Center Houston, the official visitors center for NASA's Johnson Space Center, is the only place on earth where guests can embark on an out-of-this-world journey through human adventures in space.
    • San Jacinto Monument and Museum and Battleship Texas - The San Jacinto Museum of History, within the base of the San Jacinto Monument, holds one of the largest collections of Texas art, artifacts, and history.  The monument is located next to the historic Battle Ship Texas in La Porte, Texas. ()
    • Kemah Boardwalk - Overlooking Galveston Bay, the Kemah Boardwalk features themed restaurants, retail shops, and amusements for the whole family.
    • Sylvan Beach Park - This 32 acre Harris County park is the perfect place to get away from the hustle of city life and experience a nice beach with a refreshing ocean breeze.
  • Downtown (10 miles, $18-$25 Uber, $40 Taxi)
    • Buffalo Bayou Park - Buffalo Bayou, the 52-mile slow-moving waterway that was the site of Houston's founding in 1836, has become a destination for outdoor recreation near downtown Houston.
    • Downtown Aquarium - Part attraction, part restaurant, the 500,000-gallon Downtown Aquarium complex is multi-functional destination boasting a Ferris wheel, an aquatic carousel, Shark Voyage, a white tiger exhibit and a restaurant.
  • Museum District (13-15 miles, $21-$30 Uber, $40 Taxi)
    • Houston Zoo - Founded in 1922, the Houston Zoo is an exciting live animal adventure that provides a unique educational and conservation resource serving more than 1.9 million guests annually. (24 miles, $40-$50 Uber)
    • Buffalo Soldiers National Museum - The only museum in the U.S. dedicated primarily to preserving the legacy and honor of the African-American soldier, it houses the largest repository of African-American military history in the world.
    • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Founded in 1900, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's collection numbers more than 56,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present.
    • Children’s Museum - Rated the No. 1 children's museum in the U.S. by Parents magazine, the Children's Museum is packed with 90,000 square feet of innovative, interactive bilingual exhibits for kids, ages birth to 12 years.

6 Hours or more

Have more time to spend in Houston? Check out our Houston Experience Builder to create your perfect trip.

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