It will come as no surprise that Houston can get extremely hot in the summer months. That might be why there are so many great things to do indoors and out to beat the heat!
There are loads of fun recreational activities, museums, and even sports stadiums -- all with air-conditioning! There are also plenty of outdoor activities that are just right when temperatures are high.
Here are 24 of the best things to do in Houston on a hot day!
Top Fun Indoor Activities in Houston
Below are some of the best indoor activities in Houston that guarantee a fun time for people of all ages and better still, are fully air-conditioned.
1. See the Houston Astros
A highlight of any trip to Houston is seeing the Houston Astros play baseball at home. And hot or not, you can see them play comfortably since Minute Maid Park has a retractable roof and air-conditioning! In the hot months of June, July, and August, you can enjoy a game without sweating.
It may feel like 100 degrees outside, but inside the air-conditioned ballpark, it’ll be in the mid-70s! This is one of the best indoor summer activities in Houston to get into the spirit of the city! With value deals and promos, you can find tickets for as little as $20! See the Astros' schedule here.
2. Play an escape room
Playing an escape room at The Escape Game Houston is a super fun way to escape the heat! It’s also a really thrilling thing to do indoors in Houston as you must race against the clock to escape one of several uniquely-themed rooms. You’ll have just 60 minutes to rush and crack codes and decipher clues. This mission will require all you've got if you want to escape in time.
In Timeliner: Train Through Time, hop between centuries, from the Jurassic to the Medieval, and everything in between, in order to restore the past and save the future! In The Heist, you must rescue a priceless Monet painting from an evil mastermind. In The Depths, you’ll investigate ominous activities occurring in an abandoned laboratory at the very bottom of the ocean!
With two Houston locations, one in CityCentre and the other at The Galleria Mall means you can find relief from the heat in a location most convenient to you!
Planning a work party or corporate event in Houston? Both Escape Game locations are air-conditioned and open from 8 am to midnight so you can have your event during the day or night!
3. Visit Space Center Houston
The Space Center Houston is one of the “coolest” inside places in Houston to visit not just because of the air conditioning built but also because of what you'll see there! On the NASA Tram Tour, which offers a behind-the-scenes peek at space exploration, visitors will get an understanding of NASA's operations.
The tour includes a stroll around the Astronaut Training Facility along an elevated path to look down from. Moreover, you'll go see the actual Mission Control from which NASA ran the Apollo and Gemini flights. Mission Mars, an interactive display, discusses the complexities of traveling to Mars.
4. Go ice skating
Ice skating probably doesn’t cross your mind when planning a trip to Houston. But the locals know that one of Houston’s fun indoor activities year-round is to get out on the ice. When the sun is blazing outside, glide across the ice and stay cool and comfortable.
Two of the city’s rinks are Ice Skate Memorial City and Ice at the Galleria. Both have public skating as well as classes for skating newbies. As these rinks are inside shopping malls, you can spend some time before or after doing some shopping or getting some food!
5. Visit the Downtown Aquarium
At the Downtown Aquarium, visitors can stay cool in its air-conditioned exhibits. Not only will you stay cool, but you’ll see 500,000 gallons worth of aquatic wonders! The aquarium has more than 300 species of marine life from around the globe. The exhibits are organized by natural habitat.
There’s a man-made coral reef with a giant pacific octopus and a moray eel, plus other species. The tropical rainforest exhibit houses red-bellied piranhas, poisonous freshwater stingrays, colorful rainforest frogs, and beautiful birds.
6. See Houston on a bus tour
A sightseeing bus tour is a great activity on steamy, hot days in Houston, as well as rainy days or any day! These trips take you to Houston's top attractions and last one to two hours. A live tour guide discussed the city's past as well as the present.
If you don't mind being in the sun and heat for small chunks of time, a hop-on-hop-off bus is a good alternative to visit multiple sights of interest. Simply get off the bus at the locations you wish to see, and when you're ready to continue, board the next bus to come along.
Look here for some Houston bus tour options.
7. Shop until you drop
If Houston temps are too hot to handle, it's time to head inside to somewhere with air-conditioning and something fun to do. The solution? Go shopping at The Galleria! It’s the largest shopping mall in Texas, with 400 stores! You’ll be occupied for hours in the cool temps. Many of the stores are high-end, top-of-the-line boutiques like Chanel, Tom Ford, Gucci, Ferragamo, and several other designer stores.
However, you don't need to break the bank to enjoy the cool air. There are many popular chain stores like Urban Outfitters, Gap, Express, Free People, Aeropostale, Adidas, Aldo, and others. Sit down for some food at restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory and Shake Shack.
Planning a Girls’ Night or Day Out? Shop and dine together at The Galleria!
8. See an event at NRG Stadium
This massive, roofed air-conditioned stadium is home to Houston's football team, the Texans, and also the world-famous Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
NRG hosts concerts with big-name performers like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. If you are in Houston with teens, see who's playing at NRG Stadium. There may just be a band playing that they like!
There are also Monster truck jams, Comicon, and even ThriftCon, a massive vintage clothing convention at NRG. You name it, NRG Stadium’s got it!
See what’s on at NRG Stadium on your hot day in Houston!
9. Play arcade games
With an astounding 275+ arcade games, Cidercade is one of Houston's biggest arcades. The best classic video games are available, including Super Pac-Man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and more. Bishop Inc.'s Cidercade offers 14 handcrafted hard ciders as well as hard seltzers.
Although they don't offer food service, you are welcome to BYOF (bring your own food), order delivery, or grab a bite from one of their many changing food trucks. During the day, Cidercade is family-friendly, but after 8 pm it's 21 and over, making it a great place for adults looking for a fun time in Houston.
10. Explore Downtown Houston’s tunnels
On a hot day, head to Houston’s underground tunnels to keep cool and out of the strong sun. Houston has the largest downtown tunnel network in the country, measuring more than 6 miles long and spanning 95 city blocks.
The tunnels are mostly used by city workers to go between buildings, but there are things to do for visitors as well like shopping and dining. Take a Tunnel Tour to discover more about the tunnels and Houston as a whole, or use this map to explore the tunnels independently.
By the way, if you are traveling on your own in Houston, taking a tour can be an excellent way to meet other solo travelers!
11. Go indoor rock climbing
Why work up a sweat outside walking around, when you can get a healthy workout inside at an air-conditioned indoor Houston rock climbing facility? Indoor rock climbing is very popular across the country and it's a relatively easy indoor sport and fun too! Here are some places to go indoor rock climbing that sell day passes.
12. See a movie
You don't have to be a movie lover to know that seeking refuge in an air-conditioned movie theater is one of the very best indoor activities in Houston. The city has many movie theaters showing everything from blockbusters to classics. At the Alamo Drafthouse, you can sit back and enjoy the film while eating great burger fare and sipping on cocktails served right to your seat.
The AMC Houston 8 in Downtown Houston has 8 screens and features both mainstream and independent films. Plus you can reserve your seat in advance and save money on matinees. The iPic Theater is a premium experience with plush recliner seats and a full menu!
13. Hit the lanes at Bowlero
Although bowling might seem like an old-school activity for a hot day, Houston's bowling alleys are anything but dated. Plus, they are air-conditioned! Bowlero is a modern venue with a full bar, a great American menu, and more than enough lanes to accommodate you. For a retro-style bowling experience, head to Del Mar Lanes. Bowlmor is also a cool place to bowl. If you want family-oriented venues check out Tomball Bowl and Emerald Bowl.
14. Head underground at the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
The Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, an enormous underground former water reservoir, is one of Houston's more intriguing - and naturally cool - tourist sites. In 2010, the cistern was slated for demolition until the Buffalo Bayou Partnership stepped in. The BBP wanted to preserve the cistern so that people could see its amazing architecture.
The cistern is transformed into a spectacular setting by the use of rotating art installations that include vibrant lights and projections. There are several tours available, including an experiential tour with an introduction and opportunity for independent exploration of the Cistern thereafter.
15. Try indoor skydiving
Indoor skydiving has to be one of the most thrilling indoor activities in Houston! Without jumping out of a plane, you can experience what it's like to defy gravity at iFLY Houston. See what it's like to fall free while only a few feet above the ground in iFly’s man-made wind tunnel. You’ll stay cool and even catch a breeze!
Outdoor Activities on a Houston Hot Day
If the weather in Houston is hot, but not so much that you’d feel the need to be inside, venture outside and see what fun things the Houston locals do on a hot day.
Going to a waterpark is hands-down one of the most fun things to do on a hot day in Houston! There are loads of options too! They open for the season in April but don't have a full schedule until June and July.
There is the sprawling 48-acre Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown. With towering waterslides, wave pools, and play areas just for young children, it’s one of the most popular water parks in the area. Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventure features the area’s largest lazy river, a wave pool, and other awesome water activities for people of all ages.
Read all about these and other Houston waterparks here.
16. Kemah Boardwalk
Located on Galveston Bay, near the beaches, is Kemah Boardwalk and amusement park. Rides include the one-of-a-kind wooden coaster, which stands nearly 100 feet tall and has a top speed of nearly 51 miles per hour. Do the 140-foot Drop Zone to see how brave you are!
On the 65-foot-tall Century Wheel or the Boardwalk Tower ride, you can take in the view of Galveston Bay. At night, it's an especially fun place to be when the temperatures cool off and the amusement ride lights are sparkling.
Here are some other ideas for things to do at night in Houston.
17. Houston Arboretum
For those who love the great outdoors, a visit to the shady Houston Arboretum is a nice thing to do on hot days in Houston. This 155-acre nature sanctuary lets you explore different habitats like native wetlands, forested areas, meadows, and prairies without leaving Houston.
18. Galveston Beaches
Galveston's 32 magnificent miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico are about an hour’s drive from Houston. With 20 beaches, you can choose one that’s right for you. Stewart Beach is a fantastic beach for families, with a whole range of amenities, including showers, lifeguards, chair and umbrella rentals, and a playground.
East Beach has a pavilion, a boardwalk, and an entertainment stage. Unlike other Galveston beaches, alcohol is permitted here, so this might be a better choice for adults. Enjoying a breeze and a dip in cool water is a wonderful thing to do in Houston when it's hot.
Find out about Galveston's Beaches here.
19. Lake Conroe
If you are looking for a full range of water sports, Lake Conroe is worth the 45-minute drive from Houston. It’s one of the largest recreational bodies of water near the city and offers a lot in the way of activities. Visitors can spend the day swimming, jet skiing, kayaking, and more. Rentals are available nearby the lake. Plus there are some lovely lakeside restaurants. A trip to Lake Conroe is a lovely idea for a romantic date activity in Houston.
20. Buffalo Bayou Park
Buffalo Bayou Park lies along a 2.3-mile stretch of the Buffalo Bayou that runs right through Houston. The park has both manicured gardens and natural landscaping. You can hike and bike if the heat isn't unbearable. If you’d prefer to stay cool, you can get out onto the water as kayaking and canoeing are allowed in some parts of the park. You can rent kayaks and canoes from Bayou City Adventures.
Top Museums for a Hot Day in Houston
Spending a few hours in an air-conditioned museum is another best bet for an indoor activity on a scorching hot day in Houston.
One of the 10 largest art museums in the U.S., Houston's Museum of Fine Arts has a gigantic collection of almost 70,000 works of art dating back to antiquity up until today. Its modern art collection is superb as is its French Impressionist and Italian Renaissance painting collection.
22. Menil Collection
The Menil Collection doesn’t charge an admission fee making a visit here one of the best free indoor things to do in Houston. The outstanding collection includes art from antiquities to modern art. If the weather cools off while you are in the museum, you can look forward to relaxing nearby Menil Park, a Houston urban oasis.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is an enormous complex with exhibits from the Paleolithic to the Space Age. The Burke Baker Planetarium, the Cockerell Butterfly Center, and the Wortham IMAX cinema are on the Museum’s campus, though tickets are separate from entry to the museum. The museum has free entry on Thursday!
One of the best indoor activities for families with young children on a hotday in Houston is a visit to the Children's Museum of Houston (CMH). Young children, toddlers, and even infants can engage in hands-onactivities at this wonderful children's museum! CMH is totally interactive and aims to captivate kids by igniting their imaginations. Kidtropolis teaches kids about how cities are run, while FlowWorks teaches kids about water.
Explore more of Houston with our article, 30 Fun and Interesting Things To Do In Houston.
For suggestions on how to organize your time in Houston, see our Houston 2-day itinerary!