The post below is courtesy of Houstonia Magazine. Summer is great, but if you have just moved, sometimes you just can’t get away to a traditional vacation. Here are some ideas on booking a “staycation” right here in The Woodlands!
School’s out for the summer, and whether you got out of school 10 days ago or 10 years ago, there is still something about the general idea of school being out that puts all of us into full-on vacation mode from June until September. Pools and waterparks are open, movie theatres and malls are bustling with activity day and night, college students take over their hometown hot spots and patios are crowded with Houstonians enjoying long lunches and dinners. There is an undeniable energy that summer is here and if you choose to spend the season traveling or staying in the city, it is no doubt a time to spend creating warm (literally!) memories with friends and family.
Like the Corona commercial suggests, I like to find my beach wherever and whenever possible, as my school days are long gone and so are the three beautiful months of summer vacation. Jetting off for a weekend getaway used to be simple enough until airline fees took over our lives and a domestic flight can cost upwards of $500-and I can only imagine having to pay for a flight for a family of four! While rest and relaxation are the key components to any vacation, it seems very little of that actually happens when you travel out of town. As a result, I have grown increasingly curious as to what our city has to offer in the way of weekend getaways. Houston is no small town after all, and from the natural landscape of the serene Woodlands to the Pleasure Pier stretching out into the Gulf on Galveston Island, there is a long list of places to consider for a staycation this summer.
The Woodlands has long been synonymous with summer in Houston because of the fantastic concert line-up presented each year at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Like many concert-goers, I have been guilty of rushing through traffic to get to The Woodlands and rushing back home at night, because what else is there to do in The Woodlands, right? Wrong. There is plenty to do-enough, in fact, to fill an entire staycation.
Hyatt Market Street
9595 Six Pines Dr.
While it seems far away (and perhaps we perceive it this way because it is such an oasis outside the city), you can get to the Woodlands by car within an hour from almost anywhere in Houston. Hidden beneath tall trees and lush, natural greenery lies The Woodlands Mall, the aforementioned Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, shops, movie theaters, the charming Market Street and the picturesque Woodlands Waterway lined with restaurants and bars.
As far as hotels go, the brand-new Hyatt Market Street, a boutique hotel in the middle of all that action, is an ideal choice for a staycation. Towering over Market Street itself, the hotel houses an infinity pool on the second floor terrace with views of the action below along with a full restaurant, bar and fitness center. There are even in-room spa and massage services available upon request. The location itself is the pride of the hotel, spilling out onto the bustling Market Street surrounded by high-end boutiques and restaurants of every variety. Anchoring it all is a large, open lawn where kids are free to run and play, very much like CityCentre and the Sugar Land Town Square.
If you’re anything like me, your vacation itinerary reads as such: Relax. Eat. Repeat. Though The Woodlands has long been infamous for its predominance of chain restaurants, one brilliant young chef is hoping to change that perception. Austin Simmons, executive chef at well-regarded restaurant Hubbell & Hudson, brings the excitement of fine dining in the city to the relaxing and serene environment of the Woodlands Waterway, just steps away from Market Street. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Hubbell & Hudson offers diners a world-class culinary experience, including carefully chosen wines and skillfully crafted dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, all within a stunning space encompassing the warmth and elegance of the Woodlands.
Hubbell & Hudson Bistro
24 Waterway Ave. Ste. 125
Brunch at the Hubbell & Hudson Bistro on your Staycation is a must. A serious menu including duck confit eggs benedict with citrus hollandaise and buttermilk pancakes topped with whipped maple syrup and coffee butter, the restaurant raises the bar for brunch as we know it. Should your staycation warrant a dinner in the special occasion department, Chef Austin is slated to open Cureight (like “curate,” get it?) on June 18 as a tasting-menu-only concept that’s attached to Hubbell & Hudson. Each night, Cureight will offer a special eight-course tasting menu complete with wine pairings in an interactive dining setting unlike anything else in the city.
For the family looking to get away from any and all city activity, the secluded Woodlands Resort is a natural choice for a staycation. Luxurious guest rooms and suites are situated throughout the property, all with views of the pristine grounds, lake, and golf course.
The Woodlands Resort
2301 N. Millibend Dr.
And while the resort is an extraordinary destination to experience year-round, it is during the summer months when all activity centers around the Forest Oasis Waterscape. A hit with children of all ages as well as the big kid in the family-yes, you, Dad-the incredible Forest Oasis Waterscape features a pool with 30-foot tower and racing water slide, waterfalls, underwater music, a toddler pool, lagoon style relaxation pool, hot tub, and a lazy river (officially the biggest in Texas.) The Cool Water Cafe is open to guests all day to purchase snacks, meals and drinks, with the resort team providing fun extras for kids like the build-your-own-s’mores and underwater treasure hunts.
While there is plenty for the little ones to enjoy at the Woodlands Resort, the exquisite Robard’s Steakhouse on the property offers an upscale and fun environment for the older crowd. Located on the property of the resort itself, Robard’s offers marvelous views of the lake and a sprawling patio complete with outdoor seating, fire pits and tables. The patio is a hot spot in the evening as adults gather together in their resort wear and relax after a hot day over craft cocktails and wine.
As The Woodlands continues to grow and broaden its horizons, the restaurant scene isn’t the only thing changing for the better. Hughes Landing, a brand-new, pedestrian-friendly shopping and dining destination is now also home to popular River Oaks boutique KB Kasuals.
The newest location of the trendy Houston-based boutique owned by Krista Burke and her mother, is joined by Whole Foods Market, Kriser’s Natural Pet (think Whole Foods for animals), Local Pour and Del Frisco’s Grille. Built out on Lake Woodlands surrounded by the natural beauty, Hughes Landing adds yet another layer to the expanding area that’s exceptionally fit for your next staycation.