Lifestyle blogger Neeloo Fathi took us along her trip to Houston, Texas on a recent visit to see her parents and now she's sharing all the Houston hacks with you (like a custom facial oil bar and delicious takeout spot). Keep reading for the best places and things to see, eat and experience in Texas’ biggest city, straight from the Columbus, Ohio-based cutie.

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My parents moved to Houston about four years ago and through the years I’ve had the chance to explore this city. It’s the largest city in Texas and among the top five in the US, making it a little challenging to see everything in one trip, but, no worries, I got you. Here is a list of where to go and tips to making the most of your trip to Houston.

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Beauty Packing List 

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    Fashion Packing List

    Airport look: My flying outfit consisted of nude chunky sneakers from Steve Madden with a mauve utility jumpsuit from Lulu’s, topped off with my cream flat brim hat that I found at World Market. I kept it pretty light as far as packing for this trip since it was just to spend some time with my family. I went to school at Ohio State and have stayed in Columbus since I graduated so I try to fly down every other month if I can to see them. Luckily, I got a direct flight to Houston so my flight was about three hours. I actually love this flight because it gives me enough time to get blog work (writing, editing, etc.) done without my phone as a distraction.

    What I wore: During the day I wore flowy Free People dresses (stolen from my mom’s closet!) and at night, I did jeans, booties and a tee with a leather jacket or sweater in case I got chilly.

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    Booking the Trip

    @tidbitshouston, @papercityhouston and @itsnothouitsme were the main Instagram accounts that I peeked at to get some inspo on where to go. I also use Thrillist and Eater for good Houston guides. I have a Texas story highlight on my Instagram you can take a look at for more ideas (@neeloofathi).

    Where to Stay

    Since my parents live there, I stayed with them. However, Houston has a ton of amazing hotels. Here are a few I’ve been dying to stay at:

    • Hotel ZaZa: I’ve been to their Austin location and it is such a vibe. Their Houston location seems just as cool.
    • Hotel Alessandra: It’s located downtown and perfect for someone who enjoys a luxurious stay.
    • Marriott Mariquis: This one mostly made the list because they have a Texas shaped lazy-river pool.
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      Dressing the Part

      It depends what time of year you go, but if it’s the summer then plan for it to be very hot out. My most recent visit was in October, so during the day the weather was pretty warm and a little cooler at night - oh, and it is almost always humid, so pack your OUAI Anti-Frizz Hair Sheets. 

      Getting Around

      I recommend getting a rental car. The city is very spread out and it will probably be the easiest way to get around from place to place. Otherwise, you can always Uber/Lyft around.

      Tip for First-Timers

      Fun fact: The saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas” is most definitely true about their highways. Katy Freeway has 26 lanes in certain parts, making it the widest highway in the world.

      insiders travel guide houston texas neeloo fathi ouai haircareDAY 1

      11AM Breakfast: I headed over to my fave spot: Vibrant. The aesthetic in there is on point and you can trust that whatever you’re eating will be wholesome and healthy. I brought my laptop with, so I can catch up on work and ordered my usual coconut chia pudding, which comes with caramelized banana, cacao nib buckwheat crumble and almond butter drizzle. And obviously, I had to get an iced matcha and a Topochico.

      1PM Next stop: Westheimer Road, where you can find a ton of cute shops and thrift stores. One of my favorite Houston boutiques is there: Emerson Rose. They have two locations, one in Montrose (on Westheimer Road) and one in Houston Heights. 

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      3PM Lunch: I went to The Rice Box, a super trendy, Chinese American takeout restaurant. The building is all glass with lots of neon signs - a vibe for sure. They have multiple locations, but I went to their River Oaks spot. My order: chow fun rice noodles with hot and sour soup.

      My evening plans were dinner and the Rockets basketball game, so after lunch I headed home to get ready for the night. 

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      6PM Dinner at The Grove: The Rockets play at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston, so I went to grab a quick bite before the game. The Grove is right across the street from the arena in a cute park called Discovery Green.

      9PM Game Time. I went to the Houston Rockets preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs. It was my first Rockets game and it was so fun. Houston has a couple of professional sports team, so definitely a fun activity if you have the chance. 

      11PM Nightcap: After the game, I headed to Biggio’s, which is located inside the Marriott hotel downtown. It was a Wednesday night, so not too many places were open, but luckily they are open late. I ordered the tomato pesto flatbread with a glass of pinot noir - so good!

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      DAY 2

      10AM Quick Lunch: I slept in after my late night, so I went to Bebidas to grab a green juice and their chicken salad sandwich. The cafe is super cute and they have a nice patio area too. 

      12PM The Arts: Houston is rich in culture and they have a great art scene. I loved going to Museum District and checking out some of the different museums there. My favorites are Rothko Chapel, The Menial Collection and the Museum of Fine Arts.

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      1PM Explore Heights Mercantile: is another area of Houston I love. It is a low-rise urban market and a fun spot to explore. You can get your nails done at Paloma or head to the oil bar at Lemon Laine to make your own face oil. If you want to get a workout in, you can check out Define. As far as food goes, I recommend Postino Wine Cafe or Local Foods. And for a sweet treat, try Melange Creperie or Cloud 10 Creamery.

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      5PM Happy Hour: I absolutely love the vibes at Present Company - from their neon signs to their eclectic decor, the whole place makes me want to take a million pictures. It also has a nice patio area and a rooftop. The drinks are just as creative as the decor. I got the Principal Kisses Alligator drink, which is gin, lime juice, agave, fresh blackberries, and blackberry-cucumber la croix - highly recommend!

      8PM Saving the Best for Last: End your trip with a sunset show at the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace over at Rice University. It’s free to see, but you can only watch the light sequence at either sunrise or sunset. The LED light sequence is projected onto ceiling during sunrise and sunset to complement the natural light. It’s pretty cool and worth seeing if you have the chance. 

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