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Your 2-Day Houston Itinerary, Inspired By Beyoncé

You must make time for Frenchy’s.

After spending some time in Houston, I can confirm that everything’s bigger in Texas — well, except your budget. That’s OK, though, because a weekend trip to the city is extremely affordable, making it the perfect destination for budget-minded travelers who are interested in exploring the area’s food and art scene.

Going into my trip, I didn’t know much about Houston, besides the fact that Beyoncé calls it her hometown (one tick in the “pros” column already). One four-hour flight out of New York City later, I had a much better grasp of why the city is a go-to for my art-inclined, foodie friends. Plus, I checked out a few of Bey’s fave spots for good measure.

I was in town for the Houston Rodeo — easily the city’s biggest tourist attraction (for good reason!) — but that’s not H-Town’s only draw. Art museums, public parks, swanky cocktail bars, and excellent restaurants all make it a worthwhile destination for your next long weekend when you’re ballin' on a budget. (Seriously, I have spent more on a weekend in my home of NYC than I did on this trip.)

If you’re in the mood for a change of scenery and want to start wearing cowboy hats on the daily, Houston should definitely be on your travel list. Here’s exactly how to make the most of a 48-hour trip to Houston:

Thursday

5 p.m.: Arrive at George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Hannah Kerns/Elite Daily

Once you land in Houston, head straight to your designated car rental kiosk. Getting your vehicle and getting transport to the parking lot might take a while, but it’ll be worth it in the Uber money you’ll save. Rental cars at the Houston airport can cost as low as ~$50 for the weekend, while gas is about ~$3 per gallon. Not to mention, there’s parking pretty much everywhere in the city — and plenty of valets to boot.

Drive over to your choice of lodgings to get settled. (BTW, I highly recommend La Colombe d’Or for a hotel; it’s beautiful, centrally located by the best art museums, and has unbelievably large bath tubs. It’s only 30 minutes from the airport, too.) Give yourself some time to settle — and potentially soak in the tub — before getting ready to go our for your first night in Texas.

Rental car: ~$50

Gas budget: ~$50

8:30 p.m.: Go out for Tex-Mex... and a dance party

No trip to Houston would be complete without some Tex-Mex (specifically, queso, aka cheese dip). When it comes to choosing a solid restaurant, there’s no shortage of options. Still, Armandos stands out as a great place to start your Houston trip (even if the menu is a little pricey). It’s about a 10-minute drive from La Colombe D’or. There’s plenty of free parking outside the restaurant, too.

On Thursdays, Armandos turns into a dance party around 10 p.m., as they clear the tables from the middle of the dining area. It’s open until 1:00 a.m, so you’ve got allll night to eat and dance.

Dinner and drinks: ~$70

DAY 1 TOTAL: $170

Friday

10 a.m: Find a cute coffee shop

You might want to take things slow on Friday morning, depending on how many margaritas you ordered the night before. The city has plenty of eclectic coffee shops — Blacksmith Coffee, Luce Coffee Roasters, and Koffeteria, to name a few. Choose one close to where you’re staying and enjoy people watching while you have something to eat.

Breakfast and coffee: ~$16

12 p.m.: Get a panoramic view of the city (plus, a viral lunch)

To really get the lay of the land in Houston, check out POST Houston as early as possible. The building’s roof is free and open to the public and has panoramic views of the city. Fun fact: It’s actually the largest rooftop park in Texas.

After checking out the rooftop, head down to the food hall for lunch. If you’re in the mood to try a viral creation that originated in Houston, order lunch from YoYo’s Hotdog. The all-beef hot dog is topped with caramelized onion, fried onion, honey mayonnaise, YoYo hot sauce, and cream cheese — a combination that somehow works perfectly. Pair it with orange lemonade for the perfect savory-sweet lunch combo.

Lunch: $10

1:00 p.m.: Hit the tourist spots

Following lunch, drive 10 minutes to the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, which used to be the source of the city’s water supply and is now used an exhibit space for artists. Every hour on the hour (except noon), visitors can tour the cistern and see the latest art instillation, “Haha Real” by Rachel Rossin. (Tickets for the exhibit are $15.) Afterward, feel free to explore and walk around the park.

Next, drive 15 minutes over to McGovern Centennial Gardens in Hermann Park, a free public space that has the perfect Instagram photo opp in front of the dome.

After you got the pic (or several pics), head toward the Rothko Chapel and the Menil Collection to round out your arts and culture excursion. The Rothko Chapel is a must-see for modern art enthusiasts, and it’s only an eight-minute drive from Hermann Park.

About a block away, you can find the Menil Collection, another free spot museum filled with art. (Bonus: Beyoncé and Jay-Z actually visited the Menil Collection during a 2016 visit to Houston, and posted some fun pictures with the art there.)

Tickets: ~$15

6:30 p.m.: Get hand rolls & crudo for dinner

Take some time to shower and chill at your hotel before heading out for dinner — don’t worry, this restaurant is way more relaxed than a night at Armandos. It’s only a 10-minute walk from La Colombe D’or, so you can skip the drive this time.

My meal at Handies Douzo was easily one of my favorites during my time in Houston. If you’re a fan of hand rolls, this is a can’t-skip restaurant. Grab a seat at the bar and try the Maguro Crudo (featuring bluefin tuna, pickled cucumber, and ponzu) and 3 Hand-Roll Set to test Handies’ version of BGB sake, hamachi, and spicy tuna hand rolls. They have a great sake menu, too.

Dinner and sake: ~$65

8:00 p.m.: Go out for inventive cocktails

Diversion Cocktails is an eclectic bar with an unassuming entrance. It’s a bit of a drive (around 20 minutes), but it’s worth the journey. The bar’s surprisingly creative menu, which includes Pho Cup’d (a pho-inspired drink featuring bone broth and gin) and John Midas (a dessert-adjacent drink that includes a Luxardo cherry-filled bar of dark chocolate).

Drinks: ~$40

DAY 2 TOTAL: $146

Saturday

10:00 a.m.: Have breakfast in Montrose

Check out of your hotel on Saturday morning and load your luggage into your rental for the rest of your day in Houston.

Start your morning off right at Common Bond in the Montrose neighborhood. Whether you want a quick croissant to take on the go or would prefer trying shrimp and grits, Common Bond has it all. They also have plenty of coffee options, and even some mimosas if you’re feeling up for it.

Breakfast: ~$25

11:30 a.m.: Do some shopping

Shopping always takes the edge off after a long day of visiting parks and museums. Houston has plenty of fun thrift and vintage stores — including Leopard Lounge and Pavement Modern & Recycled Fashion — all in Montrose, steps away from Common Bond.

If you’re tempted to embrace the casual cowgirl trend, now’s the time to do it. These shops are full of Western-inspired pieces: cowboy hats, boots, and vests.

Shopping: ~$100

1:30 p.m.: Head to one of Beyoncé’s favorite fast food spots

Frenchy’s is a necessary stop during your time in Houston, especially if you’re part of the BeyHive. Beyoncé’s a fan of the fast food chain, and even gave it a shoutout in the lyrics of her song “I Been On.” Make the 15-minute trek from Montrose to Frenchy’s for some of the best fast food you’ll find.

The menu’s very affordable, making it perfect for a last-day lunch. The 5 Wing menu option, which comes with a side and a 20 oz. drink, will only set you back about $13.

Lunch: ~$15

2:30 p.m.: Stop by the Graffiti Park

Add a bit more color to your Houston trip with a visit to the Graffiti Park, only seven minutes from Frenchy’s. The colorful street art is worth a closer look and makes a great backdrop for any selfies.

Once you’ve gotten your fill, drive over to the “Houston Is Inspired” mural for one more photo opp before hopping back into the car for another 10-minute drive to the Museum District.

Photo opp: FREE

3:30 p.m.: Visit the Museum of Fine Arts

Finish off your time in Houston with a stop at the Museum of Fine Arts. A $24 ticket is all you need for access to all of the museum’s exhibits. It’ll give you a chance to check out the illuminated light tunnels — underground passageways that connect the museum’s buildings, which were turned into art.

Ticket: $24

5:00 p.m.: Head back to the airport

Be sure to make your way back to the airport with enough time to get stuck in traffic, return your rental car, get settled at your gate, and daydream about Handies’ Maguro Crudo before your trip home. The airport is about a 30-minute drive from the Houston’s Museum District, so plan accordingly.

DAY 3 TOTAL: $164

Total Cost: $480

48 hours and $480 later, you’ve experienced some of the best spots Houston has to offer outside of Houston Rodeo. Bonus points if you spend a little more time in the city to check out the Space Center Houston. (I skipped this stop since the mere thought of black holes gives me anxiety for weeks, but to each their own.)