Whether you’re a football fanatic in town for Super Bowl LI or a sports fan coming to Houston any other time of the year, here’s what to do and what to see to get the most out of your visit.

Roughly one million people are expected to visit Houston in the event-packed two weeks leading up to Super Bowl LI on February 5. That means smart planning is a must if you’re looking for things to do in the city while you’re here for the game; otherwise, you might find yourself battling through crowds tougher than a hall of fame defensive line.

Think of this guide like any sports fan’s definitive playbook to enjoying Houston – no tricky routes, no hassles, and plenty of ideas to keep you entertained and fumble-free throughout your entire stay.

Even if you’re not visiting for 2017’s Super Bowl, each of the four “downs” in this guide contain activities to convert your trip into a first-rate sports-themed vacation in the Space City. Kick things off with Super Bowl–themed events and attractions, make the postgame parties and nightlife your second play, be sure to also squeeze in some local culture and competition while you’re here, and make things easy with a stay at Valencia Group’s Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE, one of the country’s top hotels located in a store-studded part of Houston just 20 minutes away from the stadium.

FIRST DOWN: Super Bowl Events and Attractions

Tailgating in Houston

In any good football city, the atmosphere outside the stadium is just as important as the game itself. Joe “the Commissioner of Tailgating” Cahn crowned Houston as 2016’s top city for tailgating pro football, so tailgating Super Bowl LI is the absolute must of absolute musts on this list of things to in Houston. Just make sure you bring your appetite with you to NRG Stadium when you check out top visitor-friendly tailgating groups, like the Blue Crew and the Bulls on McNee.

Super Bowl LIVE Fan Festival on Discovery Green

For the 10 days leading up to Super Bowl LI, downtown Houston’s premier park is the site of an event-packed fan festival that features live music, games, food, and plenty of chances to connect with other fans. While there are activities throughout each day from January 27 to February 5, mark February 4 (the night before the game) on your calendars: Pop megastar Taylor Swift will take the stage as the headliner of Super Bowl LIVE’s concert series.

Coming in 2017, this area of Houston will also be home to Hotel Alessandra, a brand-new Valencia Group boutique hotel.

NFL Experience at George R. Brown Convention Center

This expansive downtown convention center underwent a $175 million renovation just in time to host a special NFL exhibit from January 27 to February 5. The 10-day event features football-themed games for kids and adults, player meet-and-greets with past and present football stars, historical displays, and more.

Texas Sports Hall of Fame

Houston is known for its legendary museums, so if you’re a real student of the game (or just learning), make sure you check out the Texas Sports Hall of Fame’s football exhibits. This temple of football includes exhibits for high school, college, and professional pigskin, as well as a number of other sports.

SECOND DOWN: Postgame Parties and Nightlife

Get Outfitted before the After-Party

Think of Hamilton Shirts like the high-class pro shop for gearing up for the red carpets and VIP rooms awaiting football fans on Super Bowl weekend. This Houston institution, located in Uptown, has been making men bespoke formal and casual button-down shirts since 1883. While you could buy something ready-made off the store’s shelves, the real treat comes when Hamilton’s tailors transform fabrics you selected into a custom-fitted shirt. (Only one fitting is required for custom shirts, and appointments are recommended.)

Super Bowl Parties

There is no shortage of big-time after-parties in Houston throughout Super Bowl weekend. Some of the top and most exclusive festivities include Maxim’s annual party, a bash hosted by rapper Lil Wayne, and many more.

The Best of Houston’s Sports Bars

Houston’s top restaurants, bars, and pubs are going to be into fine postseason form come Super Bowl Sunday. Mr. Gino’s Lounge is a beloved blues dive bar close to NRG Stadium, but head downtown if you’re looking to watch the game in a classic sports bar atmosphere. Christian’s Tailgate serves some of the best burgers in the city at its three locations, The Hay Merchant’s poutine and gourmet fare blow arena concessions out of the water, popular Midtown hangout Pub Fiction boasts 60 TVs, and Bovine & Barley pairs craft brews with a massive projector screen.

Other Late-Night Fun

There’s much more to Houston’s nightlife than bars. Indulge in some refined conversation and gourmet coffee at Agora, an ancient art-packed coffeehouse that stays open until 2 a.m. every night. Locals also rave about River Oaks Theatre. The intimate three-screen cinema hosts midnight showings of classic flicks, like The Godfather and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, every Friday and Saturday night, in addition to independent films and documentaries throughout the week.

THIRD DOWN: Culture and Competition

A Different Type of Running Game

Fans of an elegant touchdown run will love watching thoroughbred horses compete at the Sam Houston Race Park and the historic Houston Polo Club.

Eastern Texas Barbecue

No trip to Texas would be complete without some barbecue, especially because Houston has its own style. Traditionalists will love Gatlin’s and Goode Company, but the signature smoky ribs and homemade desserts at CorkScrew BBQ make it one of the best modern barbecue joints in the state.

High-Octane Competition

Racing is almost as important to Texas’ sports history as football, so be sure to hop into one of the exotic cars at Fittipaldi Exotic Driving for an exhilarating 2.38-mile, 17-turn sprint around the FIA track at MSR Houston.

The Other Big Game

While you won’t get your hands on the Lombardi, you can snag a different kind of a trophy on Super Bowl weekend thanks to a Gulf of Mexico sport fishing charter with Galveston Fishing Guides.

Houston’s Artistic Side

Houston has plenty of free public art and a plethora of galleries, and Super Bowl fever has prompted even more interactive art installations and rotating street art to pop up in the city, like “Trumpet Flower” by Patrick Renner of Flying Carpet.

Championship-Caliber Golf

NRG Stadium is visible on the horizon while playing either of the Roy Case-designed courses at Wildcat Golf Club. Just make sure you keep an eye out for the abundant water hazards and some unexpected elevation changes as you’re admiring the views of the city.

FOURTH DOWN: All-In-One Shopping and Entertainment


If you’re short on time or you’re looking for a mix of experiences in one location, Houston’s upscale CITYCENTRE development features some of the best boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment in the city. It’s outside of downtown, so you’ll also avoid some of the Super Bowl traffic in the process. CITYCENTRE is also home to Valencia Group’s Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE, a luxury hotel that Condé Nast, U.S. News & World Report, and others have ranked the best hotel in Houston and one of the top places to stay in the US.

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