After Houston's unpredictable weather caused recent delays and cancellations at airports, the appeal of the staycation has become even greater for some. The summer is a great time to settle in for a weekend getaway in one of the city's many interesting little pockets. With annual sip and stroll events, food festivals, and the Fourth of July weekend right around the corner, Houston is bustling with activity, so why not spend a relaxing staycation with the family right here at home? This week we'll explore CityCentre as a staycation destination, with its upscale shopping, world class dining and child friendly plaza making it an ideal place to spend a long weekend.
As its name suggests, CityCentre is located in the so-called geographic center of Houston, right off I-10 and the Beltway, making it easily accessible from Sugar Land, Katy and Inner Loop destinations like downtown in under 30 minutes. Easy to navigate by foot, the streets of CityCentre are lined with patio restaurants, clothing stores, a Lifetime gym and a Studio Movie Grill. Towering over the main plaza in the center of it all is the ultra trendy Hotel Sorella, which acts as a hub for groups to meet thanks to convenient valet and an attached parking garage.
Among other superb amenitites, Hotel Sorella houses a terrace pool overlooking CityCentre's main plaza, posh in-house restaurant Radio Milano that's known for creative Italian fare from chef Jose Hernandez, and a swanky bar, the Monnalisa, which features live music on the weekends. As an added perk, a continental breakfast is included with your stay each morning. For families, this can be quite the advantage.
The luxurious rooms of the hotel offer the utmost comfort, but it's the views of the non-stop action below that are hard to resist. Luckily, the elevator from the main lobby of Hotel Sorella lets you out right in the middle of all the action. Whether you're in the mood for spicy pan-Asian cuisine at Straits or decadent dessert crepes at Sweet Paris, restaurants upon restaurants are just steps away from your home away from home.
Grub Burger Bar is a fantastic place to check out on your staycation for a plethora of reasons. Besides being a casual, child-friendly joint, Grub offers happy hour every day, seven days a week, which means you can take advantage over the weekend. Their "happier hours" take place from 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m. daily and feature $3 beers, $4 margaritas and half-priced appetizers like the delicious Luau fries topped with pulled pork, pineapple and barbecue sauce. Children are typically pleased with the delicious burgers, and for the parents it doesn't hurt to score a spiked salted caramel bourbon milkshake for only $5 on special. Additionally, the two happy hour timeframes make it easy to plan around show times at the nearby Studio Movie Grill. While the movie theater does provide food and drink service throughout their shows, you never know when a gourmet burger or spiked shake craving might hit you. And those tend to hit more frequently on vacation.
If yours happens to be a child-free staycation, a visit to Radio Milano for dinner and drinks should be on the itinerary. The Radio Milano Bar sits at the foot of Hotel Sorella and extends out on to the patio, offering guests plush outdoor seating to enjoy wine, beer and a menu of craft cocktails unlike anywhere else in Houston. The restaurant itself is more formal, located on the second floor (a.k.a. the lobby level of Hotel Sorella) and provides an intimate dining experience. Dishes like the housemade burrata and gnocchi with grilled octopus will excite even the boldest foodies. And for dessert, the decadent tartufo, as eyecatching on the menu as it is on the plate, is made with chocolate shortbread, pistachio semifredo and cherries.
The main lawn around which all of the restaurants, shops and the hotel itself are centered is well-manicured and scenic, and as such often plays host to weekend events. When planning your staycation, you can check out citycentrehouston.com to explore what events CityCentre is hosting on upcoming weekends. From farmers markets to the recent Houstonia Burger Bash, there is often something festive and exciting happening that the whole family can enjoy.
With the fourth of July holiday coming up soon, CityCentre has much in store in the way of celebrations. The weekend will mark the unveling of the Mural Project which brings 18 temporary urban art installations to CityCentre. Some of the best urban artists of the city will have their work featured in this series, and it will be a colorful weekend to enjoy it. The plaza will feature live music nightly from July 2 to 5, spotlighting a different band each day. Most importantly, the fireworks show begins at 9:30 p.m., and there will surely be no shortage of activity before and after! Hotel Sorella is offering a special overnight rate of $189 through the long weekend which includes two cocktails at Monnalisa—coincidentally, one of the best spots to enjoy the evening's fireworks show.