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Things To Do

33 Magical Things To Do In Houston Before New Year’s Day

By Colby Smith

33 Magical Things To Do In Houston Before New Year’s Day

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – make it count!

December is coming to a close as is the year. With all the ups and downs in 2020, you owe it to yourselves to end it on a high note. Don’t let the holidays pass you by  without indulging in some good old fashioned holiday cheer!

1. Experience A Magical Candlelight Concert

Photo credit: @Khanh Nguyen

You can still experience an absolutely magical (and safe) autumn here in Houston, and part of that is thanks to the amazing outdoor spaces the city has to offer. Luckily, Fever Originals is bringing its wildly popular Candlelight concert series to a beautiful open-air venue for the season.

2-5. Catch The Holiday Light Shows

The festive event returns for another year to bring some much needed cheer to the holiday season. Every year the Houston Zoo hosts a dazzling light spectacle for the City of Houston. This year, the zoo will continue its tradition from November 14 – January 10, 2021.

  • From November 11 to January 3, Decatur, Frisco, and Weatherford will light up with Radiance! Created by the Peerless Production Group, Radiance! is a drive-thru experience that expands for over a mile, taking visitors around 20 to 30 minutes to complete. While cruising through animated RBG light tunnels and dazzling lighting fixtures on either side of the car, visitors tune in to their station to keep calm and carol on.
  • We’re gliding into the holiday season and lighting displays abound in the City of Houston with electronic LED-powered cheer. But when it comes to the most Houston-centric lighting display, nothing says “Space City” more than the Galaxy of Lights spectacle that orbits Space Center Houston.
  • Hello, holidays: Houston’s first drive-thru animated Christmas light experience has rolled into Spring for the joyous season. “Looking for a safe & family-friendly festivity for Christmas 2020,” the Light Park Troupe writes on its Facebook page. “Come visit our drive-thru light spectacular with over a million lights synchronized to a cheerful mix of holiday music.”

6. Get Your Tickets To The Upside Down

We gotta admit, when that giant monolith started appearing around the world, we were kind of hoping the aliens had finally arrived to take us away. With the landing of Seismique in Houston on Saturday, December 26, however, it looks like they’re here to stay

7. Dive (Bar) Into The Festivities

The celestial network of Christmas lights are lit up once again on both floors of the endearingly crust punk palace.Grand Prize is tucked in the east edge of Montrose north of Museum Park. Driving by, the bar first gives off the vibe of a low-key house party – what with the front porch, music, and the colorful array of lights twinkling in the front window and all. In sunnier, warmer, and less pandemic-y times, bar patrons can be seen having a couple beers on the second story balcony.

8. Motor Up Your Mornings 

Vigilance is required when visiting Wolfsmiths Coffee, less it be passed by and mistaken for an auto-body shop. On the one hand, however, this assumption would be correct. Wolfsmiths is in fact a fully operating motorcycle repair shop – one that happens to wheel out top notch tacos and coffee.

9. Hop On A Luxury Jet To Dallas

On November 20, commuters can streamline their commute from Houston to Dallas in luxurious fashion. Dallas-based startup, JSX is preparing to launch their Simpli-Fly program that allows travelers to hop on a flight from Houston to Dallas for less than $100, with expedited boarding and de-boarding procedures.

10. Pop Into A Christmas Miracle

There is one thing this season has in store for us that might brighten you with a welcome dose – accompanied by a stiff glass – of Christmas cheer: the Miracle Christmas-themed pop-up bar is now open at Johnny’s Gold Brick.

11. Roll Into Unicorn Disco

Houston’s bang-up new bar is groovy, baby. Furnished with shagadelic psychedelia complete with flashy neon signs and a cigarette machine straight out of the 60’s, new downtown hangout, Unicorn Disco, gives Houstonians the chance to blast into the past.

12. Jingle Your Bells Off

If you need a little more than eggnog to get you through the end of this year. It’s midway through December and the holidays are in full tilt. Between drive-thru holiday light spectaclesintergalactic light spectacles, and lazy river floating light spectacles, there’s plenty of shining festive cheer to go around in Houston. For an extra shot of Christmas cheer, fly by the Jingled Up pop-up bar at 711 Main St.!

13. Take A Trip Down To The Largest Indoor Waterpark In America

Kalahair Resorts & Conventions are making waves as the “World’s Coolest Indoor Waterparks”. With locations in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, Sandusky, Ohio, and Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, the resorts are bringing their tidal wave of fun to Round Rock, Texas this November.

14. Stop By Amsterdam Coffee Co. For A Pick-Me-Up

Housed in a 1900’s Dutch Colonial, the coffee shop and CBD dispensary features a Euro-contemporary design with vaulted ceilings, sleek furniture, and an open-access bar concept. It also has a front and back patio for lounging, live music, and other events when the time comes. The coffee shop offers your typical coffee house amenities of assorted coffee, specialty drinks such as a vegan Red Velvet Latte, 9 Spice Chai, and Matcha Green Tea Latte, and teas. Future plans are to add beer and wine to the menu.

15. Rent Out A Theater For Your And Your Friends

When it comes to movies in theaters, you never know who is going to be in that crowd with you… until now. Get the best of both worlds: the big screen, and a hand-selected audience to enjoy it with at Alamo Drafthouse by renting your own private Alamo!

16. Nosh On Fruity Pebble French Toast

Photo credit: @its_biancacarol

Don’t give in to the banality of growing up. Let your youth loose with a brunch burger made of chocolate donut and Fruity Pebble French Toast at the Bosscat Kitchen & Libations.

17. Transport Yourself To A Madrileña Discoteca

The city of Madrid worships the sun. On warm summery days the terraces fill with Madrileños enjoying their tapas, tortillas, and patatas bravas while bathing in the Spanish sun. Though they love the day, the city lives for the night. Once the sun goes down and the neon lights turn on, the night turns into a vortex of cocktails, cañas, and dancing that doesn’t stop until the sun returns. If you’re looking for a taste of Spanish cuisine, with the sight, sound, and feel of Madrilenian nightlife, MAD Houston is your ticket.

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18. Sneak Into A Super Sweet Speakeasy

Clutch, the owners of the Concrete Cowboy, Clutch Bar, and a host of establishments in other US cities, have just opened the doors of the Sugar Room on Washington Avenue. The cocktail lounge hidden inside a local bakery features a glamorous selection of drinks as well as tasty treats.

19. Get Second Breakfast At The Hobbit Hole

Photo credit: @shelbie.mariee

You don’t have to journey all the way out to Mordor to enliven your Tolkien-esque fantasies. Here in Houston, just southwest of Montrose is The Hobbit Café. Since 1972, the café has served all the hobbits, elves, wizards, and dwarves the best food Middle Earth, Houston has to offer.

20. Sip On A Latte Art Masterpiece

Photo credit: @nancyhelen

Sycamore Grounds Coffee House in Houston offers lattes topped off with foamy masterpieces that you’d rather frame than imbibe. Sycamore Grounds Coffee House in Pasadena offers hand-crafted coffee concoctions with an assortment of yummy pastries and baked goods.

21. Get Your Game On

Photo credit: @isa_p_photography

Video games are taking over the world. Join the virtual takeover at Katy’s new epic 90,000 sq. ft. gaming center — Andretti Indoor Karting & Games.Andretti Indoor Karting & Games has finally opened its doors in Katy. The new epic entertainment center features –*deep breath* — cutting-edge virtual reality and gaming technology, a massive arcade, a two-story laser tag arena, (soon to be) nine high-tech holes of mini-golf, three levels of go-kart racetrack, multiple dining options, and, last but not least, two locked and loaded bars.

22. Experience A Psychedelic Odyssey Only Accessible By Train

Photo via Hermann Park’s website

The train ride in Hermann Park begins as ordinary as would be expected in any urban park. Fair, pleasant, mild. The miniature Dr. Jack Express train picks you up from Kinder Station and takes you on an 18-minute trip around the park. It engines along, giving you pleasing views of the Miller Outdoor Theatre, Japanese Garden, and the Jones Reflection Pond. When suddenly, you are plunged into Destination Mound Town: a tunnel of mind-altering artwork from another universe.

23. Ditch Your Grinch At Houston’s Hou-Ville

We’re all pretty much The Grinch this year, right? Be that as it may, there’s still ample time for us to salvage our Christmas spirit, especially with the Dr. Seuss-inspired Christmas Village opening up in Houston this holiday season. On December 1, Hou-Ville opens at 40 Below in Downtown for all the Hous in Houston!

24. Skate In The Heart Of Downtown

Glide into the holidays this season! Discovery Green in Downtown, Houston has announced the return of their outdoor rink this season. From now until January 13, Discovery Green is hosting public skates at the foot of Houston’s skyline.

25-26. Rep Your Favorite Fast Food Burger Chain

It’s hard to imagine that any other state could rep a local fast food chain harder than Texas does Whataburger. In celebration of the holidays, the flying W is giving the people the chance to don their classic orange colors with a new line of ugly Christmas apparel and seasonal trinkets.

  • How loud and proud do you rep Whataburger? This holiday season, you can let the whole neighborhood know who’s your favorite Texas-based burger chain with Whataburger’s new series of inflatable holiday lawn ornaments.

27. Sick Your Tastebuds On A Chicken & Waffle Sandwich

You gotta love the emerging f– it attitude of chefs nowadays. We give it out to all those food truck owners, bakers, and mad scientists food makers out there breaking tradition and going off their imagination rather than old recipes. The Waffle Bus in Houston included. Bus on by the their hangout at 1835 N Shepherd Dr in the Heights to see, and taste, what we’re talking about.

28. Travel Into Another Dimension

At James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyscape in Houston, sunset and sunrise are otherworldly experiences. The rise and setting of the sun are spectacles all on their own. Captivating natural phenomena that imbue us with feelings of wonder, awe, and romance. At the James Turrells’ Twilight Epiphany installation, you’ll see the sky in entirely new colors.

29. Cop A 25-cent Martini

Lunch just got a lot more interesting. Your afternoon pick-me-up just got rescheduled. This week, Brennan’s in Houston is offering martinis for pocket change between the hours of 11 am – 2 pm from Tuesday to Friday.

30. Go On A Stargazing Journey

We city folks might not have the best optics when it comes to catching shooting stars and the occasional meteor shower, but out in Texas country await two stellar national parks that have been rated two of the top 10 stargazing hotspots in the entire United States of America: Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains.

31. Go To Town On French-Fry-Stuffed Burritos

Man vs. Fries is now offering delivery and pickup from two Houston locations. It’s the time of the year where we say “adios” to our diet plans. Our new year’s resolutions can wait until the first of January, until then, we owe it to ourselves to savor holiday sweets, eggnog, and massive burritos stuffed with french fries.

32. Embrace The Winter (Wonderland)

Winter doesn’t quite take to Houston as it does anywhere, well, north of Houston. That said, with the arrival of the holiday season we can pretend. More than others, the Winter Wonderland Holiday Bar at 3033 Fannin is making us believe that a White Christmas is a feasibility in 2020.

33. Glamp In The Cosmos

Basecamp Terlingua looks like something on another planet. New resident Texan, Elon Musk, promises that humans will land on Mars by 2026. If you can’t wait that long, you can spend a few nights at Basecamp Terlingua, an other-worldly glamping experience that integrates the future with the past, giving its visitors the impression of luxury camping in the cosmos.