This post is sponsored by The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!
If you’ve been around the blog for a while now, you’ll remember that Nick and I moved back to the Charlotte in 2016. Before that, we lived in and around the Greater Houston area for about five years. Part of that time was spent in the Houston suburb of The Woodlands, Texas. Located about 30-ish miles north of Houston’s center, the suburb was recently named one of the best cities to raise a family in the country. And while we are a bit biased, we have to say that we definitely agree with that ranking. The Woodlands is a family-friendly community bursting at the seams with fun things to do, both indoors and outdoors.
A couple of weeks ago, Nick and I went to The Woodlands to celebrate the marriage of two of our very dear friends, Sarah and Jeff. While we were there, we did a sort of “greatest hits” style trip and made sure to visit all of our favorite haunts and even some places we missed during our time we lived there. Whether you live in Texas or not, a trip to The Woodlands is well worth it for a weekend getaway or even just a day trip from Houston, Dallas, Austin or San Antonio.
During our trip I took a bunch of videos, and put together a little recap of our trip! It’s the first video I’ve ever made for this here blog that actually required editing. I’m moving on up!
1) Concerts at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
In the interest of full disclosure, I had to pleasure of calling The Pavilion my employer for most of my time living in Texas. However, don’t just take my word for it. Pollstar magazine recently ranked The Pavilion as the number 1 outdoor music amphitheater in the WORLD. Yes, you read that correct. There’s a world-class venue located in The Woodlands. Some of my favorite acts I’ve seen there include James Taylor, Elton John, Paramore, Bruce Springsteen, Fall Out Boy, Heart… really the list just goes on and on. If there’s a big tour, it’s likely that The Pavilion will host that artist. The Pavilion’s season runs March-November, and while the Texas summer heat is brutal, it’s well worth the visit. (Not to mention that the venue holds FREE events with the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, and Houston Grand Opera throughout its season!)
One of the things I loved most about The Woodlands is found right there in its name: the woods! The town has over 160 miles of hiking/biking trails woven in throughout the town limits. It’s easy to ride your bike from place to place, though you may get a bit tired if you’re as out of shape as I am. We often used the trails near our house and having all of the trees and brush around me made the walk even more relaxing. The best part? There’s tons of wildlife in The Woodlands, and it’s likely that you’ll stumble across it on your walk. On our most recent trip, we saw multiple turtles, an entire family of ducks, tadpoles, snakes, and rabbits!
3) Spa Day at The Woodlands Resort
Nick and I had the pleasure of staying at The Woodlands Resort for part of our trip, and while it wasn’t our first time staying there, it was an experience we will never forget. The team there gifted me a 50-minute massage and guys… I could barely stay awake afterwards, I felt so relaxed! If you pop in for a spa service, you’re able to use the sauna, steam room, showers, and jacuzzi. I definitely hit those up after my massage because I just couldn’t stand to go back out to the “real world” just yet! Whether you’re a guest at the resort or not, you should definitely schedule some time at the spa.
4) Bowling at Bowlero
If bowling takes you back to your days as a middle schooler, you will be floored when you walk into Bowlero. This place is a bowling alley, but on steroids. We never made it there when we lived in Texas before, so we had to check it out this time and we were not disappointed. They have a full bar, individual servers to help you at your lane, ping pong, pool tables, arcade games and giant TV screens where they play everything from family friendly movies to whatever sports are currently in season. Be sure to check out their website for specials – if you go on an “off night” like we did, they will likely have specials like unlimited bowling and shoes for a set price!
5) Shopping at Market Street
Your significant other might be like mine and run the opposite direction when I mention the word “shopping” but Nick was a great sport and agreed to walk around Market Street with me on our trip. They have high-end stores like Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Johnny Was, and Trina Turk, but also favorites like Kendra Scott, LUSH, Lululemon, Madewell, J. Crew, and Francesca’s. In addition to amazing shopping, they have some of the best restaurants in The Woodlands, including Jasper’s and Tommy Bahama, and an amazing movie theater that shows movies that range from the latest indie-flick to chart-topping blockbusters.
6) Ice Skating at The Ice Rink
Open from November-January and located at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Ice Rink is (you guessed it) an indoor ice-skating rink for the whole family. For many years the rink was held inside a giant tent across the street from its current location, but last year was opened for its first full season at The Pavilion. We know that Texas isn’t known for white Christmases, so this may be the closest thing you’ll get.
7) The Lazy River at The Woodlands Resort
If you ever have the opportunity to stay at The Woodlands Resort, we highly recommend it, not only for its exceptional service and immaculate grounds, but also for the awesome lazy river! It’s fairly new – only a few years old – and it was a highlight of our last trip to the resort. I’m just sad that it wasn’t open for our trip just a few weeks ago! The entire pool area is just insane, but the lazy river is good for all ages.
Okay, so TopGolf isn’t “technically” in The Woodlands… but it’s just a ten minute drive! Located in Spring, TopGolf is a three-story indoor driving range that is fun for golfers and non-golfers alike! Much like Bowlero where you have a dedicated server, TopGolf’s friendly staff is there to serve you delicious drinks and house-made food while you play. We took family and friends there whenever they visited and they always had a blast! There are multiple “games” you can play, but typically I just swing to see how far I can get the balls to go. TopGolf is an international chain, and there are two locations in the greater Houston area.
9) Explore The Woodlands Waterway
Located right in the heart of Town Center, the Waterway is one of the most iconic features of The Woodlands. You can rent kayaks and float along the Waterway into Lake Woodlands, or you can take a river cruise! Our favorite thing to do was to park at one end and walk along the side of it, usually heading to a restaurant or bar on the other end. If you go at night, there are some particularly gorgeous lights to enjoy! The Waterway isn’t deep, but keep an eye on the little ones so they don’t take a tumble into the water.
Holiday Photo Shoot 2014 at The Woodlands Waterway (credit)
10) Dinner at Robard’s Steakhouse
There are many fine steakhouses in The Woodlands, but for me, none of them compare to Robard’s. Not only is the food exceptional, the decor is the restaurant is my favorite. Much of The Woodlands, including the resort, is owned by The Howard Hughes Corporation. Yes, that Howard Hughes. Being the movie buffs that we are, Nick and I love the old Hollywood style of the restaurant and the movie posters and memorabilia hanging on the walls. We enjoyed some happy hour bites while there on our trip recently and I can say that they easily have the best calamari I’ve ever eaten, and the baby bisque (with hunks of succulent lobster) was to die for. The restaurant overlooks the 18th hole at The Woodlands Resort, and has a beautiful patio where guests can enjoy a drink or two (or three) after golfing.
There you have it! There is so much more that I could have included, it’s hard to narrow it down! Have you ever been to The Woodlands? What is your favorite thing to do, see, or eat there?