Look Before You Book: A Sustainable Travel Guide to Houston, Texas

January 1st, 2024
Reading time: 14 minutes

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Welcome to Houston, Texas—a vibrant city that blends urban excitement with natural beauty, offering various options for the environmentally conscious traveler. From sustainable hotels to locally sourced dining, Houston has something for everyone while minimizing their environmental footprint. Get ready to explore the stars of Space City.


Lowering your footprint: Getting here and getting around

Houston offers several transportation options for travelers to explore the city while minimizing their carbon footprint. Choose the option that works best for your visit. 

METRO Public Transit: Houston’s METRO system includes buses and light rail, providing convenient and affordable transportation throughout the city. METRO buses run on clean-burning compressed natural gas, reducing emissions and air pollution. The METRORail offers an efficient way to travel between downtown, the Museum District, and other popular destinations, with stations conveniently located near key attractions and neighborhoods.

Biking: With its flat terrain and expanding network of bike lanes and trails, Houston is increasingly becoming a bike-friendly city. Visitors can rent bikes from various bike-sharing programs, such as Houston BCycle, and explore the city at their own pace. Many parks offer scenic trails for cyclists, providing a unique perspective of Houston’s natural beauty.

Walking: Houston’s pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and urban streetscapes make walking an enjoyable, scenic way to get around. Many of the city’s attractions, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance of each other, allowing visitors to explore Houston’s diverse culture and heritage on foot. From historic districts like the Heights to bustling downtown streets, there’s always something new to discover around every corner.

Electric Scooters: Electric scooters have become a popular and environmentally friendly mode of transportation in Houston. Companies like Lime and Bird offer electric scooters for rent, providing a convenient and emissions-free way to navigate the city. Visitors can easily locate and unlock scooters using smartphone apps and ride them to nearby destinations, reducing reliance on traditional car-based transportation and minimizing traffic congestion.

Carpooling and Ride-Sharing: For longer journeys or trips outside the city center, carpooling and ride-sharing services offer sustainable alternatives to solo driving. Apps like UberPOOL and Lyft Line allow travelers to share rides with others heading in the same direction, reducing the number of vehicles on the road and decreasing carbon emissions. By opting for shared transportation options, visitors can minimize their environmental impact while enjoying the convenience of door-to-door services. 

Electric Vehicles: For travelers who prefer to drive, renting or using electric vehicles (EVs) can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional gas-powered cars. Many car rental companies in Houston now offer electric and hybrid vehicle options, allowing visitors to explore the city while minimizing their carbon footprint. Additionally, Houston has a growing network of EV charging stations, making it easy for EV owners or renters to recharge their vehicles while on the go.


Sustainable hotels 

Whether you’re seeking a luxurious retreat downtown or a cozy inn in one of the city’s historic neighborhoods, Houston offers many hotels prioritizing energy efficiency, conservation, and responsible tourism practices. These hotels provide discerning travelers with a way to enjoy the comforts of home while away. Discover some of Houston’s top sustainable hotels, where hospitality meets eco-consciousness for an unforgettable stay in the Bayou City.

The Sam Houston Hotel: Location: 1117 Prairie St, Houston, TX 77002
About the space: Located in downtown Houston, The Sam Houston Hotel stands as a timeless beacon of Southern hospitality and sophistication. Steeped in history and charm, each guest room exudes warmth and comfort, featuring stylish decor, plush furnishings, and state-of-the-art amenities. The hotel also implements energy savings practices and sources local ingredients for its restaurant. Enjoy a cocktail at the bar, walk around the area, or relax in your cozy room. 

The Lancaster Hotel: Location: 701 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002
About the space: The Lancaster Hotel is an elegant and timeless destination that embodies the city’s rich history and hospitality. With its classic architecture and luxurious interiors, this boutique hotel offers a refined retreat for discerning travelers seeking a blend of sophistication and comfort. 

Each impeccably appointed guest room and suite exudes warmth and refinement. Guests can enjoy locally inspired cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant, which emphasizes seasonal, organic ingredients. 

The Whitehall Houston: Location: 1700 Smith St, Houston, TX 77002
About the space: The Whitehall Houston is a refined and elegant hotel with timeless charm and sophistication. Housed in a historic building dating back to 1963, the hotel seamlessly blends classic architecture with modern amenities to offer guests a luxurious retreat. Each guest room features plush furnishings, sleek decor, and upscale amenities for a comfortable stay.

The hotel also has three eateries on site, offering drinks and menu items sourced locally. With its warm hospitality and personalized service, The Whitehall Houston ensures that every guest receives the utmost attention and care. 


Sustainable dining

Houston’s culinary scene is renowned for its diversity and innovation. With farm-to-table eateries sourcing ingredients from local growers to eco-conscious restaurants, reducing waste, and supporting ethical practices, the city offers an assortment of dining options that prioritize environmental responsibility without compromising flavor or quality. Whether craving farm-fresh fare, plant-based delights, or ethically sourced seafood, Houston’s dining establishments invite you to indulge in delicious cuisine while supporting sustainable food systems and conservation efforts. 

Xochi: Location: 1777 Walker St, Houston, TX 77010
About the space: Led by award-winning Chef Hugo Ortega, Xochi is a culinary gem that celebrates the rich flavors and culinary traditions of Oaxaca, Mexico. The restaurant offers a dining experience that is as immersive as it is delicious. From the moment guests step through the door, they are transported to the colorful streets and bustling markets of Oaxaca, with the restaurant’s eye-catching decor and warm ambiance setting the stage for an unforgettable meal. 

Xochi’s menu showcases the diverse ingredients and bold flavors of Oaxacan cuisine, with options ranging from traditional mole-based dishes and tlayudas to inventive ceviches and mezcal cocktails. The restaurant sources ingredients from local farmers and incorporates traditional cooking techniques, ensuring a fresh, authentic meal. 

Field & Tides: Location: 705 E 11th St, Houston, TX 77008
About the space: Located in the historic Heights neighborhood, Field & Tides is a culinary destination that epitomizes Southern hospitality with a modern twist. Led by Chef Travis Lenig, this charming restaurant offers a farm-to-table menu that celebrates the flavors of the Gulf Coast while showcasing locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. The restaurant’s warm and rustic atmosphere provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable dining experience. 

Weights + Measures: Location: 2808 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77004
About the space: Situated in Midtown, Weights + Measures is a culinary destination that seamlessly combines a bakery, restaurant, and bar under one roof. This unique concept offers guests a multifaceted dining experience to enjoy artisanal types of bread and pastries baked fresh daily, inventive and seasonal dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients, and handcrafted cocktails expertly mixed by skilled bartenders.

The restaurant’s industrial-chic ambiance, with exposed brick walls and sleek, modern decor, sets the stage for an inviting and dynamic dining atmosphere. Weights + Measures prides itself on supporting and sourcing from local artisans, ensuring that each dish reflects the freshest flavors of the season. In addition, the establishment boasts a rooftop garden where herbs and vegetables are grown for use in their dishes.

Hugo’s: Location: 1600 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
About the space: Another gem from Chef Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s is renowned for its authentic Mexican cuisine and unparalleled dining experience. This restaurant pays homage to the diverse regional flavors and rich culinary customs of Mexico, offering a menu that celebrates the country’s traditional dishes like barbacoa and other innovative creations inspired by the freshest local ingredients. Whether indulging in a leisurely brunch, celebrating a special occasion, or simply savoring a memorable dinner, a meal at Hugo’s is an immersive culinary journey.


Coffee shops

Houston’s coffee culture is thriving, with many cafes committed to serving high-quality brews while minimizing their environmental impact. If you need a morning pick-me-up or a cozy spot to relax and recharge, these coffee shops offer a taste of the city’s evolving coffee scene. 

Agora: Location: 1712 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
About the space: Nestled in central Montrose, Agora is more than just a coffee shop—it’s a community hub where locals gather to sip, socialize, and savor artisanal coffee. Guests can enjoy a wide selection of coffee drinks, including single-origin pour-overs and specialty espresso beverages, all served in compostable cups and accompanied by locally made pastries.

Boomtown Coffee: Location: 242 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008 and 800 Capitol St suite t-302, Houston, TX 77002
About the space: With locations in the Heights and Downtown, Boomtown Coffee is known for its commitment to sustainability and quality. The cafe roasts its beans in-house using a solar-powered roaster. Customers can choose from a variety of responsibly sourced beans that are roasted to perfection to bring out the unique flavors of each origin. In addition to coffee, Boomtown offers a selection of organic teas, house-made syrups, and plant-based milk alternatives.

Antidote Coffee: Location: 729 Studewood St, Houston, TX 77007
About the space: Antidote Coffee is a cozy and inviting cafe that partners with local roasters and farmers who share their commitment to ethical and environmentally conscious practices. Guests can enjoy freshly brewed coffee made from organic, shade-grown beans, house-made baked goods, and light bites. Antidote also hosts community events and live music performances.

Katz Coffee: Location: 2400 Karbach St, Houston, TX 77092
About the space: As one of Houston’s oldest roasters, Katz Coffee has been serving up brews since 2003. The family-owned company is dedicated to supporting small-scale farmers and offers a wide range of responsibly sourced beans that are roasted in small batches to ensure freshness and flavor. Stop in to see why they’re rated among the best in Houston. 

EQ Heights: Location: 1030 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77008
About the space: Tucked away in historic Houston Heights, EQ Heights is a neighborhood cafe that values sustainability, community, and good coffee. The cafe sources its beans from Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance-certified farms, ensuring ethical labor practices and environmental conservation. Guests can enjoy thoughtfully crafted coffee drinks made with precision and care by skilled baristas. EQ Heights also offers a selection of locally sourced pastries, sandwiches, and snacks, making it the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon quick bite.


Farmers markets

Houston’s farmers markets delight visitors, showcasing the region’s bounty of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and locally crafted trinkets. These buzzing hubs of community activity provide a unique opportunity to connect with local farmers, artisans, and entrepreneurs while supporting their businesses. There’s truly something for everyone.

The Montrose Market: Location: 1657 Westheimer Rd, Houston, Texas 77006
About the space: The Montrose Market is an eclectic hub for local vendors and community members. Open every Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., this bustling market offers an array of fresh produce, goods, and handmade crafts from local farmers, artisans, and small-scale producers. You’ll find farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, handcrafted jewelry, and other offerings from Houston’s creative community. 

Blue Field Market: Location: 2619 Polk Street, Houston, Texas 77003
About the space: One of East Downtown’s (EaDo) top-rated farmers’ markets, Blue Field Market is a dynamic, community-centric hub celebrating local entrepreneurship, creativity, and culture. It showcases a variety of small businesses and local artists, offering everything from handcrafted goods and artisanal foods to vintage finds and unique creations. With its inviting atmosphere, live music, and a rotating lineup of vendors, Blue Field Market provides an open space for shoppers to explore, discover, and connect with local makers and entrepreneurs. 

The Urban Harvest Farmers Market: Location: 2752 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX 77027
About the space: Staying in the Greenway/Upper Kirby area? The Urban Harvest Farmers Market is likely within walking distance. This farmer’s market is a beloved destination for residents and travelers. Peruse fresh produce, plants, coffee, honey, and handcrafted goods, all sourced from local farmers, producers, and artisans. Enjoy live music and a rotating food truck with delicious bites from restaurants throughout the community. Be sure to check it out on Saturday between 8:00 a.m. and 12 p.m., rain or shine. 

The Houston Farmers Market: Location: 2520 Airline Dr, Houston, TX 77009
About the space: The Houston Farmers Market is a beloved institution that has been serving the community for decades. The area features many vendors offering unique produce, foods, spices, sweets, and handcrafted goods indoors and outdoors. Visitors can stroll through the bustling aisles, sampling goods and appreciating the vast space. The market also hosts special events and festivals throughout the year, highlighting the vibrant culture and culinary diversity of Houston.


Sustainable shopping 

From fashion to good reads, Houston is home to a variety of shops and boutiques where visitors can find a curated selection of sustainable goods. These establishments are committed to promoting environmental stewardship and supporting ethical practices throughout the supply chain. Discover unique treasures while exploring these shops.

Magpies & Peacocks: Location: 908 Live Oak St, Houston, TX 77003
About the space: As Houston’s only nonprofit design house and retail boutique, Magpies & Peacocks is on a mission to promote sustainability and creativity in the fashion industry. The shop features a unique collection of upcycled and repurposed clothing, accessories, and home decor items, all handcrafted by local artisans and designers. By diverting textile waste from landfills and transforming discarded materials into one-of-a-kind creations, Magpies & Peacocks celebrates the beauty of fashion and the power of creative reuse.

Blue Willow Bookshop: Location: 14532 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079
About the space: Blue Willow Bookshop is a beloved, independent bookstore dedicated to fostering a love of reading and supporting the local literary community. With its cozy atmosphere and knowledgeable staff, it offers a curated selection of books for all ages and interests. Beyond its extensive book offerings, Blue Willow hosts author events, book clubs, and community programs that celebrate the written word and promote literacy and learning. 

The bookstore offers customers reusable tote bags and encourages recycling and reuse initiatives. Whether searching for a new novel, a children’s storybook, or a thought-provoking non-fiction read, Blue Willow Bookshop invites readers to explore its shelves and discover new literary treasures.

Thrifted Threads: Location: 2606 S Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77098
About the space: Thrifted Threads is a haven for fashion-forward individuals seeking upcycled style without compromising quality or creativity. This charming thrift store offers a curated selection of pre-loved clothing, accessories, and vintage finds that have been meticulously sourced and thoughtfully displayed. Thrifted Threads celebrates individuality and self-expression through its diverse range of secondhand treasures, from retro denim jackets to bohemian dresses and statement accessories. With a commitment to reducing fashion waste and promoting circular fashion practices, the store encourages customers to embrace the thrill of the hunt while supporting ethical and eco-conscious shopping habits.


Get outside: Outdoor activities

While H-town is known for its big city life, it also offers an abundance of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. The city provides endless opportunities to connect with nature and get fresh air. Choose from biking, exploring miles of hiking trails, picnicking in one of the city’s many green spaces, leisure sports, and so much more. 

Buffalo Bayou Park: Location: Shepherd Dr to Sabine St between Allen Pkwy and Memorial Dr, Houston, TX
About the space: Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature at Buffalo Bayou Park. This expansive green space offers miles of trails for walking, jogging, and biking, allowing visitors to explore Houston’s natural beauty while promoting active lifestyles. Take a mindful stroll along the bayou or rent a kayak to paddle through serene waters while enjoying the stunning city skyline views.

Hermann Park: Location: 6001 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030
About the space: Hermann Park is a beloved green oasis that provides a tranquil retreat from urban life. Visitors can relax amidst lush gardens, stroll along scenic pathways overlooking Brays Bayou, appreciate the art throughout the park, or enjoy a picnic overlooking McGovern Lake. The park also features attractions such as the Houston Zoo and the Miller Outdoor Theatre, offering entertainment options for all ages.

Discovery Green: Location: 1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010
About the space: If you’re looking for an escape into nature while staying in the city, Discovery Green is the perfect place. The park hosts a variety of events, such as farmers markets, yoga classes, and outdoor concerts. Visitors can also enjoy recreational activities such as kayaking on the park’s pond, exploring its native plant gardens, or skating at downtown Houston’s only outdoor skating rink.

Memorial Park: Location: 6501 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77007
About the space: Spanning over 1,400 acres, Memorial Park is one of Houston’s largest urban green spaces. Visitors can hike, bike, or jog along scenic trails surrounded by native vegetation and wildlife. The park also features picnic areas, sports fields, a beautiful arboretum, and a golf course, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation for individuals and families alike.

While exploring Houston’s many offerings, remember that every choice you make can positively impact the environment and the community. By supporting these businesses and others like them, you’re contributing to a more sustainable future for Houston and beyond. 

Remember—leaving it better than you found it is an excellent way to create a brighter tomorrow today.

Brightmark is not directly affiliated with, paid to promote, or receive any compensation from any of the businesses or entities mentioned in this feature.

Iyon Baker Headshot
Iyon Baker

Iyon is a curious, creative NC native and Chapel Hill alum who is always eager to embark on new adventures that provide more skills. With a background in advertising, public relations, digital marketing, and fine arts, she uses her skills for copywriting and brand storytelling. Her professional journey has led her to diverse projects that taught her to embrace challenges and adapt to any situation. In her leisure time, Iyon enjoys gardening, knitting, and traveling. 

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