Go for convenience, accessibility, and selection. Those are the perks of Houston's best malls and shopping centers. You can get in and out quickly and see a ton of things. Loads of local shopping options include high-brow and low-brow stores, along with food offerings should you need a drink or a bite along the way. Check out the wide variety at places like Highland Village or Galleria. Indoors or outdoors, there's a bounty to be had.
Spread across some fifteen blocks near Rice University, this long-lived shopping area is well-known for its eclectic shops and intriguing merchandise. Hundreds of retailers, restaurants, and bars suit all tastes, whether you're in the market for clothes, accessories, a bite to eat, or even just some people-watching. It's a great place to wander if you're not sure what you want but are hoping to have your imagination jogged. Large and small venues are both available.
Watched over by stately palm trees, this venerable shopping center has been a Houston favorite for many years thanks to its gracious welcome, charming stucco buildings, and array of upscale shops. Domestic goods are prominent at Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma, while quality clothing can be found at Tootsies, Banana Republic, and Chico's. Incredible dining is also a breeze, whether you're in the mood for Asian fare, steaks, or a fragrant cup of coffee and a snack. (713-850-3100)
Billing itself as "Houston's European-style shopping center," Uptown Park features charming Italianate buildings, fountains, and landscaped walkways. It's an ideal place to browse, peer in windows, and check out what's available at upscale shops. Spas, jewelry stores, a florist, a cigar shop, and a lingerie boutique number among the tenants, and stylish fashions are easy to find, even for children. Restaurants and coffee shops provide sustenance when you need a respite from the hunt. (713-850-1400)
One of the country's largest malls and an enormous Houston attraction, The Galleria offers more than 350 retailers beneath its stunning atriums. Attached to two hotels and boasting an ice-skating rink, the complex also gets a designer punch with businesses like Tiffany & Co., Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Burberry, Gianni Versace and Cartier. Of course, you'll find many mall standards here as well, not to mention a host of terrific restaurants, including BiCE and Ninfa's. Fast-food options can also be had. (713-622-0663)
If you've got shopping in mind, you'll find that Downtown Houston features The Shops at Houston Center and a branch of Foley's department store. However, it also hides a wealth of businesses in tunnels beneath the city streets. Initially constructed in 1935 to link three theaters, the tunnels have been expanded to encompass more than six miles of territory and link approximately 82 buildings. The air-conditioned complex now offers dozens of shops and restaurants. Tours of the tunnels are available (713-222-9255). (713-650-3022)
West of Houston proper, about 25 miles out, lies expansive Katy Mills, a destination for shopping and play alike. Not only does it have more than 200 outlet retailers, which can keep dedicated bargain-hunters occupied for days, but it also boasts a variety of restaurants and a 20-screen movie theater. Plus, individual stores often offer attractions to keep folks coming in. A few of the shops you'll encounter: Bass Pro Shops, Cole Haan, Neiman Marcus, Frederick's of Hollywood, and Polo Ralph Lauren. (281-644-5050)
Conroe Outlet Center
If you work yourself into a shopping frenzy over the prospect of outlet stores, you'll have a great time in Conroe. This center is pleasantly landscaped and manageably walkable, and since shops are arranged around a large, central parking area, you can see immediately what's available and where you've been. Among the options you'll find are Izod, GNC, Bass, Tommy Hilfiger, and Nike. Food vendors are available. (936-756-0904)
The Shops at Houston Center
Although it's not the city's largest shopping center, The Shops at Houston Center is a godsend for downtown professionals and visitors. The complex extends across two blocks and sits beneath an atrium, so you can be sure that shopping is a bright, airy prospect. A food court is available, and the facility is connected to the downtown tunnel system. Its approximately sixty businesses include Dress Barn, a Hallmark store, Jos. A. Bank, a fitness center, and a bank branch. You'll also find plenty of options for fast-food or sit-down dining. (713-759-1442)
Centre at Post Oak
A mix of large retail venues and small, independent boutiques, the Centre at Post Oak promises fantastic shopping just across the street from the venerable Galleria. Options for the masses mix with more esoteric places, so you'll find Marshalls and Barnes & Noble positioned alongside Arcodoro Ristorante Italiano and Lerant, a shop specializing in upscale domestic goods and gifts. Pedestrian-friendly.
With both indoor and outdoor shopping venues – plus a waterway with gondolas, a children's play area, and a merry-go-round – this mall promises not only terrific shopping but a bit of entertainment and visual appeal as well. Anchors include Sears, Macy's, JCPenney, and Dillard's; other options range from The Buckle and Urban Outfitters to Anthropologie, Express, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and Gymboree. Upscale sit-down restaurants and a food court make sure that everyone's tastes are accommodated. (281-363-3363, 281-363-3409)