Just an hour from the Gulf of Mexico, Houston is known for being hot, humid, and wet – sometimes all at the same time, and often for most of the year. However, that has never deterred visitors who want to experience the diverse cultural offerings, great food scene, and outdoor adventures of the Lone Star State’s biggest city. Some seasons are definitely better than others, however, when it comes to prices for accommodation, festivals and weather for getting into the great outdoors.
This guide will talk you through the best and most affordable times to visit Houston, as well as tips for staying dry in the rain, dodging hurricane season, and escaping the worst of the summer heat.
High Season: June to September
Best time for outdoor festivals, beach days, and pool fun
Houston is very hot and humid during the summertime, so sunscreen and bottles of water (and an emergency umbrella) are essential kit for city excursions. Daytime temperatures are consistently above 90 degrees, and can climb above 100 degrees, making for some uncomfortable days when anyone with any sense heads for the water – be that the hotel pool, state park swimming holes, or the Gulf coast. Even so, it’s the most popular month for visitors as families with children on school break flock from all parts of Texas and the surrounding states to one of the most activity-filled cities in the U.S.
During the summer months, there are tons of outdoor festivals, which can be a bit tricky to navigate since the high season also happens to be hurricane season. It's been a while since the city saw anything on the scale of the hurricane that flattened Galveston in 1900, but every few years, a big storm will blow in bringing floods and travel disruption. June is the rainiest month in Houston and August and September have the highest risk for tropical storms and hurricanes.
Locals don’t let this get in the way of their summer fun, whether downtown or out at the beach. Unfortunately, high hotel rates are typical during this time but there are plenty of free activities and opportunities to get hold of discounted tickets (look out for promotions and discount coupons for local attractions on snack packaging). This is the time of year when the region's state parks come into their own, particularly the ones with swimming holes. Staying in a neighborhood with a local park is another top tip.
Shoulder Season: March to May and October to November
Best time for exploring the outdoors
Outdoor exploration is a big theme at anytime of the year in Houston, but visit during the shoulder season and you won’t have to suffer from sweltering heat, high humidity, or killer mosquitos while you make the most of the great Texas outdoors. At this time of the year, rainy weather is always a possibility, but you’ll appreciate the cloud cover when you’re kayaking in Buffalo Bayou Park, biking on the White Oak Bayou Trail, or in search of Texas wildflowers at the start of spring.
Expect a more artsy crop of festivals and events between March and May and an array of family-friendly holiday events in October and November. Accommodations are pricier during October and November than they are in March, April, and May, while still being lower than the summer peak. If you’re looking for something more affordable, consider a camping or glamping experience close to the city rather than staying downtown.
Low Season: December to February
Best time for budget travelers
Although December is a busy time, packed full of holiday events, life slows down in Houston after the New Year. If you dislike crowded attractions, and prefer a more easy going pace of life, the low season is the time to come. This is also a time to make the most of indoor attractions such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Space Center Houston (where you can tour the campus by tram). It doesn’t hurt that accommodation is much more affordable at this time, making this the best season for budget travelers.
Keep in mind that the weather is chilly, at least for Houston. The daytime sees temperatures of up to 60 degrees, and at night it can get as low as 40 degrees. Snow is fairly unlikely, though there are light dustings every few years, but a coat isn’t a bad idea for a night on the town. Winter storms can surge in from December to January, bringing more severe weather conditions – it's worth checking the forecasts before you travel at this time.
Even though this the coldest month of the year, the temperature usually doesn’t get below 40 in January. Although there are a few notable events this month, the city is recouping from a busy holiday season meaning there are fewer tourists and more budget-friendly hotel prices.
With a large Asian population in Houston, you can rest assured that celebrations around the Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year are extravagant affairs. Despite those holidays, there aren’t a ton of other big events in the city this month, but an affordable holiday is very possible.
Bluebonnets emerge in Buffalo Bayou and Sugarland, signaling the arrival of springtime in Houston, and inviting more people into the parks and onto the outdoor patios of restaurants. If you’re in town on the right dates, make a beeline for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo; everyone will be there.
April is one of the most comfortable months in Houston, at least when it comes to the weather. Join the whole city as they make the most of outdoor spaces, arts festivals, fitness events, and heritage fests.
School is out and family outings are the norm in May. Hotel prices increase at the start of Memorial Day weekend, so visit early in the month when attractions are less crowded, and hotels are more affordable.
Hurricane season officially begins in June, but this is still the kick-off for Houston’s popular summer tourist season. Despite a constant threat of rain, the city celebrates the LGBTQ+ community at Pride, and African American history on Juneteenth. Pull out your sunscreen, shorts, and swimsuits for parks excursions, beach days, and late-night barbecues.
Houston is sweltering hot, but it doesn’t slow down the Independence Day celebrations or pool parties. Mosquito spray is necessary whether you’re exploring the neighborhoods downtown or having a blast at the Great Texas Mosquito Festival.
Hurricane season ramps up in August so expect high humidity and unexpected cancelling of outdoor plans if a storm blows in. Even without a storm, there's a chance of rain, so enjoy the indoors and Houston’s diverse and delicious cuisines during Restaurant Week.
School might be back in session, but Houston is still hot and sunny and the season of outdoor events is still in effect. September is the most active month for hurricanes so keep an eye on the forecast.
October brings about milder weather with less humidity making it one of the best months to visit Houston. Take advantage of the arts-centered events during October.
Just as the hurricane season ends, the fall and winter holiday season begins. The cooler weather and the large number of holiday experiences will quickly fill up your travel diary.
Enjoy weather in the mid-60s and free holiday markets, an abundance of tamales, and Christmas lights galore through the end of the year. There's a small risk of winter storms in late December and early January, so bring a coat.
Source: Lonely Planet