Culture / Entertainment

The Newcomer’s Guide to The Woodlands — 10 Things You Need to Experience

Energizing Hikes, Concerts Beneath the Stars, Sunset Canoe Rides, Art Wonders and More Await

BY // 03.12.23

Building off the inspired vision of George and Cynthia Mitchell, The Woodlands has transformed over the last 40 years into a vibrant hub of its own, one that combines small town friendliness with big city perks. There are epic outdoor rock concerts, endless restaurant choices, more than 150 parks, 220 miles of connected walking and biking trails and public art seemingly around every corner.

But where’s a newcomer to Then Woodlands to start? This is your guide to some quintessential Woodlands experiences you need to try:

home_hero_2023_1670878550 (Photo by Georgie Miller )
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillon

1. Catch a Concert at Cynthia Woods

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion gives music lovers a near festival-like experience with all types of seating. Country and pop music superstars regularly grace the lineup. Dave Matthews Band, Janet Jackson and Shania Twain are all coming this season

One of the most Woodlands ways to see them? Grab a ticket for the lawn, bring a blanket and watch the show under stars.

Pre-concert dinner and drinks at Hearsay on The Waterway, or one of other spots that are a short walk away, will make it a full night.

2. Uncover The Woodlands’ Art Scene

It’s impossible to wander around The Woodlands without noticing stunning artworks. From magnificent public sculptures to art benches lining the waterways, the arts scene continues to grow and grow. Visit The Woodlands Art League’s open studios to discover more about the thriving community of artists who call this land home.


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And of course, the art highlight of every year is the Waterway Arts Festival, the complete bonanza of art fun. The festival takes over April 14 through April 16 this year.

3. Sample Local Produce at The Woodlands Farmers Market

Every Saturday morning, vendors in the area meet at The Woodlands Farmers Market at Grogan’s Mill. A perfect introduction to the characters and flavors of the neighborhood, a visit to the market is a great way to start any weekend.

This is a true year-round farmers market, a rarity in all of Texas. It typically closes only one Saturday of the year — the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Want to make more of a day of it? Follow a wholesome lunch at the market with a stroll around the Grogan’s Mill Nature Trail. This 3.1 mile circular route loops around The Tournament Course at The Woodlands Country Club.

Market Street is a hive of activity in The Woodlands.
Market Street is a hive of activity in The Woodlands.

4. Shop Market Street

Whether it’s an extravagant bag from Louis Vuitton or a snazzy outfit from an independently-owned store like Golden Gray’s Boutique, Market Street can make it happen. Perhaps a wardrobe update with help from Bonobos or Madewell? Or jump into the athleisure craze at Fabletics or Lululemon. The choices at this carefully designed shopping land are endless.

Admire your purchases at Cru with a glass of champagne, with half price bottles on Thursdays.

5. Escape to The Woodlands Resort

A hideaway tucked away in the woods, The Woodlands Resort has all the ingredients for the perfect staycation. There is an unofficial relaxation pool for adults (yes, please) or float all your worries away along the meandering lazy river.

Overlooking the golf course, Back Table Kitchen & Bar is the resort’s stylish restaurant, serving up Southern-inspired cuisine with a global twist. Hello, beer-can chicken!

Better yet, The Woodlands Resort is in the midst of a renovation that will add more features and take advantage of its lake views.

6. Explore The Woodlands By Bike

One of the loveliest things about The Woodlands is that almost anywhere can be discovered on two wheels. There are more than 220 miles of biking trails winding through The Woodlands’ various neighborhood (or villages in Woodlands’ lingo). You can see most of the places on this list by bike, with routes weaving around The Waterway, Market Street, Lake Woodlands, The Woodlands Mall and Hughes Landing.

Mountain bike and e-bike rentals are available at Eco EZ Riders at Hughes Landing.

Sorriso-Pizza-1200×700.jpg (Photo by Georgie Miller )
Sorriso Italian Kitchen

7. Cocktails and a View

Inspired by Lake Como’s high energy beach clubs, Como Social Club (located on the second floor of The Westin hotel) serves up inventive cocktails and hosts live musicians every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Check out the rooftop pool terrace, complete with cabanas and lake views.

Another good choice for dining in the heart of it all? Sorriso Italian Kitchen, which brings homemade pasta dishes and Instagram-worthy small plates.

8. Paddle Along The Waterways — Or Trolley

One of the most relaxing ways to enjoy Lake Woodlands is on the lake itself. The Riva Row Boat House has many water toys for rent, including swan boats, single or two-person kayaks and paddleboards. Take a sunset tour of the lake and embrace the peace and quiet that being on the water brings.

Now, it’s time to get to The Woodlands’ most remarkable mode of transportation. As you explore, you might hear a jolly ding ding sound around town. Nope, you’re not in San Franscisco, but it could mean you are about to board The Woodlands’ Town Center Trolley.

This trolley travels around Market Street, Waterway and The Woodlands Mall, stopping 12 times along a four mile route. Kids love it — and it’s convenient.

9. Explore George Mitchell Nature Preserve

The George Mitchell Nature Preserve straddles Spring Creek and is a scenic spot for an invigorating hike. Keep an eye out for herons and the area’s famous Texas turtles who love to glide through these waters. Wander along several trails passing sparkling lakes and lush forests, with towering trees all around.

After spending time in nature, you can even drop into the fabulous Conduit Coffee for quality espresso and friendly conversation in equal measure.

10.Make It a Spa Day

Time for a self-care day? The Woodhouse Spa brings some serious pampering. From advanced facials and body treatments to massages and nails, you are guaranteed to leave the spa with a refreshed glow.

After your treatment, take a little trip to Cupcakes and Bubbles for some sweet delights and a glass of fizz.

This is The Woodlands and you’re just getting warmed up.

PaperCity The Woodlands is coming soon, bringing an elevated look at one of the most dynamic communities in all of Texas. This will be a hub that makes you feel like an insider without having to do the hard work to gain access. You’ll be the friend that knows the best place to grab great Thai food, the perfect spot to get a pedicure and where to grab dessert after a wonderful concert at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

To get to be one of the first people to see PaperCity The Woodlands, click here to become a newsletter insider.

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