Whether you’ve got a ticket to the big game or not, there’s plenty going on during the days leading up to Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas. So if you’re making a trip to watch the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons square off in the Lone Star State, you’ll want to know everything that’s going on.
Home to the Houston Texans, NRG Stadium will serve as host to Super Bowl LI. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. between the Patriots and Falcons. Country singer Luke Bryan will sing the National Anthem while Lady Gaga is the halftime show performer. There are four concourse levels in the stadium, which has a retractable roof.
Getting Around Houston
As you might expect, public transportation is recommended in the days leading up to the Super Bowl with throngs of people expected in the area. As a result, METRO has extended its hours for trains. From January 28-February 5, trains will run starting at 4 a.m. Depending on the day, the last train will leave sometime between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Metrorail and Metrobus rides cost $1.25 each way, and an all day rail/bus ticket can be purchased for $3. Shuttles are also available to transport visitors from downtown parking lots to the Super Bowl LIVE entrance.
Super Bowl LIVE
In the nine days leading up to the game, Super Bowl LIVE will take over downtown Houston to provide a family-friendly fan experience. The fan festival spans more than 750,000 square feet, which adds up to be the size of about 13 football fields. Among the activities in Super Bowl LIVE will be musical performances, interactive exhibits, and plenty of food.
Another popular event surrounding the Super Bowl each year is the NFL Experience. This year it will be held inside the George R. Brown Convention Center, with tickets available at a cost of $35 for adults and $25 for children 12 years old and younger. An NFLXtra Fast Pass is also available for $35. NFL Experience gives a chance for fans to take part in interactive games, football clinics, merchandise from the NFL Shop, player autograph sessions and other activities. The NFL Experience will be open from Wednesday, Feb. 1 through Super Bowl Sunday.
The event that was previously known as Media Day is now a primetime event called Opening Night. It takes place on Monday, Jan. 30. This gives fans the first (and likely only) chance to see players from both teams before the game. Gates open at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, at 5:30 p.m. The Falcons will kick things off by fielding questions from seas of reporters at 7 p.m. A joint team interview is then scheduled for 8 p.m. before the Patriots take the podiums at 9 p.m. A fireworks display is slated for 10 p.m., weather permitting. Tickets to Opening Night are still available starting at $20.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center is located in Houston, so the NFL is giving fans an out of this world experience during Super Bowl week with an attraction called Future Flight. The ride is described as a combination of virtual reality and a drop tower that gives the experience of traveling to Mars and back to Earth. Future Flight was built with the assistance of NASA. It jolts the riders into the air to simulate liftoff with virtual reality goggles. The ride comes to a conclusion as virtual reality allows those on board to land on the 50-yard-line of NRG Stadium before Super Bowl kickoff.
There is no shortage of good food in Houston, and Texas is famous for its BBQ. But thanks to a fleet of food trucks, Super Bowl visitors can try a wide variety of meals. Feeling homesick for New England during your trip? Cousins Maine Lobster, a national seafood truck chain, is among 22 trucks that will be dishing out food as a part of Super Bowl LIVE. The full list can be found online.
If you’re looking to escape from the Super Bowl madness during your trip, there’s no one better to get recommendations from than Houston natives. During a recent poll, Houston residents gave suggestions for their top underrated place to visit. People in their 20s were fans of the Museum District and Houston Zoo, people in their 30s recommend the Houston Zoo and Children’s Museum, and people in their 40s say the Theater District and Museum District are great spots to see. As for the suburbs? Houston natives suggest Sugar Land Town Center, City Center West Beltway, The Woodlands/Waterway and Kingwood Kings Harbor as some top destinations in the area.