This article was written by traveling sports fan Dan Brewer, and may contain affiliate links.
With 4 conference titles and 2 NBA championships, the Houston Rockets are one of the most exciting franchises in the NBA. And, lucky for basketball fans, attending a Houston Rockets game is super easy.
No matter if you are coming to Houston on a boys road trip to see the Rockets play, or if you are town with the family, or on a business trip, you can’t miss going to a Rockets game at Toyota Center to experience the excitement of an NBA game live, in person.
A DIY Houston Rockets Travel Package
Why pay a premium to a travel agency, when it’s super easy to book your own sports trip to see a Houston Rockets game at the Toyota Center. I’ve been booking my own sports road trips for over a decade and am excited to share with you how easy it is to go to an NBA game in Houston!
Our guide to attending a Houston Rockets game takes you through step-by-step everything you need to know to have an incredible sports road trip. We guide you through how to get to Houston, where the Rockets play, how to find great seats at the Toyota Center within your budget, fun things to do in Houston and so much more.
How to Get to Houston, Texas
Flying to Houston, TX
Sports fans flying to Houston will land at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). With 30 airlines flying into IAH from all corners of the world, it’s a breeze to find a good flight into Houston.
Located on the northern edge of Houston, it’s approximately a half-hour drive from the George Bush Airport to the Toyota Center. If you are simply going to Houston to catch a Rockets NBA game with no plans to explore beyond the downtown area, you probably won’t need a rental car. An Uber ride from IAH to the Toyota Center will cost roughly $30 – 50 each way.
Driving to Houston, TX
But, if your trip to Houston, TX goes beyond catching a Rockets game and you want to see the other top Houston attractions such as the NASA Johnson Space Center, shopping at the Galleria, etc., we recommend you get a rental car.
It sounds funny, but I like looking at Houston on a map. With three distinct ring roads circling the downtown core, and major highways extending in all directions out of town, it really feels like Houston was a well designed city. Granted, with over 7 million residents, the traffic can get bad in Houston, but the many times I’ve driven a rental car in Houston, I have found it easy to get around.
If you are taking your own car on a sports road trip to Houston, just keep in mind you’ll need to find a hotel near the Toyota Center which offers parking. We provide recommendations on Toyota Center hotels below.
Where do the Houston Rockets Play?
The NBA Houston Rockets have had three homes since they relocated from San Diego to Houston in 1971. They played four years at the 10,000 seat Hofheinz Pavilion, then 28 years at the 16,000 seat arena called The Summit (later called the Compaq Center). In 2003, the Houston Rockets began playing their home games at the Toyota Center, a venue they still call home today.
The Toyota Center
Conveniently located in the Central Business District of downtown Houston, the Rockets play their NBA games in the Toyota Center. With a seating capacity of over 18,000 for NBA games, there is a great seat for everyone at the Toyota Center.
Where is the Toyota Center?
The Toyota Center is in the southern end of downtown Houston. It’s located within easy walking distance of Discovery Green Park, the George R. Brown Convention Center and Minute Maid Park (home of the Houston Astros).
Toyota Center Address: 1510 Polk Street, Houston, TX 77002
Is the Toyota Center in a Safe Neighborhood?
The Toyota Center is located in downtown Houston, so this may have you asking is it safe? Anytime you have a sports stadium in the downtown district of a major American city, it’s not going to be the safest neighborhood in town.
According to NeighborhoodScout.com, the downtown core of Houston has been given the ‘Most Dangerous’ label. You can take a closer look on CommunityCrimeMap.com; at the time of publication it appears that most of the crime in downtown Houston is concentrated north of the Toyota Center. The crimes around the Toyota Center seem to be mostly vehicle theft, but anything can happen.
For what it’s worth, when I attended a Houston Rockets game, I felt safe. With thousands of basketball fans pouring into (and later, out of) the Toyota Center, there were lots of people around, along with a healthy police presence.
If you are concerned about your safety in downtown Houston, I’d recommend either finding a secure place to park your car near the area, or get a good hotel near Toyota Center.
Parking at Toyota Center
The Toyota Tundra Garage is a 7-story parkade attached to the Toyota Center via a private sky bridge. Unfortunately, parking is not available to non-pass holders, but don’t despair as there are an additional 10,000 parking spots available within a few blocks of the Houston Rockets game.
Whenever I drive to a new city for a sporting event, I like to reserve my parking spot ahead of time. I look for a reasonably priced spot within easy walking distance of the arena or stadium. SpotHero.com is a great place to find a parking spot for your Houston Rockets game.
Choosing a Houston Rockets Home Game
Houston Rockets Schedule
Over the course of a full NBA season, the Houston Rockets will play 41 home games at the Toyota Center. Eight of those home games will be against division rivals, while thirteen games will be against NBA teams from the same conference. The remaining home games will be against teams from the other conference.
Best Houston Rockets Games to Get Tickets For
As a team that has made the NBA Finals four times over its history (winning the title twice!), the Houston Rockets have developed some intense rivalries over the years. Whenever one of the teams the Houston Rockets have a rivalry with comes to the Toyota Center, it’s virtually guaranteed to be an exciting game.
Games Against Division Rivals
The Houston Rockets play in the Southwest Division in the Western Conference of the NBA. There are four other teams in the Southwest Division including the New Orleans Pelicans, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs.
The home games against Rocket’s Texas rivals, the Mavericks and the Spurs, will always be extra fun.
Games Against Legendary NBA Teams and Former Rivals
Who could pass up seeing the Rockets play the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics or the Chicago Bulls? No matter how these teams are currently performing, it’s always a thrill to see the famous jerseys on the court.
The Rockets have also had epic playoff battles with the Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors and the Seattle Supersonics.
Finding The Best Seats in Toyota Center
With courtside seats, no other sport allows fans closer to the action than the NBA. But with courtside tickets for the Houston Rockets typically starting over $1,000 each, they are not cheap. If you can afford it, buying a courtside seat for a Houston Rockets home game is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Notable Toyota Center courtside sections include:
- The Houston Rockets bench is in front of section C119A.
- C120A and C107A are right at center court
- The away team’s bench is in front of section C121A
Club Seats – Center Court – Lower Level
If you can’t afford (or find any) courtside seats, your next best bet is to buy Houston Rockets tickets at center court on the lower level. You’ll be close enough to the action that you’ll feel part of the game (just don’t sit too close, or you may miss a lot of the action).
At the Houston Toyota Center, all of the lower level center court tickets are club seats. These are sections 105 – 109 and 118 – 122.
Aside from the best seats in the Toyota Center (apart from courtside), benefits of club seats include wider, more comfortable seats and access to the Frost Bank Club – a private bar with upscale food and drink.
Best Value – Lower Level Corner
The corner sections in the lower level of Toyota Center offer excellent value for the money. As they are in the corner, they are not perfect, as play will be harder to follow at the opposite end of the court, but when play is down in your end, these lower level corner seats are awesome!
For the best value Houston Rockets tickets, look for seats in sections 104, 110, 117 and 123. These sections are unique as they share seating with the more expensive Club Seats, but they literally ran a guard rail in the middle of these sections – one side is club seats, the other isn’t. If you don’t care about fancy club seats, these lower level corner seats are a great deal for Houston Rockets tickets.
When I went to see the Houston Rockets play the Toronto Raptors, I sat in section 117, row 9. These seats were excellent as they were super close to the action and close enough to the Rockets bench that we could watch the players messing around with each other. Best of all, we could look over the fans in section 118 (just a few feet away), knowing we spent significantly less than them.
The Rest of Toyota Center
Don’t sweat it if you can’t find any tickets in the areas listed above in your price range. There are really no bad seats in the Toyota Center. As you get into the upper level in the Toyota Center, the game seems a little slower, but you can really see the play develop better. For many fans, this is the best place to sit anyways!
Keep in mind that the Toyota Center has the biggest video screen in the world for an indoor arena. So, you’ll always be able to catch a replay if you want a closer look.
When planning a sports road trip, we always recommend spending as much money as you can afford on your event tickets. If you need to stay at a more modest hotel, or eat lots of inexpensive fast food, so be it. You’re coming to Houston to watch a Rockets game, so sit in the best seats you can. You won’t regret it.
Best Hotels for a Houston Rockets Game
If you are attending a Houston Rockets game from out of town, you’ll need to find a good place to stay near the Toyota Center. We’ve done all the leg work for your and have written a full post about the best hotels near the Toyota Center. Regardless of your budget, we’re confident you’ll find a great place to stay for the Rockets game.
Best Places to Eat Before a Rockets Game
I love BBQ and Tex-Mex, so whenever I visit Houston for a sports road trip, I’m usually just as excited about the food as I am going to the NBA game. In fact, my favorite BBQ shack in the whole world is in Houston!
Best Restaurants around Toyota Centre
Just a quick Uber ride away from Toyota Center, Post Houston is a great place to grab some great food before the Rockets game.
Post Houston is a great example of urban renewal. Located in the former USPS Houston headquarters, today Post Houston is home to an incredible food market, a rooftop park and a hopping music venue. The food market is home to a wide variety of local and international food stalls. The West African curry I had at ChopnBlok was one of the best curries I’ve ever tried.
Named one of the top Mexican restaurants in America, Xochi proudly offers delicious meals inspired from the Oaxaca region. Just a short walk from Toyota Center through Discovery Green, the award-winning Xochi restaurant is a bit of a splurge, but comes highly recommended by Rockets fans for a great pre-game meal.
Bayou & Bottle
Just two blocks away in the Four Seasons Hotel, the Bayou & Bottle is the place for whiskey fans to visit before a Rockets game. If you’re having trouble choosing one of the over 200 whiskies on offer, just ask a bartender as they are all Certified Bourbon Stewards.
With over 30 TV’s (including two 30′ tall giant screens!), you won’t miss a second of the action at Biggios. Dig into an American classic, such as chicken n’ waffles, nachos and chicken wings, and then wash it down with one of the many local craft beers on tap.
With so many TV’s and a convenient location just minutes away from the Toyota Center, Biggios is the perfect sports bar for either a pre-game meal or a post-game drink.
The Best Local Houston Food Experiences
Chances are that if you are visiting Houston for a Rockets game, you’ll be staying at a hotel near the Toyota Center. But, if you are on a sports road trip and have your own car or a rental car, take the time to venture out and enjoy some of the best Houston food experiences.
Did you know that Houstonians eat out more than any other city in the United States? And that Houston has been called the “Dining Out Capital of the United States”? In particular, Houston is known for its Tex-Mex food and its barbeque. It’d be a shame to visit Houston for a Rockets game and not try some of the best local cuisine Houston has to offer.
Goode Company BBQ
As mentioned, my favorite BBQ restaurant in the world is in Houston. The first time I tried the Goode Company was on a business trip, when my boss took me before seeing my first Houston Astros game at Minute Maid Park.
From the first moment I smelled the slow-cooked BBQ food, to my last bite of pecan pie, I loved every single moment of my visit to the Goode Company Barbeque Restaurant. I’ve since been back to see a Houston Texans game and most recently a Houston Rockets game, and I’m never disappointed. The slow cooked bbq at the Goode Company is worth a side trip on your Houston Rockets road trip.
The closest Goode Company BBQ to Toyota Center is a 10-15 minute drive west on the I-69.
The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation
A Houston institution for nearly 50 years, Ninfa’s is widely considered the best Tex-Mex restaurant in town. In 1973 “Mama” Ninfa Laurenzo started grilling skirt steak at her family’s struggling tortilla factory. She wrapped the steak wrapped in tortillas and called the dish “Tacos al Carbon”, which was so good it went on to launch the national fajita craze.
Thankfully, fans visiting Houston for a Rocket’s game can easily visit the Original Ninfa’s, as it is just a short 7-minute drive or Uber from the Toyota Center.
Best Places to Eat in Toyota Center During a Game
There are a wide variety of dining options within Toyota Centre, ranging from hot dogs and bbq, all the way up to fine dining.
Sit Down Dining in the Toyota Center
NBA fans wishing to have a sit-down meal in the Toyota Centre prior to a Rockets game have the following choices:
- Red & White Wine Club: Located on the Lower Suites level, the Red & White Wine Club offers a high-quality, all you can eat buffet and excellent views of the action. Call 713-758-7534 for reservations during the Houston Rockets season.
- Corona Beach Club: Located behind Section 113 on the main concourse level, the Corona Beach House is a fun place to grab a cold one and a bite before the big game.
Concession Stands at Rockets Games
Eating local food is one of my favorite things to do while traveling, so whenever I get the chance to go to a new NBA arena, I always take a lap around the concourse to see what food is on offer. It’s always an interesting insight to the local’s food habits!
As for concession stands at the Toyota Center, there’s no big surprise here – there’s plenty of TexMex and BBQ on offer. HOU BBQ is the king of the concourse with four locations, while Cadillac Mexican Kitchen, Bill’s Bar & Burgers and Saltgrass Steakhouse all have multiple locations.
When travelling, always eat what the locals eat – it’s the best way to ensure you’ll get a great meal. When in Houston, that means BBQ or Mexican food, and there’s plenty of it on offer at the Toyota Center!
Best Things to do in Houston Before a Rockets Game
Houston Rockets Game Night Tours
To me, sports arenas and stadiums are like cathedrals. I love being in a new arena and experiencing the excitement the fans bring to the game. Whenever I get a chance to go on an arena tour, I jump on the chance.
If you are in town to attend a Houston Rockets game, why not join one of the game night tours of the Toyota Center? This one-hour backstage tour gives you a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the Toyota Center. Tour give you access to the arena floor, the Legend Lockers, the Lexus Lounge, the Red & White Bistro and the Rockets Club.
The Houston Rockets Game Night Tours includes a ticket to the NBA game that evening. Non-game night tours are also offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
NASA Johnson Space Center
If you’ve got your own wheels, visiting the NASA Space Center is a great thing to do in Houston before a Rockets game. See a space shuttle, mission control, moon rocks and tons more!
If you’re looking for some adrenaline before your Houston Rockets game, give simulated skydiving a try at iFly Houston. A realistic skydiving experience without the risk of jumping out of a plane!
Houston: Brewery Pass with Beer Tastings
Just like wine tasting, but with beer! Go brewery hopping from one brewery to another with the Houston Brewery Pass. Enjoy beer tastings at up to 14 Houston breweries!
Additional Info on Attending Houston Rockets Games
In this guide to attending a Houston Rockets game at the Toyota Center, we’ve included all the major details to ensure you have the best sports road trip ever. If there are any smaller details you’d like, a good place to start is the Plan Your Visit page on the Toyota Center website.
Get Your Houston Rockets Gear
Attending a Houston Rockets game is way more fun when you are wearing team gear. The best selection of Houston Rockets gear is available at the NBA Store, but Amazon has an extensive offering as well. Between these sites, you’ll find the perfect gear to wear to the Toyota Center for a Rockets game!
We make every effort to keep our pages current. If you are aware of inaccurate or outdated information, please let us know and we’ll update it ASAP!