Houston's subtropical climate means that a drink on an open-air patio is practically mandatory. The Montrose neighborhood is the classic hangout, but you'll also find great outdoor spaces concentrated in Midtown, Rice Village and the Heights.

Hard-partying bars and clubs are scattered around town, but Washington Ave defines all that is hip and happening in Houston nightlife. Some of Houston's most popular dance clubs are also hot LGBT venues.

Parking is generally bad everywhere there's nightlife in Houston. Avoid driving worries by using cabs or ride-sharing services.

Downtown

Radiating out from the 300 block of Main St is a good place to start looking for downtown's idiosyncratic nightlife scene.

Montrose & Midtown

Around namesake Montrose Blvd and Westheimer Rd, the vast number of choices may drive you to drink. Heading towards Midtown, look along Main St and the surrounding blocks.

Gay & Lesbian Houston

Despite Houston's conservative streak, the town has a hot gay scene, which centers in Montrose.

To take the pulse on the local LGBTQ community, OutSmart (www.outsmartmagazine.com) is the go-to news source that also has a bar guide. Every June, the community sponsors a huge Pride Parade.

Houston has no less than 20 gay-oriented bars and clubs. The largest and loudest is South Beach, where young guys and high-tech dance music keep things hot. F Bar, a 'boutique nightclub,' has a slightly more mature crowd – plus award-winning DJs. Right in Midtown, the Houston Eagle dance club aims to attract the manliest of men. Theme nights are many.

With a stylish but low-key vibe and cheap drinks, JR's Bar & Grill consistently rates among the best in Houston – especially with reigning drag-queen champion Kofi as emcee.

Start out on the chill back patio at Pearl Houston, a long-running – and welcoming – women's bar; after midnight when the DJ comes on, migrate to the dance floor where you can show off your moves.

Houston Heights & Washington Avenue

The Heights corner of White Oak and Studemont is home to great hangouts, all with great patios. Washington Ave, meanwhile, is Houston at its hippest. You'll find plenty of places to party between TC Jester and Heights Blvd: bars, sports pubs, dance clubs...

Rice Village

The tall trees along Morningside Dr provide a cool and leafy location for several pub patios. Start in the 5100 block and wander south.