I would probably suggest you hang out in or near City Centre
It would be helpful if you told us what exactly it is that your looking to do.... there is plenty to do
Pretty open to suggestions tbh.
Just somewhere to take a stroll, late lunch or early dinner.
I appreciate my time slot isn't too conducive to museums etc.
Another option would be to drive to The Woodlands, a community about 25 minutes drive north of IAH. There is an area called the Waterway, which is a man-made--erm--waterway that goes a short distance through the main area. Nearby are lots of restaurants, and it's a good place for a stroll. You can also walk over to Market Street, for more restaurants and shops. After your meal and stroll, you are an easy drive from IAH.
Maybe Menil Collection it is a free museum but closed on Mon and Tue open until 7:00p. Parking is easy and can spend 3 hours very easily. Then maybe walk to Rothko Chapel. If it is a nice day you can just be outside. Several restaurants in the general area too. If you are missing 'home' go to Black Lab (walking distance from Menil or you can drive - no issues with parking) and have a pint or pub food.
If you are into shopping then there is always The Galleria. Eat, drink, people watch, shop, window shop....
City Centre is a good suggestion. It has dozens of nice restaurants and shops including Studio Movie Grill where you can have dinner (with beer or wine) while watching a movie! Memorial City Mall on I-10 also includes some very nice restaurants, shops, an ice skating rink and a movie theater. Either of those places would serve you well and I think you would have fewer traffic worries than trying to make your way to The Woodlands.
Have a great trip.
I suggested The Woodlands since the OP said he was looking for a place to take a stroll as well as eat a meal. City Centre does have restaurants and the SMG but the option of strolling doesn't, for me, exist there as it does in The Woodlands. City Centre is adjacent to the tollway (freeway) while the waterway in The Woodlands would be more relaxing and offers a bit more variety. If the OP leaves west Houston around 2 pm getting to The Woodlands shouldn't be too bad and the drive from there to IAH later in the evening would be the same as from City Centre.
I think all three places are great suggestions and it's nice that we can offer different options, depending on the OP's needs and the traffic/weather on the day. I'm a mall walker, myself, so that idea appeals to me as much as walking the Waterway.
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