EXPLORE HOUSTON [America’s best kept secret]
Everyone knows that Houston has sprawling city limits, atrocious traffic, and the oil and gas industry. But only city insiders know that there is a world of wondrous opportunity beneath the surface made up of diverse dining, abundant shopping and distinct arts. This collection of offbeat locales is your guide to becoming acquainted with the area. Explore Houston by embracing these first encounters, and continue to uncover this vibrant city.
FOOD & BEVERAGE 04 06 08 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
The Breakfast Klub Catalina Coffee Happy Fatz Lankford Grocery & Market Niko Niko’s Greek & American Cafe Oishii Japanese Restaurant Petite Sweets Phoenicia Specialty Foods Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Cue Saint Arnold Brewery Shipley Do-Nuts Tacos A Go-Go
TRANSPORTATION 56 Downtown Tunnel System 58 Houston B-Cycle 60 METRORail
MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS 64 66 68 70 72 74 76
1940 Air Terminal Museum Art Car Museum Beer Can House Cockrell Butterfly Center The Menil Collection | Rothko Chapel Museum of Printing History The Orange Show
LANDMARKS Buffalo Bayou Trails Glenwood Cemetery Live Oak Tunnels The President Heads The Red Button Waugh Bridge Bat Colony Williams Waterwall
PARKS 46 48 50 52
Discovery Green Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Japanese Garden Memorial Park
SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT 80 82 84 86
Cactus Music Market Square Minute Maid Park River Oaks Theatre
TABLE OF CONTENTS
30 32 34 36 38 40 42
Houstonians love going out to the vast array of restaurants and bars the city offers. With the sheer number of eatery options, finding the best of the best can be a daunting task. Start your journey by uncovering the quality and the quirky with this guide to gastronomy.
Best Breakfast Nook:
THE BREAKFAST KLUB
Address: 3711 Travis St., Houston, TX 77002 Hours: Mon – Sun 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
The Breakfast Klub has been featured in USA Today, Good Morning America, Esquire and Forbes.
Vibrant local art that’s for sale adorns the walls, and laughter fills the air. Everyone really is happy to be there. It is a “kommunity” of individuals brought together by amazing food. And to say the food is amazing is an understatement. The Breakfast Klub has been featured in USA Today, Good Morning America, Esquire and Forbes. It has been hailed as one of the best breakfasts in America (and dare say, the world).
This is not a quick stop by any means. The line is usually out the door!
Although all of their dishes are incredible, they have two specialties that newcomers must try. First up, the Katfish and Grits. It’s a twist on a Southern classic, served with eggs and toast. It’s also just one of the reasons that the Breakfast Klub is known as a grits factory. Next up, the always popular Wings and Waffles. These wings are fantastic, seasoned with a special blend of house spices and served with a big Belgian waffle.
There is only one location, and the owners want to keep it that way to maintain the community feel.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Going to the Breakfast Klub is truly an experience. Before walking in the door customers are greeted by a member of the staff with a smile and a menu in hand. Gospel music plays overhead, and suddenly, it’s like being a member of the family, which is what Houston is all about.
Secret Caffeinated Getaway:
Address: 2201 Washington Ave., Houston, TX 77007 Hours: Mon – Fri 6:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sat – Sun 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
When stepping through Catalina’s door (most likely the back door), it’s not the smell of a coffee that hits home first, but instead the vibe of the place. Brick walls, wooden tables and metal pipes blend together to give this coffee shop a uniquely modern feel. And the blend of Houstonians gathered inside – whether it be an intern on their lunch break, a creative writer looking for a quaint place to knock out some of the heavy workload or friends catching up over iced mochas – makes for stimulating conversation alongside a great cup of coffee. While there, one may think, “this place is way too cool for me,” but don’t be scared away. Instead, stay and enjoy a nice iced coffee and pain au chocolat (fancy way of saying chocolate filled bread), and soak it all in. After all, the chill vibe found here is unique to the busy city streets at lunchtime. Houston is alive. It is an international melting pot that appeals to all different types of people and Catalina Coffee is reflective of that, providing a serene coffee haven to relax the brain and soak up the modern culture. If that’s what you’re looking for, Catalina Coffee is your cup o’ tea, or rather, cup o’ coffee.
INSIDER’S GUIDE Order anything with foam. The baristas will create a masterpiece right in the cup! The cappuccino is a real crowd pleaser. The art on the walls changes every month. Ask a barista where it came from to kick up some conversation; they are very friendly!
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Everything about Catalina – the look, the people, the baristas, the coffee, and the pastries – gives off a feeling of calm acceptance.
Address: 3510 White Oak Dr., Houston, TX 77007 Hours: Weds – Sat 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sun 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
This delicious dog is topped with grilled onions, bacon, a heap of hash browns and a fried egg over-easy. Happy Fatz is a restaurant that operates out of a classic Heights neighborhood Bungalow. This cozy little building is the perfect place to drop in for a casual meal or morning coffee. They have breakfast items, desserts and a large variety of drinks, but they are predominantly known for creating some gourmet hotdogs. The menu above the register is written on chalkboards for browsing the unique variety of hot dogs. Choose one, such as the best-selling “Clucker.” This delicious dog is topped with grilled onions, bacon, a heap of hash browns and a fried egg over-easy – don’t forget the special Clucker sauce. Enjoy the atmosphere of the place. Adding to the cool vibe, the walls are adorned with art from local artists, which the restaurant owners encourage, free of charge. If looking for a patio feel, outdoor seating is also available.
INSIDER’S GUIDE The menu was refined by taste testing at Texans game tailgates. That’s some delicious research! The second Wednesday of every month bring the family for open mic karaoke night. Try some of the coffee and Italian sodas.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Happy Fatz is a place for the community to come sit down and relax. Families and friends come here, pets included, to have a good time. It is made for locals by locals, and it’s a place where anyone can come enjoy a delicious take on hot dogs in good company. The hospitality in Houston knows no bounds.
Hidden Hamburger Hall:
LANKFORD GROCERY & MARKET
Address: 88 Dennis St., Houston, TX 77006 Hours: Mon – Sat 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Closed Sundays. Parking: Free street parking Family Friendly: Yes
Whether its first time or fiftieth time, feel like a regular.
Tucked away in Montrose, in the middle of the neighborhood, Lankford Grocery & Market is a discreet burger shack that has been flipping patties for 73 years and counting. Lankford Market isn’t necessarily a Houston secret as it’s pretty well known to most Houstonians and it was featured on the Food Network’s show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
The Firehouse Burger is only for those with an iron stomach and a true love for the spicy stuff.
Everyone goes to Lankford for the same reason: to get a truly satisfying, All-American meal that is made to perfection each time. Because, giant burgers + cold iced tea = perfection, right? Lankford’s has held true to its mom and pop feel over the years. Whether its first time or fiftieth time, feel like a regular. The freshly painted picnic tables, cozy quarters and to-die-for burgers remind us that even though we’re in the middle of a big city, we’re still in Texas.
This is not a quick stop burger shop. Bring some friends and enjoy the atmosphere.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Feast on these much-talked-about burgers, and the experience will be far from disappointing. The place is filled with locals having a slow lunch and businessmen escaping the office. Lankford’s burgers are universally savored. Baskets of burgers come out hot n’ juicy. Try everything on the menu from the basic cheeseburger to the Grim Burger that’s made complete with mac n’ cheese, jalapeños, bacon and a fried egg. However, think hard about being brave enough to try out the Firehouse Burger, which includes a special sauce made from homegrown habaneros. It will literally draw sweat!
Beware of pigeons. They turn into vultures the second they see leftovers.
NIKO NIKO’S GREEK & AMERICAN CAFE
Montrose Address: 2520 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX 77006 Hours: Mon – Thurs 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Fri – Sat 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Extended breakfast on weekends, ’til 1 p.m.) Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes Market Square Address: 301 Milam St. (at Congress) Houston, TX 77002 Hours: Mon – Fri 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. , Sat – Sun 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Parking: Paid parking along the square. Family Friendly: Yes
Whether you hail from the isles or just enjoy the food and wine, going Greek for a meal is an easy way to let your hair down. Since opening its doors in 1977, Niko Niko’s has become a city staple, gaining an almost cult-like following among locals. The Greek hot spot serves up a number of traditional dishes, like gyros and falafels, with a few American ones tossed in the mix. In addition to providing the city with two great restaurants, they also contribute to Greek Fest every year. The line moves relatively fast and is well worth the wait. Any of the sandwiches on the menu are recommended. If one decision is too hard, try the Hat Trick Combo with three different mini sandwiches. Just be sure to save room for dessert! The loukoumades, or Greek honey balls, are fit for the gods. Guy Fieri raves about their heavenly goodness on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
INSIDER’S GUIDE Try the loukoumades before you die. It is counter service; so remember to check out the menu before ordering. Thanks to the fans and misters, eat on the patio comfortably!
FOOD & BEVERAGE
It’s no secret: Houstonians love to go out to eat. Niko Niko’s has rightfully earned its reputation as a local favorite. It is laid back and unassuming, a perfect representation of Houston’s personality. Whether you hail from the isles or just enjoy the food and wine, going Greek for a meal is an easy way to let your hair down.
OISHII JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Address: 3764 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX 77046 Hours: Mon – Fri 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sat noon – 10 p.m. Closed Sundays. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
Sushi night doesn’t have to be expensive, and Oishii proves it. This lowkey Japanese restaurant serves great food that won’t break the bank. The inconspicuous restaurant has wood paneled walls, broken-in booths and basic tables. But the strip center location and the unpretentious decor don’t detract from the number of people who feverishly flock to this sushi spot every night. Call ahead because you should fully anticipate a wait. Grab a couple of seats in the waiting area by the front and plan on catching up with friends over a lengthy conversation. Once finally seated, explore the menu. The selection is huge, and the prices are the best in town. Be sure to check out specials that are listed on the chalkboard by the host, and expect large portions. Sometimes Houston is described as a great place to live, but not a great place to visit. Oishii is a spot that fits into this saying. Locals know it and love it, but it’s not a go-to restaurant to the uninitiated. Houston is a place to explore. To find the secrets, you have to ask around and open a few doors. When there is a line of locals waiting 45 minutes to get inside a hole-in-the-wall sushi joint every night of the week, we suggest you poke your head in and see for yourself.
INSIDER’S GUIDE Call ahead to put your name on the list; there’s almost always a wait, but it’s worth it. For even more bang for your buck, check out the daily specials written on the chalkboard by the front door.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
But the strip center location and the unpretentious decor don’t detract from the number of people who feverishly flock to this sushi spot every night.
Address: 2700 W. Alabama St., Houston, TX 77098 Hours: Mon – Thu 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Fri – Sat 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sun noon – 7 p.m. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
From gelato and espressos to cake balls and mini cupcakes, Petite Sweets serves up heavenly treats that keep customers coming back for more. Opening its doors in 2011, Petite Sweets is still relatively new to Houston. From gelato and espressos to cake balls and mini cupcakes, Petite Sweets serves up heavenly treats that keep customers coming back for more. One of the highlights of the store is the bountiful assortment of French macarons, which have become amazingly popular in recent years. They come in tons of flavors: peanut butter and jelly, pistachio, salted caramel and red velvet just to name a few. Patrons are also big fans of the frozen custard. Itâ€™s a type of ice cream made right there in the shop with fresh local products!
INSIDERâ€™S GUIDE Look for the same treats at sister restaurants BRC and Liberty Kitchen. Seriously, try the frozen custard. It is divine.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Petite Sweets is yet another representative of the booming food scene in Houston. The sinful sweets here will undoubtedly send all ages into a child-like wonder. And, for many, Petite Sweets will become a routine stop whenever a sudden sugar craving strikes.
Furtive Food Source:
PHOENICIA SPECIALTY FOODS
Address: Multiple locations, but only the Downtown location doubles as a restaurant. 1001 Austin St., Houston, TX 77010 Hours: Mon – Fri 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sat – Sun 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Parking: Free onsite (attached parking garage) Family Friendly: Yes
A normal grocery store is nothing to gush over, but this one is special. The variety of food and drink is astonishing. When looking for a place to grab a bite, Phoenicia has got the goods to satisfy any appetite. They offer everything from French bakery goods and pastries to a full spread of Greek and Mediterranean options. Since it’s hard to always agree when it comes to food, this is the perfect place for a group to spend a lunch break. Once inside, there is a plethora of choices to satisfy different cravings. There is even a sit-down restaurant in the store called MKT Bar, but unfortunately it doesn’t open until 2 p.m. Most choose the delectable hot lunch line. While the grocery store and the selection of food are impressive, it’s the people there that make it a gem. Hope to meet Ahmet, as he is an integral part of the great experience. He is also affectionately known as Habibi (translates to “love” in Arabic) or “Smiley” due to his charming and friendly disposition. He knows many regulars by name and order, a reminder that despite Phoenicia’s size, it’s still a family-owned business. Houston is an incredibly ethnically diverse place. Phoenicia exemplifies that. It is a fun and colorful place where all walks of life can sit down and have a good meal or do some needed grocery shopping. Not everything has to be a monumental discovery. Sometimes it’s the little things that are just as important. And a good lunch spot is just that.
INSIDER’S GUIDE The shawarma wraps are fantastic. Careful with the spicy sauce – it’s HOT! Save room for dessert. The selection is out of this world. Explore all options, and don’t be afraid to try something new! A lot of the food there is not on the run-of-the-mill lunch menu. Great place for veggies and vegans!
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Since it’s hard to always agree when it comes to food, this is the perfect place for a group to spend a lunch break.
Hush-Hush Hunger Helper:
Address: 1703 Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX 77007 Hours: Mon – Sat 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Sunday. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
The best part is the mouth-watering smell emanating from the open kitchen.
Between Pit Master David Reynosa’s 16 years of experience and the friendly staff, Pizzitola’s BBQ can truly hold its own. Many have noticed, including Chef G. Garvin from Road Trip on the Cooking Channel, who featured the restaurant’s fall-off-the-bone ribs.
Try the ribs; they are so good that sauce isn’t needed!
When it comes to discussing who has the best BBQ in town, Houstonians can talk for days, months and even years. That being said, Pizzitola’s is one of the top-notch places in the city to get grub. Exploring Houston shows that there are some truly special people here. And some of those special people can be found cooking and serving BBQ at Pizzitola’s.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Step through the doors and in an instant feel incredibly welcome. The walls are covered with Texas memorabilia, and the restaurant is packed with smiling lunchtime crowds of Houstonians that fill the air with the hum of conversation. The best part is the mouth-watering smell emanating from the open kitchen. The brick pits are responsible for the simmering slabs of ribs, brisket and chicken. Finish the meal off with the delicious taste of banana pudding, a bittersweet goodbye to a fantastic experience. Luckily, it’s easy to return; the restaurant will still be a part of Houston tomorrow as it has been for over 70 years.
SAINT ARNOLD BREWERY
Address: 2000 Lyons Ave., Houston, TX 77020 Hours: Mon – Fri Lunch from 11 a.m. – 1:15 p.m., taps open 3 – 4:15 p.m. Saturday tours at noon, 1 p.m. & 2 p.m. Parking: Parking onsite Family Friendly: Children are welcome but all minors under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
St. Arnold’s Brewery is a craft brewery started in 1994. They offer daily tours of the grounds and provide a chance to taste a wide variety of beer. The red brick building, the cheerful attitudes and lots of cold beer make this location a mandatory stop for explorers of Houston. Enjoy the half-hour of open taps before the scheduled tour. The entire hall will be packed. Dozens of people flow to and from the taps, beer glasses in hand, mingling and socializing with whoever is in close proximity. The crowd demonstrates traditional Houston hospitality, even to total strangers. They simply have a beer and play tic-tac-toe or card games. It’s like a giant living room where everyone can hang out with some fantastic beer. When the tour finally starts, get a short and sweet walkthrough of the brewing process. From the main drinking hall to the giant tanks named after different “Saints,” the experience is rather informational. Also, get a nice memento in the form of a branded drinking glass and four tokens which can be exchanged to fill said glass with the Saint Arnold brew of your choice. The coolest part has to be that the founder, Brock Wagner, is the tour guide for the journey through the brewery. Tours of the facility started years ago. The demand for Saint Arnold beer and its fanatic community grew hand in hand with the expansion of the facility, and the more that people attended the tours, the more they fell in love with the place. There is a loyalty and adoration for the Saint Arnold brand that rivals any other beer. Overall, the combination of beer, Brock Wagner’s quirky sense of humor and a fun learning experience leaves everyone with a big grin. As Wagner stated at the beginning of our tour, “Saint Arnold is all about community. It is something we have strived to create and maintain since the very beginning.” So cheers to Saint Arnold, a gem of Houston culture and a perfect representation of the community that H-town is. We raise a glass in your honor.
INSIDER’S GUIDE Admission is $8 for 15 years and older. Lunch is served at the brewery on weekdays from 11 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Bring 10 empty beer carriers and tour the brewery for free! Bring or buy a St. Arnold’s glass and get more beer during the tasting.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
The demand for Saint Arnold beer and its fanatic community grew hand in hand with the expansion of the facility, and the more that people attended the tours, the more they fell in love with the place.
Stealthy Morning Meal:
Address: Varies by location Hours: Varies by location Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
When needing a jump-start, it comes in the form of sugar pastry perfection.
Since Shipley Do-Nuts first opened its doors here in Houston in 1936, it has been feeding the city’s do-nut needs. From basic glazed to bear claws, Shipley Do-Nuts has anything one could want served by a friendly staff. For those who don’t have much of a sweet tooth, Texas-sized kolaches are made hot and fresh every morning. However, the only danger here is an expanding waistline and the need to let out those favorite pair of jeans.
Remember to ask the local Shipley about any off-the-menu items. For example, the 3932 N. Main St. location serves boudin kolaches every Sunday for as long as they last!
When needing a jump-start, it comes in the form of sugar pastry perfection. No matter where anyone lives in the city, Shipley Do-Nuts locations are plentiful and easy to find, leaving no excuses for friends when it’s their turn to pick up. Make sure to eat them quickly, because these babies go fast. Luckily, whether it’s 6 a.m. or 6 minutes after midnight, Shipley is there. Just be sure to buy enough to share.
Looking for a late night sugar rush? Several locations offer a 24-hour drive-thru. Just make sure to have a car… don’t go thru on foot!
FOOD & BEVERAGE
This is the Houstonian’s breakfast treat of choice. Every resident that’s stuck around the city long enough to experience Shipley can’t deny that this is the best do-nut shop they’ve ever visited.
Under the Radar Restaurant:
TACOS A GO-GO
Address: 3704 Main St., Houston, TX 77002 Hours: Mon – Thur 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Fri 7 a.m. – 2 a.m., Sat 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sun 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Parking: Tacos A Go-Go customers can park in the Winbern Street parking lot Family Friendly: Yes
To be blunt, the tacos are amazing.
Tacos A Go-Go is one of the many shops and restaurants you can find that runs alongside the Metro Rail. The tacos are amazing, and thanks to its cool, rustic look from the outside and colorful imagery inside, you feel like you’re in a cantina far away from the streets of Houston when you are there.
Breakfast is served all day You can order your tacos online and get your order “a go-go.”
To be blunt, the tacos are amazing. If you are looking for a Mexican-style breakfast, then Tacos A Go-Go is where it’s at. They have just the right mix of egg, tortilla and potato. But that is not all they offer. There is also a variety of equally delicious lunch tacos, quesadillas, and tortas.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Much like Houston, Tacos A Go-Go doesn’t need to show off in a flashy manner for people to know how awesome it is. It’s just a simple concept done right.
Houston has a number of quintessential landmarks that keep our city one of a kind. So get ready for some site seeing and break out those walking shoes, because Houston will not disappoint.
The Road Less Traveled:
BUFFALO BAYOU TRAILS
Address: 150 Sabine St., Houston, TX 77007 Hours: 24 hours daily. Be cautious at night. Parking: Free street parking on Allen Parkway Family Friendly: Yes
The trails provide Houstonians a great place to relax, exercise, and spend time outdoors.
The Buffalo Bayou flows directly through Houston. It starts in the western suburbs, through downtown then empties into the Houston Ship Channel and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. To embrace the scenic waterway, the city of Houston created the Buffalo Bayou Trails that run alongside the water.
B-Cycle location is onsite. Don’t forget to wear sneakers.
The Buffalo Bayou Partnership understands that Houstonians demand the trails be clean, healthy and a natural corridor. This is why the BBP has decided to reinvest back into the land over the next 20 years. The “Buffalo Bayou Master Plan” is an ongoing project that is designed to improve both the trails and the City of Houston. One of the projects the BBP is currently working on is to remove invasive species of plants that are not native to that particular area.
The common image associated with the Buffalo Bayou is the murky water. What we see is a scenic trail that winds through this great city. In a city this large, having a 10-mile water system run through the city is unique. The trails provide Houstonians a great place to relax, exercise, and spend time outdoors. Even with a constantly growing population that crowds the streets, these trails are just another reason to go exploring in the heart of the city.
There are tons of runners, families walking their dogs and several parks - the most notable being Eleanor Tinsley Park. Located just off Allen Parkway, it’s the location of Houston’s infamous Free Press Summer Fest and Freedom Over Texas 4th of July festival. The BBP also always needs volunteers to help clean and plant or seed the area with native material to out-compete any exotic plants.
Address: 2525 Washington Ave., Houston, TX 77007 Hours: Mon – Sun 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. When Daylight Saving Time is in effect, the gate closing is extended to sunset or 5:30 p.m., whichever is earlier. The office is open Mon – Fri from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes, however, children under 16 must be accompanied by responsible adults.
Turn through the gates and be amazed by this expansive cemetery, filled with giant oaks and beautiful monuments. Glenwood Cemetery is hidden away on Washington Avenue. The cemetery doesn’t have the gloom and doom feeling that one might expect. Instead, there is an overwhelming feeling of peace and tranquility. In fact, many Houstonians come here for that reason alone. The cemetery is open to joggers, bicyclist and motorists out for a Sunday drive. Turn through the gates and be amazed by this expansive cemetery, filled with giant oaks and beautiful monuments. Being so close to the bayou, Glenwood Cemetery is dotted with natural ravines and hills. The landscape is not something one would expect in the center of a major metropolitan area. Hike around and take in the calm afternoon with an air of reverence.
INSIDER’S GUIDE Feel free to bring a bike or the family dog. This place is like a park, just no frisbees please. The speed limit is 10 mph. Be respectful when driving through. A map of the cemetery is on the website or at the office, and it is very helpful.
The cemetery is just another illustration of how Houstonians are always mindful of where they come from. Glenwood Cemetery has a rich history, encompassed by the serenity of nature, and is just a few blocks from downtown. In a city that continues to grow, it is always nice to find reminders of the past.
While the atmosphere does wonders for the soul, the coolest part of all has to be recognizing the famous names found on the headstones in the cemetery, which range from philanthropists and politicians to authors and religious figures. Houstonians might recognize names such as Hofheinz, Hermann, and George R. Brown. However, the most famous interred is Howard Hughes Jr., a.k.a. “the Aviator.” This famous Houstonian was every bit as big and eclectic as Houston itself. He made movies in Hollywood, invented the push-up bra, and revolutionized the aviation industry, as we know it. His life’s achievements were dramatized recently in the film, The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Private Guide to the Shady Side:
LIVE OAK TUNNELS
Address: West, North and South Boulevard have the best and most dense oaks. Hours: Parking: Free street parking Family Friendly: Yes
They intertwine, branch by branch, to form a twisted tunnel over the road.
When driving down South Boulevard, prepare to be taken by the magic of these beautiful old trees. They intertwine, branch by branch, to form a twisted tunnel over the road.
If you get hungry, Rice Village is adjacent to the neighborhood with the tunnels. There are tons of shops and restaurants to choose from.
The oaks are a true demonstration of nature’s splendor when it’s allowed to flourish. It’s a secret getaway from the paperwork at the office or the madness of a home with little ones. So when you’re looking for a moment of serenity, don’t forget about the live oak tunnels.
Bring a journal. This place is full of inspiration! Remember a camera (or camera phone). Snap a few pics!
These tunnels have been deemed one of Houston’s most popular photo hot spots and rightfully so. Take a stroll down streets lined with storybook homes and gorgeous landscapes. Go snap a few photos of the grand pieces of history, and the ambitious can even attempt to scale one of these beauties.
Classified Super-Sized Sculpture Studio:
THE PRESIDENT HEADS
Address: 2500 Summer St., Houston, TX 77007 Hours: N/A Parking: Free onsite *There is no official address for the busts along I-10. Recommended parking at 1000 Bingham St. (at Elder St.) Houston, TX 77007 and walk over. Family Friendly: Yes
Wandering around the studio and peering inside the works in progress is highly encouraged.
After visiting the South Dakota hot spot, sculptor David Adickes was inspired to create presidential statues that would be larger than life, yet small enough for people to view up close. And that is just what he did. Any time of year is prime-time to take a trip to see the Adickes’ labors of love.
If forced to choose between going to the studio and the roadside busts, see more at the studio.
While Adickes is best known for his five Commander-in-Chief craniums residing at the intersection of I-10 and I-45, he has a whole slew of them in the back of his studio off I-10. And that’s not all he has there.
Go during the day to get a good view of the works.
Adickes studio may be one of Houston’s best-kept secrets. It is an adventure within itself. Find giant sculptures of the Beatles in the mix of presidents. Be impressed and taken aback by the intricate elements in each piece of work – every tiny detail, down to the folds in the fabric of the Presidents’ ties. Wandering around the studio and peering inside the works in progress is highly encouraged, and most people need very little persuading to comply.
The “We Love Houston” sculpture is normally displayed at Adickes’ studio.
Not everyone can display their patriotism with giant tributes to this country’s history like Adickes. But, we can appreciate it. The work and vision of Adickes gives a sense of respect for diligence and ingenuity, and the subject matter itself provides the city with a constant reminder of how great our country is – even beyond these city limits. Houston is a proud place. We’re proud of our place in the world, and we’re proud of the unique brand of individuals that reside here, like David Adickes.
Concealed Beneath the Surface:
THE RED BUTTON
Address: Preston Street Bridge in the Theater District. Hours: Parking: There is $2 parking in front of the Wortham Center. Family Friendly: Yes
... there lies a little red button – a button that many Houstonians are completely unaware even exists.
Hidden above Buffalo Bayou, along the streets of the Theater District, there lies a little red button – a button that many Houstonians are completely unaware even exists. Camouflaged inside a brick pillar at the bridge on Preston Street, this button controls something very intriguing – a bubble of compressed air, which shoots through the calm waters of Buffalo Bayou.
Go with at least one other person so that one can press the button and one can watch. The bubble can’t be seen from where the button is pushed.
“The Big Bubble” is set on a timer to go off throughout the day; however, with the quick push of this hidden red button, any passerby can make the bubble erupt. It’s to satisfy those in need of a quick fix of entertainment as well as to provide a flow of oxygen into the Bayou. If it weren’t for this little burst of oxygen, the Bayou would become stagnant.
There isn’t a sign or plaque announcing the button, so do a little searching. It’s FREE to push the button!
Once the fun is discovered behind “The Big Bubble,” don’t resist pushing the button more because, well, it’s awesome! Some button-pushers like to surprise others nearby or in the bayou (like a kayaker or pedestrian). And even though watching the bubble erupt gets slightly anticlimactic after the third time, everyone wants to take a turn pushing the button.
It’s unknown to many and seems pretty irrelevant except to those that are in the know. But, with a little detective work, uncover something pretty cool. Also, much like the Houston culture, the little red button can be enjoyed by anyone willing to look for it.
Under the Veil of Darkness:
WAUGH BRIDGE BAT COLONY
Address: Waugh Drive Bridge over Buffalo Bayou, between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive. Hours: The bats come out at dusk. Recommended arrival time is 30 minutes early to get a good spot. Parking: Free parking available at Spotts Park or along Allen Parkway. Family Friendly: Yes
They swarm under the bridge then stream out in a steady flow for their nightly insect feast.
Check out one of Houston’s more peculiar secrets, a bat colony that inhabits a bridge over the Buffalo Bayou. Getting to these bats is an adventure in itself. The bridge is at the Waugh Drive and Allen Parkway intersection, so park at the top of Spotts Park.
Bring a blanket to sit on. Watch the bats from a grassy patch on a hill next to the bridge.
Follow the winding trail towards the basketball court. Get yelled at by some volleyball players, interrupt a boot camp, keep walking down the Buffalo Bayou trails, and then appreciate taking the long route. They swarm under the bridge then stream out in a steady flow for their nightly insect feast. Hundreds of thousands of bats leaving at bat rush hour might seem very chaotic, but it is surprisingly organized and fluid. Houston traffic can learn a thing or two from these bats.
When planning to take photos, be sure the flash is off. It will disrupt the bats.
Houston is known for its diverse population, and this even includes hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tail bats. One wouldn’t expect to find a colony of bats within a huge metropolitan city, but that’s Houston. There’s a surprise at every corner and under every bridge.
The bats fly out from the southeast side of the bridge and fly around the building across the street, so plan accordingly.
Address: 2300 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056 Hours: Mon – Sun 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Parking: Free Parking is across the street from Neiman Marcus. Family Friendly: Yes
Take a stroll around the surrounding park, and live vicariously through the picnic patrons and sunbathers. Want a little taste of tranquility, peace and quiet but stuck in the middle of the Galleria area? Take a break from the hustle and bustle and go to the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall or as locals simply call it, The Waterwall. Designed and completed in 1985 by architect Philip Johnson, The Waterwall is a 64-foot wall of continuously flowing water.
INSIDERâ€™S GUIDE This makes the perfect date spot any time of the day.
Take a stroll around the surrounding park, and live vicariously through the picnic patrons and sunbathers. See everything from people posing for QuinceaĂąera and prom pictures to families tossing around a football.
Everyone in Houston knows where to find it, and all Houstonians are welcome. Whatever the occasion, take some time to soak up this city icon.
There is no shortage of outdoor space in Houston. Across the city, green space provides residents with amazing opportunities for rest, relaxation and recreation.
Uncover an Urban Dream:
Address: 1500 McKinney Houston, TX 77010 Hours: Discovery Green: 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. Gateway Fountain: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Park Office: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Parking: Metered street parking, parking garages and surface lots all around the area. Parking on the street is only $1.50 for an hour or $3 for the afternoon. Family Friendly: Yes
While it offers a family-friendly setting, it’s also perfect for adults spending time with their friends.
Discovery Green is in the center of the city, surrounded by the George R. Brown convention center, Minute Maid Park, big businesses and a number of bars and restaurants.
There are tons of restaurants in the area, including two within the park, The Lake House and The Grove.
If the clock is a factor, skip the power yoga class and try out the incredibly entertaining listening vessels, followed by a quick sprint through the Mist Tree to cool off. The schedule of daily activities is sure to keep patrons of all-ages occupied. There are workout classes, concerts and even ice-skating in the winter. Try out the nighttime flea market that is hosted on the third Saturday of every month. So, when downtown with time to spare, be sure to check out Discovery Green’s calendar.
Take a guided audio tour of the park. Downloadable on phone. Rent model boats to sail in the lake on weekends from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Day or night, Discovery Green is a place for some wholesome fun in the heart of the city. While it offers a family-friendly setting, it’s also perfect for adults spending time with their friends. It really is a one-stop shop for entertainment.
An Unexpected Tree Treat:
HOUSTON ARBORETUM & NATURE CENTER
Address: 4501 Woodway Dr. Houston, TX 77024 Hours: Grounds open Mon – Sun 7 a.m. – dusk, Gates close at 8 p.m. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
While much of the city has changed, this untouched patch flourishes.
It’s a little oasis in the middle of the city. Originally home to a World War I army training base, the land has since been established as a 155-acre arboretum and botanical garden with over five miles of nature trails.
The entrance to the Arboretum is donation only. But be generous!
First, set out to explore the nature sanctuary on a mild Houston afternoon. The dense vegetation over the wood-paneled paths provides enough shade to make the adventure quite comfortable even in the heat. Meander through the Texas wildflowers, white oaks and pines.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the staff is extremely helpful. Dogs are welcome!
A favorite spot is a lily pad-covered pond swarming with friendly turtles. Take a seat on a bench and watch as they converge on visitors from every direction. Be advised, feeding the turtles is frowned upon. Even if checking out only a few of the trails, make sure to squeeze in a visit to the Information Center. This facility offers an abundance of child and adult educational classes aimed at maintaining and supporting the natural landscape.
Even on a brief visit, the memory is lasting. The Arboretum gives a glimpse of what the city looked like before it became the booming metropolis that it is today. While much of the city has changed, this untouched patch flourishes. It’s a great place to melt away an afternoon.
Far East Peace Asylum:
Address: 6000 Fannin St. Houston, TX 77030 Hours: April to September 10 a.m. â€“ 6 p.m. and October to March 10 a.m. â€“ 5 p.m. Parking: Free parking is available at the large central parking lot in front of the Houston Zoo, near Miller Outdoor Theatre, and at the Houston Garden Center. Free parking is also available at the golf course clubhouse located at the corner of Almeda and MacGregor and at the Bayou Parkland Pavilion. Family Friendly: Yes
Walk down gravel pathways that lead across quaint bridges through cherry-blossom-pink crape myrtles.
There isn’t anything quite like this garden in Houston. It is as if some unseen giant cut out a piece of Japan and brought it to Houston to hide amongst the trees in Hermann Park.
Be prepared to stay a while, so bring comfortable shoes and plenty of sunscreen.
Arrive at the garden and step through the gatehouse. Walk down gravel pathways that lead across quaint bridges through cherry-blossompink crape myrtles. Continue around large ponds that are homes to turtles and enormous koi fish. The lanterns from Chiba, Japan, Houston’s sister city, are guiding beacons through the daimyo-style garden.
It’s a quiet area and has lots of benches for meditation or rest after a run in Hermann Park.
Casually saunter to the teahouse, a gift from the Japanese; it was actually built in Japan and reassembled here. Behind the teahouse is a waterfall that warrants taking a moment of reflection and a quiet appreciation for the surroundings.
Bring crackers or bread to feed the koi fish.
The entire garden stands for so much more than just a peaceful getaway. It is a symbol of friendship and a collaboration of traditions. The result is another beautiful piece of foreign culture coexisting within the city. That is the beauty of Houston. It embraces diversity from all over the world to make its own unique identity.
Outdoor Activity Escape:
Address: 6501 Memorial Dr. West of Downtown, bounded by I-10, West Loop 610, Crestwood, and Buffalo Bayou Hours: Mon – Sun 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
With over 3 million visitors each year, Memorial Park captures all of Houston.
Memorial Park has a little taste of everything for anyone that enjoys being outside. With over 1,400 acres and plenty of pines, there is ample space for outdoor activities.
Activities available: Hiking trail, bike trail, running trail, picnic tables, tennis courts, fitness center, golf course, croquet courts, driving range, swimming pool, infantry trail.
It’s a place to play a round of golf on a premier golf course or a game of croquet on manicured croquet courts. There are also hiking trails, numerous tennis courts to catch a quick match, or benches perfect for people watching. At the end of the day the reason for being there doesn’t matter. With over 3 million visitors each year, Memorial Park captures all of Houston. Whether there for fitness, to do a little business on the golf course or just hang out with some friends, Memorial Park has something for everyone.
Free parking! Who doesn’t love free parking? If a little hungry, there is a Beck’s Prime on the golf course.
The park is known for its running groupies. The running trail is 2.93 miles around the golf course. And it’s a long 2.93 miles in the hot and humid Houston weather, so feel free to round up!
As a commuter city with an expansive boundary, itâ€™s no surprise that Houston utilizes various modes of transportation. Whether navigating the city on wheels, rails, or foot, learn how to get around town.
DOWNTOWN TUNNEL SYSTEM
Address: The tunnel connects 95 city blocks in Houston. Hours: Mon – Fri. 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. Parking: Paid street parking Family Friendly: Yes
Whether it’s hot, cold windy or raining, it’s always safe to travel.
Just 20 feet below the heart of the city there are over six miles of air-conditioned tunnels winding their way around downtown, while protecting people from the elements. Whether it’s hot, cold, windy or raining, it’s always safe to travel. Most of the tunnel travelers are people who work or have worked downtown. But really, the only people that don’t use them are the ones that don’t know about them.
Be sure to look at the maps, it’s easy for rookies to get lost. It’s a great way to escape the Houston heat.
Stepping off, meet the rapturous smells of different foods from the many restaurants. It is a curse more than a blessing because it is nearly impossible to choose a place to eat. Navigate the snaking tunnels filled with people, restaurants and stores. Find almost anything to satisfy a craving; the only thing that seems difficult to find is a place to sit.
Every kind of restaurant, every type of store and every single person contribute to the diversity of Houston. And you can see just about all of it in the tunnels. It’s fast, it’s busy, and it has something for everyone, complete with the miracle of A/C.
Ride and Seek:
Address: There are numerous stations to rent from around Houston. Check out B-Cycleâ€™s website to find the one. Hours: The bike racks are open from 6 a.m. â€“ 11 p.m., but return bikes whenever needed. Parking: Check location Family Friendly: Yes
All of the B-Cycle stations are within easy riding distance of some good bars and restaurants for resting and recovering. B-Cycle embraces the fact that most Houstonians are proud products of a commuter city and allows them to do exactly what they are raised to do … commute in style. Find B-Cycle locations throughout the city, and for a nominal fee take a ride. Straddle the comfortable red bicycle, adjust the seats and decide where to go. Then, realize that the beauty of this experience is to leisurely enjoy the wonderful weather and surroundings.
INSIDER’S GUIDE Bring a helmet if desired. In addition to a 24-hour pass, purchase a seven-day or annual pass. Just make sure to check the bike in every 30 minutes or be charged two dollars.
After having some fun, heavy breathing can be a painful reminder of the fact that fondness for beer, food and sleep detracts from the peak pedaling days of youth. Luckily, B-Cycle gives the option to rent and return from any B-Cycle location. If exhaustion sets in, simply return the bikes at the nearest terminal and rely on some friends for a pickup. Houston is a city of movement. The people here drive everywhere. This usually means traveling from point A to point B. But sometimes, you can have new experiences in an old landscape by taking the time to explore a smaller area – maybe on a bicycle instead of in a car.
All of the B-Cycle stations are within easy riding distance of some good bars and restaurants for resting and recovering. For example, several locations are in the Montrose area. There is no shortage of cafes and ice cream parlors, the streets are dotted with food trucks and restaurants and the Menil Collection is nearby for free-viewing pleasure. And when in the mood for some shopping, there are plenty of unique retail stores and boutiques.
Address: Hours: Mon – Thur 4:30 a.m. – 11:40 p.m., Fri 4:30 – 2 a.m., Sat 5:30 – 2:20 a.m., Sun 5:30 – 11:40 a.m. Parking: Varies by stop Family Friendly: Yes, and pet friendly as long as it is caged properly.
Climbing onboard a jam-packed car is an instant reminder of how heterogeneous Houstonians are.
Slicing through the heart of Houston, the METRORail has become an integral part of the Houston commute. For just $1.25, ride to and from any of the 16 stations that straddle the 7.5-mile line that runs from Reliant Park to the UH Downtown campus. The METRORail is currently constructing two additional lines, Green (east) and Purple (southeast) and has plans to incorporate Blue (university) and Gold (uptown) lines.
METRORail is a great option to avoid parking downtown, especially for sporting events, concerts and other nightlife activities!
Most ride the METRORail only as transportation to and from parking lots for sporting events and the rodeo. Take an afternoon to board the red line going north at the Houston Zoo station in the Medical Center to explore what more the rail has to offer. Climbing onboard a jam-packed car is an instant reminder of how heterogeneous Houstonians are. Ride along and take note of the abundance of quirky, one-ofa-kind venues. Many stores, restaurants and bars have clearly visible signs from the METRORail making it easy to spot whatever the destination might be.
Transfers are free for 3 hours if in the same direction with a Metro Q card.
Not only is the rail a practical alternative to avoiding the city’s traffic congestion, it’s also a cultural landmark unifying a variety of offbeat and interesting venues. As the METRORail expands to cover more of Houston, it creates sustainable public transportation in a traditionally individual-driven city.
Make sure to purchase a Metro Q card before riding the rail. The police often do surprise ticket checks.
Houston quietly holds a position as one of the best destination cities in the country for museums. Including fine art, peculiar design, and even a living mosaic of butterflies and insects, the collection of museums is more than enough to satisfy any craving for cultural enrichment.
Unidentified Flight Oasis:
1940 AIR TERMINAL MUSEUM
Address: 8325 Travelair St. Houston, TX 77061 Hours: Tues. – Sat 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun 1 – 5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
Many Houstonians have never seen or heard of the 1940 Air Terminal Museum, but anyone who has been to Hobby Airport has practically been in arm’s reach of it. Originally, the single terminal was known as the Houston Municipal Airport, the city’s first commercial airport. Houston’s population quickly expanded and outgrew the building in 1954, leaving architect Joseph Finger’s art deco creation in a state of decay. Thanks to the Houston Aeronautical Historical Society, much of the original structure has been restored and turned into a museum. Tour the terminal just as it appeared over 70 years ago. View exhibits through staged offices and rooms featuring aviation relics, including mannequins in pilot uniforms, historical flight documents, plane models and original photographs from when the terminal was in operation. There is a neighboring hangar affiliated with the museum but not explicitly part of a standard visit. At the museum there is a die-hard group of former pilots, mechanics and general aviation enthusiasts who are happy always having their heads in the clouds. They are more than excited to show off some of these vintage planes to patrons who express interest. Houston and its aviation industry grew up side by side. The 1940 Air Terminal is reminiscent of a time before hour-long TSA security lines and pesky baggage fees, when flying was a luxury. As air traffic and airlines flourished in Houston, so did the city as a whole.
INSIDER’S GUIDE Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children. Be sure to grab a scavenger hunt list from the front desk. Ask about the hangar down the street that has additional planes. The newly renovated atrium area can also be turned into a venue for private parties.
MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS
The 1940 Air Terminal is reminiscent of a time before hour-long TSA security lines and pesky baggage fees, when flying was a luxury.
Garage Project Sanctuary:
ART CAR MUSEUM
Address: 140 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX 77007 Hours: Wed – Sun 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
Houston is a vibrant and lively city that is filled with up-and-coming writers, artists, musicians, executives, politicians, and so on. It is eclectic and at times a bit eccentric as well. This city isn’t nearly to the point of being “Austin weird,” but it definitely has its own set of charming quirks. One such quirk is Houston’s annual Art Car Parade, the highlight of Art Car Weekend. It’s sponsored by The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art and features over 250 cars, unicycles, lawnmowers and anything else with wheels. The whole weekend is dedicated to the celebration of people’s creations. The Art Car Museum is home to three of last year’s grand prize winners. The Art Car Museum is an unexpected experience. The outside is about as wacky as the inside, covered in metallic spires and spikes. Inside, they have three different prize-winning art cars from the 2013 parade including the “Heroicar.” The cars are ornate, extravagant and very well made. The art didn’t stop there. The walls inside the Art Car Museum are covered in works of art from the museum’s current exhibit of local artists. The variety of art is massive, from furry sculptures to satirical paintings. The Art Car Museum highlights Houston’s appreciation for the arts and its celebration of individuality. It is truly amazing that a city so massive can appreciate the artistic expressions of our city’s colorful style of art. Everyone has an inner artist, and the Art Car Parade encourages people to let it show.
INSIDER’S GUIDE Take as many pictures as you want. However, no touching. Check out all 250+ Art Cars at the annual Art Car Parade. The next one is on Saturday, May 10, 2014. See you there! Many people drive their art car around Houston all-year long. Look for them around town.
MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS
It’s sponsored by The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, and features over 250 cars, unicycles, lawnmowers and anything else with wheels.
A Regular Man, an Unknown Plan, and 50,000 Cans:
BEER CAN HOUSE
Address: 222 Malone St., Houston, TX 77007 Hours: During summer months Wed – Fri 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sat & Sun noon – 5 p.m. Parking: Free street parking Family Friendly: Yes
Arrive to a soft tinkling sound that floats through the air. It’s almost otherworldly.
This is the single masterpiece of John Milkovisch, a man who never considered himself an artist. In fact, during the 18 years that Milkovisch worked on his creation, he always seemed amazed by the number of people that considered it art. He claimed that he was just doing what he loved. And what is this piece of art that took nearly two decades and over 50,000 beer cans to make? The answer is none other than Houston’s own Beer Can House– yet another property of The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.
Parking is along the street, so be mindful of driveways and no parking signs.
Walk all around the house. For 18 years, Milkovisch spent his time plating the house in flattened cans and paving the yard with concrete and old marbles. The result is a colorful spectrum that’s created whenever the sunlight hits the glass-encrusted walkways or the metallic dressing of the home. The Beer Can House is an ideal representation of the imagination and can-do attitude that exudes from Houstonians. Whether it’s impressionism or just good old fashioned folk art, Houston has it all. It’s a city that supports art and all the colorful people that create it.
We suggest going to The Orange Show the same day you go to the Beer Can House.
MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS
Arrive to a soft tinkling sound that floats through the air. It’s almost otherworldly. However, it doesn’t take long to locate the source of this metallic rustle. The Beer Can House is surrounded by hanging garlands of beer can tops and bottoms that sway into each other with the passing of a soft breeze.
Admission is only $2, but you can get a guided tour for $5.
COCKRELL BUTTERFLY CENTER
Address: 5555 Hermann Park Dr., Houston, TX 77030 Hours: Mon – Sun 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Parking: Free 3 hour parking across the street on Hermann Park Drive. Family Friendly: Yes
Housed within the Houston Museum of Natural Science, this facility is made up of two parts, the Brown Hall of Entomology and the Rainforest Conservatory. Together they contain hundreds of exotic types of butterflies and insects collected from across the globe. Upon entering the Hall of Entomology, become immediately captivated by the horror and magnificence of the collection of specimens inside. It takes a good two minutes for the shock and awe of all the bugs to wear off before the real exploring begins. Find fossils of insects the size of forearms, climb into live roach terrariums and even learn a thing or two from some surprisingly fun educational games. Find the answers to those hard questions – silk is made from caterpillar spit. The Hall of Entomology leads directly to the Cockrell Butterfly Center. It’s a three-story glass structure built around a 50-foot waterfall that encases hundreds of butterflies and insects. Look skywards, and experience a peaceful silence. Swarms of the dancing butterflies bounce around in the air. The scenery is reminiscent of a fairytale. Pass through the tropical habitat, and enjoy the occasional personal interaction with a butterfly. Museums are a place for education and appreciation, but the Butterfly Center offers even more. This living tribute to the variety of life around the world is an urban escape. It allows Houstonians to remember the natural beauty that the world has to offer without the hefty cost of travel. .
INSIDER’S GUIDE The best way to attract the butterflies is to wear bright colors and stand very still. Be warned: the butterfly center mimics a tropical rainforest, which makes a very humid environment. Go on a Thursday! Admission is $2.50 from 3 – 6 p.m. Admission always includes access to the Cockrell Butterfly center and Brown Hall of Entomology.
MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS
Find fossils of insects the size of forearms, climb into live roach terrariums and even learn a thing or two from some surprisingly fun educational games.
Confidential Collection of Art and Design:
THE MENIL COLLECTION | ROTHKO CHAPEL
Address: 1533 Sul Ross St., Houston, TX 77006 Hours: Wed – Sun 11:00 a.m – 7:00 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Parking: Free street parking Family Friendly: Yes. However, the Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel both like to preserve a quiet and reverent atmosphere.
Opened in 1987, the Menil Collection is a culmination of culture. It begins with contemporary art ranging from everything between ancient artifacts and abstract sculptures. Works from surrealists, cubists, and minimalists are scattered throughout the museum. Founded by the de Menil family, the extensive collection is consistently rotated into exhibitions.
A link to cellphone tours can be found on the website. Listen to interviews, commentary and even music that will enhance the experience of the neighborhood.
Artist Mark Rothko’s work is featured throughout the Menil Collection. He also designed the adjacent Rothko Chapel, a nondenominational place for worship that is a piece of art itself.
Note that the Menil consists of five buildings, each with its own unique pieces and installations.
Guests are encouraged to view exhibitions at their leisure. The museum occasionally hosts readings, lectures, parties, and other events. Between the museum and the Rothko Chapel is a surrounding park that is a haven for tanners, hacky-sackers and post-lunch nappers. The minimalist chapel serves as a space for meditation and reflection. People are writing, reading and gazing at the floor-to-ceiling paintings. Whether appreciating art or simply wanting a new experience with friends, these places are ideal. They are also demonstrations of the community enriching each other. The de Menil family’s generous philanthropic efforts have helped promote Houston’s well-known reputation as a hub for arts and culture. .
MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS
Works from surrealists, cubists, and minimalists are scattered throughout the museum.
Lost Pages Are Found Here:
MUSEUM OF PRINTING HISTORY
Address: 1324 W. Clay St., Houston, TX 77019 Hours: Tues – Sat 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
Deep into Montrose lies a nondescript building dedicated entirely to the evolution of print. The Museum of Printing History is rarely mentioned in the traditional must-see museum list in Houston, but it offers a truly interesting and comprehensive guide to how the written word has been circulated by mankind, beginning in Mesopotamia in 3000 B.C. Opened in 1979, the museum has permanent installments of everything from old printing presses to a first generation Xerox machine. The historical newspapers and ancient texts illustrate how committed to communication our forefathers were. Additionally, rotating exhibits are featured throughout the museum. Make time for a brief visit, or find out about classes offered for those who can’t get enough of the printing world. They focus on bookbinding, papermaking, DIY monotype, and just anything related to print. The Museum of Printing History is definitely worth the visit for the museum lovers out there. The content contained within these historical documents takes a chronological walk through the past, while also showcasing the significance of printing. The museum doesn’t simply outline the advancement in printing technology. Learn that as the effectiveness of printing grew, circulation grew, and this made it possible for ideas to spread. Sharing ideas and building off each other’s past successes gives us limitless possibilities. And in Houston we’re lucky enough to have our very own reminder of this philosophy. .
INSIDER’S GUIDE Guided tours are led at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Call in advance. Tours are $7 for adults, $3 for students and $5 for seniors, or take a look around for free.
MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS
Learn that as the effectiveness of printing grew, circulation grew, and this made it possible for ideas to spread.
Art Scene Enigma:
THE ORANGE SHOW
Address: 2402 Munger St., Houston, TX 77023 Hours: Sat – Sun noon – 5 p.m. (After Memorial Day: Wed – Fri 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sat – Sun noon – 5 p.m.) Parking: Free street parking Family Friendly: Yes
Walk around the grounds and experience a world of art that has taken decades to create.
The nonprofit organization, The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art (OSCVA), exists to preserve artistic environments and nourish artistic expressions – no matter how crazy, wacky or out-of-the-box they might be. It all started with one man’s vision and a passion for the orange.
Set aside plenty of time for a visit. This place is massive!
Walk around the grounds and experience a world of art that has taken decades to create. Throw a quarter into the wishing well, tour the mini-museum and climb all over the two-story structures. Check the calendar for events and concerts. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind venue that makes for a unique experience for the audience and artists. Plus, locally brewed St. Arnold’s is sold at these select evenings. McKissack followed his dream and created something truly unique and zany. His Orange Show embodies a special kind of art in Houston that isn’t found in stuffy art galleries. As a city, Houstonians believe that there is an artist in each and every one of us; and when characters like McKissack put their personal stamp on the city, the result is an eclectic urban sprawl. The passion of unpredictable people is the secret recipe for Houston’s eccentric persona.
Check the calendar for upcoming events.
MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS
In 1956 Jefferson Davis McKissack, a Houston postal worker, began transforming an empty lot in the East End of Houston into the world’s first Orange Show. Constructing everything himself, McKissack collected odds and ends like mannequins, wagon wheels, tiles and old tractor seats to create this 3,000 square-foot monument. The end result of all this work is a truly unique maze that is reminiscent of an old-timey carnival, filled with signs and sculptures that McKissack used to share life lessons that he wholeheartedly believed in.
Don’t forget to bring $1 for admission.
Shopping and entertainment can be found on just about every corner in Houston, but dive a little deeper to discover some of the lesser-known treasures in the city. Follow this guide down some unfamiliar streets and unearth some new favorite attractions.
Unrevealed Record Store:
Address: 2110 Portsmouth St., Houston, TX 77098 Hours: Mon – Sat 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sun noon – 7 p.m. Parking: Free onsite Family Friendly: Yes
Cactus Music is one of those special places that stand the test of time and that still believe in quality products sold by quality staff. Although this isn’t the original location (originally only a few blocks away), Cactus Music continues to be a Houston source for CDs, vinyl, movies and the like. Ask most Houstonians, and they can tell you all about the place. Many have memories of spending every Saturday sifting through the latest records with friends. Forty years later, and not much has changed. Branch out to all the different sections of the store, from the pop culture and music books to the classic vinyl and latest Blu-rays. No matter what the object of desire is, it can be found at Cactus Music, aided by the super friendly staff. Buy brand-new CDs and records, or when on a budget, there is a massive selection of “pre-loved” music. New or old, find it at Cactus Music: Houston’s First Independent Music Store. This store is particularly special because it is a reminder of the past, yet something everyone can enjoy in the present. Stand in the store and be surrounded by music of all types, from all times. It’s a place where people of all ages and tastes come to share a love for music. And in the end, it’s a perfect reflection of Houston culture. It’s a city where people can be as diverse as the music they listen to, and all are welcome to come enjoy it.
INSIDER’S GUIDE There is often live music in the store on the weekends. Cactus Music frequently promotes concert ticket giveaways, so check in frequently for a chance to win.
SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT
Many have memories of spending every Saturday sifting through the latest records with friends. Forty years later, and not much has changed.
Undisclosed Downtown Haven:
Address: 301 Milam St., Houston, TX 77002 Niko Niko’s Hours: Mon – Fri 7 a.m. – 9p.m., Sat – Sun 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Parking: Paid street parking on Mon – Sat. Free after 6 p.m. Free on Sunday! Family Friendly: Yes
The square itself is surrounded by a bevy of bars and restaurants that are reviving downtown’s Historic District. In the center of downtown’s Historic District, Market Square is a small plaza placed in a spot where one would think a building should stand. Since its grand re-opening in 2010 the Square has seen a resurgence of activity.
INSIDER’S GUIDE Bring towels and chairs for a picnic. Everyone is welcome to bring non-alcoholic drinks, and Niko Niko’s sells beer and wine.
The Square itself is surrounded by a bevy of bars and restaurants that are reviving downtown’s Historic District. Check out one in particular, La Carafe. There are rumors that it is haunted, and as soon as the doors open, the gossip is understandable. Superstitions aside, this is Houston’s oldest bar and commercial building, open since 1860, and there is nothing to fear. The old-timey cash register, antique Juke Box and beautiful melted candles make this bar hold up its reputation as a relic of the past living in the present. Just steps away from Houston’s suit-and-tie business scene and the wellknown theater district, Market Square is an old reminder of where the Allen brothers founded our great city. It’s a little patch of history tucked away in the skyline. For a wistful moment or a pleasant walk with some scenery, wander a few blocks out of the way through these historic streets.
SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT
The Square offers a charming location for lunch dates at Niko Niko’s, two dog runs for big and small pups and many other year round events. The Alamo Draft House Roadshow is sponsored by Houston’s B-Cycle and provides old school film entertainment all summer. The Roadshow always picks out cult classics to feature on its rotating circuit that adds to the feeling of nostalgia that the Historic District setting evokes.
Finding Fellow Fans:
MINUTE MAID PARK
Address: 501 Crawford St., Houston, TX 77002 Hours: Varies by event Parking: Paid with event ticket, paid lots in area Family Friendly: Yes
Houston rallies around its teams no matter what.
Minute Maid Park, located in the heart of downtown, is home to the Houston Astros. Much like its predecessor, the Astrodome, this ballpark is an engineering marvel, and it has the awards to prove it. Built on the site of Houston’s old Union Station, the park’s design pays tribute to its heritage with a restored concourse serving as the main entrance. It has everything from a retractable roof to a real grass field, but its finest and most enjoyable feature is that it’s air-conditioned.
Remember to check the Roof Report before the game to dress accordingly!
While the park serves as a venue for a wide array of events and entertainment, check it out the old fashioned way – at a ball game. Start the day with a casual lunch at the Larry’s Big Bamboo in honor of the great Larry Dierker. Find the new St. Arnold’s beer carts that are dotted throughout the park. Celebrate and watch the train full of oranges chug along the track above left field while taking in an overwhelming sense of camaraderie.
Every Sunday home games have specials, whether it’s for the family, buying group tickets or purchasing AYCE seats (All You Can Eat tickets).
SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT
The Astros haven’t exactly been the most exciting team to watch lately, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are a living part of Houston’s history. Houston rallies around its teams no matter what. Always count on that one fan to be there to pump up the crowd with his makeshift popcorn-box-megaphone when the going gets tough. It’s just something about the people here.
Parking is usually cash only so collect cash before heading out.
Sneak into the Cinema:
RIVER OAKS THEATRE
Address: 2009 W. Gray St., Houston, TX 77019 Hours: Check for movie times Parking: Free parking in the surrounding lots Family Friendly: Yes
The River Oaks Theatre provides a muchneeded outlet for the film buffs of Houston.
The River Oaks Theatre is a staple of the Houston community. Originally built in 1939, the Art Deco movie theater is nestled in the middle of the River Oaks Shopping Center. It serves a niche market by being one of the only places in the city to screen independent and foreign films.
There’s a bar upstairs, so don’t sweat it if you’re early!
The theater often screens classic cinema, as well as cult classics every Friday and Saturday night at midnight. The midnight series is probably most famous for showing “Rocky Horror Picture Show” every few weeks throughout the year. The River Oaks Theatre provides a much-needed outlet for the film buffs of Houston. There are only a handful of theaters in town, like River Oaks, that will break away from the blockbuster formula and bring its audience more obscure, thought provoking and sometimes even controversial films. This combined with its commitment to bring back films from the audiences’ past is a refreshing taste of culture that the city needs.
SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT
You can duck into the three-screen theater whenever the mood strikes. If you’re lucky, you’ll land a seat in the large theater downstairs. The screen is still garnished with the original Art Deco styling that will take you back in time. Upstairs, two smaller screens create an intimate setting that really lets you dig into the “art house” vibe.
Concession recommendations: Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream treats and vegan cookies.
This guide is brought to you by the Intern Class of 2013: Alexandre de Nes Amanda Nguyen Catherine Jones Chrysah Pederson Courtney Coleman Jason Lee Joshua Ranum Laura Ying Linda Cheng Michael Carrington Nicholas Pessarra Paige Hull