Compliments of Erin,
the ILOVEHOUSTON tour
I was born and raised in Houston, and I love this city. It is my belief that most Houston haters have not experienced the real city because they know only the vast and ugly suburban sprawl. Either that or they have a predisposition to dislike it based on the weather report. Those suburban places are not Houston, not really. And while the summers can be hot and humid, they're not so bad. The Houston I know is ethnically and culturally diverse, verdant, cosmopolitan, artistic, and abundant in history, restaurants, and good folk. To borrow from Carl Jung (by the way, there is a Jung Center of Houston at 5200 Montrose Boulevard), the city definitely has its Shadow side as well; poverty, corruption, less-than-adequate public transportation, etc.
Houston is a very robust place.
In order to dispel the Houston myth, I've put together a list of places/things well worth checking out while in town.
Please note that the symbol * indicates I particularly love it.
Also, while the following suggestions are categorized somewhat, they are not in order of preference or part of town.
Because my experience is limited to a pretty specific part of central Houston, I am in no way an authority on this topic, so I can't even pretend to know most of what the city has to offer. Please feel free to post other positive things about Houston!
Parts of town worthy of exploration:
Rice University / The Village / Boulevard Oaks
Montrose (esp. Westheimer Rd, Montrose Blvd)
The Heights (esp. White Oak Dr, Heights Blvd, 19th St)
*MFAH (free on Thursdays) 1001 Bissonnet Street
*Cullen Sculpture Garden (free) 5101 Montrose Boulevard
*Contemporary Arts Museum (free) 5216 Montrose Boulevard
Menil Collection Museum/ Byzantine Chapel/ Rothko Chapel (free) 1515 Sul Ross Street
Orange Show / Beer Can House ($1 or $2) 402 Munger Street / 222 Malone Street
*David Adickes Sculptureworx Studio -- giant president heads and giant beatles sculptures (free) Summer and Sawyer St
Art Car Museum (free) 140 Heights Boulevard
*Project Row Houses (free) 521 Holman Street
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (free) 4848 Main St
Lawndale Art Center (free) 4912 Main Street
El Rey (tacos!) 910 Shepherd
Bright and Early 4825 Washington Ave
Anvil 1424 Westheimer Rd
Gingerman (the original) 5607 Morningside Drive
Hobbit Cafe 2243 Richmond Avenue
*The Breakfast Klub 711 Travis Street (Beyonce and JayZ eat there)
Empire Cafe 1732 Westheimer Road
*Brasil 2604 Dunlavy Street
*Agora 1712 Westheimer Road
*Catalina Coffee 2201 Houston Avenue
Poison Girl 1641 Westheimer Road
Mango's 403 Westheimer Road
Catbirds 1336 Westheimer Road
Te House of Tea 2402 Woodhead Street
notsuoH 314 Main Street
The Raven Grill 1916 Bissonnet Street
Thelma's BBQ 1020 Live Oak Street
The Dirt Bar 222 Yale St
Valhalla 6100 Main St
Guadalupana 2109 Dunlavy St
The Chocolate Bar 2521 University Blvd
Film / Performing Arts:
River Oaks Theater 2009 W Gray St
Angelika Film Center (Monday cheap date night) 510 Texas Avenue
*Miller Outdoor Theatre 100 Concert Drive
Houston Grand Opera
Japanese Garden / Rose Garden / Zoo / Hermann Park 6000 Fannin Street / between Fannin St and MacGregor Dr
Buffalo Bayou Park 1800 Allen Parkway
*Glenwood Cemetery 2525 Washington Ave
Water Wall 2800 Post Oak Boulevard
Downtown Tunnel System 1121 Capitol Street
Discovery Green 1500 McKinney Street
Heritage Park Bagby St and Clay St
Avant Garden 411 Westheimer Road
Holocaust Museum 5401 Caroline Street
Museum of Natural Science / Butterfly Museum 1 Hermann Circle Dr
Arne's Warehouse and Party Store 2830 Hicks Street
*Guild Shop 2009 Dunlavy Street
St Arnold Brewery (tours daily except Sunday - $7) 2000 Lyons Avenue.
My personal #1 favorite in the whole city of Houston is the Byzantine Chapel -- a MUST see. Others favorites include, in no particular order, the Beer Can House, the MFAH Sculpture Garden, the MFAH, the Menil Collection, David Addickes Sculptureworx (quirky and cool), Glenwood Cemetery, (beautiful) and the Japanese Garden.
The Guild Shop is consistently voted as the best resale/consignment shop in Houston. A personal endorsement...a lot of our furniture came from the Guild Shop.
My favorite and fun places to eat; El Rey (Cuban fast food -- yummy), Empire Cafe (large portions, good food, unique), Tiny Boxwoods (upscale sandwiches at Thompson Hanson Nursery off Alabama between Buffalo Speedway and Weslayan), Tacos a Go Go (on Main St next to the Continental Club), The Raven Grill (lovely meal and setting), and Brennan's. Mmmm, Brennan's. Order the turtle soup, pecan roasted fish, and grab a handful of pralines on the way out. They also make a tasty mint julep.
Houston has live music out the wazoo. For the best blues in town, go to the Continental Club, and The Big Easy (on Kirby between University Blvd and Sunset).
Saint Arnold Brewery is great. Beer tasting included in the tour.