Houston: the air-conditioning capital of America; home of the Astros; pioneers of space exploration; host of the largest rodeo and livestock show in the world; and proud casa of the drive-thru margarita. At approximately 600 square miles and ranked as the fourth most populous city in the USA, seeing the best of this sprawling metropolis in 24 hours is quite a challenge. However, this helpful guide showcases Houston must-sees.
Houstonian brunch-goers are absolutely spoilt for choice, and breakfast establishments in the city are open for business early. On a day of sightseeing, a long, decadent and boozy brunch may be a bad idea (or a great one, depending on the objective). Dunlavy’s, which is described as a ‘glass tree house’, overlooks the Buffalo Bayou and the Lost Lake. In the bustling city, the Dunlavy is an incredibly peaceful breakfast location, and despite such a lavish interior, it has a very reasonably priced breakfast menu.
Once breakfast is over, the Buffalo Bayou Park is directly accessible from the restaurant parking lot. The trails are stretched over 160 acres – along the park, kayaks and bicycles are available to hire. Depending on the season, it is advisable to explore before the heat of the day, especially if you are not used to high temperatures and humidity. The park just had a $58 million facelift; it is truly worth exploring.
Situated close to the Bayou is a great little coffee spot. Catalina Coffee is an independent coffee house specializing in an array of handcrafted beverages and evolving espresso specials. They offer snacks and pastries too.
In the 1.5 mile radius of the Museum District, 19 museums and installations are housed – half of which offer free entry, the other host free visit days. With such broad choices, it is possible to cater to the most eclectic of tastes. Plan your trip in advance, as there are always temporary exhibits and hosted speakers in the museums, and check out when there are free visit periods for the paid-entry museums. The Menil Collection and The Contemporary Arts Museum come highly recommended for their large and diverse collections.
Exploring a new city is quite frankly, exhausting (it is definitely a day to wear the Fitbit). By the afternoon, it is time for a little R&R. Karbach Brewery offers a restaurant (with critically acclaimed food, by the way), patio, and biergarten. Brewery tours begin at 2:30pm Monday through Friday and on every hour during the weekend.
At this point, it will be no surprise that Houston is far from the stereotypical concrete jungle; in reality, this city boasts 56,405 acres of green space. Most city reviews skirt around the cold fact: Houston is HOT. So, one of the serious benefits of this is that you can sit outside comfortably in the evening time. With this in mind, grab a blanket to lounge on and head out to one of the many movies in the park nights hosted around the city. These venues are licensed so you don’t have to scheme how to smuggle in that bottle of pinot gris. Take a look here and find a park close to you.
The New York Times named Houston as one of the ‘great eating capitals of America.’ This will become clearly apparent once arrived at the Hay Merchant on Westheimer Road for possibly the best wings you have ever consumed. People are initially suspicious of the PB&J wings, but they are life changing. If you are with a group and you are all feeling bold, order the half pig head appetizer – yes, it really is a pig head. The Montrose/Westheimer neighborhood is perfect for bar crawling with a variety of achingly cool bars/pubs and lounges, many of which stay open until the wee hours.
Late night fare in this city does not disappoint. It seems wrong that at this far in the guide, neither tacos nor brisket has been mentioned. Velvet Taco offers the perfect coupling: brisket tacos. It’s open until 4am at the weekend, 2am Thursday and 12am Monday to Wednesday. It is the ideal antidote to a long bar crawl. Alternatively, if you want to have coffee and breakfast until the sun comes up, a 24 hour diner, House of Pies is the place.