If I learned any lesson from my dad is that it is important to make the most efficient use of your time. One of the things he always says is that three days (or a long weekend!) is really all you need to see a city. You do not need to see everything, but you need to go in with a plan. And as always, you need to leave something for the next time, so you can find a reason to return!
I visited Houston to visit a good friend of mine, so I was lucky to have an “insider” helping with the itinerary!
I landed in Houston on Thursday afternoon, and we headed straight to Rice Village to explore. I personally like walking everywhere, and although you need a car in Houston, I liked how there were certain areas where you can explore by foot. Although Rice Village has a lot of the mainstream stores (think Urban Outfitters, Francesca’s, Blue Mercury, etc.), they had a lot of small food places. We popped into Flo Café, a Parisian café which served some of the best chai and macaroons! We actually were waiting for a few minutes and the person behind the counter (who is from France herself), felt bad and gave us complimentary macaroons – talk about Southern hospitality!
We then drove to the rather new “Cloud Column” by Anish Kapoor at the Museum of Fine Arts. Named the “Wannabean”, we went at the perfect time – around 5 PM when the sun was hitting the sculpture just right.
To end the night, we went to Local Foods, a local gourmet sandwich shop. I got one of the staples on the menu – the crunchy chicken sandwich which was chicken on a pretzel bun with crushed chips, tomato, pickles, romaine, provolone, nut-seed crumble, and buttermilk ranch. So good!!!
Friday morning, we headed to River Oaks to take a 9:30 AM Ryde ride, an indoor cycling class. Ryde reminded me of a less intense Soul Cycle class, with low lights and blasting music. The instructor had amazing music, which is a make or break it in a spin class, and each bike counted your metrics and emailed them to you after class. Note: you can book through ClassPass.
After, we grabbed some smoothies and did some work for a few hours, and then explored the neighborhood and awed at the beautiful houses. For lunch, we ventured downtown. Downtown is mostly office buildings, so there wasn’t much to do. We went to Treebeards, classic Southern soul food. The Treebeards we went to was in the Baker-Meyer Building from 1861, the second oldest building in Huston. Although Treebeards has occupied the building since 1980, tenants prior included a seed store, a tailor shop run by a former State Representative, a toy store, and a psychedelic night club back in the 1960’s. Following that tradition, they serve their food tray style wise. We chose jalapeno cornbread, fried chicken, and red beans and rice, and asparagus. Even though I did not try it, they are famous for their red beans and rice. Make sure when you are by Treebeards, you check out the famous Houston is Inspired mural.
Recently, Houston has added murals all over town to up their art scene. It was cool seeing various art work in random parts of town. After lunch, we took a short 10-minute walk to Discovery Green, a 12-acre urban park A nice open area, they had a windmill exhibit, GUST, which has pinwheels of different colors lining the grass. They also invite you to ‘be the wind’ and make the pinwheels turn and spin yourself with various stations.
For dessert, we went to Tiny’s Milk & Cookies, the best cookies in Houston. I was obsessed with their aesthetic (French blue is one of the loveliest colors!), and they had some of the best cookies I have ever had. I even brought back home for my family.
We spent the rest of the afternoon window shopping around the Galleria and Highland Village. We also went into a beautiful Restoration Hardware. Then we drove to the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. The water up close was so cool!!
We ended the night by visiting the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, and eating at Chuy’s, an Authentic Tex-Mex restaurant. We shared an order of fajitas and chips and queso – the hype is most definitely real.
On our last day, we walked to the Japanese Gardens at Hermann Park, a 445-acre urban park, which is home to the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Hermann Park Golf Course. Walking through the Japanese Gardens, it was a good way to start the day and get our blood flowing. For breakfast, we drove to Montrose and went to Nourish Juicebar, a local health foods chain.
After heading to Biscuit, the most beautiful linen and home goods store, to find the Biscuit Wall, a mural that used to be in the parking lot of the store, and slowly realizing they painted over it a few years ago, we explored the strip. We went into Agora, a Greek owned café. It is rare that you see a café that incorporates Greek elements into an American café scene, which I personally loved. Doesn’t hurt that their Greek frappe was amazing! Coffees in hand, we drove to the Menil Collection, a 30-acre compilation of free art gathered by Jean and Dominique de Menil. The art ranged from the Rothko Chapel, to Greek art, to contemporary art.
Ending our neighborhood tours, we went to the Heights. An up and coming area with antique stores, cafes, and small restaurants, we leisurely walked up and down popping our heads into various stores. And no trip to the South is a trip without Chick-fil-A. We stopped by the drive through and headed back to regroup before heading out for the last night. For our last night, we went to Seasons 52, which I would describe as New-American fare. It had the vibe of a steak house, but a wide array of options. To close the night, we went to Wild West, a “true country nightclub”/ “high class honkey-tonk” and saw line dancing. For a city gal it truly was an experience.
Although it was two and a half days, I was able to experience so much of Houston! Even though has that big city feel, you can quickly understand the ins and outs, find local places, and feel right at home. I am so excited to go back and explore more of Houston, and of Texas.