52 Things Every Houstonian Must Do

August 1, 2006 by  
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1. Kemah
Everyone knows about the Kemah Boardwalk, and it’s cool – but did you know that Houstonians have been flocking here long before Tilman Fertitta developed the area? Across the bridge from the boardwalk sits a little peninsula dotted with fish markets full of fresh Gulf seafood at unbeatable prices. Catches are brought in daily from area fisherman, and seafood lovers in the know are able to reap the rewards. Waterfront District, Seabrook

2. Buffalo Bayou
A beautiful view of the downtown skyline, puppy park, jogging trail, disc golf course, rehabbed waterfront park and family-friendly festivals – Buffalo Bayou has become the place to soak in the city. www.buffalobayou.org

3. San Jacinto Monument and Museum
Texas’ independence from Mexico was won here in 1836, and in true Lone Star style, the tallest monument tower in the world now stands on the site of the battle. One Monument Circle, La Porte, (281) 479-2421, www.sanjacinto-museum.org

4. Tex Mex
When in Rome, do as the Romans do – and when in Houston, you have to partake in Tex Mex. The best place to get your chips and salsa, margaritas and fresh tortillas is the original Mama Ninfa’s (lovingly coined “Ninfa’s on Navigation”). Although the restaurant is now a chain, the original is the classic Tex-Mex experience. 2704 Navigation Blvd., (713) 228-1175

5. Barbecue
You simply can’t be a Houstonian without enjoying the occasional plate of barbecue, slaw and potato salad (garnished with pickles, onions and jalapeños, please). In fact, even the 41st president frequents one of the oldest joints in the city – Otto’s Barbecue. 5502 Memorial Drive, (713) 864-2573

6. St. Arnold’s Brewery
Not only do they make exceptional beer (and right here in Houston!), but they offer tours on Saturdays with tastings afterward. 2522 Fairway Park Drive, (713) 686-9494, www.saintarnold.com

7. Memorial Park
Run Memorial, and you’re sure to make friends. More than just a workout, this three-mile loop affords social opportunities, too. (Other activities of our version of Central Park include golf, biking, volleyball, soccer, softball and tennis.) 6501 Memorial Drive

8. Bayou Bend
The estate of Miss Ima Hogg 1 Westcott St., (713) 639-7750, www.mfah.org/bayoubend

9. Astros
Even Clemens can’t let a season pass without getting in the game at Minute Maid. 501 Crawford, (713) 259-8000, www.astros.com

10. Rodeo
Barbecue cook-off, bull riding and the Hideout – it’s been a tradition for 75 years. www.hlsr.com

11. Cockrell Butterfly Center
A beautiful three-story garden awaits, full of some of the most amazing butterflies in the world. Houston Museum of Natural Science, One Hermann Circle Drive, (713) 639-4629, www.hmns.org

12. Museum District
Perfect for a learning adventure, this lovely area is home to 16 different institutions within walking distance. www.houstonmuseumdistrict.org

13. Farmer’s Market
Shop at the more conventional Canino’s or haggle with the booth vendors – whatever you choose, you’re sure to leave with the freshest of produce for a fraction of grocery-store prices. 2520 Airline

14. Westheimer Curve
Start at Montrose and Westheimer, and wind your way down through the thrift shops, antique stores and more.

15. Galveston
Play in the water, search for sea shells, go fishing or stroll the historic district of Galveston Island. www.galveston.com

16. Glenwood Cemetery
Full of huge live oaks, amazing headstones and (if you can believe it) rolling hills, Glenwood is one of the most beautifully peaceful spots here. The final resting place for many of Houston’s most elite, you’re sure to see names that changed the history of the city. 2525 Washington Ave.

17. Greek Festival
Every year, Greek heritage is celebrated in October by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral. (This year marks the 40th.) Come all three days, and experience one of the best festivals – and some of the best gyros! www.greekfestival.org

18. Port of Houston
Located inside the 610 Loop, Houston’s port ranks No. 1 in shipping foreign cargo, showcasing one of the biggest ports in the world. Learn more on a tour – you’ll be amazed. (713) 670-2416, www.portofhouston.com

19. Orange Show Center
Hail to the orange! For 20 years, Jefferson Davis McKissack built a visual masterpiece in honor of his favorite fruit – now guests are invited to tour the facility. www.orangeshow.org

20. River Oaks Theatre
This relic hosts old favorites, Indie flicks and commercial blockbusters, including midnight showings of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” 2009 W. Gray, (713) 866-8881

21. 19th Street in the Heights
Go antiquing, pick up a unique gift, stroll art galleries or simply enjoy an old-fashioned downtown. 19th Street at Yale

22. Water Wall
A beautiful work of art, the Water Wall is the perfect place for a picnic. 2800 Post Oak Blvd.

23. Ice Skating
Laps around the rink in the Galleria are quintessential Houston. www.polaricegalleria.com

24. Last Concert Café
Tucked in the Warehouse District, just north of downtown, Last Concert Café doubles as a Mexican restaurant and live music venue. With a sand-filled backyard, picnic tables and outdoor stage, many music fans can be found here in drum circles, hula-hooping and sipping on frozen sangria. 1403 Nance, (713) 226-8563, www.lastconcert.com

25. Space Center Houston
After all, Houston is Space City, USA. 1601 NASA Road 1, (281) 244-2100, www.spacecenter.org

26. Bolivar Ferry
The only connection between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula for motorists, this ferry service has been running since 1929 (toll-free since 1949). www.dot.state.tx.us

27. Houston Symphony
Founded in 1913, this musical masterpiece has been enriching the lives of Houstonians for nearly a century. www.houstonsymphony.org

28. Houston Zoo
Lions and tigers and bears – oh my! 1513 N. MacGregor, (713) 533-6500, www.houstonzoo.org

29. Loop 610
If you consider yourself a Houstonian, you have to have driven the complete Loop. Whether you were lost or just getting the lay of the land, not driving the whole thing is almost sacrilegious.

30. Alley Theatre
Catch a show! www.alleytheatre.com

31. Dim Sum
Perfect for Sunday lunch, trek to Chinatown for a memorable meal. Bellaire and Gessner

32. Midtown Vietnamese
Midtown is not only home to the hottest clubs. Many Vietnamese businesses are also located in this area, as well as authentic Vietnamese restaurants. If you’ve never eaten this fare, start off with spring rolls, Vietnamese egg rolls and vermicelli – and go from there.

33. Harwin Drive
A bargain shopper’s paradise, Harwin Drive is known for its imitation handbags, trendy jewelry and name-brand perfumes – at extremely low prices. Harwin Drive and Fondren

34. Miller Outdoor Theatre
Free concerts, musicals, festivals and plays are open to the public at this outdoor amphitheater. Get there early for covered seating or bring a blanket for the hill. www.milleroutdoortheatre.org

35. Flower District
Although it might seem perfect for your next late-night fight, the catalyst for the 24-hour flower stands along Fannin is their close proximity to the Texas Medical Center. Fannin and U.S. 59

36. Houston National Cemetery
Made up of more than 419 acres, this expansive cemetery is the final resting place for nearly 60,000 soldiers. 10410 Veteran’s Memorial Drive

37. Leisure Learning
Whether you choose to take belly dancing or photography, Japanese or Microsoft Excel, you’re sure to learn something about yourself in these life-enhancing classes. www.llu.com

38. River Oaks
Tour the winding streets of this grand neighborhood filled with palatial estates and old money.

39. Houston Grand Opera
An award-winning cultural experience www.houstongrandopera.org

40. Downtown tunnels
In an effort to reduce business-attire-induced heat stroke, the downtown tunnels are underground air-conditioned connections between some of the biggest buildings in the CBD. Filled with restaurants and shops, many spend their lunch break walking the tunnels.

42. ArtCrawl
Held in November, ArtCrawl is in its 14th year of celebrating local artists. With delightful trolleys running throughout downtown and the Warehouse District, patrons are encouraged to experience the galleries of the inner city. www.artcrawlhouston.com

43. Project Row Houses
Connecting revitalization and art, PRH tries to head off gentrification in the Third Ward through rotating artistic exhibitions about the African American culture. Every six months, a new group of literary, photography, paint and sculpture artists are commissioned to transform the houses into their visions. Renovating the community, PRH has also developed Row House Community Development Corporation and Young Mothers Residential Program. 25 Holman, (713) 526-7662, www.projectrowhouses.org

44. Beer Can House
You’ve got to see it to believe it. 222 Malone, www.orangeshow.org

45. Downtown
From state-of-the-art buildings to historical landmarks, pocket parks to artistic sculptures, exploring downtown expands your perspective of what Houston has to offer.

46. College Campuses
From the jogging trail at Rice to the new labyrinth at St. Thomas, more than 40 area colleges and universities offer a wealth of opportunities for learning and relaxation.

47. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
A nature preserve in the heart of the city, HANC makes up 155 acres of Memorial Park, providing nature trails, classes and exhibits to the public to promote conservation and preservation. 4501 Woodway Drive, (713) 681-8433, www.houstonarboretum.org

48. Forbidden Gardens
Authentic Chinese gardens and miniature replicas located in Katy. 23500 Franz Road, Katy, (281) 347-8000, www.forbidden-gardens.com

49. City Hall Reflection Pond
Downtown’s reflection pool is the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by, read a book or catch one of the many festivals that surround it throughout the year. 901 Bagby

50. Redstone Golf Club
Golf is a year-round sport here, so you have plenty of time to practice. Compare your swing with those of the PGA – the Shell Houston Open is played here every year at Fall Creek’s Redstone Golf Club. 5860 Wilson Road, (281) 459-7800, www.redstonegolfclub.com

51. East End Murals
Encompassing the 16 square miles between downtown and the Port of Houston, the Greater East End holds a number of cultural finds, including the more than 24 murals decorating the area. www.greaterestend.com

52. METRORail
Take a ride on the high-tech light rail, traveling right through the heart of downtown, Midtown, the Museum District, Hermann Park and the Texas Medical Center – ending at the Reliant Center. www.redemetro.org

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