Editor’s Note: Our travel contributor Keith Cradle visited Texas a little over two weeks before Harvey hit. In tribute to the city of Houston, we’re sharing his experience before Harvey and hope that you make plans to visit Houston soon. In the meantime, if you would like to make a donation to the hurricane relief efforts to help the people affected by Harvey, you can do so here.Here are a few tips on where to eat, stay and play in #HoustonTX Click To Tweet
They say everything is bigger in Texas. Well, that applies to the heat as well. As my tour to see every baseball stadium continues, I made my way to Houston, Texas. And boy did the heat follow! Setting aside the high temperatures, my first time in the most populous city in Texas and the 4th most populous city in the United States did not disappoint.
If you are looking to head to H-Town, here are some great tips and places to get some quality sips. Additionally, if you are baseball person or love art, then this city has what you are looking for. Here you go!
Where to Stay
Houston has three airports, two are commercial and one is for military government use. Hobby Airport is the second largest in the area and the one I flew into, George Bush International Airport [IAH], is the tenth busiest in the United States. For this trip, I knew I wanted to stay downtown Houston which would make getting to the places I wanted to visit much easier. I selected the Courtyard Marriot Downtown. This centrally located hotel had everything I needed including an outdoor pool for cooling down after long walks and a mall right across the street for shopping and dining. The train even runs right by it so you can hop on and hop off at stops along the way. I would recommend getting a day pass for a little under $4.
Where to Eat
Houston, just like the rest of Texas is known for its beef industry and heavy Mexican influence so that means hearty meals all times of the day. For lunch, I would suggest a great taco spot, Guadalajara Hacienda. The in-house made salsa was amazing and the brisket tacos with fried jalapenos hit the spot!
If you are looking for authentic soul food, hop in an Uber and head over to Alfreda’s Cafeteria. The smothered turkey wings and sweet potatoes will have you back for more. Additionally, Houston is home to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen and a quick cab ride from wherever you are will land you amongst one of the many scattered around the city.
At night, I would suggest getting dressed and head over to the Tasting Room for cocktails, cigars and small appetizers. The wine list and fresh oysters are the perfect way to start the evening before hitting one of the hottest places in Houston, Steak 48. This popular steak house comes alive on Thursday nights and it is jammed packed with all walks of life. Dinner or drinks at the bar will have you surrounded by Houston’s elite and newly minted socialites. The adjacent mall is also a great place to shop as well as explore of dining establishments.
Where to Play
Given my plan was to see Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, I had to make sure that was completed before stepping out and seeing other things. If baseball is not your thing, then you can go to the Houston Texans home, NRG Stadium. Downtown Houston is home to a zoo, aquarium and complete theater district (all accessible by the train). As an avid lover of arts, I made sure to visit the Houston Museum of Fine Arts which housed many of the artistic greats. Paintings by Monet, Picasso, O’Keefe, Pollack and Rothko adorn the walls. It is a must see in my book.
Finally, if you love live music, spoken word and poetry, on Friday nights The Alley Kat Bar and Lounge is the place to be. Just make sure you get upstairs before 9:30pm to secure a seat in the lounge area to see/hear the live music!
With a city, this big, there is no way to see and do everything in a weekend. I had a grand time in Houston and would certainly need a return trip to explore some more. However, for the time I was there, I can most certainly say, Houston is hot and not just in terms of temperatures.