Having lived in Houston area for over a year now, I can now say I’m pretty familiar with the area and have my favorite things to do around town and things which I’d just rather avoid if at all possible. This past Friday the New York Times published their annual list of places to visit in 2013 listing Houston as number seven on the list. The Houston Press responded with 7 Things We Don’t Want You to See When You Come to Houston.
In my new Houstonian review…
1.Inside the Astrodome-I have never been inside the Astrodome, but driving by I just don’t see why the city doesn’t tear it down. It has to be a health hazard or something.
2.The drive from Bush Intercontinental Airport to downtown-This should have been the drive anywhere around town. If you’re coming to Houston, be prepared to sit in traffic and don’t try to make since of the drivers. If there is rain in the forecast, let someone else do the driving. One would think, in a city that sees a significant amount of rain, drivers would be used to it, but no.
3. Ship Channel-I am not sure why this is on the list other than driving near the ship channel smells downright awful. Ah, but the smell of sulfur, is America’s industrial engine churning. Minus the smell it’s worth the drive by if you don’t mind bridges.
4. Giant Neon Cross-If you’re driving downtown at night on I-45 you can’t miss this one. So tacky.
5. The Astros-Yes, I did go to an Astros game. To see my beloved Cardinals play of course. This is a great place to go see your favorite team on the road, because they’ll probably win or take the series. It’s beautiful ball park, great weather, fireworks. Of course, my Cardinals lost when I saw them. The Astros are now in the American League so you now catch the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox in visiting
6. Northline Mall-Just say no. If you’re looking for a mall check out the Galleria west of town or the Woodland Mall North of town. There is also a new Outlet Mall South of town on the way to Galveston.
7. Any bayou that isn’t Buffalo between downtown and Memorial Park-Houston is not the concrete jungle you think of when you’re visit Texas’s other large city, Dallas. It’s rainy and green. Within this concrete jungle lies vastness greenways and trails for hiking, walking and biking usually named for the waterway they run along. Granted some are in better condition than others. Get outside downtown and explore the green spaces of Houston and you’ll be surprised.
Biggest Disappointments When Visiting Houston:
1. Johnson Space Center-The little ones, and I do mean little may enjoy the trip to NASA’s command center, but if you’re expecting to live out childhood astronaut fantasies you’ll be disappointed. Thinking you’ll see the Apollo 13 style mission control, think again. You’ll gaze a computers and a few of NASA’s lucky to still have a job” monitoring the International Space Station. You won’t even get to see a real Space Shuttle. Houston only gets a replica and is currently fighting to keep its carrier planes from being dismantled for spare parts. Visiting Johnson Space Center may only leave you weeping at the state of America’s Space program next to the Saturn V rocket.
2. Beaches of Galveston-If you’re used to white, expansive beaches with clear water prepare to be disappointed. Galveston beaches are thin, hard, a bit tarry, and there is a lot of sea weed in the murky gulf. But if its winter where you’re from and its 70+degrees and you don’t mind and just want to catch some sun, come on down.
7 Houston Must Dos:
1. Theater District-Being a major metropolitan city has its finer points including wonderful ballet and opera performances in addition to numerous other theatrics. If you’re in town over the Holidays check out the Nutcracker, an annual Houston favorite.
2. Downtown Tunnels-Catch a weekday performance and explore the downtown tunnel system in the afternoon. Underneath the downtown skyscrapers is a labyrinth of tunnels that house shops and eateries for the city’s workers. Most stores close mid-afternoon so if you’re looking for a bite after the show you might be out of luck in the tunnels.
3. Museum District-Most all of the museums in Houston are located within walking distance of each other if you don’t mind the heat or rain. Plan ahead a you can score several in one trip. The Museum of Fine Arts is a must; a collection spread over two three-story buildings.
4. Sports-Well if baseball isn’t your thing, Houston has it all. Football-Texans, Basketball-Rockets, Soccer-Dynamo. There’s even a minor league hockey team.
5. Galveston-So the beaches aren’t the best, but for history and weather buffs this is a must journey back in time. Trace the steps of the town at the turn of the 20th century as the Great Galveston Storm hits. Suggested pre-reading Issac’s Storm.
7. Great Vietnamese Cuisine- Houston has the third largest Vietnamese community in the country and the food is delicious. Check out restaurant reviews online and be adventurous.