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Vacation Houston

Tourist Guide

Hello, Houston
From Hot Cowboys to Haute Cuisine

Bayou Place in Houston houses houses several great shops and restaurants
Bayou Place


Today you’ll want togo downtown for a firsthand look at Houston's thriving central business district, world-class Theater District and exciting urban park. On the way stop in at Avalon Diner where the power people and River Oaks elite gather for a breakfast of biscuits and gravy or huge platters of scrambled eggs.

The picturesque grounds of Buffalo Bayou offer excellent views of downtown Houston
Buffalo Bayou

Just minutes away from the Museum District you'll drive down Allen Parkway where the bayou and its greenery lie on the right and modern architecture looms ahead. Here, amid downtown's towering symbols of Houston's future, you'll find perfectly preserved remnants of its past, namely the historic homes of Sam Houston Park Walk down Bagby Street to the Houston Visitor Center in the lobby of Houston's City Hall, a beautiful building constructed from Texas Cordova limestone. You can catch a short film about the city, then stock up on brochures and maps before continuing on to one of Houston's best-kept secrets: Sesquicentennial Park. Featuring a playful waterfall flowing down to the landscaped grounds of Buffalo Bayou, it is part of a winding waterway that offers hiking and biking trails and kayaking through downtown. There's also an incredible underground tunnel system that runs through multiple buildings downtown. It's a great way to get around in the summer heat, it's air-conditioned, and it's filled with subterranean stores and eateries.

Discovery Green Park in downtown Houston offers many activities and attractions
Discovery Green Park

For lunch, head over to Sambuca, where you can nosh on small plates, like shrimp and crab dip, and artisan pizzas. (The restaurant also hosts live music nightly, if you're in need of entertainment later on in the evening.) Then get ready to explore the gem of downtown, Discovery Green Park.

Several blocks to the east and south, you'll find the 12-acre park bounded by the George R. Brown Convention Center, Minute Maid Park and Toyota Center. Discovery Green sports a lake, water playground, amphitheater and tons of activities from outdoor yoga classes to dog Frisbee contests. Stroll around the sculptures, sail a model boat in the pond or just grab a snack of popular sweet potato fries at The Lake House and find a shady spot to relax. You'll find families and businessmen (the entire park has Wi-Fi) joining you. As day turns to night you'll see the action pick up at The Grove, Schiller Del Grande's destination restaurant and rooftop bar in the park, where Rockets' ticket holders gather for drinks before the game and Houston's society set flocks for the restaurant's signature regional dishes such as deviled yard eggs.

Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston
Hobby Center for the Performing Arts

Or, since you are in Texas after all, consider meat for dinner at a top downtown steakhouse like Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse. If you'd like to combine dinner with a show, consider booking tickets ahead of time for a Houston Ballet or Houston Grand Opera performance at the Wortham Theater Center, which offers a pre-show spread in the foyer. Or dine stylishly pre-curtain call on contemporary American cuisine at the Southwestern-inspired Artista at the nearby state-of-the-art Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The patio offers spectacular nighttime views of the city while you wait for the curtain to rise on a touring Broadway musical.

After the show check out one of downtown's hip wine bars or join the late-night scene at Houston's House of Blues in the GreenStreet center. Just across from the Toyota Center, it's a Mecca of shopping and entertainment.

Continue to Day 3


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* Images from the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

(Updated: 08/28/12 KK)

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