Food & Drink
Houston in 48 hours
Rent a car
The first things you should do after arriving at the airport is take the shuttle over to the car rental office. Houston, and its surroundings, are best seen from behind the wheel. Weather permitting, make it a convertible, drop the top down and enjoy. (And wear a hat.)
If this is your first trip to Houston, or you only have a day or two for sightseeing, take it easy and stick to the Loop, aka Interstate 610. Yes, there is a metro but Houston is built for cars, and outside rush hour, you can get around fairly easily.
Besides the tunnels that connect the skyscrapers downtown, and the restaurants and stores underneath, it’s the Museum District that is the pride of Houston.
The museums and ‘the man’
There are 19 museums within a 2km radius of the beautiful Mecom Fountain, including the Contemporary Arts Museum, Children’s Museum, Center for Photography and Museum of Natural Science. You can walk around the Museum District, but just to get to the other side of the Mecom Fountain means getting back into your car and driving a few hundred meters to the Hermann Park parking lot. A bronze Sam Houston welcomes you to the city that bears his name, and from there you can walk through the park, admire the reflection pool, the pioneer memorial obelisk, rent a paddle boat, or find a stone seat by the pond and just relax.
The Houston Zoo is also inside the park, as is the 90-year-old Hermann Park golf course, the first desegregated golf course in America.
The Art District
A few minutes drive from the park and the Museum District on the other side of the Southwest Freeway, you’ll hit Montrose, aka the Arts District and “Heart of Houston” for its colorful street life, restaurants, and arty vibe.
In the middle of Montrose Boulevard, for example, just outside Inversion Coffee House, there’s a 60 meter-long snake-like art installation made of recycled wood. Inversion, in turn, takes its name from an installation by Dan Havel and Dean Ruck of a collapsed house that has since been demolished.
Houstonians consider Montrose to be the city’s coolest neighborhood, but you won’t see them walking around it – they take the car.
So what about the shopping? Well, this is Houston, Texas, and everything in Texas is big. Galleria at the west end of the Loop has almost 400 stores making it the largest mall in Texas, the eighth largest in America, and it’s still growing. There’s something for everybody here with Texas’ only Prada store rubbing shoulders with Zara. There’s also a skating rink, two hotels, and dozens of restaurants. In fact, the Galleria is a tourist attraction in itself, with almost 30 million annual visitors.
There’s only one thing you can’t find at Galleria: books. But there’s no need to panic. Houston is brimming with excellent bookstores and not just the usual chains. Brezos Books on Bizzonette is a boutique store with great service that oozes love for books. Almost across the street, within walking distance in fact, is Murder by the Book, which specializes in crime novels, mysteries and thrillers… and you feel it the second you step inside the store.
Round off the day with a Texas-size steak at Taste of Texas. It’s worth making a reservation since there can be a long line at the door, but on the plus side they will give you a Dr Pepper while you wait. Make it one, though. The largest steak is about 4cm thick and weighs 900g.
Whether you have 24, 48 or 72 hours in Houston, there is lots to do. Find how in this interactive map.
Published: March 17, 2015