Six Quirky Locations to Take a Date in Houston
There are more than just beautiful bridges to cross near Buffalo Bayou.
Photos by Yuri Peña
Houston is filled with strange places to visit. While some of the more quirky attractions to see are well known, many are not. Whether you're trying to impress a date with a taste for the strange or unusual, or just want to experience those things for yourself, there are lots of weird and fun places to visit in H-Town.
1. The Big Bubble - over Buffalo Bayou at the Preston Street Bridge
Sitting among the red bricks of the Preston Street Bridge is a mysterious red button. It's unlabeled, but is waiting there for any curious and brave individual to press if they should happen to notice it.
If pushed, they will witness an unexpected event occur in the waters of Buffalo Bayou below them - a large expulsion of bubbling water will appear near the shore. The lucky person has just discovered one of Houston's obscure treasures, The Big Bubble.
It's an installation by artist Dean Ruck, and has been there since 1998, combining the practical function of adding aeration to that part of the bayou, while also serving as a hands-on piece of conceptual art for the curious to enjoy.
Of course, there are all sorts of interesting possibilities that The Big Bubble might afford a person in the know. Imagine taking a date there and telling them that you will magically summon Neptune or Cthulhu. With a little sleight of hand to secretly push the button and watch the shock on that dates face when the bayou suddenly erupts as if some giant "something" is about to surface. Tell a visiting friend about our legendary "bayou water beast" and watch them jump when that button gets pressed. So many fun possibilities.
2. David Adickes Sculpturworx Studio - 2500 Summer Street Houston
Artist David Adickes is the person responsible for the giant Sam Houston statue in Huntsville, and he also operated his sculpture studio in an industrial neighborhood set back behind Washington Avenue. Those that stumble across the huge lot across from the artist's former warehouse studio can still see gigantic statues of The Beatles and huge seven foot busts of former Presidents. It's definitely a surreal place to visit, and although the site is private property and not officially open to the public, respectful people are generally allowed to visit during daylight hours. Where else can a person go to see giant Presidential heads AND 36 foot statues of the Fab Four?
3. The Listening Vessels at Discovery Green - 1500 McKinney Street
Located in the Wortham Foundation Gardens section of Discovery Green, the Listening Vessels were created by installation artist Douglas Hollis. They look like huge limestone bowls set on their side, but have a feature that makes them almost seem magical - the large concave structures are engineered so that a person speaking quietly into one vessel can be heard by a person at the other one seventy feet away. The effect is a cool bit of sonic wizardry, and it may be the perfect way to tell a date how much you dig them - whispering sweet nothings in their ear from across a field.
4. The Beer Can House - 222 Malone Street
This well known piece of art was started by eccentric visionary John Milkovisch in 1968, and is a famous local piece of home-sized folk art. He began decorating his home with marbles and stones set into concrete, and then branched out by covering much of his house in beer cans and curtains of pull tabs. The overall effect is striking, and a testament to the spirit of individuality and weirdness that runs deeply through Houston, sure to give anyone with access to aluminum cans ideas that might frighten their Homeowners Association. The Beer Can House would make for an interesting daytime date for people who appreciate strange art. Or beer. Or both. Whatever.
5. The Orange Show Monument - 2402 Munger Street
Created as a tribute to his favorite fruit, a postman named Jim McKissack began building the Orange Show in 1956. He continued transforming the lot in Houston's East End into a tribute to both the humble orange and to human creativity, until his death in 1980. Using found objects and common building materials, McKissack created a twisting complex of architectural features covered in mosaics that is a feast for the eyes. The Orange Show Monument always struck me as having a cheerful circus sort of vibe. It's definitely a great place to stroll around and be struck by the creativity of one person's unique artistic vision.
6. The National Museum of Funeral History - 415 Barren Springs Drive
If you read Anne Rice novels or hang out at gothic events then you probably know about this unique museum in North Houston. But for some reason a lot of people don't know about this morbid museum in town. It's a pretty impressive one too, large and full of interesting exhibits and artifacts from the death care industry. See the casket ordered for an entire family to lay in state together! See lots of cool old hearses! It has a pretty fun gift shop too.
If you're courting a member of the Addams Family, it's a great place to wander around together. Currently there is a special exhibit featuring the history of turn of the century rural funeral homes. Turn that frown upside down!
Austin may be the Texas city that is most often associated with being "weird," but Houston has more than its share of genuinely fun and strange places to visit, and they are just the types of places to take a date to show them how truly weird you are... a celebratory warning to them, perhaps.
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