Sports & Recreation

  • Best Bowling Alley

    Diamond Lanes - CLOSED

    Of all the gall. Houston goes nuts when Bob McNair lands a pro football team for the area, or when Grand Prix racing adds the city to its circuit. But there's not even a tax subsidy or muted shout ready when Diamond Lanes operator Jimmy Young attracts one of the sports world's most coveted events to the Houston area: the… More >>
  • Best Tube Trip

    Howell's Tire Supply

    Not for us the overhyped Guadalupe, with its clear-water views of overboard Revos and its drunk-flotillas gummed together like fire ants in a flash flood. Give us instead the Colorado, a true Texan's Texas river, greenish on a good day, brownish on most, wide, flat, slow and so far blessedly empty of "fellow" humans. The Lower Colorado River Authority publishes… More >>
  • Best Place to Mountain Bike

    The Ant Hills

    We know what you're thinking. Mountain biking? In Houston? Well, our famously flat town has its own version: bicycling the bayou. The best-kept mountain-biking secret in town is the Ant Hills, a system of ten-plus miles of trails and paths along Buffalo Bayou from Wilcrest to Highway 6. The prime off-road action follows the gully's southern side from Kirkwood to… More >>
  • Best Bobsledder

    Meg Henderson

    Six months of the year Meg Henderson is a med student at Baylor College of Medicine. The other six months she lives in Park City, Utah, training for the 2002 Olympics with the national bobsledding team. Meg's sister, Kate, calls her the Dot Richardson of bobsled (Dot took a year off her surgery residency to play softball in the '96… More >>
  • Best Houston Comet

    Sheryl Swoopes

    By now you're probably familiar with the TV promotional campaign in which pickup hoopsters are told that the women of the WNBA are "better than you are." If you're like most guys, your response goes something like, "Yeah, right." In the case of the Houston Comets' Sheryl Swoopes, it's best to take their word for it. You don't want to… More >>
  • Best Sports Columnist

    Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle

    No one is ever going to pick up the Houston Chronicle's sports pages for the sheer joy of reading; the best you can hope for is to get the basic information efficiently, unfettered by clunky current-events references ("The Astros fell to their knees faster than Monica Lewinsky") and free from tortuous puns. You're in luck if the columnist is Jonathan… More >>
  • Best Adventure Race Series

    Texas State Championship Sprint Adventure Races

    Some athletes are just plain hard to please. Take mountain bike riders, for example. You'd think traversing terrain that might cause a tank commander to rethink his route would be a sufficient challenge. But for people who compete in the Texas State Championship Sprint Adventure race series, risking life and limb on two wheels is clearly not enough. The brainchild… More >>
  • Best Golf Hole

    No. 4, Stables Course, Old Orchard Golf Club

    The fundamental fantasy of the golfing world is that best is supposed to be brutal. Year after year, Houston hackers hold the notion that tribute should be paid to the toughest holes. Of course, that ignores the basic premise that this game is geared toward finding that rare feeling of oneness with nature. So stifle the raves about 490-yard par… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Table Tennis

    Houston Table Tennis Center

    For most of us, table tennis (it was called Ping-Pong in our day) was a game best played in the rec room with Uncle Charlie and a few of your Little League team buddies. One visit to the Houston Table Tennis Center on West Bellfort, and you'll realize just how far this little game has come. With 24 tournament-caliber tables,… More >>
  • Best Pool Hall

    Waugh Drive Pool Hall

    The billiard cloth has long since faded to a lighter shade of green; the cues are sometimes as curved as an archer's bow, and a few tables are as level as a raked stage. The Waugh Drive Pool Hall is not about the tools of the trade. This Montrose institution -- 33 years of operation and counting -- is the… More >>
  • Best Water Park

    Adventure Bay

    When it comes to adventures in baby-sitting, water parks are a no-brainer. But don't let the big guys drown out Houston's best-kept secret: Adventure Bay. On just 12 acres in far west Houston, it's intimate enough to let older kids roam free (though we suggest the buddy system) through the Master Blaster uphill coaster, four huge tube slides and one… More >>
  • Best Place to In-line Skate

    River Oaks

    I'm sorry, what did you say? The Fruit Loop offers the best blading in town? Honey, you need to start thinking like a realtor: location, location, location. What a difference a couple of miles makes. With its stratospheric tax bracket, River Oaks offers the smoothest asphalt, the safest environs and the most beautiful scenery in town. Forget the sweaty multitudes,… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Away from Cars

    Cypresswood Stables

    Step out of the city and into the Wild West. Down Cyprus Woods Road out in Humble is Cyprus Trails. You pull into the driveway, and the yard is filled with horses tethered to trees and roaming around. On your left is a pen filled with puppies and a potbellied pig. Kittens crawl through the haystack; there are more than… More >>
  • Best Racetrack

    Houston Raceway Park

    Houston has never been known as a hotbed for big-time auto racing. Sure, A.J. Foyt grew up in the Heights, but as far as top-notch racing facilities are concerned, forget it. That was, until 1988, when Houston Raceway Park in Baytown came onto the scene. The sprawling facility has played host to national events sanctioned by the traveling horsepower circus… More >>
  • Best Roller Rink

    Dairy Ashford Roller Rink, 1820 South Dairy Ashford, (281)493-5651

    Grade school and junior high in the '80s. Days of tube socks, Keds, T-shirt rings and passing crushes. Every Friday night you traded in your sneakers for a pair of brown quads with bright orange wheels and fat rubber toe-stops. If you were really cool, you brought your own skates. In skates, you were taller, another kind of creature who… More >>
  • Best Houston Rocket

    Cuttino Mobley

    It may seem odd to pick a guy who wasn't even good enough to start for the Rockets last year, but don't let Cuttino Mobley's sixth-man status fool you. He's more important to the team than fellow guard Steve Francis, who has the name recognition and the fancy dunks but little of Mobley's game-breaking abilities. The Rockets' No. 1 goal… More >>
  • Best Houston Astro

    Lance Berkman

    Best Astro? Of this godforsaken season? Isn't that like having a category for Best Police Academy Sequel? Let's be blunt: Good Astros are few and far between this year. But why not offer up some applause for local-boy-made-good Lance Berkman, the pride of Rice University and slugger of the future? Berkman made the jump to the bigs with surprising ease,… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    SRO Sports Bar & Cafe - CLOSED

    Nothing says "fine dining" like rows and rows of autographed sneakers and moldy uniforms, but such is the standard decor at sports bars nationwide. Luckily you don't go to sports bars for food. You go to see games you can't get on the tube at home, with a lively crowd, and you hope the beer's good and the food is… More >>
  • Best Ass-Whipping

    Browning Boxing, Radisson Suite Hotel Astrodome

    The powers that be have seen fit to pass laws to keep our hands to ourselves in times of personal conflict, but there's at least one place you can go to experience a good old-fashioned face pummeling vicariously. Browning Boxing has been serving up modern-day gladiators every month for three years now to satisfy audiences' blood lust. But don't think… More >>
  • Best Bicycle Day Trip

    Houston to Fulshear

    Start behind West Oaks Mall and head out Westheimer, which becomes FM 1093. Turn left at 1464 (by the Shell station), across the tracks past the Clodine general store. Instead of following 1464 as it curves left, take the road to the right, which is O'Brien. Cross Beechnut and continue to Madden. Take a right and head west. Note the… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Racquetball

    Memorial Athletic Club

    Remember back in the 1980s when it seemed like everybody and their mother was playing racquetball? It was as if the pasty white walls of the racquetball court were placing everyone who entered under some mysterious sweat-soaked spell. But the boom went bust. As trendy activities like step aerobics, spinning and kickboxing grew in popularity, racquetball courts went bye-bye. But… More >>
  • Best Bird-Watching

    Barker Reservoir, Highway 6 at Briar Forest

    With its woodlands, low-lying prairies and many acres of ponds, Barker Reservoir has helped make Houston's ozone-choked air less foul, and more fowl. The nature preserve is a pre-eminent spot for birding within the city limits, particularly during winter months. Assorted songbirds, waterfowl, hawks, blackbirds, owls and other species thrive in the sanctuary, which lies west of Highway 6, between… More >>
  • Best Video Game

    KNOWMAD, at the Art Car Museum

    No shooting. No explosions. But there are ideas here, furtively embedded in this first-person driver game designed by Houston-born artist Mel Chin and a passel of MIT programmers. You press the gas pedal and drive through the desert, where a "tree of life" dispenses golden balls to the tents of a nomadic tribe. In search of the balls, you drive… More >>
  • Best Friends

    Kay Poe and Esther Kim

    Native Houstonian Kay Poe was expected to win the U.S. Taekwondo Union's Olympic trials in May. But in her last match before the flyweight division championship fight, Poe took a blow to the knee that rendered her barely able to walk. It appeared her Olympic dreams would be dashed; she could not beat an opponent on only one leg. But… More >>
  • Best Area Team

    Brazoswood Girls' Softball Team

    With seven state champions in the past eight years, the greater Houston area has established itself as the softball hotbed in Texas. This year's winner, Brazoswood, had to fight off a number of outstanding teams in its own region before tackling the best of the rest, and that makes the magnitude of its feat all the more remarkable: a 34-0… More >>
  • Best Thing About Enron Field

    Lots of Foul-Ball and Home-Run Souvenirs

    There's a lot to like about Enron Field. (There's also a lot to dislike, but now's not the time to mention $5.25 beers. Or cold hot dogs. Or the cramped and hot upper deck. And now certainly is not the time to bring up the team's performance this year.) Enron is far more fan-friendly than the Dome; parking hasn't been… More >>
  • Best Name for Houston's New Football Team

    The Developers

    Bob McNair, the man who returned professional football to Houston, has dubbed his new team the Texans. Forgive us if we don't immediately share the jingoistic joy of the moniker. Last time we looked, much of the city had little to do with Texas (aside from obvious geography): Haven't seen too many folks in the Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Pakistani… More >>
  • Best Place to See a College Football Game

    Robertson Stadium, University of Houston

    Wait a minute, that's not just "Robertson Stadium," that's "John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium." A lengthy name like that is what happens when a big-bucks alumnus donates $6 million to improve a facility that's named after a former UH regent. The public-relations people at UH would like you to call the place "The Mighty Quinn," but that seems a… More >>
  • Best Participatory Sporting Event

    Houston Marathon,

    Are you the CEO of an international corporation? Are you always looking for ways to spend that extra pocket change? Do you dream of supporting a vital component of our city's attempt at health consciousness? If so, the Houston Marathon could have used you. But you missed the chance to attach your name to an important local sport for the… More >>
  • Best Mall-Walking

    Memorial City Mall

    Mall management usually is ambivalent about walkers. Not Memorial City Mall. They encourage indoor exercise. Mall walkers can gain access beginning at 5:30 a.m. each day. Throughout the mall, plaques mark a walking course at one-eighth-mile intervals. The mall co-sponsors the Health Check Walking Club with Memorial Hospital-Memorial City. Prizes are awarded for mileage goals from ten to 5,000 miles.… More >>
  • Best Frisbee Players

    The intramural, lacrosse and rugby fields at Rice University

    That's where you'll see hot players getting a ho-d (diving horizontal to deflect a disc), throwing a hammer (humming a Frisbee like a baseball) or hucking the disc (tossing a Frisbee 50 yards or more). The Rice fields are home to Enfuego (for men) and Spin (for women), teams affiliated with the Ultimate Players Association, a national organization that sponsors… More >>
  • Best Apartment Complex Tennis Center

    Westchase Ranch Resort Apartments

    Let's face it: When you think of apartment complex tennis courts, the image of a lumpy concrete slab with a woefully uneven, dilapidated span of chain-link fence serving as the net probably comes to mind. Most complexes tend to throw in a tennis court as a means of justifying why your rent is going up for the fourth time in… More >>
  • Best Place to Canoe

    Armand Bayou Nature Center

    The experts -- assuming people who join canoe clubs can be called experts -- agree: For shoulder-powered, water-top locomotion, Armand Bayou is where it's at. Declared a coastal preserve by Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Armand Bayou watershed near Clear Lake City is one of Houston's last unchanneled bayous, an incongruous chunk of wild wetland that seems, from the water,… More >>
  • Best Racetrack

    Houston Raceway Park

    Houston has never been known as a hotbed for big-time auto racing. Sure, A.J. Foyt grew up in the Heights, but as far as top-notch racing facilities are concerned, forget it. That was, until 1988, when Houston Raceway Park in Baytown came onto the scene. The sprawling facility has played host to national events sanctioned by the traveling horsepower circus… More >>
  • Best Gymnast

    Sean Townsend

    While most 21-year-old males are too busy kickin' it with the guys or trying to get lucky on Friday night, Sean Townsend logged more than 25 hours in the gym per week training for what he hoped would be a spot on the 2000 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. The odds were in his favor, as Townsend, a Dallas native who… More >>
  • Best Franchise Owner

    Mark Rice, Houston Marshals

    After only two games in its inaugural season, the four-team Spring Football League suspended its operations, owing largely to microscopic attendance. But you have to admire Houston investment banker and restaurateur Mark Rice, who owns the league's Houston Marshals franchise (which went a heady 2-0) as well as the three other teams. Rice, chairman of the SFL Board of Governors,… More >>
  • Best Baseball Announcer

    Jim DeShaies, Astros radio and TV

    It's easy to be an engaging analyst when the team you're covering is breezing to championships. It's a little tougher to hold viewers' interest when the bottom falls out, and when you have to walk the fine line between offering much-needed criticism and unduly offending the team that signs your paychecks. The Astros' Jim DeShaies has proved adept at the… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Polo Game

    Houston Polo Club

    Polo used to be called the sport of kings because you had to have six horses to play (one for each period in the game). These days you don't have to be a member of the royal family to play, and you sure don't have to be upper-class to watch. Polo is like hockey on horseback. The game is fast-moving,… More >>
  • Best Driving Range

    Memorial Golf Course

    Summers in Houston -- especially this summer, when temperatures were pushing 110 degrees into September -- are a detriment to your golf game. It's hot and sticky, the fairways are parched and burned, and the greens are baked to the unforgiving consistency of a parking lot. Not exactly conducive to a relaxing round for even the best players. So where… More >>
  • Best Place to Work Out and Not Be Intimidated

    The Memorial-Hermann HBU Wellness Center

    Most health clubs are intimidating for the beginner. For one thing, you have to get past all those awesome abs and perfect pecs when all you have is a bulging belly. Second, most of the other people are half-dressed in skimpy spandex, all the better to show off their perfect bodies. And they're all so young. Third, the salespeople constantly… More >>
  • Best Place for a Pickup Soccer Game

    Bear Creek Park

    If you see a blade of grass in Houston, someone has probably gotten to it before you. In order to play soccer in a city park, you have to be registered with the folks at the Parks and Recreation Department and present them with a league schedule. And pay a fee. If you simply want to lease a field for… More >>