Sports & Recreation

  • Best State Park

    Brazos Bend State Park You'll want to visit this park on a sunny day in February, and not just because the weather's more palatable then. Winter's the best time to catch the park's main attraction: alligators. When the sun comes out, the gators rise to the top of the water -- or sometimes out of the water -- to warm… More >>
  • Best Public Tennis Courts

    Wier Park Nothing sucks more than diving for that ace and getting your foot caught in some crevice or unevenly paved portion of the tennis court. You need a good, level playing field if you're gonna do your opponent like Andy Roddick, right? Well, you can't go wrong with Wier Park's two shaded, well-maintained courts. The courts are free, but… More >>
  • Best Driving Range

    Memorial Park If you're going to spend your afternoon hitting dozens of little white balls over and over again, you might as well do it in a nice setting, right? As far as driving ranges go, the one at Memorial Park is so swank, you'll be feeling like Tiger Woods in no time. With 43 slots, there's plenty of room… More >>
  • Best Sports Hairdo

    Jeff Van Gundy, Houston Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy must be getting a lot more sleep now that all-star baller Tracy McGrady has joined the Rockets. Gone are his signature darkened eyes, which made him look like he hadn't slept since Houston won its last title in '95. Also gone is his hair flap -- one of the… More >>
  • Best Bowling Alley

    Palace Lanes It was the great Walter Sobchak who said, "Smokey, this is not Nam. This is bowling. There are rules." At Palace Lanes, the only rule is this: Have fun. And with 44 lanes and cool-colored balls, it's impossible not to. You won't pay an arm and a leg for the privilege,, either: With special rates for kids and… More >>
  • Best Cheerleading Squad

    Houston Texans cheerleaders When it was announced that Houston would finally get another franchise in 2001, we were ready. We were ready for dominant defense to punish quarterbacks and intimidate opposing teams. We were ready to take it to the Dallas Cowboys. And we were ready for new cheerleaders. The arrival of the Houston Texans cheerleaders was so glorious we… More >>
  • Best Coach

    Jeff Van Gundy In these, basketball's showbiz days, Jeff Van Gundy doesn't look like a typical NBA coach -- he's a schlumpy bald guy with a permanent hangdog look whose idea of glamour is probably going for Wish-Bone salad dressing instead of the store brand. But looks are deceiving. Not only did Van Gundy lead the Rockets to the playoffs… More >>
  • Best Color Commentator

    Larry Dierker Color commentators are often former players or managers. Good ones have a background in the game and can tell the listener or viewer what's going on in the minds of the players and explain the strategy. This year, Houston Astros fans are lucky. This year, the Astros welcomed back Larry Dierker to the broadcast booth. Dierker is a… More >>
  • Best Cheap Seats

    Astros outfield deck We see George and Barbara down there near home plate, a looming, presidential presence behind every televised pitch. They don't know what they're missing. Way up here in the nosebleed section, we've got the whole damn north 40 to ourselves. We can stretch out and curse without offending small children. And since the seats set us back… More >>
  • Best Beach

    Porretto Park Everybody knows about East Beach, where Playboy models and other assorted hardbodies gather during the summer. Not as many folks know about No-Name Beach off Condominium Road, where the topless and queer crowds commingle behind the dunes. But our favorite place to drop the beach towel is also Galveston's best-kept secret. Despite the fact that the seawall has… More >>
  • Best Golf Course

    Tour 18 Tour 18 is the Epcot Center of golf courses. What they call the "cathedrals of golf" are exact re-creations of the 18 most heralded holes on famous courses worldwide. What club would you choose on the famed Amen Corner at Augusta National? Could you shoot par on Harbor Club's 18th hole? Tour 18 gives you the chance to… More >>
  • Best Place to Ride a Horse

    George Bush Intercontinental Airport Like riding horses? Hate terrorists? Well, now's your chance to trot ol' Trigger around the trail and keep a lookout for Osama at the same time. The Houston Airport System's Airport Rangers are volunteers who patrol the 34-mile perimeter of fencing around Intercontinental. You have to pass a background check, of course. "It's not just Joe… More >>
  • Best Gym

    Fit Holy biceps! Fit's got more hot bods than an I-10 traffic jam in July. And they've got state-of-the-art equipment and a really nice view of downtown, plus helpful trainers who aren't annoying. At Fit, there are fewer cheesy, too-tan bimbos and beefcake macho men than you'd find at other chain-type gyms in town. Here, there are just nice folks… More >>
  • Best Sports Columnist

    Jonathan Feigen As streaky and uneven as the Rockets' 2003-2004 season was, Houston Chronicle readers could count on NBA beat writer Jonathan Feigen to get his touches and make it look sweet without fail. Sports writing is a province inherently booby-trapped with clichés. West Coast late games, repetitious seasons and predictable jock-talk quotes ensure that if you haven't heard it… More >>
  • Best Pool Hall

    - CLOSED

    The Tavern on Gray Cutthroat, eight-ball, nine-ball -- it doesn't matter what game you play, or even if you're any good. As long as you've got a buddy and a beverage, you're gonna have fun playing pool at the Tavern, where happy hour is 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day. This sprawling, laid-back sports club has plenty of booths… More >>
  • Best Comet

    Sheryl Swoopes The Comets' Sheryl Swoopes has jumped to a level of success guys like Yao Ming and Steve Francis can't touch. She's the first woman to have a Nike shoe named after her, and the WNBA's first marketing campaign was built around her. She's a two-time WNBA MVP and a three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. Swoops led… More >>
  • Best Stadium Announcer

    Bob Ford It's a summer Sunday in Houston, early in the afternoon. Translation: The air's sweltering, and the sunlight's blinding. There's a vast expanse of green grass surrounded by steel and concrete, and a sweating mass of human bodies waiting. A voice comes booming out over the latest Britney Spears song: "Good afternoon, Astros fans." Nothing sounds more perfect than… More >>
  • Best Texan

    Seth Payne You gotta love a defensive lineman with a name like Payne, and the Texans' Seth Payne lives up to the moniker. At least when he's on the field. Unfortunately for Houston fans, the defensive tackle has suffered as much pain as he's inflicted, spending most of the 2003 season sidelined by a torn ACL. When he's able to… More >>
  • Best Place to Walk Your Dog

    Corner of Montrose and Allen Parkway Is your dog tired of walking around the same old block? Peeing on the same phone pole might be cool during the week, but when Saturday rolls around, your pooch wants some excitement. The park off the Eleanor Tinsley trail at the corner of Montrose and Allen Parkway is just the place. Great Danes… More >>
  • Best Place for a Pickup Game

    Fonde Community Center We give this place props for being a decent recreation center and an amazingly good spot to watch or play a little afternoon ball. Here's the draw: With the cost of NBA tickets going from obscene to laughable, there may be no better spot in the state to watch NBA ballers converge than at Fonde Recreation Center.… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    PJ's Too many sports bars make us feel like we're in some kind of sports kaleidoscope. You can't look to either side of the screen immediately in front of you, because there's yet another TV with yet another distracting game. It's almost enough to make you puke. Not so at cozy PJ's, which has only a handful of TVs but… More >>
  • Best Astro

    Adam Everett Back in the days before A-Rod and Carlos Guillen, shortstops were scrawny whippets who vacuumed up grounders but couldn't break a lamp taking batting practice in a hotel lobby. Think Mark Belanger or Buddy Harrelson. The Astros' Adam Everett is a throwback to those classic days, from the six-foot, 170-pound physique to the bland offensive performance. He consistently… More >>
  • Best Sports Role Model

    David Carr How's this for guts? Week four of the season. Texans down by three at home against Jacksonville. Two seconds on the clock, and our guys are just inches from the goal line. If David Carr hadn't made you a believer before -- what with his glitterati good looks and Roman demigod athleticism -- No. 8 won you over… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    The Japanese Garden at Hermann Park Houston has its share of parks, but it's hard to find a picnic spot free of weeds, wailing kids and nasty views of parking lots. If you're the kind of alfresco diner who leans toward quaint gravel paths, tall shady trees and patches of soft grass, look no further than Hermann Park's Japanese Garden.… More >>
  • Best Play-by-Play Announcer

    Marc Vandermeer When the search began for a voice to call Texans games, folks round these parts figured we'd go local. Veteran sports TV/radio names like Russ Small and even Craig Roberts were brought up on talk radio and around water coolers. So it was near-blasphemy when Marc Vandermeer, a (gasp!) Massachusetts native who most recently announced games for University… More >>
  • Best Putt-Putt

    The Putting Edge Where have you gone, Malibu Mini Golf? Our city turns its lonely eyes to you. What's that, you say? Mountasia Golf has left and gone away? Of Houston's once-glorious mini-golf trifecta of Mountasia, Malibu and Celebration Station, only Celebration Station remains. Thankfully, locals wanting some pizzazz in their putting experience need look no further than the Putting… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch Wildlife in the Urban Jungle

    Hermann Park For a great wildlife expedition that'll fit into your lunch break, hop on the light rail and get off at Hermann Park. In addition to paddle boats and balloon vendors, the park's pond and woody trails provide a habitat for more than 30 species of birds -- and not just the typical urban squatters such as pigeons, sparrows… More >>
  • Best Area Team

    Houston Astros This one is as close as it gets to a no-brainer. The combination of Stevie Franchise whining to his coaches and Yao disappearing in April eliminates the Rockets. The Texans are still an expansion team, and the Aeros -- yeah, well, come on. When Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens announced they were coming home just one year after… More >>
  • Best Franchise Owner

    Drayton McLane Up until this year, grocery magnate Drayton McLane had been drawing the ire of loyal Astros fans for his discount shopping of free agents, near-worship of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio and refusal to increase the team's payroll. That changed, however, when the club lured Deer Park natives and future Hall of Famers Roger Clemens (one year for… More >>
  • Best Fans

    Houston Texans Never has a team been adopted so quickly and so ferociously as the expansion Houston Texans. The ever-disappointing Oilers and their Snidely Whiplash owner are a distant memory as Reliant Stadium rocks to its rivets for every home game. The Texans themselves do more than their share, rarely getting blown out at home and providing unforgettable thrills, like… More >>
  • Best Bike Path

    Memorial Park Texan Lance Armstrong won his sixth straight Tour de France this summer. It's an incredible story. So incredible, in fact, that each time he wins, America runs out to buy more bicycles. But in a city as densely populated with cars and unfriendly bike roads as ours, where are our future cycling champions to go? You guessed it:… More >>
  • Best Aero

    Mark Cullen Aeros center Mark Cullen has had his share of tough breaks: a broken neck while at Colorado College, a broken ankle in the 2003 playoff run and a badly separated shoulder that caused him to miss two months this past season. More serious was the diagnosis in September 2003 of skin cancer, which eventually spread to his lymph… More >>
  • Best Rocket

    Yao Ming During the NBA Finals this year, the Los Angeles Lakers thrilled the world by going down in selfish, egotistical flames. They devoted more energy to pointing fingers at each other than to putting the ball in the basket, and one of the most egregious offenders was Shaquille O'Neal, a whining, overweight superstar who thinks he's better than the… More >>
  • Best Place for an After-Work Jog

    Rice University The obvious choice would be Memorial Park, but there's something alternately peaceful and invigorating about doing a lap around Rice University. For starters, you've got that lovely canopy of trees providing shade along the dirt path. And peeking out through the foliage, you'll occasionally catch sight of downtown or the baby skyline at the Med Center, with its… More >>