Sports & Recreation

  • Best Gym

    FIT Athletic Club

    So few gyms have personality. Padded floors run for thousands of square feet with machine after machine and line after line of muscle heads and gym rats waiting for their chance at three sets of ten reps. It's a scene pulled from an Orwell novel. But FIT appears to have more character than clientele. There are few lines, and the… More >>
  • Best Place to Canoe

    Armand Bayou

    Slide your aluminum craft in at the Houston Canoe Club and head upstream. You'll soon find yourself in a verdant, wild tangle of green over blue, where deer still drink from the quiet bayou waters, gators still peek through the reeds of the marsh, and birds make dramatic and not-so-dramatic appearances. For example, the great blue heron at the other… More >>
  • Best Golf Course

    Galveston Island Municipal Golf Course

    A fixture on the island since the mid-1970s, the Galveston Island city-operated 18-holer is consistently ranked among the top municipal courses in the state -- at least for now. Locals, gaudily clad sunburned tourists and Phil Mickelson wannabes gather here to play the par-72 course, which has seriously cheap green fees, so players don't mind losing buckets of balls to… More >>
  • Best Houston-Bred Athlete About to Hit the Big Time

    Vince Young

    H-town gridiron cognoscenti have known about Vince Young for a long time. In 2001, the sleek, gazelle-like quarterback put his outmanned Madison High School teammates on his back and carried them on a run that saw them knock out perennial area powerhouses North Shore and Katy and ended only at the hands of state runner-up Austin Westlake. A deluge of… More >>
  • Best Place to Release Your Rage

    Urban Jungle Self Defense

    Bosses who take credit for your ideas. Fools who can't talk on the phone and drive at the same time. Boyfriends who desert you for another city and say they're "just changing addresses." Plenty of things in this life fill us with murderous rage, ladies. But instead of slicing tiny wounds in your forearms, sticking pins in voodoo dolls, or… More >>
  • Best Franchise Owner

    Les Alexander

    Sure, we admire Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane's head-scratching luck (his team manages to win despite the loss of both some key players and Gerry Hunsicker, one of the best GMs in baseball). We also respect Houston Texans owner Bob McNair's commitment to excellence on the field and off, and are fairly certain that an NFL title is in his… More >>
  • Best Comet

    Sheryl Swoopes

    Not only is she the best Comet, she's the best in the entire NBA. Sheryl Swoopes is simply untouchable -- a new-millennium Hakeem Olajuwon, if you will. She ranks No. 1 in the WNBA in points per game, No. 2 in steals per game, No. 1 in minutes per game, No. 1 in minutes played, No. 1 in field goals… More >>
  • Best Sports Talk

    Rich Lord and Mark Vandermeer

    Helming the drive-time slot at SportsRadio 610, hosts Rich Lord and Charlie Pallilo boasted the best sports show in town for several years. The two Northeast natives brought a worldly perspective to pro sports and the issues surrounding it, especially when the topics fell to race and culture. Lord was easygoing, Pallilo was smarmy, and the two just worked. So… More >>
  • Best Driving Range

    Memorial Park

    Look, if you're going to spend your time hitting dozens of little white balls over and over again, you might as well do it in a nice setting, right? The Memorial Park driving range is so good, you'll be feeling like Tiger Woods in no time. With 43 slots, there's plenty of room for you to claim a mat and… More >>
  • Best Local Sports Hairdo

    David Carr

    Never have so many die-hard -- and straight -- football fans been so infatuated with pigskin and pomade. Last season, Houston Texans beefcake QB David Carr vowed not to cut his hair until his team won two games in a row. His flowing, male-model-style locks were finally shorn when the team beat the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders… 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 miles of perimeter fencing around Intercontinental. You have to pass a background check, of course. "It's not just Joe Blow coming in,"… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch Wildlife in the Urban Jungle

    Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

    We've got nothing against camping. Don't get us wrong. It's just that sometimes it feels artificial to pack up and pretend like you don't have a house. But going to the arboretum, now that's an authentic trip that'll get you back in time to hit the bars. This 155-acre expanse is home to herons, cardinals, owls, wrens and crows; squirrels,… More >>
  • Best Rocket

    Tracy McGrady

    He drains jumpers effortlessly. He explodes to the basket with the agility of an Olympic gymnast. When he's on, he's one of the few truly unstoppable players in the NBA. And during his first year in Houston, Tracy McGrady has been a model citizen. We admit we were concerned when the five-time NBA All-Star showed up via a trade with… More >>
  • Best Beach

    Quintana Beach County Park

    While so many beaches along our Gulf Coast tend to be less than desirable, this little oasis just down the road a piece from Freeport could make you forget you're in Petrochemical Land. In Galveston, the constant whir of traffic along the seawall just steps from your beach towel almost drowns out the calming sounds of the sea at your… More >>
  • Best Bike Path

    Allen Parkway

    Most major cities in the United States feature some sort of sprawling green space near the epicenter where urban dwellers can find a bit of a respite from the daily grind -- and in Houston's case, the heat emanating from the concrete. Our most central slice of nature runs along both sides of Buffalo Bayou between Allen Parkway and Memorial… More >>
  • Best Weekend Trip to a Texas Vineyard

    Messina Hof

    You don't have to travel to Northern California or the French Riviera to enjoy great wine straight from the source. Texas, whether you know it or not, is home to many fine wineries, one of which is giving the big boys a run for their money. Messina Hof is located on a lush estate just an hour and a half… More >>
  • Best Cheap Seats

    Astros Powerade Tuesdays

    Baseball used to be the cheapest of all major-league sports, but those days have gone the way of the VHS player. The best seats now are not exactly impulse buys (paying $35 to sit next to the foul pole?). Luckily, the Astros are offering some cheap alternatives. The best of them happen on Powerade Tuesdays, when you can get two… More >>
  • Best Skatepark

    Southside Indoor Skatepark

    Houston skateboarders have two serious factors to consider before thrashing the concrete jungle. The weather is almost always an issue, since it's generally either too damn hot or too damn rainy. Legality is the other issue, as public space is at a premium in this here town. Maybe that's why Southside Skatepark has been so popular since it opened in… More >>
  • Best Aero

    Ray Giroux

    Ray Giroux has spent only one season with the Aeros, but the lithe defenseman has already made his mark. The former Ivy Leaguer is a consistent scorer on the ice, and away from the rink he's proved to be just as valuable. Each game, he and fellow alternate captain Todd Reirden team up to purchase a block of tickets for… More >>
  • Best Astro

    Lance Berkman

    Okay, so it looks like semi-hometown boy Berkman (hey, he went to Rice) may not quite develop into the fearsome power hitter that his first few years with the club seemed to promise. Being an Astros fan means learning to deal with disappointment. Even without 35 homers a year, Berkman is poised to become the face of the Astros as… More >>
  • Best Cheerleading Squad

    The Aeros' Sonic Boom

    At first glance, a hockey cheerleading squad makes about as much sense as a Zamboni in the outfield, but there's no doubt about it: The beautiful, talented women of Sonic Boom will make a hollerin' hockey fanatic out of the biggest sushi-munching sports snob. Not that the Aeros need any help whipping the crowd into a frenzy -- hockey in… More >>
  • Best Climbing Tree

    The tilted tree at the Menil Collection

    Tree climbers inevitably branch into two distinct species. The kiddies, the romantics and the novices want a docile tree, one that practically lies down for you. The tree nuts -- who wear special clothes and would live in trees if they could -- want a challenge. Both factions will be satisfied at the public park surrounding the Menil Collection, home… More >>
  • Best Fans

    Houston Astros

    The roller-coaster ride that the Astros have been on for the last two seasons has given some good insight into the tortured mind of the Astros fan. The best of times: the thrilling sprint to the playoffs in 2003, when the packed Minute Maid Park rocked as never before, intimidating visiting teams and leaving Houstonians hoarse. The worst of times:… More >>
  • Best Play-by-Play Announcer

    Bill Brown

    Excellence in baseball play-by-play doesn't take the form of shouting, wisecracking shills eager to run out their latest lame nickname or home-run call. No, excellence is better embodied by the likes of Bill Brown, Houston's answer to Dodger legend Vin Scully. Understated and knowledgeable, Brown doesn't feel the need to throw in endless statistics on how each batter fares with… More >>
  • Best Urban Hiking Trail

    Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

    Trekking through the great outdoors in Houston usually means crossing a mall parking lot on the edge of Tanglewood. For a taste of the real woods smack in the middle of the city, try the twisty paths of the Houston Arboretum, where water birds, dogwoods and armadillos healthily outnumber Escalades. The arboretum offers five miles of trails on a wild… More >>
  • Best Yoga Studio

    Vyasa Studio

    Julia Roberts started doing her downward-facing dogs back in the '90s after declaring she wanted a "yoga butt" like the tight little packages found in the glossy health magazines. Her superficial attraction to the Indian practice was a sign of yoga's Westernization. American studios evolving in tandem with the self-help craze usually offer a pampering salon-type experience often priced beyond… More >>
  • Best Park

    Hermann Park

    Row upon row of golden and brown cocoons shiver at the Cockrell Butterfly Center. Soon an iridescent wing will slip from the husk, and another creature will join the spectacle under way in the towering glassed-in exhibit filled with colorful drifting wings and flowering plants. Within and without this sanctuary of wonder, the same process is occurring in the teams… More >>
  • Best Pedal Boats

    Hermann Park

    Feel like getting away from traffic, construction and that freezing a/c in your office? Escape to Hermann Park and get yourself a pedal boat. These four-person beauties cost only $8 for a nice 30-minute cruise around the gorgeous park's eight-acre McGovern Lake. All ages are allowed, but at least one crew member must be 18 or older. During the holidays,… More >>
  • Best Bowling Alley

    Palace Lanes

    If there were a kingdom ruled by a bowler, Palace Lanes would be the castle. This massive 44-lane bowling alley just inside the Loop treats league players like royalty from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily, when they're allowed to occupy every lane. Casual bowlers, who are more familiar with gutter balls than strikes and spares, are advised not to… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    The Menil Collection

    Picnic Drive, in Memorial Park, is where the Man wants you to picnic. The Man will tempt you with postwar picnic benches and plenty of sweltering pavement, where you can fry eggs. But if your idea of a picnic leans more toward the version involving trees, grass, peace and quiet, try the small park surrounding the Menil Collection in Montrose.… More >>
  • Best Texan

    Andre Johnson

    After just two seasons, Andre Johnson has established himself as the Texans' best receiver, a deep threat with Velcro hands who should get ready to make annual reservations for the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. He and quarterback David Carr may turn out to be Houston's version of Montana-to-Rice or Aikman-to-Irvin. Like Michael Irvin, Johnson is a former University of Miami… More >>
  • Best Coach

    Jeff Van Gundy

    Houston Rockets fans were understandably a bit doubtful in 2003. Out was fan fave Rudy T, in was the droopy-eyed, balding Jeff Van Gundy, a coach who was more famous for hanging off Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning's leg during a playoff-game melee than leading the New York Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999. And there were questions. Like… More >>
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