Sports & Recreation

  • Best Basketball Court

    Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, University of Houston

    Houston is hot, this we all know. There are also a large number of talented basketball players in and around this city, both pros and street-ball kings, who on any given night rattle rims and drain three-pointers deep into the humid night. The big university in the heart of Third Ward offers a set of indoor basketball courts that feature… More >>
  • Best Sports Talk Radio Host

    Matt Thomas

    Midday sports radio hosting is a thankless gig. Anyone can take calls and do interviews in drive time when practically the entire city is stuck in traffic and the best athletes and coaches are available. But lunchtimers are usually subjected to annoying blowhards who sound like Rush Limbaugh in a football jersey. That's not Matt Thomas, who manages to combine… More >>
  • Best Swimming Hole

    Lake Raven, Huntsville State Park

    Sometimes, all you need is a good mud hole to cool yourself off. In the case of Huntsville State Park, the water may look murky thanks to the clay bottom, but the lake is far from a hole. The atmosphere is more that of a summer camp than a public park, and there's no danger from outboard motors or undertow.… More >>
  • Best View

    Magnolia Hotel Roof/Pool Deck

    There are many great vantage points from which the beauty of Houston can be seen, such as the Sabine Street bridge or the I-10 HOV lane that leads into downtown near Taylor Street. But after you experience the rooftop view from the Magnolia Hotel just before sunset, you will agree that it clearly deserves the top honor for best view… More >>
  • Best Amusement Center

    Track 21

    Most amusement centers are outdoors, and while this is great for the brief time of the year where being outdoors sounds awesome, it's pretty annoying when the heat hits. Track 21 would be great outdoors, but throw on a roof and some air-conditioning and you've got a location suitable for first dates that don't involve alcohol or for letting the… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    Menil Park

    There's something microcosmic about setting up a picnic in Menil Park. Bring your jambon and rye and salad and Saint Arnold, spread your bevy of blankets, and soak in the surroundings that exemplify Houston. Watch the well-dressed couples milling around in The Menil Collection and Cy Twombly Gallery. Observe the weekday warriors looking for a spiritual, ascetic reprieve in the… More >>
  • Best Bowling Alley

    Palace Bowling Lanes

    It's not difficult to imagine the bowling scenes in movies like The Big Lebowski being filmed in a place like Palace Bowling Lanes. In business nearly 50 years, it has the feel of a bowling alley that has seen things and knows things. With digital scoring, bumper bowling for the kids, a nicely stocked bar for the adults, Palace is… More >>
  • Best Coach

    Kevin McHale, Houston Rockets

    The roster of failed coaches in NBA history is littered with men who were great players but couldn't coach a lick. (Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas immediately come to mind.) Such is not the case with Rockets head coach Kevin McHale. The man whom many call the greatest low post scorer in history led the Rockets to their first playoff… More >>
  • Best Dog Park

    Millie Bush Bark Park

    Big dogs get their choice of two large ponds filled with turquoise water and acres and acres of green grass at Millie Bush Bark Park. Small dogs get their own more compact pond and a fenced lawn. There's a long granite walking path, bench seating, trees and cover from the sun. The park, the first of its kind in the… More >>
  • Best State Park

    Brazos Bend State Park

    Few places this close to Houston are this decidedly wild. With more than 13 miles of trails, park-goers can participate in activities such as horseback riding, fishing, camping, birdwatching, cycling and, of course, alligator-watching. With six lakes, the park is home to plenty of alligators. It's also home to the spectacular George Observatory, owned and operated by the Houston Museum… More >>
  • Best Cheerleading Squad

    Houston Texans

    A big part of the football experience in the state of Texas at every level (high school, college and professional) is the cheerleading squad. A spot on the Houston Texans cheerleading squad (which has been a part of the franchise since its inception in 2002) is one of the most sought-after jobs in the city, with an acceptance rate that… More >>
  • Best Cheap Seats

    Grass Land General Admission, Constellation Field

    Since Minor League Baseball franchise the Sugar Land Skeeters threw out their first pitch a few years ago, their custom-built ballpark has received nothing but rave reviews. It's got a kids-only swimming pool and a carousel behind the wall in left-center field, but the Grass Land general admission hill in right field is the real draw. Right behind the bullpens,… More >>
  • Best Driving Range

    Top Golf

    We all love a nice, relaxing trip to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls and let off some steam, right? But haven't we always thought about how great it would be if someone were to combine the therapeutic pummeling of hundreds of golf balls with the casual gluttony of food, drink, sports and live music? Well, Top… More >>
  • Best Franchise Owner

    Bob McNair, Houston Texans

    When you're looking to figure out whether or not a city has an owner who qualifies as "good" (let alone "best"), there are a few checkpoints, and McNair seems to hit positively on all of them. Willingness to spend on payroll? Check. The Texans are among the highest-spending teams in the NFL. Active in the community? Check. You can't attend… More >>
  • Best Place to Canoe

    Buffalo Bayou

    More and more locals are catching on to the splendor of Buffalo Bayou, one of the few central Houston waterways that remain unpaved and in a near-natural state. Put your boat in near Voss and Woodway and paddle past the regal backyards of Memorial Bend and River Oaks, where the bayou is wilder and you'll have a better chance of… More >>
  • Best Astro

    Jose Altuve

    How do we know Jose Altuve is the Best Astro? Because money talks, and on a team with a total payroll that amounts to about three months' worth of salary for Alex Rodriguez, the Astros' decision to extend Altuve for the next four years (with a guarantee of $12.5 million) is proof positive that the diminutive second baseman is viewed… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Galveston

    Just an hour away from Houston, Galveston is the sentimental favorite for a weekend getaway by H-Town residents. There are some 32 miles of beaches (enough to guarantee you'll find a spot to yourself) and more than 5,000 affordable hotel rooms (almost all of which face the Gulf of Mexico); Moody Gardens and The Pleasure Pier provide more than enough… More >>
  • Best Bike Path

    Terry Hershey Park

    This large park begins at Beltway 8 on the east and rolls along the bayou all the way to Barker Dam on the west. Terese "Terry" Hershey, a former member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, is the namesake of this expansive park on the west side of the city. She's credited with leading the campaign to prevent the… More >>
  • Best Fans

    Dynamo Fans

    Head out to any Houston Dynamo game at the still fairly new BBVA Compass Stadium and you'll have various specific pockets of Dynamo fans all tailgating in a festive atmosphere like it's an October Texans game. The difference with the Dynamo faithful is that factions of the squad's fans carry specific memberships with them, distinct identities expressed through chants, flags… More >>
  • Best Place to Fly a Kite

    Discovery Green Park

    It may not be as vast as Hermann Park or Eleanor Tinsley Park, but Discovery Green in the heart of downtown offers a perfect green space and backdrop for those days when flying a kite just might make all your troubles fade away. The Jones Lawn offers 1.7 acres in the center of the park, which is more than enough… More >>
  • Best Golf Course

    Wildcat Golf Club

    When it comes to daily-fee public golf courses, the gold standard in the city of Houston is Wildcat Golf Club. Originally opened in 2001, the course boasts rolling hills and swells that provide incredible views of the downtown skyline, the Galleria and Reliant Stadium from virtually anywhere on the 36-hole course. It's the official golf course for all the Houston… More >>
  • Best Place for a Pick-up Game

    Fonde Recreation Center

    From the outside, the building blends into the rest of the foot of Houston's downtown skyline innocently enough, your average neighborhood recreation center. Seemingly. But head inside and you'll quickly find out that Fonde Recreation Center is where the best of the best in pickup hoopers in the Bayou City ply their trade. During the NBA offseason, it's not uncommon… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Proof Bar + Patio

    Touting a prime location and pouring strong drinks, Proof welcomes one and all to its rooftop getaway along the border of downtown and midtown. Dressed up or dressed down, the patrons who visit the bar above Reef Restaurant are free to mix and mingle in the shadow of the Houston skyline. The knowledgable bartenders are always ready to concoct one… More >>
  • Best Texan

    J.J. Watt

    Truth be told, there are probably about a dozen categories across multiple sections of the "Best of" issue for which Texans defensive end J.J. Watt would qualify. To call him merely "Texans defensive end" feels like you're short-selling Watt. Oh, sure, he is the very best at what he does in all of football, sacking quarterbacks 20.5 times and knocking… More >>
  • Best Play-by-Play Announcer

    Bill Worrell

    In every city that has won a championship, there's an announcer whose voice is synonymous with that climb to the mountaintop (or in the case of the Houston Rockets, multiple climbs to the mountaintop). On television, that voice belongs to legendary play-by-play man Bill Worrell. Since finishing his days as a University of Houston baseball player in 1966, Worrell has… More >>
  • Best Public Swimming Pool

    Love Park Pool

    Properties inside the Loop are so small — and made smaller when enormous houses are built right up to the lot line — and so expensive, few city dwellers are able to have the luxury of a backyard pool. That's where places like Love Park come in. Nestled between 12th and 13th near North Shepherd, the public pool is clean,… More >>
  • Best Jogging Trail

    Eleanor Tinsley Park

    If you're a runner, a jogger or even an avid fan of sauntering, you realize the value of a good place to engage in a little forward locomotion. With plenty of shade and enough greenery to admire, Eleanor Tinsley Park is a great place to get your jog on. The place isn't as packed to the gills as Memorial Park,… More >>
  • Best Commentator

    Jeff Van Gundy

    Technically, does former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy work for a national outlet? Yes, his work on ESPN and ABC does extend beyond the boundaries of the 713 (and 281 and 832 and whatever that new area code is). But since coming to Houston in 2003, Van Gundy and his family have chosen to call Houston home. Even after… More >>
  • Best Place to Ride Go-Karts

    Speedy's Fast Track

    You can fancy them up with electric motors and throw on a helmet to up the safety factor, but having a true zen go-kart experience involves gas engines and the wind in your face. Combining a fun course that includes plenty of turns and room to maneuver with ride prices that won't break your wallet, Speedy's is the best place… More >>
  • Best Bike Trail

    Memorial Park

    With more than 12 miles of trails within Houston's version of New York City's Central Park, Memorial Park is the closest thing inside the city limits available to a mountain biker looking to ride that fancy bike to its intended use. Ranging from beginner to intermediate to advanced, the trails are marked and color-coded for easy use. The harder trails… More >>
  • Best Sports Columnist

    Stephanie Stradley, chron.com

    With the advent of the Internet, the sample space of writers who qualify under the definition of "sports columnist" — a writer who offers up opinion to go with razor-sharp analysis — has most certainly expanded. No longer is this category a two- or three-person race among those who offer up opinion down the right side of the Houston Chronicle… More >>
  • Best Scenic Park

    Discovery Green

    Organizers like to boast that it was mostly private funding that built Discovery Green, Houston's multipurpose downtown park. Visitors don't much care how it got built, only that it did. Set in the shadow of area skyscrapers and hotels, it seems deceptively small — until you try to walk around it, that is. Kinder Lake anchors the 12-acre space (it… More >>
  • Best Beach

    Quintana

    Quintana, Texas, Gateway to the Gulf, is a tiny town between Galveston and Freeport with a population of just 56 people. It's also got one of the best beaches in the Houston area. The Brazoria County park has 51 acres of beachfront (one for almost every citizen in town) as well as RV campsites, picnic tables and other park amenities,… More >>
  • Best Stadium Announcer

    John Paul Stevenson, Houston Rockets

    Before the All-Star Game back in February here in Houston, John Paul Stevenson said that his career as an NBA public-address announcer almost ended on the way to his tryout for the Grizzlies P.A. post in Memphis in 2001: "I stopped twice on the way to the Pyramid and almost turned around and went home." He thought there was no… More >>
  • Best Place to Hike

    Sam Houston National Forest

    Not many people realize that Houston has a national forest about an hour's drive from downtown. In fact, there's more than 161,000 acres of it within the Sam Houston National Forest, spread across three counties north of town. With such a huge area and dozens of trails winding through the dense growth, you might hike all day and not see… More >>
  • Best Rocket

    James Harden

    For three seasons now, since Yao Ming's feet and Tracy McGrady's knees ceased cooperating, the Houston Rockets have been searching for what General Manager Daryl Morey likes to call a "foundation player." After many swings and many misses, Morey finally landed his man in late October 2012, pilfering Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder for what now appears to have… More >>
  • Best Place to Walk a Dog

    T.C. Jester Park

    Unlike some of those other parks, there won't be flocks of runners at T.C. Jester Park scampering by for you and your dog to avoid. If your dog is the type that sees another one and immediately starts barking at the enemy canine and trying to pick a fight, you've got enough space on the path to pull her well… More >>
  • Best Sports Role Model

    David Bailiff, Rice head football coach

    There are plenty of college football coaches who talk about molding their student-athletes into great men but few who put into practice an example to strive for quite like Rice head football coach David Bailiff. Each fall since coming to Rice, Bailiff has had his players donate their time, as he himself does, to worthy causes like the Sunshine Kids,… More >>

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