Back in 2013, we put together Houston’s first Bucket List. We’ve heard from a lot of you who have pinned the list to your refrigerators or tucked it away in a folder so you might take a crack at all 100. We hope you made it through your list because a lot has changed in four years in Houston.
Four years later, it's time for a new, revised edition complete with new attractions (or sadly closed old ones) and expanded to include a wider area. In our first bucket list, we limited ourselves to 30 square miles from City Hall. This time, we’ve expanded that to 100 miles, which covers places like Galveston. It seemed to us that our entire area is ripe for the list making.
For the next few weeks, we’ll be unveiling 90 of the 100 essential things to do in and around the Bayou City. Our top 10 will appear in an upcoming issue along with a full, printable list much like last year, so stay tuned.
Our first installment included marathons, mega churches and two stepping. Our second batch took us to Galveston for the first time and late-night grocery shopping. Next up was diversity and birds (and the diversity of birds). Finally, we got into some art and bingo. Our fifth post included gators, roller derby and Halloween. Last week, we rounded out the first six posts with, well, flesh in various forms. For number seven, we got into some grand Houston traditions, including cowboys, fried chicken seafood and camping.
Up today is a conglomeration of stuff that is so wildly different, it could only find itself in Houston. Celebrating diversity, getting into the outdoors, listening to some history (in a tiny club or a century-old hotel)…it's all part of the H-town adventure.
Get your rainbow on at the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration.
Former mayor Annise Parker once said that Houston doesn’t care who you are, we just care what you can do. As a member of the LGBT community and the first openly gay mayor in a major American city, she would know, which is what makes the annual Houston LGBT Pride Celebration so much fun. Add to it the fact that the parade is after dark, and you have one of the most banging nights of the year.
Dine on fajitas and a margarita at Ninfa’s.
There is some debate as to the origin of fajitas. The grilled meat has become a staple of Tex Mex fare and, along with enchiladas and tacos, is the bar by which good Tex Mex food is measured. Some believe fajitas originated in San Antonio. Others believe it happened right here in Houston over on Navigation. Whatever the case, the original Ninfa’s is one of the best places to find them. And while you are there, may as well grab a margarita.
See a singer-songwriter at Anderson Fair.
Houston music may best be known for the likes of Beyoncé and ZZ Top, but the nearly hidden little folk club in the Montrose gave birth to some of Texas’s finest singer-songwriters and heavy hitters in the world of country music, like Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett and Lucinda Williams. The tiny listening room still hosts regular troubadours from around town and around the country, and the documentary about Anderson Fair, For the Sake of the Song, is a must-see for Houstonians.
Kayak or canoe Buffalo Bayou.
The perspective of the city from one of its numerous waterways is pretty remarkable. Most of us look down at the bayous, not up from them, and when the visuals include dense woods and giant skyscrapers, it can be a pretty disarming experience. The best way to get a glimpse of this little-seen world is on a kayak or canoe. If you have one, put in just west of Loop 610 off Woodway, where most of the pros get their feet wet. If not, rent one in Buffalo Bayou Park.
Go fishing for all kinds of stuff.
If you like the outdoors, Texas has no shortage of options, and if fishing is a particular favorite, you are living in the right place. Within 100 miles, we have lakes and rivers, never mind the freaking ocean. The big daddy of fishing tournaments, Bassmasters, was recently held at Lake Conroe, less than an hour north of town, and you can charter a boat that will take you offshore to fish for tuna, shark, just about anything you can imagine. This is an angler’s paradise.
Drink a cold one at West Alabama Ice House.
Icehouses were once (and still sometimes are) known as rather lowbrow establishments. Then along came craft beer and modern amenities otherwise ruining a perfectly good American pastime. Fortunately, there are throwbacks where you can pop the top on a Lone Star and hang out under some shade trees with your friends. That would be West Alabama Ice House. Sometimes the simple things are the best.
Hit the links at the Golf Club of Houston tournament course.
Host of the most recent Shell Houston Open tournaments, this is a legit pro’s course. Houston has numerous wonderful courses to test your handicap, but few provide the kind of amenities and scenic setting this one does. Best of all, it's one of only 11 public golf courses in the country that hold a PGA event.
Learn about Galveston’s history and hauntings on the Hotel Galvez tours.
If you have never met Bobby Lee Hilton, be prepared for some incredible stories. The octogenarian historian and guest ambassador at the historic Hotel Galvez will talk your ear off, telling tales of gangsters, bathing contests and hurricanes from the island’s past. It’s all part of the hotel’s historical tours. And while Hilton will certainly let you know about some of his personal close encounters with the beyond, the Galvez also offers haunted tours and dinners throughout the year.
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Check out the slabs at Cloverland Park in Sunnyside.
In the Houston episode of Anthony Bourdain’s acclaimed series Parts Unknown, the cantankerous host took his usual off-the-beaten-path culinary tour of H-Town. His stops underscored the city’s diversity and seemed to delight the irascible Bourdain. But the most interesting moment came when he took in a weekend gathering of tricked-out cars, common to parks like Sunnyside and Cloverland. The immaculately detailed custom rides had Bourdain positively giddy. Go see for yourself and you’ll understand.
Take in some Friday night lights at a local high school football game.
The original film, Friday Night Lights (inspired by the book that also inspired the critically acclaimed TV series), revisited the site of a huge state championship game that happened to be played in the Astrodome. Despite the West Texas setting of the book, film and show, the concept of Friday night lights covers the entire state. Football is king and nowhere is it at its most passionate than in high school stadiums across Texas. Houston is no different, and Fridays in fall on the field are as close to Sundays in church as some folks get.