Houston Bucket List - 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die: The Short Porch
The Houston Press is presenting a series of posts leading up to a feature story in the print edition of the 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die. Each blog post contains one of our top 10 bucket list items along with nine others in the top 100. To narrow our list, we chose only items unique to Houston -- or items to which Houston provides a unique twist -- and everything on the list must be in or occur within 30 miles of downtown Houston (so, nothing from Galveston, for example). We welcome your suggestions in the comment section.
Houston is a tough place to be a sports fan. At any given time, the local teams could be contending for titles or floundering as one of the worst teams in the league. They can bore you to death or cause a near heart attack from excitement. It's a never-ending roller coaster ride of emotions. But, one consistent positive in Houston sports is the quality of our venues, all of which were built in the last 13 years -- let's not discuss the Astrodome at the moment if you please. As such, one particular spectator experience made our top ten.
Take in an Astros game from the Crawford Boxes.
The Astros suck. Let's just get that out of the way right up front. No one thinks they are good. Whether or not they are on the right path is debatable. But, this isn't about the team. It's about their stadium. Despite whatever you might think about the 'Stros, Minute Maid Park is as fine a ballpark as you will find in Major League Baseball. It was the first in Houston's renaissance of stadiums and it remains the most classic and stylish of the entire group.
Which is exactly why a trip to Minute Maid, even if the team playing there is awful, should be on your list of things to do, and if you are going to do it, may as well sit in the Crawford Boxes. Referred to as a "short porch" because it is only 315 feet from home plate -- one of the shortest distances for a home run in the majors -- the boxes are elevated bleachers that get one of the best views of the entire stadium. And because the distance is so short, there's a decent chance a home run will end up in your lap...or the lap of a neighbor. If the roof is open, it feels like an old school baseball game. And even if the Astros are no good, the other team might be, so there's that.
Nine More (in no particular order)
Attend the Houston Holiday Parade. Round here, most of us still call it the Thanksgiving Day Parade, but whatever the case, this is one of the better holiday parades outside of New York City, even if the weather can sometimes feel more like Labor Day than Thanksgiving.
Get stoned at Last Concert Café. I don't smoke anything, so this may remain un-checked on my list, but I imagine I remain rather unique when it comes to those who have visited the classic hippie hang on the northeast side of downtown. If you don't smell the weed outside during a show, something is probably wrong.
Get cooled off by a fountain. Houston has quite a few really amazing fountains. From the majestic Williams Waterwall near the Galleria to the beautiful tradition of Mecom Fountain at Hermann Park to the fun Wortham Fountain (water ball) along Allen Parkway, there are plenty of good choices for cooling off in the summer heat.
Get your Latin dance on at Club Tropicana. If you ever wanted to learn how to Latin dance, you're in luck. Club Tropicana offers free salsa lessons every Tuesday and Friday night. And if you think Houstonians aren't interested in salsa, merengue or bachata, think again, amigo.
Photo by Jeff Balke
Celebrate Go Texan Day by welcoming trail riders into the city. Few cities have a holiday specifically for them. In Houston, we have Go Texan day, when cowboys and gals of all ages can strap on some boots and hoot and holler at passing trail riders.
Buy a knockoff bag and some costume jewelry from a discount shop on Harwin. Some of the cheapest, gaudiest and most ridiculous stuff can be found along Harwin Drive in southwest Houston, including knockoff bags and jewelry. They may not advertise it, but if you want a bag that looks like a Gucci, but on a Target budget, this is your place.
Look for mattresses and furniture Gallery Furniture. Speaking of shopping, what life is complete without a visit to Mattress Mac's palace of furniture. There are all sorts of crazy attractions from monkeys to food inside this monument to the sectional and no BACK BACK BACK ORDER SLIPS!
Have vegan food at the ISKCON Hare Krishna temple in Oak Forest. One of the most fascinating churches in Houston is on 34th Street in Oak Forest, where in the early 1970s, a group of Hare Krishnas set up shop. After a massive construction project created, their gold-turreted temple became a place for worship and very good vegan food.
Go sailing on Clear Lake. Most people don't really think of Houston as a sailing city, but we are actually quite close to the ocean and to another hotspot of sailing activity, Clear Lake. If you time it right, you can catch fireworks displays from the deck of your boat.
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