Houston Bucket List 2017: Buc-ee's, Blue Margaritas and Bingo!

Being the fourth-largest city in the U.S. has its perks, including world-class museums like The Menil Collection.EXPAND
Being the fourth-largest city in the U.S. has its perks, including world-class museums like The Menil Collection.
J. Griffis Smith / TxDOT

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 took us to Galveston for the first time and late night grocery shopping. On Wednesday, we dug into diversity and birds. Today, it's a mixed bag of road trips, Houston history and world class art.

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Visit the MFAH, CAMH and the Menil.

You would expect that, like any big city, Houston would have good museums, but it might come as a surprise to find out the Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum and The Menil Collection are on par with some of the finest museums in the world. While the MFAH and CAMH host collections from around the world along with some of its own stellar in-house works, the Menil is known for its finely curated surrealist exhibits, which draw some of the greatest names in art from across the globe.

Have a blue margarita and listen to dirty mariachis at Club No Minors.

The sign on the door to the bar at El Patio reads: "No Cigars. ID Required. No Minors. Club." What was once a simple statement of fact has morphed into a name that all good Houstonians know. The dimly lit room adorned with velvet paintings of naked ladies serves up stout blue margaritas and menu items from the beloved, now departed Felix restaurant. And on weekends, mariachis who have been performing there for decades show up to serenade you with dirty versions of "La Bamba" and "Proud Mary."

Play bingo at SPJST Lodge 88.

Bingo is one of those odd things that fell back into fashion over the past decade thanks mostly to hipsters. Traditionally reserved for senior citizens, it has enjoyed a rather spirited revival. In Houston you’ll find no better place to get your bingo on than the historic Czech lodge tucked onto a quiet neighborhood street in the Heights. Every Thursday, the lodge hosts what can at times be a rather large contest that includes an open bar and bar grub, with some of the proceeds going to charity.

Take your pooch to Congressman Bill Archer Dog Park.

There are lots of great places to walk your dog or let him or her out for a little socializing, but none are quite as impressive or expansive as this west Houston facility. The 17-acre park includes manmade water features — rain-forged mud holes happen too on occasion and if your dogs are like ours, they will favor them every time — walking paths, shaded benches and loads of space for the pups to sprint with friends. Best of all, there are well-maintained doggie showers at the exits to clean everybody up for the ride home.

Go to Buc-ee’s and buy some Beaver Nuggets…and use the bathroom.

“Only in Texas” seems perfectly reserved for Buc-ee’s, the massive convenience stores dotting Texas highways. They are known not only for the crazy Texas kitsch and grocery-store-size food offerings, but a host of unique snacks like the delicious Beaver Nuggets and cookies in plastic buckets. And no Texas road trip is complete without a visit to the remarkably clean Buc-ee’s bathrooms and their, praise Jesus, floor-to-ceiling doors.

There might not be any mountains as promised, but Allen's Landing is looking better than ever.
There might not be any mountains as promised, but Allen's Landing is looking better than ever.
Yuri Peña

See Houston’s birthplace at Allen’s Landing.

Take a look at a vintage magazine ad for Houston and you’ll likely see the following: beautiful green mountains, clear blue skies and a stunning river flowing gently alongside. The Allen Brothers certainly had a flair for the dramatic, and this enticing scene is what brought the first settlers to what they soon realized was a mosquito-infested swamp. The site of the city’s birth is now a landmark and a reminder that not only are things not always what they seem, but they can actually turn out better than you imagined (even if you don’t have the mountains to go with it).

Run the Memorial Park loop.

One of the biggest urban parks in America also happens to have one of the most popular running tracks. Early in the morning, late in the evening or even in the blistering heat of midday, you’ll find runners of all stripes jogging on Memorial Park’s three-mile loop skirting the edges of the golf course with a decent stretch along Memorial Drive. Plus, the rest stop area in the park serves as not only the de facto start/finish line, but the occasional pick-up spot for like-minded health fanatics.

Have a Pedal Party on Washington Avenue.

If you ever were out riding your bike and thought, “This would be so much better with alcohol and 12 friends,” the Pedal Party is your dream come true. These rolling, mostly human-powered trollies of fun and beer aren’t exactly unique to Houston, but when you see one cruising down the middle of the love-hated Washington Avenue, it’s tough not to chuckle and be the slightest bit jealous of their frivolity.

Go meatless at Govinda’s in the Hare Krishna Temple.

First, yes, there is a Hare Krishna temple in Houston. It’s been here a LONG time — in fact, on a relatively quiet stretch of 34th Street in Oak Forest. And, second, it has served delicious vegetarian food every Sunday for quite a spell. In 2016, the temple opened Govinda’s, a buffet-style vegetarian restaurant that now serves lunch and dinner seven days a week, so you don’t have to wait for Sunday to make your belly happy and healthy.

Check out a gun show.

There is literally a gun show in the Houston area every weekend. Every…single…weekend. It is Texas, after all, and people here love their guns. Even if you don’t want to carry a firearm, the shows are a fascinating look at people who do and the kind of weaponry you can arm yourself with if you so choose.


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