As much as we all seem to hate valet parking in Houston, there appears to be a good reason for it: parking here can be an adventure wrapped in a nightmare. It's remarkable for a city that tears down as many buildings as we do only to leave empty lots in their place that parking would become such a cluster.
Yet, it is. Still, there are certain places that are worse than others.
First, a couple honorable mentions due to specific times:
Midtown/Washington Avenue/Main Street at Night Any place where partiers congregate is going to be a mess, but these spots are particularly awful, some due to the types of people they attract and some just due to the lack of quality parking and narrow streets in the area.
Galleria at Christmas Truth be told, parking at the Galleria most times isn't all that bad, but at Christmas, forget it, especially since they tore down a very good garage on right at Westheimer and Sage.
For as cool as this mixed use development is -- and others like it now beginning to pop up around town -- we Houstonians still don't seem to be able to master the art of negotiating them. Obviously, it's best just to pull into a garage and walk around, but walking doesn't appear to be our forte and we are left with cars struggling to find parking on streets already crammed to the gills.
7. The Medical Center
There are numerous garages in the Med Center, but they are frequently full or close to it and the areas nearby are worse. With little or no on-street parking in the entire center, the nightmare of the circular drive up a crowded garage is something we all have to face when going there.
6. Reliant Park
For as relatively organized as parking is for Texans games, it is still impossibly difficult to get in an out of the place for virtually any event. Blame it on the fact that the entire complex is sandwiched in by only a handful of busy streets and everyone needs to get into the few entrances for parking lots.
5. The Parking Lot Surrounding Hobbit Cafe
This one is oddly specific but notable for a particular reason. The venerable Tolkien-themed restaurant on Richmond is home to one of the most pothole-infested parking lots known to man. It may as well be the lot around an old high school football field covered in dirt and dead grass. Because it has three establishments -- Hobbit, Capone's and the former Mugsy's -- it makes it additionally crowded with essentially no street parking either.
4. Greenway Plaza
When the Rockets played at
Compaq Center The Summit back in the glory days, getting in and out of that garage/area was a sick joke. Surprisingly, not much has changed now that a mega church is in its place. Add to the fact that new residential and retail developments have cropped up and you have the makings of a disaster, particularly when you throw in the giant movie theater on Weslayan just blocks away. Whatever you do, don't drive down the feeder on Sunday morning.
3. Hermann Park
Go on a weekday and it's beautiful and tranquil. Go on a weekend and risk feeling the fleeting desire to run down a screaming child and his mylar balloons. The dreadful parking is the result of too few spaces and too many attractions. Add in a long walk in the middle of August and parking here has nervous breakdown written all over it.
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There is pretty much nowhere in the Montrose to park that isn't going to be a problem. Streets are crowded, there are random no parking areas that are easily missed meaning lots of towed cars, routine break ins and potholes everywhere. Particularly terrible spots include the Starbuck's/Einstein Brothers strip center at Montrose and Hawthorne and anywhere near "the curve," particularly around Anvil and Catbird's.
1. Rice Village
As quaint and adorable as this shopping area is, circling it for half an hour trying to find a space is the exact opposite. Yes, there is a garage, but just getting to it can be a pain and it is way in one corner of the entire place. Frankly, this would be better if it only allowed pedestrian traffic, but that's not happening. Best to just call Uber or put on a good pair of walking shoes, which, coincidentally you can purchase at several shops in the Village.