We asked our friends, acquaintances, co-workers and even a few strangers about their favorite people-watching spots. We got some silly suggestions: Harris Co. Jail during visiting hours, the bathroom at any bar at 1 a.m. on a Saturday, and, our favorite, the Houston Press lobby. We also got some great suggestions. We sorted them out according to availability, comfort and number of people available to watch. Here are our top 10; did your favorite make the list?
10. George Bush Intercontinental Airport
We enjoy people watching at the airport. Of the ten spots on our list, it's the best place to see folks from other countries and every social background. If you're lucky, you might even see a celebrity (the closest we ever came was when we saw Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé's dad), or a bunch of service men and women on their way home. The only reason the airport isn't higher on our list is because, to really enjoy it, you have to have a plane ticket which can be costly.
9. Any Metro Train Stop
Any Metro Train Stop offers plenty of opportunity to people watch. Our favorite is the Medical Center stop, the mix of students, healthcare professionals, patients, visitors and business execs is interesting. Also, you're likely to hear at least a half dozen different languages while waiting on the platform.
8. Kemah Boardwalk
There are plenty of festivals at Kemah Boardwalk which bring throngs of people to watch, but the promenades are sure to be full of folks any weekend in nice weather. We like that there are lots of food choices at the Boardwalk, but few offer budget friendly prices and there's a decided lack of comfortable seating (unless you go into one of the restaurants).
7. The Downtown Tunnels
The downtown underground tunnels offer a nice mix of business execs and office workers in search of lunch, a little shopping or an air conditioned place to exercise. There are lots of food choices, most reasonably priced but few other seating choices. Expect the pace to be quick (translation: get out of the way of the power walkers).
6. Two Allen Center
More downtown workers, shoppers, a lovely assortment of homeless and skateboarders give people watchers at Two Allen Center lots to look at. The Allen Center complex boasts some nice lawns, with a few scattered benches and lots of planters with huge rims that make for comfortable seating.
5. Hermann Park
Food choices are somewhat limited in Hermann Park but what it lacks in restaurant options it makes up for in shady spots. Also, Miller Theatre's busy schedule of free performances makes for an entertaining option to people watching.
4. City Hall Reflection Pool
The City Hall Reflection Pool is surrounded by lots of nice benches sitting under large, shady trees as well as lots of lovely green lawns so seating choices are abundant. The Reflection Pool's calm waters keep the tranquil. Expect to see office workers, tourists, construction workers, bus commuters and students. We don't suggest napping on the benches (they've been constructed to discourage that very activity), but plenty of folks stretch out on the grass.
3. Discovery Green
Like Hermann Park, Discovery Green draws a diverse crowd. The park's frequent free performances, movie screenings and exercise classes insure that there's always someone to watch.
2. Mongoose versus Cobra
The Mongoose versus Cobra's large windows offer visitors a choice between watching other customers inside or getting a glimpse outside at the passing parade of hipsters, artistic types and neighborhood residents.
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1. The Galleria
Malls seem to have been designed for people watching. Lots of seating, cool temperatures, plenty of food choices, and security guards are all on the plus side. Of all of Houston's malls, we like the Galleria best for people watching. Multiple levels overlooking each other make watching easy. And there's that ice rink that's always filled with skaters of questionable talent (they're prone to spectacular falls).