Traders Village

This sprawling bazaar bills itself as "A Texas-Size Marketplace," and this is one time where the hyperbole is warranted: It features more than 100 acres of goods — we're talking art, jewelry, auto parts, bicycles, electronics, comics, housewares and everything in between. Since 1989, Traders Village has basically set the standard for flea markets in Houston — if it exists, chances are it's here, and for a price that won't make you feel like a chump. It's fun to go even if you don't have anything in mind — it's like a window-shopper's paradise. Check the calendar for special events, like concerts, cookoffs and even a Native American Pow Wow.

READERS' CHOICE: Traders Village

Heights Cigar Lounge
David Rozycki

Heights Cigar Lounge calls itself "Your den away from home," and for those who enjoy a good cigar, it certainly has all the amenities. You can visit and engage in good conversation with fellow customers over a few smokes while lounging on comfortable leather recliners or sofas; the great selection here also makes Heights Cigar Lounge the place to frequent when you need some good stuff to go. The lounge's huge walk-in humidor has just about any kind of cigar you might be looking for, as well as plenty of smoking accessories like cutters, lighters and home humidors; most of the inventory is geared toward cigar smokers, but a few brands of cigarettes are sold here as well as tobacco for pipes. The owners are friendly and knowledgeable and will patiently answer any of your questions to help you find the right cigar for you, without any arrogant, elitist cigar-smoker attitude.

Designer Kate de Para is both an artisan and an artist. The textiles and women's clothing she designs are simple, elegant and forward-thinking. With an MFA in fibers from the Savannah College of Art and Design, de Para creates responsibly sourced textiles that are dyed and printed in her Houston studio (that's her artisan side). For a time in 2015, pieces from her Evens clothing line are hanging in a museum (that's her artist side). De Para's among the 35 Texas-based designers participating in the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's "Texas Design Now," an exhibit of cutting-edge fashion, accessories and furniture being created across the state.

Parking lots are the worst. Our most base, selfish selves come out in them. An event ends and we all pour back to our vehicles, ready to declare war on each other just so we can get into traffic a few seconds sooner. While the METRORail has been real handy in helping fight parking-lot chaos at NRG Stadium, the new lines and their stops at the Convention Center/Minute Maid Park, BBVA Compass Stadium and TDECU Stadium open up a whole new world of options when it comes to attending major sporting and music events. Being able to move around most of Houston by rail is probably decades down the line, but these latest additions take what was a solid service and begin to make it something really special.

There are tons of choices when it comes to yoga studios in Houston these days, but Joy Yoga Center is hands-down the place to go for your stretching and bending and mindful breathing. The thing that's so great about Joy Yoga is that it offers all kinds of options for all kinds of yogis, so whether you want a workout that will kick your ass or an hour and a half of practice that will expand both your mind and abilities, or you just need a chilled-out class to help you unwind at the end of the day, Joy Yoga has you covered. The center also has Acro-Yoga, Pilates, Yoga for Runners and even prenatal. The studios are kept warm but not roasting, the staff is always both chilled out and helpful and the instructors are great about making sure there are options for every practice level in the class.

READERS' CHOICE: Yoga One Studios

Walking into Game Over is like walking back into childhood. The store is completely packed with beloved old hits reaching from before Atari to the present generation. Game Over also traffics in all kinds of obscure and hard-to-find titles, accessories and systems like the Philips CD-i and Japanese imports. You literally never know what you're going to find when you walk in, but among the shelves you'll hear delighted squeal after delighted squeal as gamers stumble across gaming treasures long forgotten. Ask the staff for helpful advice on maintenance of vintage systems so your purchases will keep going strong.

If you're a geek who loves non-digital games, you may have already met the folks from Ettin Games even if you've never stepped in their store. At local conventions, they show up not only to sell their wares, but to help others discover new games via their board game library. These folks love gaming, and when you make the trip up to their store, you'll find the latest and greatest games and plenty of table room to play them. For those looking for more structured gaming, Ettin also participates in Friday Night Magic and D&D Adventurer's League, among other weekly events. If you're looking to make some friends and chuck some dice, this is your place.

It has a little more competition these days, but Rockin' Robin still is synonymous with where to go when something goes wrong, but also when it goes right; like when it's time to roll over all that gig money into some new gear. With a full-time repair shop and a fine selection of just about anything with strings (plus keyboards, drums, amps, pedals, cases, etc.), the store on Shepherd with the iconic Stevie Ray Vaughan mural has been serving Houston musicians since 1972, the same year Exile on Main St and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars were released. Helping you pick out the proper instrument — or even teaching you how to play it — is a staff of musicians from every corner of the Houston music scene, among them Chlorine, Giant Kitty, Snit's Dog & Pony Show, Oceans of Slumber, Bagheera/Wrestlers and many more. Even if you're just looking for a pair of drumsticks, Stevie won't steer you wrong.

READERS' CHOICE: Guitar Center — Houston

Finding a great auto mechanic can be like stumbling across a winning lottery ticket blowing across a parking lot. There are plenty of "good" mechanics across the Houston area, but Bruno Vazquez at Bayon Auto Service in the Heights has consistently gone the extra mile for customers who aren't put off by the shop's hole-in-the-wall appearance. Stories of going the extra mile for customers are common, from having guys arrive at a broken-down vehicle and pushing the car to Bayon Auto, or not charging for unnecessary work. That kind of service and his honest estimates for needed work are hard to beat, and earn Vazquez honors for best mechanic in Houston.

READERS' CHOICE: Yale Automotive

Houston has a fair number of historic cemeteries. One of the oldest is Washington Cemetery (its rather modest entrance is on Washington). Started in 1875, the then Deutsche Gesellschaft von Houston was outside the city limits. Today it's just a few short blocks west of downtown. There was a name change in 1887 to the German Society Cemetery and another in 1918 to Washington Cemetery. There are lots of Civil War veterans interred there. Among the most notable is Sarah Emma (Edmonds) Seelye. She disguised herself as Franklin Thompson and joined the war, serving for two years as a solider and scout in the Union Army.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of