Sometimes the pace of modern life can get to anyone, and we long for a simpler time. Unless you have a time-traveling DeLorean, your only option for really reaching back in time is to find places that keep elements of the past alive.
Fortunately for us would-be time bandits (okay, if you can travel back in time, I don't condone stealing anything), there are a few places in and around Houston that will give us a taste of a bygone era without the need for an expensive time-traveling 1980s sports car to get there. Places like...
This Heights diner is one of the oldest left in Houston, occupying a space in what originally was the Yale Pharmacy. The diner area is exactly what one would expect from an old-fashioned malt shop, and the food and drinks are excellent diner fare. The area that used to be the pharmacy is now an antiques mall, so there's cool stuff to browse through if that's your thing. I'll be there for an old-fashioned burger and milkshake. The atmosphere is pleasantly anachronistic, and worth the lines that form on weekends.
The George Ranch Historical Park is a working ranch that lies on more than 23,000 acres in Richmond, about 30 miles southwest of downtown Houston. The park features several early Texas homes and costumed educators who bring various aspects of the early pioneer and cowboy world to life. The park is closed on Sundays and Mondays, and it takes between three and four hours to really explore everything, so plan accordingly. There's a lot to see and to learn; the place really is a step back to an earlier time in Texas history, and well worth repeated visits. For more complete information, it's a good idea to visit the Park's website.
3. Froberg's Farm, 3601 Texas 6, Alvin
This farm has been around since the 1930s, and grows more than 30 different fruits and vegetables. It's known particularly for the fresh strawberries that grow when in season, and visitors can pick their own for a small fee. The fruits and vegetables vary by season, and at the moment folks can pick purple hull peas while they soak up the homey atmosphere. Field trips are available, and there is also an on-site store featuring the fresh produce the farm grows as well as sauces and dressings unavailable elsewhere. The farm also makes awesome pies and candies for those with a sweet tooth. Carnivores shouldn't lose hope, either, as there's a smokehouse offering a variety of meat items. There's something very rustic about walking through a rowed field picking your own fruits or vegetables.
4. Another Time Soda Fountain, 800 3rd Street, Rosenberg This soda fountain has a great selection of burgers and sandwiches, but its desserts are especially noteworthy. It's one of the few places still making "phosphates," sort of a fizzy predecessor of soft drinks, and they're worth checking out if for no other reason than to get a taste of what your great-grandparents might have drunk on a date. Another Time is located in one of the ancient buildings of downtown Rosenberg, and most of its neighbors have been turned into antiques stores, so you could make an afternoon excursion celebrating cool old stuff.
When you're done, consider scooting across town to visit...
Located in a picturesque area of Richmond, this museum is worth a visit for anyone looking for a ride on the Wayback Machine. The museum itself is made up mainly of displays and dioramas portraying the life of people living in the area from 1822 to 1945, but there's also a house built between 1838 and 1840 that Jane Long ("The Mother of Texas") lived in that's located on the museum grounds. Also part of the museum complex is the Moore Home, a Victorian residence built in 1883 and then remodeled into a neoclassical style later on. The home is beautiful and worth touring for a real look back at how the wealthy folks of the time lived. The Fort Bend Museum hosts various special events throughout the year that are both entertaining and informative.
Stepping back in time is an easy task for anyone who doesn't mind making a short road trip, even if he doesn't have a specially modified Delorean fueled by plutonium and 1.21 gigawatts of power. However, if you MUST go that route, you're in luck.
6. The DeLorean Motor Company in Humble, 15023 Eddie Drive It's THE place to go if you need a new DeLorean made from original unused parts or already have one in need of some TLC. As weird as it is to consider the 1980s "old-fashioned," that decade is falling into the distant past, so maybe a DeLorean really IS the time machine you've been looking for.