The Houston Press is presenting a series of posts leading up to a feature story in the print edition of the 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die. Each blog post contains one of our top 10 bucket list items along with nine others in the top 100. To narrow our list, we only chose items unique to Houston -- or items to which Houston provides a unique twist -- and everything on the list must be in or occur within 30 miles of downtown Houston (so, nothing from Galveston, for example). We welcome your suggestions in the comment section.
In installment two of our bucket list series, it is time to inject a bit of holiday cheer into our lives. Sure, it's the middle of July and hot as hell outside, but what better time to dream of cooler weather and imagine sugar plums dancing in our heads? There are plenty of wonderful things to do in Houston around the holidays and quite a few will make our 100, but there is one that nearly trumps them all.
Go People Watching at the Galleria During the Christmas Holidays.
It's a mall. It's chaos. The parking is more confusing than the labyrinth Daedalus used to imprison the Minotaur. But, there are few places in Houston more festive during the holidays than the Galleria. From the massive Christmas tree on the ice skating rink to the line out the door of the Apple Store, it is crazy and sparkly and filled with joy...until someone tries to steal your parking space.
If you panic in a crowd, this might be your living hell, but if you can stand it, soak in the Yule Tide joy and fa la la la la your happy self from Macy's to Nordstrom and back. Do what we do: use one of the lesser-known parking lots -- we can't tell you which or we'd have to kill you -- and grab a window seat at the Daily Grill. Have a holiday cocktail, listen to some jazz music and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Christmas rush in style.
Nine More (in no particular order)
Go tailgating at a Texans game. Obviously, the object of going to a Texans game is to see some football, but it is difficult to ignore what might be one of the best tailgates in professional sports right her in Houston.
See a Catastrophic Theater performance. Jason Nodler, Tamarie Cooper and the crew at Catastrophic have been delivering groundbreaking theater to Houston for years dating back to shows at the Axiom under the name Infernal Bridegroom Productions. The annual Tamarie Cooper Show is a wickedly funny showstopper.
Ride the bike trail from Acres Homes to downtown. Yes, it goes that far. From the way-out-north suburb where you can get some of the city's finest barbecue to City Hall, you can ride it, and when they complete the handful of gaps, you won't even have to go off road.
Spend a night on "the Island." For the uninitiated, The Island is the cluster of bars and restaurants on Main Street and Alabama. It includes Continental Club, the Big Top, Double Trouble, Natachee's, Tacos A-Go-Go, Julia's and Sparrow. Eat, drink and dance to the music. You can even grab the light rail home and head back in the morning for breakfast at The Breakfast Klub.
Ride in the Art Car Parade. I have done this once. It was hot, loud and awesome. Watching the moving spectacle is fun. Participating is off the chart.
Eat fried chicken at Frenchy's under the awning. It is nearly impossible to pick a small handful of "eat here" to add to a bucket list, so the atmosphere has to be unique. The perfect fried chicken at French's on Scott Street is best enjoyed under the aluminum awning out front with the regulars.
Spend a day exploring the downtown tunnel system. A friend told me about how his brother-in-law came to Houston one summer and was confused why the streets were empty at lunch. He didn't realize the mole people of downtown were in the tunnels power walking and power lunching. It's a fascinating expanse of restaurants and shops that must be seen to be believed.
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Go to a gala and get a picture with Lynn Wyatt. Houston generates a LOT of money for charity and much of that money is raised by Houston society folk, none of whom are more well known than Ms. Wyatt. If you are lucky, your photo might end up on the back pages of a glossy society rag.
See a singer songwriter at Anderson Fair. The documentary For the Sake of the Song traced the roots of Houston's most important folk music venue and told the tales of Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt and others that called the tiny Montrose joint home. Seeing anyone perform there is seeing a piece of music history.
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