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 chose only 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.
It's not always easy to find a good place to take a date no matter where you live. In a big city like Houston, there are a million options for a romantic evening, and everyone's tastes are different. In this, our eighth installment of the Houston Bucket List, I try to give you at least one show-stopping suggestion that should impress any date. And, just as importantly, it is utterly Houston in every way.
Have date night at Spindletop on top of the Hyatt Regency.
Eating at hotel restaurants may seem old fashioned, particularly one with the history of Spindletop, but some of the finest food in any city (nevermind some of the best bars) can be located inside some of its better hotels. The rotating restaurant on top of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston certainly qualifies. Since 1972, it has been serving up wonderful seafood and inspiring views of the skyline to Houstonians and guests from out of town.
The first thing to be concerned with at any restaurant is the food and Spindletop doesn't disappoint. Despite its age and the old-fashioned nature of a hotel eatery, they serve up remarkably fresh and interesting menu items. More importantly, you get to enjoy them while taking in some of the best views of the city. And because the room slowly rotates -- this is not an amusement park ride, so no worries about getting dizzy -- you'll get to take in 360 degrees of downtown Houston. There are plenty of wonderful things to do on date night, but an evening at Spindletop should be at the top of any Houstonian's list.
Nine More (in no particular order)
Enjoy the best of Houston's fine art: Museum of Fine Arts, Contemporary Arts Museum, the Menil, Lawndale Art Center, Asia Society, Houston Center for Photography and Gallery Row. Houston has a robust and diverse art scene. From the Menil to the MFA to the wonderful Asia Society and all the small galleries, particularly along Gallery Row, there is something for every art lover.
Cheer, volunteer or actually run in the Houston Marathon. I've long respected the dedication of runners who train to run marathons. I think they are nuts, but I respect them. The Houston Marathon is the big boy of races in Houston. Even if you don't run, volunteering or cheering on participants is a worthwhile activity...and you can eat donuts while you do it.
Go an owl prowl with the Houston Audubon Society. One of the more interesting if not well known outdoor activities in Houston is the Audubon Society's "owl prowls" during the fall and winter months. The evening walks include meeting rescued owls as well as looking for our nocturnal feathered friends along wooded trails.
Have Sunday Funday in the Gayborhood. The Montrose feels alive every day, all day, but one of the most best times to spend there is on Sunday afternoons. Music thumps from restaurant patios where friends cure their hangovers and create new ones.
Dine on Vietnamese crawfish. One of the more interesting hybrids of ethnic cuisine is Vietnamese and Cajun. When Vietnamese immigrants moved to Houston from Louisiana, they brought with them a love of crawfish that can be found reflected in restaurants around town and their version is better than any boil you will ever attend.
Attend the Greek Festival. Houston is dotted with a range of ethnic communities, many of which have annual festivals to celebrate their heritage. Probably the most well known is the Original Greek Festival in the Montrose, which has been running for almost 50 years.
Get up early and see the Ballunar Liftoff Seeing hundreds of hot air balloons in the early morning sky lit by the flames that keep them afloat is surreal. Each year in Clear Lake, enthusiasts gather in the wee hours to liftoff, float around the sky and return safely to land. It's quite a sight to behold.
Meditate at the Jade Buddha Temple. The beautiful Jade Buddha Temple in southwest Houston is a quiet contemplative space. They have routine events, services and meditations as well as classes for practicing and non-practicing Buddhists.
Attend the Gothic Beauty Pageant at Numbers. For 13 years, Numbers on lower Westheimer has been transformed into a gothic underworld for this pageant. The parade of participants and patrons outside the bar before the show alone is people watching at its best and weirdest.
Previous Bucket Lists
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.