Houston Bucket List 2017: Rowdies, Birdies and Mariachis

No place at Toyota Center during a Rockets game is more raucous than with the Red Rowdies.
No place at Toyota Center during a Rockets game is more raucous than with the Red Rowdies.
Brian Austin
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Back in 2013, we put together Houston’s first Bucket List. We’ve heard from a lot of you who have pinned the list to your refrigerators or tucked it away in a folder so you might take a crack at all 100. We hope you made it through your list because a lot has changed in four years in Houston.

Four years later, it's time for a new, revised edition complete with new attractions (or sadly closed old ones) and expanded to include a wider area. In our first bucket list, we limited ourselves to 30 square miles from City Hall. This time, we’ve expanded that to 100 miles, which covers places like Galveston. It seemed to us that our entire area is ripe for the list-making.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be unveiling 90 of the 100 essential things to do in and around the Bayou City. Our top 10 will appear in an upcoming issue along with a full, printable list much like last year, so stay tuned.

Our first installment included marathons, mega churches and two-stepping. Our second took us to Galveston for the first time and late-night grocery shopping. Next up, we go deep into some of Houston's most interesting and diverse opportunities, from rowdies to birdies to mariachis.

Sit with the Red Rowdies at a Rockets game.

When former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy dreamed up the notion of a vociferous group of fans similar to Duke’s Cameron Crazies, it was hard to imagine what it would become. Now, every year prior to the start of the season, willing fans try out to get season tickets so long as they show up at every game and scream like maniacs. Sitting near them is infectious and helps keep a sometimes stoic Toyota Center crowd energized.

Have some chicken and waffles at Breakfast Klub.

Simple pleasures are often the best ones. Such is the case with the chicken wings and waffles at legendary morning dining spot the Breakfast Klub. Once a staple of late-night, after-club fare, chicken and waffles, drizzled in syrup with a hint of spice, are now commonplace for breakfast and few do them as well as the Klub. Be prepared to stand in line as Breakfast Klub can have waits around the corner on weekends.

Get a cheap massage in Chinatown.

One of the astonishing realizations after a deep tissue massage from one of the many providers along Bellaire is how good it makes you feel despite the light hit to your wallet. You could hit a fancy spa, but why when you can spend roughly half and get a quality rubdown. You may need to peruse some Yelp reviews or test a few for yourself to find the right therapist, but once you do, you’ll never go back to overpriced bodywork.

Take in a midnight movie at River Oaks Theatre.

For decades, midnight movies at River Oaks Theatre have been a fun weekend activity for anyone who wants to catch up on classics like Rocky Horror Picture Show, Back to the Future or Grease and isn’t going to doze off after the opening credits. The weekly midnight madness event hosts quite a wide range of films, but Rocky Horror holds a special place, showing a couple of times every month.

See a concert at White Oak Music Hall.

One of the most substantial additions to the music scene is also one of the newest. White Oak Music Hall, situated on the banks of Little White Oak Bayou in Near Northside, is big enough to host large acts, but intimate enough to get you close. With state-of-the-art sound and a beautiful backdrop, it’s one of the best places to see a concert in town.

It may be controversial, but loads of people ride it every day.
It may be controversial, but loads of people ride it every day.
Matt Griesmyer

Take a ride on METROrail.

Perhaps the most debated and fought-over advancement in the past 20 years has been METROrail, a series of light rail lines now crisscrossing downtown and delivering riders to the north side, Reliant Park and the University of Houston. Fans of the wildly popular public transport continue to fight for more rail lines but typically face stiff opposition. Still, the existing Red, Purple and Green lines continue to thrive and are remarkably efficient.

Go birding at the rookery on Bolivar Peninsula or Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

The average Houstonian probably doesn’t notice it beyond the pigeons and grackles that cover trees around downtown and the Medical Center, but our region of the Gulf Coast is a paradise for fowl of all varieties. In fact, southeast Texas is one of the premier birdwatching destinations in America. The rookery on Bolivar is a hidden-away nesting spot for roseate spoonbills, herons and egrets, while the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge is the winter home to hundreds of thousands of migratory species.

Go ice skating on The ICE at Discovery Green.

Ice skating and Houston may not seem synonymous, but every year the downtown park opens The ICE, giving warm weather folks like us a glimpse of what it must be like to glide on a frozen lake. Of course, we are often doing it in 70-degree weather instead of sub-zero temperatures, but still. Plus, it is fun to watch people not used to it splayed across the temporary rink.

Attend Mariachi Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

One thing we have here in H-Town is spirit. From mega churches to tiny clapboard houses to mosques and temples of all varieties, there is a place for anyone seeking spiritual fulfillment. One of the more unique options is the Mariachi Mass at St. Joseph’s. Just as you might imagine, the mariachis lend a celebratory vibe to a typically solemn ceremony. Like most things Houston, it is unique and surprising.

Hit the beach in Surfside.

While hundreds of thousands flock to the beaches of Galveston in the summer, we often opt for the smaller, quieter Surfside Beach about 45 minutes south down the coast near Lake Jackson. Populated by rental homes and day trippers, the beaches are clean and the homes for rent are reasonable. It may not have the restaurants and shopping of its cousin up the coast — in fact it has no shopping and only a couple of eateries — but the lovely surroundings and relative quiet compared to its sister city to the north more than make up for it.

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