Houston 101

Houston Bucket List: The Top 100 Things to Do in Houston Returns

Hurricane season starts June 1. Getting ready better be on your bucket list!
Hurricane season starts June 1. Getting ready better be on your bucket list! Photo by Brandon Navarro
It's back! Twice in the last decade, we at the Houston Press have compiled our list of the 100 things every Houstonian must do. The first list was nearly 10 years ago and limited to a very small radius around the city (30 miles). In 2017, we expanded it to include distances slightly farther away — up to 100 miles — given at how much is so close to us. How can we exclude the Gulf of Mexico?

In 2022, many things have changed and some remain the same. If you are familiar with these lists, you'll probably see a few old favorites. They are classics for a reason. We'll point them out as we go along. If not, now you can take a look at all the stuff you need to do in the coming weeks and months. We'll be releasing these 10 at a time over the next couple months, so enjoy and (cue Jurassic Park music) welcome to the Houston Bucket List, 2022 edition.

Prepare for hurricane season. [CLASSIC]

No one wants to think about hurricane season which, coincidentally, begins June 1. But, when you live along the Gulf Coast, it is a way of life from basically July through the end of September. Stocking up on the the basics, getting your trees trimmed and, for the love of all that is holy, making sure you have flood insurance, should all be on your list. It's a rite of passage for those new to our area. Get acquainted and keep an eye on the hurricane forecast models.

Hit the links at any of the many pro-level area golf courses.

For those who aren't into golf, you may be unaware that Houston has some of the finest courses around. Since the remodel of the course at Memorial Park, even a short drive from downtown will get you to a PGA tour-ready course. Public, private and even sustainable courses (including Memorial) abound. Whether you decide to take a drive toward The Woodlands or swing over to Hermann Park, there are more than enough options to keep any enthusiast busy, and the fact that the weather is outdoor sport friendly most of the year is just a bonus.
click to enlarge You can find David Adickes' heads and statues all around the region. - PHOTO BY DAVID VAN HORN VIA CC
You can find David Adickes' heads and statues all around the region.
Selfie with a David Adickes statue. [CLASSIC]

You've probably seen giant heads and sculptured signs around town. The vast majority are the result of the incredible lifelong work of artist David Adickes. Hist most famous statue is a 67-food beast of Sam Houston on the feeder road of Interstate 45 North near Huntsville. Trust us, you cannot miss it. Just over a decade ago, he erected a 60-foot tribute to Stephen F. Austin in Brazoria County along Highway 288. Now in his nineties, Adickes remains active, painting and sculpting every day. Perhaps his most photographed work is the "I Heart Houston" sign that used to sit along Interstate 10 near the Heights. That is now at 8th Wonder Brewery on the east side and probably your best shot at getting a selfie.

See the Christmas lights in Prestonwood Forest. [CLASSIC]

There are plenty of lovely Christmas scenes all over the Bayou City during the holidays, but it is hard to find any neighborhood more prolific than Prestonwood Forest. The northwest Houston suburb is covered from entrance to exit in twinkling lights and elaborate displays every year. How they manage to eke out such even participation across the entire neighborhood every single holiday is pretty incredible. So is the traffic it inspires from those who want to get a peek at it.

Blast off at Space Center Houston if you must. [CLASSIC]

No question, NASA's Johnson's Space Center is a source of tremendous pride for the entire city. The word Houston was not only the first spoken on the moon, but thanks to the mis-quote in Apollo 13, it is also the easy way out for any lazy headline writer whenever Space City makes an appearance somewhere other than here. And, yes, Space Center Houston is a cool place to visit...once. Beyond that, we prefer to admire the accomplishments of the men and women of our space program from afar to avoid the crowds of tourists and field trips.

The best oysters in town are from a dive bar. - PHOTO BY DANIEL KRAMER
The best oysters in town are from a dive bar.
Photo by Daniel Kramer
Down some oysters at Gilhooley's. [CLASSIC]

Hard to believe, but the best oysters in the entire area are at a dive bar in tiny San Leon, which sits on an oddly-shaped peninsula south of Kemah on Galveston Bay. Word to the wise, hit Gilhooley's for lunch and avoid the night time revelers who pack the bar inside. But, do get there and try their incredible baked oysters. They truly are spectacular.

Take a jog around Rice University.

Despite the stifling heat and humidity, plenty of Houstonians like to exercise outside and you can see that evidenced by the thousands of joggers and cyclists along area bayous and in parks all over town. And there are plenty of great places to get out there and get your sweat on, but for our money, the three-plus-mile hike around the oak-tree-lined Rice campus is about as nice as you get. Plenty of shade, more than a few dogs who you might get to pet and there's always access to Hermann Park and the light rail if you want it.

Attend Mariachi Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. [CLASSIC]

One of the great blessings of a diverse city like Houston is there are many ways to celebrate faith. Places of worship, be they tiny or mega-sized, add to the rich tapestry of the city and few are as fascinating and downright entertaining as the mass at St. Joseph's, which includes a rather bright and festive performance during what is typically a pretty quiet tradition. It's a wonderful celebration of faith and perfectly Houston.
click to enlarge It's still one of the coolest ways to get around town, especially now that the university lines are open. - PHOTO BY FLICKR/ROY LUCK
It's still one of the coolest ways to get around town, especially now that the university lines are open.
Ride the METROrail. [CLASSIC]

Since the first stretch of light rail was laid between downtown and the Texas Medical Center, it has been a source of controversy and collisions. But, what it has also been is a rider-saturation form of transportation for hundreds of thousands of commuters every day. METRO has fought tooth and nail to expand its public transportation, but it can be difficult to convince citizens of a 600-square-mile, car-centric city that trains are the answer. Still, they have expanded with service to the east end and multiple universities. Next up, Hobby Airport. Baby steps.

Pick up a knockoff designer bag on Harwin. [CLASSIC]

Harwin Drive isn't exactly the Garment District in Manhattan, but you can definitely find some pretty spectacular fashion accessories tucked amid the blocks of strip centers selling everything from cologne and phones to traditional saris and incredible Indian and Middle Eastern food. There are also some bags and things that may not be 100 percent factory authentic, but only you will know and it's an adventure just to buy it in the first place.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke