Houston 101

Houston Bucket List Part 9 - Buildings, Beer and Buffalo Bayou Park

"Tolerance," by Barcelona-based artist Jaume Plensa, an installation of seven sculptures on view at Buffalo Bayou Park.
"Tolerance," by Barcelona-based artist Jaume Plensa, an installation of seven sculptures on view at Buffalo Bayou Park. Photo by Poor Ole Rich via CC
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.

Houston Bucket List Part 8
Houston Bucket List Part 7
Houston Bucket List Part 6
Houston Bucket List Part 5
Houston Bucket List Part 4
Houston Bucket List Part 3
Houston Bucket List Part 2
Houston Bucket List Part 1

Wander Buffalo Bayou Park. [CLASSIC]

Before this magnificent sprawling urban park opened, Buffalo Bayou and its surroundings were largely considered an eyesore, an annoyance or both. Now, it is one of the city's best features. Meandering along the winding bayou west of downtown, it is a great place for walking, biking or just hanging out. It's another example of a city that routinely turns trash into treasure.

Go grocery shopping for just about anything. [CLASSIC]

We all love H-E-B, but when you want to cook like many of Houston's ethnic restaurants, you might need something different. From Asian chain H-Mart to Latin options at La Michocana or Fiesta to Middle Eastern cuisine at Phoenicia; or any of the myriad number of small grocers and specialties stores across the city, if you need to find it, someone here has it.

Visit one of the city's most historic and beautiful structures...and learn about Texas in the process at the Houston Library's Julia Ideson building. [CLASSIC]

The light inside the lovely Julia Ideson building in downtown Houston adjacent to the library's main campus is enough to draw you inside. In fact, this was the city's first library from when it was built in 1926 until 1976. That would honestly be enough to make this worth a visit, but it also happens to house a fascinating store of Texas history books and the largest historical photo repository in the city in the basement.

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Still great after all these years, like the Astros.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Take the Minute Maid Park tour...and maybe go to a game. [CLASSIC]

As beloved as the Astrodome was and is, Minute Maid Park is a spectacular ballpark and it's understandable why the Astros wanted to find their home there. Constructed around the historic Union Station (we still wish The Ballpark at Union Station was the stadium's official name), it is a finely crafted monument to our nation's pastime. For a more intimate look, take one of the regularly scheduled tours taking you from the upper deck to the dugout. Oh, and it might be worth a game — the Astros are pretty good.

People watch at the Galleria during Christmas. [CLASSIC]

For some, this may sound like a nightmare. A mall at Christmas could be the very last place some of you ever want to find yourselves. But the bustling shoppers combined with the giant tree and skating rink can make even Houston feel like a bit of a fantastical winter wonderland. Plus, the extreme diversity of the people visiting makes people watching an absolute must. Grab a drink at The Daily Grill and watch the world go by. Just be sure to take an Uber to avoid parking.

Have a beer at St. Arnold's Brewing Company. [CLASSIC]

Independent beer makers have spawned craft breweries in Houston much the way they have in other cities. But, here, St. Arnold's is the granddaddy of them all. Their now sizable footprint just north of downtown has a huge beer garden with events, tours, food and, naturally, plenty of brew.

Bask in art deco at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum.

The former air traffic tower at the end of the Hobby Airport tangle of runways sat in disrepair for years. The fascinating structure housed quarters for weary pilots along with the control tower for Houston's first airport. But after major renovations, it has become one of the city's best examples of art deco design. Now a museum and events venue, it's absolutely gorgeous on the inside with tons of airport memorabilia to check out.

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The Menil Collection is one of the finest museums in the country.
Photo by Eric Sauseda
See some incredible art at The Menil Collection.

Houston has some of the finest museums in the country but perhaps none as well regarded as the Menil Collection. Filled with modern art, particularly surrealist masters, it is an incredible collection of some of the finest art in this part of the country. Additionally, the grounds are essentially a park with the Rothko Chapel, the artist's monument to minimalism, next door.

Visit a big church on Sunday. [CLASSIC]

When you read this, your thoughts might immediately turn to Lakewood. And, yes, the Osteen's palace (and former sports arena) is certainly on the list. But Houston is so radically diverse, it isn't tough to find some pretty sizable churches of all stripes. Antioch Missionary Baptist Church's stunning architecture and historic nature may fit the bill. Or maybe Congregation Beth Yeshurun, ISKON Hare Krishna temple, Jade Buddha temple or the Al-Noor Mosque. Whatever your religion, like Texas itself, we have a big solution.

Run (or cheer) in the Chevron Houston Marathon. [CLASSIC]

You'll forgive us if we defer to those who actually like to run, but we will happily cheer on anyone will to take on that task, even if it is the dead of winter. We'll try not to look too happy in our chairs with our warm coffee when you run by exhausted, as long as you don't judge us too harshly for our poor life choices.
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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