When an out-of-towner arrives on your doorstep, the opportunity to show them places in your city that ooze with Texan flair is too tempting to pass up! It’s too often that we don’t tour our own back yards per se, and visit the places that most tourists have heard of or would want to check out. In this series by First Choice Power, we take your non-Texan Friends on a tour of our major cities. We find both the quirky and the mainstream spots!
The first city we dive into is Houston. Otherwise known as Space City or the Bayou City, Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country given it’s economic draw with the oil, medical, and aerospace industries.
Given it’s multicultural flair, the city has a well deserved reputation for it’s art, food, and culture, which we share with you and your out-of-towners!
Johnson Space Center
Your friends have definitely heard the “Houston, we have a problem” quote, made famous during the Apollo 13 spaceflight. Take them to the source!
Founded in 1961 and located on 1,700 acres in southeast Houston, the center is great for all ages where hands-on learning takes you out of this world. Their Mission Mars exhibit allows you to experience a Martian sunset, climb into a simulated Orion capsule, or feel the texture of rock cliffs inspired by the red planet.
On Friday’s, you can meet a real astronaut and hear about their experiences first hand! Their Astronaut Gallery let’s you explore the world’s most comprehensive collection of spacesuits. Or you can get your hands on the Lunar Touchstone, one of only eight lunar rocks in the world you can touch. These are just a handful of the rich exhibits one can experience. You can’t come to Space City without getting spacey.
The Menil Collection
A world renowned art museum, The Menil Collection holds the original private collection of founders John de Menil and Dominique de Menil, which now comprises of 17,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, photographs, rare books, and precious objects.
The campus itself is a stunning respite in the Museum District of Houston, which also includes a number of other permanent art installations and galleries by artists such as Dan Flavin and Cy Twombly. The famed Rothko Chapel is also on the grounds.
The Menil Collection is free admission, and its architecture, by Renzo Piano, is unrivaled. What makes the Menil such a wonderful landing spot for your out-of-towners is that it debunks some kind of myth that Houston is a town where guys roll around in 10-gallon cowboy hats. It’s world class art, resting in the heart of our dynamic city.
The crown jewel of Houston, Hermann Park borders Rice University, the Medical District, and the Museum District. It’s home to the Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Houston Zoo, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, a Japanese Garden, and the newer McGovern Centennial Gardens, which are absolutely sensational in their diverse array of gardens. From vegetable to native to rose to arid gardens, this space is like walking through a horticultural quilt.
Bring the younger crew of out of town visitors to ride the train around the park, or rent a few paddle boats to take out on the lake. Given to Houston in 1914, this is a green landing space in the heart of the city and is as much a treasure to the city today as it was back then.
Houston’s Food: Head for BBQ and Tex-Mex
We can’t just name one restaurant here because it wouldn’t give credit to the hundreds of incredible culinary talents that have made our city one of the funnest places to explore and eat!
From Thai to Persian, from Indian to Venezuelan, our international city is home to as many types of restaurants as there are people. But since we are driving the Texas nail in, let us suggest Texas barbecue and Tex-Mex for their visit.
Nothing goes down better than an over-sized platter of sizzling fajita meat, homemade tortillas, a basket of hot corn chips with house made salsa, and a margarita. Check out The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, El Tiempo Cantina, Pappasito’s Cantina, or Escalante’s for an intoxicating combination of grilled meats, Mexican spices and all that encompasses Tex-Mex cuisine.
One of the largest barbecue competitions in the country happens here in Houston, so eating barbecue is a must! Slow smoked meats, house made sausages, and sides of potato salad, beans and coleslaw is the truest taste of Texas. Houston is spread across with incredible pit-masters holding their secret sauces close to their chests. Don’t be surprised if a barbecue spot in a strip mall ignites your friend to go home and make Texas barbecue himself!
Check out Killen’s Barbecue, which is all the way in Pearland but worth the drive, Pappa Charlies Barbecue on the Eastside, or Tejas Chocolate Craftory way up north in Tomball, where you can grab some of their homemade truffles to go, too!
Art Car Museum
This year the Art Car Parade celebrates it’s 30th birthday, and Houston is where the seed of the Art Car movement was planted. If you’ve never seen an art car, you are sure to see one here!
In 1998 the Art Car Museum, otherwise known as the “Garage Mahal,” was opened as a non-profit arts organization. Celebrating the Art Car artist, the museum displays a rotation of unique art cars, as well as eclectic exhibitions featuring local artists and a video that showcases the one of a kind parade.
Did we exclude your favorite spot in Houston? Share with our readers below!