While Houston has earned a high reputation for great shopping, downtown Houston is not usually considered a hotspot. But there are some good places to satisfy that shopping need. Macy’s stands right on the METRORail line, if you’re looking for department store selections but not the mall crowds. A few blocks away is the new Houston Pavilions which holds trendy fashion stores like XXI Forever and BCBGMAXAZRIA, and a downtown bookstore, Books-A-Million. Nearby is another shopping complex, The Shops at Houston with its busy lunchtime food court.
You might feel like metro has taken a detour back in time and 150 miles west into late 20th Century Austin at this stop. The block contains an odd assortment of empty storefronts, funky shops, such as Shop o Rama and My Flaming Heart, and equally funky restaurants like Tacos a Go-Go. The Midtown morning staple The Breakfast Klub is about a block away. In the evening, come down for music or a play. The area is anchored by The Continental Club, sister club to the historic Austin live music venue, and Ensemble Theatre, the oldest African American theatre in the Southwest.
By all means, explore the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Contemporary Arts Museum and then let the kids have a learning blast playing at the Children’s Museum. They’re all well worth the time. Just keep in mind this really is a whole district of museums at one stop. Walk a few blocks north to the Holocaust Museum to find a stark reminder of a part of human history we should never forget, and then walk a few more blocks southeast to check out the Buffalo Soldiers Museum for an education on an important part of U.S. history that is often forgotten. If the MFAH and CAM leave you hungry for more art, try Lawndale Art Center for cool contemporary art, with a local focus, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts for exhibits that call into question any line that separates craft from art.
Even the most jaded Houstonian or tourist could find a couple of days worth of fun at Hermann Park. Spend the morning and afternoon at the zoo and Museum of Natural Science. Take a break to watch the ducks float by in McGovern Lake or join them in one of the rental pedal boats. In the evening, head over to Miller Outdoor Theatre for a free movie or live show. Been there, done that? How about taking a short walk across Fannin to Rice University. You don’t have to be a student or alumni to enjoy what the campus has to offer. Check the Rice schedule of events for fascinating contemporary art installations on view in Rice Gallery, films you won’t likely find at the multiplex showing at Rice Cinema, or the best in classical music performances at Duncan Recital Hall.
If you’re driving to the game, concert, or rodeo and parking at Reliant Stadium you might be missing a great party, as fans tend to continue their (non-alcoholic) celebrations on the light rail on their way home or back to their cars. For anyone looking for a peek behind the scenes, Reliant Stadium offers tours of the facilities. Tour guides take visitors down on the field, into the Texans’ weight room, the visiting team locker room, and the party suites. During those special events at Reliant, metro is the perfect antidote to parking woes.