The Beer Can House began as an unusual hobby for a retired upholsterer John Milkovisch in 1968. After replacing his yard with marbles, rocks and metal pieces in concrete and wood because he "got sick of mowing the grass," Milkovisch turned his attention to the house. Over the years, he covered the siding with an estimated 50,000 beer cans and created in the process a completely original Houston landmark. The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art acquired the house and embarked on a multi-year restoration completed in 2008. Visitors can now check out the house and grounds on weekends, either on their own or via guided tours.
Founded in 1992 by Robert L. Waltrip, the National Museum of Funeral History is anything but morbid. It features 30,000 square feet of funereal memorabilia and ephemera. The museum's collection of hearses dating back to the 1830s is remarkable, and its exhibits - about everything from the embalming process during the Civil War to Papal funerals - are meticulously curated. It includes the hearse used to transport the body of Princess Grace of Monaco from the church to the cemetery for burial, a replica of President Abraham Lincoln's coffin, and the largest exhibit of fantasty coffins outside of Ghana.
This surreal piece of hand-made architecture is one of the most significant folk-art environments in the country. The house was built by postal worker Jefferson Davis McKissack for the purpose of relating his theory of achieving a long and healthy life through hard work, healthy nutrition and eating oranges. The creation of this epic piece of outsider art began in 1956 and continued through 1979. It’s made from thousands of found objects, concrete, brick and steel. Look for mannequins, wagon wheels, bottles, cans, gears, and tractor seats all fashioned together into a divinely resourceful and labyrinthine castle of art. The complex covers 3,000 square feet and runs through an oasis, a stage (where there are often counter-culture concerts), a museum, a gift shop, a pond and several upper decks. The Orange Show was the birthplace of Houston’s internationally recognized Art Car Parade and is about all things funky and sometimes inexplicable.
Anderson Fair has been the Houston home and a stepping-stone venue to some of the most important singer-songwriters and musical performers around, including Grammy Award winners Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams and Nanci Griffith. Anderson Fair started out as a neighborhood coffee house (decades before Starbucks, mind you) and "retail restaurant" and has evolved by the passion and loyalty of patrons and artists into a unique musical institution. Today, after four decades, Anderson Fair (or "A-Fair" as the regulars call it) is one of the oldest folk and acoustic music venues in continuous operation in the United States.
Some people get the heebie-jeebies over cemeteries. But we think Glenwood Cemetery is one of Houston's most beautiful and tranquil spots. Overlooking Buffalo Bayou, its sloping lawns are filled with solemn monuments, elaborate headstones and sprawling tombs. This is a historic Texas site and many soldiers of the Republic of Texas found their final resting places here. Glenwood opened its gates in 1871 and the famous buried here include the legendary Howard Hughes and Hollywood actress Gene Tierney. (Ironically, Hughes tried to seduce Tierney when she was under contract to Columbia in the late '30s and she rebuffed his advances – but here they are now, buried in close proximity. Tierney ended up at Glenwood because she married Texas oil baron W. Howard Lee and lived the last decades of her life as a wealthy River Oaks socialite. Glenwood is a magnet for photographers who want to capture dramatic sculptural shots and its lush greenery. It’s also a great spot if you’re in a quiet mood and are looking for a place to think it out, but don’t be surprised to see someone walking a peacock on a leash (as we did the last time there) or couples meeting for a quick assignation. Expect the unexpected.