For over 70 years, Rice Village (located near Rice University) has been one of Houston’s most popular shopping districts while it has morphed from a cluster of little mom-and-pop establishments to several blocks of big-name purveyors of mainstream merchandise and au courant boutiques. Affectionately referred to as “the Village,” is now houses a lot of the same stores found at any mall—The Gap, Urban Outfitters, Express, Victoria's Secret, Banana Republic and Pier One. But the real charm of the Village is found in the tiny little upstart shops that come and go so fast you’ve missed them if you don’t go in the first time you spot ‘em. Freshly minted are Hemline and Juliet & Romeo Couture. Longer lasting but still newish are Premium Goods (filled with hip hop labels galore) and Soho. Our all-time-favorite is Variety Five & Ten, which has the feeling of an all-purpose fun-and-games store before computers were invented. In the mix: A ton of restaurants and bars. If you want to kick-back, head for The Ginger Man (a cozy pub that’s been serving fine beer to loyal patrons since 1985) or Baker Street and Brian O’Neill's which are classic spots for youngish, fratty types. Bronx Bar is a good bet if you’ve worn your heels and something tight.