The New York Times travel section regularly visits a U.S. city for 36 hours and writes a guide for tourists to follow. I regularly read the feature, wondering how authentic the visit actually is. This week, they visited Houston, so I got to compare their notes with my knowledge as a longtime resident.
The Times' list is surprising eclectic, but I can think of some other things I'd suggest. Can you?
The writer, Denny Lee, notes that in recent years, Houston has been "inching back to its urban core" with cool arts galleries, restored Mid-century modern buildings, and hip restaurants and bars carved out of former factories. "Yes, oil money reigns supreme, but it now competes with culture," Lee writes.
Among the suggestions: Drinks at The Grove in Discovery Green, dinner at Reef and RDG, lunch at Pizzitola's or Cali Sandwich, Sunday brunch at Tiny Boxwoods, late night at Poison Girl, Anvil, Marfreless, Max's Wine Dive, and the gay bar 611.
Also on tap: Shopping at Sloan/Hall, Found, Peel and Flashback Funtiques. For culture, visits to the Menil Collection, Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, The Station, University of St. Thomas, and the Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University are suggested.
OK, so it's not a bad list, but it's not very diverse. And if there's one thing visitors should discover about Houston, it's how diverse our city is. So if I were visiting Houston for 36 hours, these are some of the things I'd try to do:
- Friday night visit to Blanco's — How can you visit Houston and not visit a country-western bar?
- Saturday barbecoa breakfast at La Mexicana
- A big, juicy hamburger as Saturday lunch at Lankford Grocery
- Saturday visit to the James Turrell light tunnel and Cullen Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; vintage shopping on the lower Westheimer strip, visits to Lot 8 (Project Runway winner Chloe Dao's store) and 310 Rosemont
- Sunday dim sum at Fung's Kitchen with a quick visit to Hong Kong City Mall before heading to the airport
Help me out. What would would you include on a list of things a visitor should see to discover the "real" Houston?
See Channel 39 news reporter David Solano's report on Houston's potential as a tourist destination (featuring CultureMap):