Houston Bucket List Part 10 – Parks, Plays and Pie

Twice in the past decade, we at the Houston Press have compiled our list of the 100 Things Every Houstonian Should Do. The first list was almost 10 years ago and limited to a very small radius around the city (30 miles). In 2017, we expanded it to include distances a little further away—up to 100 miles—given how close is so close to us. How can we rule out the Gulf of Mexico?

In 2022, many things have changed and some remain the same. If you’re familiar with these lists, you’re probably seeing some old favorites. They are not classics for nothing. We will point them out along the way. If not, now you can take a look at all the things you need to do in the coming weeks and months. We’ll be releasing these 10 at once over the next few months, so enjoy and (cue Jurassic Park music) welcome to the Houston Bucket List, 2022 Edition.

Houston Bucket List part 9
Houston Bucket List part 8
Houston Bucket List part 7
Houston Bucket List part 6
Houston Bucket List part 5
Houston Bucket List part 4
Houston Bucket List part 3
Houston Bucket List part 2
Houston Bucket List Part 1

Spend the afternoon at Discovery Green. [CLASSIC]

In 2008, the city was still considering what to do with the vacant space on the east side of the city centre. There were already a few new stadiums plus the George R. Brown Convention Center. A park seemed like the most outlandish choice for a city like Houston that seemed to enjoy the way Joni Mitchell once sang, paved paradise and set up a parking lot. On this occasion, however, the city thought better of it and turned a 12-acre vacant lot into Discovery Green, complete with a lake, restaurants, an amphitheater for performances, and plenty of greenery under the canopy of skyscrapers.

Visit the Theater District. [CLASSIC]

Just across from downtown Discovery Green is the Houston Theater District, which has more theater seats per capita than any city outside of New York. Productions range from graceful opera and symphony productions at the Wortham Center to national tour musicals at the Hobby Centre; famous plays at The Alley and concert events at Jones Hall. Jones Plaza is even getting a makeover and there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby to catch a gig before or after the game.

Watch an independent theater production. [CLASSIC]

If you fancy something a little more intimate, consider one of Houston’s diverse independent theater groups. From Catastrophic Theatre, 4th Wall and AD Players to The Ensemble and Mildred’s Umbrella, the city has a rich history of groundbreaking live performances worth checking out.

Get some food (and a cheap massage) in Chinatown. [CLASSIC]

Did we mention Houston is diverse… like truly diverse? Drive down Bellaire Boulevard and find out how much. Near the intersection of Beltway 8 is a stretch of blocks and blocks with Asian markets, shops, restaurants and massage parlors. Get some cheap reflexology and then grab a bite to eat. It’s incredibly authentic and absolutely fascinating.

click to enlarge Houston Bucket List Part 10 - Parks, Plays and Pie

The Garlic Butter crawfish at Crawfish & Noodles are a feast for the eyes.

Photo by Mai Pham

Get some Viet Cajun food at Crawfish & Noodles. [CLASSIC]

While you’re there, consider one of Chinatown’s most interesting creations: Crawfish & Noodles. James Beard’s semifinalist (over several years) is one of the great examples of the blending of Vietnamese and Cajun food imported to Houston from our eastern neighbors. It’s also one of the most unique ways to participate in an annual right-of-way, crawfish cooking.

Play bingo at SPJST Lodge 88. [CLASSIC]

What was once a thing for vintage cars to spend a few evening hours has become a popular Thursday night event just west of the Heights. The bingo festivities are certainly fun, but the place also has an open bar and encourages you to bring your own food. It’s more fun than you might think, especially if you enjoy yelling bingo and putting on your drink.

Have a late night dinner at House of Guys. [CLASSIC]

There are a number of good restaurants that are open after the bars have closed, but none are as synonymous with late night eating as House of Guys. The Kirby location got its affectionate nickname from the crowds that went to get food and cake after the gay bars closed. And listen, DO NOT sleep on their cakes. We can confirm that they are absolutely legit. And what better soaks up the alcohol at 3 a.m. than a slice of apple pie a la mode?

click to enlarge Houston Bucket List Part 10 - Parks, Plays and Pie

Shipley’s is a Houston institution.

Kevin Shalino

Grab donuts at Shipley’s in the morning. [CLASSIC]

Okay, so if you’re hungover, your next stop should be Shipley’s for coffee, a sausage kolache, and some sweet, yeasty donuts from this Houston classic. You can even watch them freshly prepare the dough through the plexiglass window. The line moves quickly, even if you’re stuck in the drive through at the old-school Ella location, so be patient and you’ll feel better in no time.

Watch an outdoor concert at the White Oak Music Hall. [CLASSIC]

Houston’s live local music scene became hit after hit in the early 2000s when legendary venues closed their doors for good. However, White Oak made a claim for itself on the near north side and went big with a huge indoor stage, a smaller, more intimate room, and the occasional outdoor show on the shores of Little White Oak Bayou. It’s quite a terrain with the skyline in the background behind the trees along the water. It almost makes you feel like you’re not in Houston.

Climb a real hill at the McGovern Centennial Gardens.

Speaking of feeling like somewhere else, there’s a real hill in Houston. Yes, it’s man-made, but it does exist in the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Hermann Park. The beautiful gardens contain a variety of different types of plants, sculptures by local artists, a large reflection pool and of course the hill with a spiral walkway to the top. It’s a view not often seen in Houston, given how incredibly flat we are.

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