Houston, we have a visitor. Several thousand visitors in fact, as this year the world-famous Super Bowl descends on the Texan city this Sunday (5 February).
Traditionally, Super Bowl Sunday involves gathering a group of friends around the telly, cracking open a few beers and relaxing in good company, with good sport. But that’s only if sports fans aren’t avid enough to take a trip to the host city.
If you fancy sampling Houston yourself, there’s plenty to keep you entertained throughout the year. While it’s undoubtedly best known for the NASA Space Center and its oil wealth, there’s so much more besides. Here are the Flexicover team's top picks should you touch-down in the Bayou City.
Thanks to both its cultural investment and its affluent residents, Houston enjoys some of the world’s best art. The Museum of Fine Arts is a must-see; its two buildings, interconnected by an underground path, covers antiques, modern art and everything in between. But of equal interest is the largest private gallery in the US, the Menil Collection. Gifted to the public by art lover and oil billionaire Dominique de Menil and her husband, it features 17,000 pieces including that of Picasso, Duchamp, Matisse, Pollock and Warhol. It takes at least half a day to peruse the gallery but if there’s time, their nearby Rothko Chapel is also an attraction: it’s a non-denominational meditation space based on the serene paintings of Mark Rothko.
It should be mandatory to try some finger lickin’ southern cooking when in Texas. Not only does their barbeque rival the world’s best, but Tex-Mex is a prime example of how well cuisines combine in one melting pot. Killens BBQ is the local’s favourite, but its out-of-town location means the Brook Street BBQ is our recommended place for those staying a short time. It has five locations, including one in the buzzing area of Montrose, where hungry diners feast on slow-cooked, smoky meats, mile-high sandwiches and tasty sides like baked potato and Mexican-style street corn. Just minutes away, El Real Tex-Mex Café serves shrimp tacos, bacon enchiladas and grilled quail under the watchful eye of superstar chef Bryan Caswell. Wash it down with mouth-watering margaritas, which Texas Monthly Magazine decided are among Texas’s 10 best.
While Houston enjoys the major chains prevalent across the US in the Galleria shopping centre, more interesting items are found in its smaller boutiques and vintage stores. Montrose is a perfect area for that – Cheeky Vintage, Lo-Fi Vintage and the Buffalo Exchange are a few minutes away from each other and have a range of vintage items that will make good use of your luggage allowance. Also try Kuhl-Linscomb, an upscale department store spread across five buildings filled with high-quality clothing, home accessories, entertainment and grooming products.
Go To The Space Center
We know this would be on any must-visit list, but we just couldn’t leave the Space Center off of ours. A 45-minute ride from downtown Houston, start your visit at Destiny Theatre with a film on the history of NASA missions, before seeing the largest piece of moon rock on display anywhere in the world. Meanwhile the Living In Space exhibition teaches visitors about life onboard the International Space Station. However, the Center’s main draw is the Tram Tour which takes you behind the scenes of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, including stops at Rocket Park, where an actual Saturn V rocket is housed, the astronaut training centre and mission control room.
Craft beer isn’t a new trend in Houston; the Northside-based Saint Arnold Brewing Company has been at it for 22 years. Named after the patron saint of brewers, a visit to the HQ is highly recommended, especially as the enormous tasting room gives you the opportunity to try which type suits your palette. The newest kid on the block is 8th Wonder, set up by the Eastie Boys team. Located in the EaDo warehouse district, their brewery hosts tastings in the back patio which is a leisurely way to spend an afternoon in Houston – as long as there’s nothing too heavy planned the next day.
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