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Top Five Destinations of Houston

When I started to brainstorm about things having to do with Houston, Texas, the first two things that came to mind involved things that only exist as shadows of their former selves, the Astrodome and Enron. It’s fitting that those two things entered my mind as they were both supposed to be visions of the future, the 8th Wonder of the World and the magic of deregulation.

However, just like the fact that Los Angeles isn’t just about the Kardashians or starlets driving drunk, Houston isn’t just obsolescence and scandal. It’s the fourth largest city in the United States, has a rich arts scene and driving just over fifty miles gets you to the Gulf of Mexico and the beaches of Galveston. In fact, it was so easy to find five really cool things that I didn’t have to rely on the baseball park formerly known as Enron Field. (Editorial sidebar – that’s the problem with corporate sponsorship – once it’s there, it’s hard to get rid of that name in people’s minds.) Instead of basement dwelling Astros baseball, here are five great destinations.

Hike the Shoveler Loop Boardwalk in the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

Space!

Only seventy miles away from the city center there’s the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. There are several good spots for wildlife watching thereand as a bird-watching fan, the boardwalk in Shoveler Pond seems like a great way to get a bit of exercise and to check out some birds. However, for the non-bird-watchers out there, you also might get to glimpse alligators. Hit Skillern Tract, and you can launch a canoe or kayak to get even closer.

See any Opera on the 2012/2013 Houston Grand Opera Schedule

I enjoy a good opera and as soon as I saw the 2012/2013 season for the Houston Grand Opera, I had to share it. At about any time you could chose to visit Houston, you’ll have a chance to see a world class opera company putting on some of the best classics from Puccini, Mozart, Wagner or Verdi. For a sample from “La Boheme,” here’s Che Gelida Manina sung by Luciano Pavarotti in 1964.

Visit the Johnson Space Center

Does anyone ever grow out of the phase of wanting to be an astronaut? (Looking at billionaires like Richard Branson and Paul Allen, my guess is no.) We may not get a chance to go to space, but we can visit the Johnson Space Center and take the NASA Tram Tour. It might not be close to the same thing, but combine that with a look at the past starships and how far we’ve come, maybe there will be a chance for non-billionaires in the future.

Check out the events at the Museum of Fine Arts

Of course when you talk about a Museum of Fine Arts, there will be paintings. However, there are also screenings of such films as “Strangers in the Night,” Samuel Beckett’s 1965 “Film” starring Buster Keaton as part of a double feature with “Waiting for Godot” as Zero Mostel and Burgess Meredith play Vladimir and Estragon, and “Reality Bites” if you want something a little more recent. Also, every day from 11 am to 3 pm, when you visit the sculpture garden, there is a gourmet food truck ready to cater your exploration of art.

Scare yourself at the Spaghetti Warehouse

I love haunted places. I found this page on the Houston tourism site and I knew that I had found a must see. The Spaghetti Warehouse in downtown Houston sounds like the best scary place (or it could be I’m hungry) and the story of the crying boy gives me a few chills. There are some that are skeptical, but as soon as the article mentions that the lights stay off when you tour upstairs, I’m sold.

Any suggestions for things that I missed? Any additional recommendations for the area? Just let me know in the comments.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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