48 Hours: Houston
By Mary Beth LaRue and Monica Hortobagyi
Photo by Jim Olive/Greater Houston CVB
||Buffalo Bayou Park greenway offers great views of the Houston skyline. |
Houston is experiencing a tasteful sprawl with new art venues and inviting green spaces.
ouston, Texas—the calf-roping, carnivorous capital of the 50 states. Not quite. This city of more than 2 million Texans is a cultural melting pot as the home of a vibrant arts scene, thriving ethnic neighborhoods, and NASA's Johnson Space Center. Opportunities abound for arts connoisseurs and sports enthusiasts alike: Houston is one of a handful of American cities to house professional theater companies for each of the major arts disciplines, and sports fans can rally behind Houston's professional teams, the Astros, Rockets, and Texans. But before setting out to explore the neighborhoods—Montrose, Uptown, New Chinatown—of America's fourth largest city, get a glimpse of what Houston has to offer with Traveler's suggestions for blogs, podcasts, magazines, and maps.
Houston. It's Worth It.
Houston marketers David Thompson and Randy Twaddle launched a campaign in the summer of 2004 to boost the city's image by actually making fun of it. Since then more than 2,000 Houstonians have posted to the self-described
"anti-tourist guide" with their own reasons why this southern city is worth it, ranging from Thelma's Barbeque to the Astros to the Montrose neighborhood.
|See major attractions in Houston at about half the price with our partner, CityPass, which includes Traveler's picks for bars, restaurants, shopping, and neighborhoods.|
Entries on a variety of subjects—from art exhibits to the Houston Zoo to politics—are posted almost daily by a number of city natives who "live, work, and play here every day." Check out the accompanying Flickr group to explore the city visually.
The Houstonist is a one-stop shop to find the happenings in local entertainment. Especially handy is the live music calendar, which maps out local gigs by both national and regional acts. The Houstonist also keeps up to speed on local news by offering its own opinions and comments in addition to regular coverage.
This weekly podcast surveys the Houston music scene and recommends the best weekend shows, as well as local entertainment news.
Get your pop culture fix with Houston's "hit" music station 104.1 KRBE's three podcasts. Check out the Roula and Ryan Show for interviews with celebrities like Wolfgang Puck, Liev Schreiber, and Stephen Nichols.
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The city's major daily is accompanied by a comprehensive website covering all things Houston—from sports to entertainment to podcasts and videos. Looking for localized news? Check out the "Community News" section, which breaks the news down by Houston neighborhoods.
The city's alternative news and entertainment weekly describes itself "as brash and freewheeling as the city itself." The Press's website has a hefty archive of restaurant reviews, as well as two food columns— "Hot Plate" and "Stirred and Shaken." Not hungry? Check out the editor's picks for music and art events.
Houston's free monthly magazine caters to the younger, hip sector of the city with up-to-the-minute restaurant, nightlife, and shopping news. The best feature of the website by far is the interactive magazine that allows you to browse the glossy while zooming in on feature articles and photographs.
This monthly magazine thoroughly covers Houston's dining and shopping scene with reviews and feature articles. Two favorites: the site's online calendar and "top" lists, which feature the city's best chefs, doctors, city spots, and more.
The Red Pub
The Red Pub, Houston's only writers' and artists' periodical, covers all cultural events in the Houston area. Local fiction, politics, and film are just a few of the categories you can browse on this heavily populated website.
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Look to the experts of virtual cartography when you're lost or seeking a bird's-eye view of the Bayou City. Enter a zip code and get a generalized map that zooms out to a continental view or as close as the city block. To get a glimpse of the buildings in the neighborhood, select the "Aerial Image" feature for a satellite perspective, or search by category, such as restaurants, museums, nightclubs, and shopping malls.
For Houston Vegetarians
Frustrated by the difficulty of finding vegetarian-friendly restaurants in a cattle-consuming state, Houstonian "HappyKatie" decided to share her meat-free finds with the public. Her map plots out herbivore eateries and invites visitors to suggest more discoveries.
Ephemeral City: Cite Looks at Houston, edited by Barrie Scardino, William F. Stern, and Bruce C. Webb (University of Texas Press, 2003)
Architectural journal Cite presents a compilation of essays from nationally recognized writers and architectural historians who explore the nature of Houston via the "Idea," "Places," and "Buildings of the City." Compelling black-and-white photography complement this must-read manual that explores Houston's roots, its past growth, and its future.
Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State, by Randolph B. Campbell (Oxford University Press, 2004)
Accomplished Texas historian Randolph B. Campbell offers a look at the state's past by studying its ties to Mexican history and Texan relations with African Americans and Native Americans. Campbell's critical analysis, while remaining faithful to the facts, will interest Texan and non-Texans alike.
No Color is My Kind: The Life of Eldrewey Stearns and the Integration of Houston, Texas, by Thomas R. Cole (University of Texas Press, 1997)
Professor and author Thomas R. Cole tells the story of Eldrewey Stearns, the self-proclaimed "original Texas integration leader." Cole met the civil rights lawyer and activist who led Houston's peaceful desegregation while touring a Galveston mental-illness facility. The two men spent ten years documenting Stearns's story as he fought his own personal battles and moments of insanity. It is a touching tale of courage and despair in the context of race relations that spans five decades.