"If a man's from Texas, he'll tell you. If he's not, why embarrass him by asking?" -John Gunther
Houston is my hometown and so I have quite the softspot for it. I have always loved the zone-free randomness, bustling diversity and oh-so-delicious food. But, I will admit I did do a double take when this summer I saw Forbes magazine name Houston as America's Coolest City. Houston is cool? When did this happen? It's apparently been happening. In the last dozen years while I have lived away from my hometown, the city has built upon its diverse foundation and now boasts a super cool art scene, chic shopping and scenery to enjoy. Austin may be everyone's hip Texas darling, but Houston has slowly and quietly become her chic, sensible and yet slightly funky older sister. Everytime I go home, I try to visit or try out some of the buzzworthy hotspots friends and family rave about. I decided to keep track and the list has grown quite long (at least 5 posts worth) and spans many areas of the city. But, if you only have one day to get a quick taste of Houston's new found coolness, here are my top 5 favorite things to do in the Downtown and Upper Kirby area.
1. Morning Stroll
The perfect way to start your Houston morning is a visit to Discovery Green. Only a couple of years old, this new, buzzed about city park (Travel+Leisure named it one of the coolest city parks in the US. This is like a cool overload) has a lake, gardens, public art, hosts concerts and weekly farmer's markets and the park's focal point and is my favorite, a mist tree (pictured above).
2. Feed the soul
After a brisk walk around the park, breakfast at a Houston institution will definitely hit the spot. But be warned: 1) There will be a crowd, but do not let that discourage you. Breakfast Klub is worth the wait (even though the line moves quickly). 2) You will be glad you got in some physical activity, because we are talking about some gut busting food here. Breakfast Klub's must try dishes are their wings and waffle and catfish and grits. The soul food is a great reminder of Houston's roots.
Since you kept it real for breakfast, for the rest of the day, we will now head over to the most posh zipcode in Houston: Upper Kirby/River Oaks. Despite the old money pedigree of the area, Upper Kirby has both high and low end shopping and delicious food and has quickly become the hub of buzzworthy spots.
3. Peruse for inspiration
Houston boasts all kinds of great shopping, but if you are a design lover, Kuhl-Linscomb is a must visit. The design store is a village with a main building that has stationary, jewelry, home accessories and furniture while surrounding buildings also have tons of great finds and inspiration.