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Living in Texas


Image of a red stick pin placed on a map of Texas (designating the city of San Antonio)

 

Living in Texas

Texas A&M University is within a 2-hour drive of downtown Houston. Houston is the country’s fourth largest city with 2.3 million residents. It is a vibrant, international community committed to cultural and commercial progress, with an extraordinary mix of world-class arts, booming business, diverse population and a time-honored spirit of enterprise.

  • Houston has 5 cultural districts, 500 arts organizations and 12,000 visual and performing arts organizations, 90 of which are devoted to multicultural and minority arts and is one of five U.S. cities that offer year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.

  • More than 145 languages are spoken throughout the Houston area.

  • With more than 10,000 restaurants, representing over 70 countries and American regions, to choose from, Houston has you covered with a variation of eateries.

  • Houston has professional teams representing football, baseball, men’s basketball, and men and women’s soccer.

  • Houston has the third-largest Hispanic and third-largest Mexican population in the United States.

 

Things to Do in Houston


Entertainment and Recreation


The beautiful light and sound installation at the James Turrell Skyspace is unique to Houston and worth a visit. Found right next to the Shepherd School of Music on the Rice University campus, the acoustically engineered masterpiece is dubbed “Twilight Epiphany” as it projects onto and through the structure’s open roof just before sunrise and at sunset. Money isn’t needed, but reservations are.

From March through November, the open-air Miller Outdoor Theatre puts on lively stage productions -- think live jazz, ballet, and musical theater -- that are absolutely cool and absolutely free. It very obviously draws a crowd, so join that crowd along with a blanket, some boxed wine & local cheese, and enjoy the show.

The city of Houston offers a wide variety of performing arts, including the Houston Ballet, the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony, and the Alley Theatre.

Unique to Texas, one can visit the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a three week event held every year in March, or learn more about Houston's role in the U.S. space program (NASA) by visiting the Johnson Space Center south of Houston. 

 

Dining 


Some of Space City’s finest chefs have helped curate handy guides to show off the culinary scene from their super-knowledgeable point of view. Triniti vets Ryan Hildebrand and Pat Sommers look at destinations along Airline Drive, including longtime seafood haunt Connie’s Seafood and Mexican bakery El Bollilo, unrivaled home of the best tres leches. Chocolate fiends can follow along a Chocolate Lovers Tour from pastry chef and self-proclaimed “sugar hooker” Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar, featuring Fat Cat Creamery, Cacao & Cardamom, and Hugo’s.

Texas takes its barbecue pretty seriously; as does Texas Monthly which offers a top barbecue guide. So when not one but two Houston area spots make the elite “top 10” list, you should probably pay attention. Tomball’s Tejas Chocolate Craftory snagged the No. 6 spot thanks to its first-rate USDA Prime brisket and Saturday-only short rib. Not far behind at  No. 7, Spring’s Corkscrew BBQ wows with its silky, perfectly rendered and blackened brisket (order it moist for best measure). Earlier in 2019, No. 10 spot Truth BBQ opened up shop inside the loop, drawing crowds to the old J. Black’s space on Washington Ave.
 

Shopping


The historic 19th Street in the Heights isn’t exactly a hidden gem, but pop into some of the stores along it and you’ll definitely find some treasures. Head to Manready Mercantile, where you’ll find manly, American-made goods from beard treatment to leather bags; shop Emerson Rose for boutique clothing and accessories; go antiquing at AG Antiques; and finish with milk & honey lattes at Boomtown Coffee or happy hour on the roof at Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room.
 

Art

Houston is home to numerous acclaimed museums including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Rothko Chapel, and the Menil Collection. Check out the local art scene at the newly revamped arts and cultural district that also houses plenty of bars, restaurants, and shopping. And at the center of it all is Sawyer Yards, with 55 acres of repurposed industrial warehouses, over 300 creative working studios, and an exceptional art community. Every second Saturday of the month, the district hosts a curated open market, and local artists open their studios to the public, showing off sculptures, paintings, jewelry and photography, from noon to 5 pm. 

 

Quintessentially Austin


Bats are cool, but 1.5 million bats flying in a peppered mist against Austin’s famously colorful sunsets is the coolest. Each year from March to October, swarms of Mexican free-tailed bats burrow in the crevices underneath the South Congress bridge and emerge each evening to the amazement of wide-eyed tourists and jaded townies alike. During fall the bats take flight around 8pm, and although the most popular viewing spot is atop the bridge, a better move is to hit the water in a kayak or canoe through Live Love Paddle and simply look up. (See exact flight times here.) 

And then there is the crown jewel of Austin: Barton Springs Municipal Pool is a 3-acre spring-fed pool flanked by lush grass and trees with a kiddo-friendly, shallow limestone shelf on one end, a max depth of 18 feet on the other and a temp of ~70 degrees all year. The pool is closed for the season until April 2020, so plan accordingly. Once you’ve mastered Barton Springs, explore Austin and surrounding  favorite swimming holes.  

But first, there is a ton more to do at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. The Greenbelt is home to the Barton Springs Pool and is also one of Austin's best treasures with areas known as the Flats, Twin Falls, and Sculpture Falls.  The Flats is known to host large gatherings, even the occasional drum circle. Twin Falls offers one of the better waterfalls, and Sculpture Falls is known for a little solitude. There's also great rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities that appeal to a wide array of outdoorsy types. It's best when the water if flowing, even if it's a low flow. You can check out a flow gauge at Loop 360 bridge here.

 

Music


Austin’s reputation as the live music capital of the country is well deserved.  No matter what your taste, you’ll likely find it playing at one of the city’s famous live music venues on any given night.  Check out this list of must-see venues from FourSquare

 

Dining 


Austin has a lot of food trucks -- second in the US for number of food trucks per capita, if you’re into that kind of trivia -- and they’re the best way to explore cuisines without going broke. Tacos, Thai, Filipino, vegan burgers; whatever you’re craving, there’s a food truck somewhere in town that’s open and serving it. Even better, many of Austin’s best food trucks are clustered together in “food truck parks” throughout the city, and here is a comprehensive guide to those food truck parks to help you navigate them.

Austin is also the craft beer hub of Texas with talented brewers creating unique beers and as a result, packed taprooms. If you’re on the Eastside, hit up Blue Owl Brewing for sour beers, Hops & Grain for crisp IPAs and warm weather lagers, Zilker Brewing Co. for a wide-range of accessible brews, and Lazarus Brewing for an eclectic selection of house beers.