It always seems that downtown is the mecca for any city, and Houston is no different. With a rich nightlife, major sporting events, and chic restaurants, the downtown scene is vibrant and eclectic in the Bayou City. Home to the city’s most prominent politicians and executive juggernauts, pro-athletes and professionals alike, Downtown Houston is practically bursting at the seams with dining, cultural, and outdoor options. Even if you don’t fit into any of those categories, there’s still plenty to love about this neighborhood.
Whether you’re there to watch the Astros, Rockets, or to check out the neighborhood’s hubs like Discovery Green Parks and the Hobby Centre, exploring everything that Downtown Houston has to offer is an easy way to work up an appetite.
Artista prides itself on their drool worthy presentations. Located within The Hobby Center for Performing Arts makes this Latin American restaurant the perfect spot for a special pre-show meal. Choose the elegant indoor atmosphere or the open-air balcony with city views.
Local Foods offer sandwiches, salads, and an interesting assortment of tasty sides round out the menu at this local American chain where each branch has a specialty (seafood or paste, for example) but all serve up fast, “farm-to-table” fare. Industrial surrounds, white tile, and colorful art bolster and informal and welcoming vibe.
Azuma is a trendy locals fave. Excellent sushi and sashimi as well as other diverse selections such as robata grill items. Stylish setting and friendly staff add to the experience. Great selection and pricing. Reservations are a must on the weekends.
Quattro offers excellent renditions of contemporary Italian fare from a delightful, approachable menu at the Four Seasons Downtown. Located at the Four Seasons in the heart of downtown near Houston’s major businesses. Quattro is within walking distance to leisure destinations including Discovery Green, House of Blues, Houston Center (connected to Quattro via sky bridge), Minute Maid Park, and the Toyota Center. The restaurant’s third-floor location and floor-to-ceiling windows provide enjoyable views of bustling downtown. Business travelers fill the roms on weekdays, but weekends are more tranquil, with the exception of the popular Sunday brunch that’s among the best around. Check out their cooking classes taught by their talented, veteran chef, you will prepare a menu of your choice (pizza, ravioli, risotto or meat) and then indulge on your accomplishments afterward.
The Great Outdoors
Sam Houston Park
Sam Houston Park is an oasis of living history and wide-open greenness amid modern monuments to corporate and civic institutions. Surrounded by the skyscrapers and freeways this park exemplifies twenty-first century urban life just a short walk from City Hall. The 19-acre park has been the home of The Heritage Society since 1954, with eight historic structures including a log cabin and St. John Church, dating back as far as 1823. The park and the museum are open to the public but tours of the historic buildings must be arranged through the Heritage Society.
Buffalo Bayou is the main waterway flowing through the city and has a significant place in Texas history, not only due to the founding place of the City of Houston in 1836, but also because the final battle for Texas Independence was fought along its banks. The 52-mile slow-moving waterway, has become a destination for outdoor recreation near downtown Houston. It remains in its natural state and contains an incredibly diverse urban ecosystem supporting dozens of native species of flora and fauna.
Stretching from Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive, the 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park is one of the country’s great urban green spaces. Here you will find spaces for hiking and biking as well as trails for kayaking/canoeing among acres of wildflowers and prairies.
Market Square Park
Market Square Park is located in the original heart of community Market Square once again the bustling center of Houston’s Historic District is the place to be. Market Square Park is at long last being reclaimed as the bustling center of downtown Houston’s Historic Distinct.
The new park is a true neighborhood space, anchored by a central lawn where more than one City Hall once stood. A crescent-shaped dog run on the park’s west side gives the canine contingent an attractive and active place to let loose. A beautifully lit fence and walkway arc through the park and provides insight to the history of the area. And if you’re hungry, check out Houston classic Niko Niko’s, where you’ll find delightfully shady, outdoor seating, a plaza for performances and classic Greek and American favorites. Special events such as movie screening and blanket bingo bring out the masses.
Take a quiet moment in Lauren’s Garden, a memorial that honors Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas—a passenger on United Flight 93. With its flowing water, beautiful sculpture, seasonal flowers and leafy trees, the garden memorializes all lost on September 11th.
Discovery Green was designed as an engaging and active place. The 12-acre park with live music, public art, restaurants, playgrounds, a pond for kayaking & exercise classes. Families enjoy Screen on the Green, a regular outdoor movie presentation which often features new releases.
Prominent features visitors can enjoy include a one-acre lake, children’s playground, interactive water features, amphitheater stage and slope, small and large dog runs, public art works, HPL (Houston Public Library) Express, open lawns. Visitors have a variety of dining experiences to choose from within the park: the informal elegance of The Grove restaurant and the fast-casual fare of The Lake House, with both menus comprised of award-winning Chef Robert del Grande’s creations. The Grove’s all-glass exterior overlooks a gathering of live oaks, offering visitors a peaceful, upscale ambience in the heart of the nation’s fourth largest city. The Lake House reels in visitors with its self-serve lakeside concept and convenient counter service.
For cultural cultivation and a fun afternoon, make a beeline to Houston’s Central Business District. It’s home to pro sports teams like the Astros and Rockets, as well as the nationally renowned Houston Theater District, where you’ll find Alley Theatre, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Society for the Performing Arts, and Theater Under the Stars.
Be sure to check out other finds in the area such as the renowned Downtown Aquarium, The Heritage Society, Avenida Houston, and The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.