Houston, Texas

Visitors and newcomers often ask about interesting things to see and do in and around Houston, and in past I've told about something &/or sent a URL or two, but thought I'd try to organize this a little so I can just send a link to this page. 

First, a little personal info. I live about halfway between the Westlake office where I worked for BP (retired 2008) and downtown, near Voss Road between San Felipe and Westheimer. We (my wife Diane Persson and I, and two children, now grown) first moved to Houston in 1982, from Alberta, Canada, where we were born and educated (two degrees each from U of A). We've lived in 5 different locations around the city, and were elsewhere from 1988 to 1998 (Tulsa and Calgary). Unlike many people we worked with, we like Houston and were eager to move back here. For more personal stuff, visit our family Internet site, http://persjohn.net. Over the years, we realized that we're not suburbanites, and the closer to downtown the happier we were, since most everything we like to do is near there -- theater, music, church.

Church isn't everyone's priority, but is significant for us. We belong to Christ the King Lutheran Church (ELCA), at the corner of Rice and Greenbriar near the northwest corner of the Rice University campus. The Bach Society presents public concerts that we support, and I organized a Science & Religion Discussion Group that meets the 3rd Friday of the month at 7:00 pm.

A big part of the reason we're U.S. citizens today is NPR, and we've supported KUHF 88.7 every year we've lived in Houston. Given our ethnic background, we especially enjoy Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, in addition to the news shows and Car Talk.

We’ve subscribed to the Alley Theatre season, and also Stages. Besides the Bach Society, we often attend Houston Early Music.

Not just music and definitely not in town, a place we often go and recommend is the Festival-Institute at Round Top about 90 miles northwest of the city. They have a marvelous facility and summer residential music program, with B&B and occasional concerts the rest of the year. Not your regular B&B, since the main overnight event is the dinner following an afternoon concert.

An offbeat place we often recommend is the Art Car Museum, on Heights Blvd just south of I-10. Related is the Art Car parade every spring (2010-May-08), connected with another offbeat place, the Orange Show, which also looks after the famous beer can house (222 Malone). Not for everybody, but unique to Houston and a place we've taken visitors is the Funeral Museum. Definitely alternative entertainment, micro cinema is at the Aurora Picture Show. More conventional art movies tend to be at Landmark Theatres or Angelika. For live comedy/theater, we love Radio Music Theatre, home of the fabled Fertle family of Dumpster, Texas.

More mainstream, there's a good Visitor Center in City Hall. The Port of Houston has a nice boat tour that we've done a couple times and recommend. We belong to GPHA, the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, and often do their monthly walking tours of different parts of the city, and also connected us with the 1940 Air Terminal Museum at Hobby Airport. Rice University's Fondren Library can be used by the public, and has an excellent collection. The Texas Medical Center is an interesting complex and used to have a tour (Diane works there for UT). Rice and TMC are near the Museum District, where we often visit and are members of MFAH, which also has the historic Bayou Bend mansion. The Menil Collection and smaller satellite museums (Twombly, Richmond Hall Dan Flavin, Rothko Chapel, Byzantine Fresco) are all worth a visit. The University of Houston has a nice art gallery, the Blaffer Gallery.

Given where we live, we often shop at the Galleria, despite the perpetual traffic snarl. Not in the Galleria but a place we often go is Ikea, partly because their international headquarters is near the town in Sweden where Diane's father came from.

Our favorite pizza place in Antonio's Flying Pizza, near us but also endorsed by Mike King as the best pizza he's had since he grew up in Brooklyn.

I've passed over the obvious things like the Space Center, but tried to emphasize things my wife and I especially like and which are easy to overlook, even for people who live in Houston. I hope this page of thumbnail reviews and links helps friends who visit or move to Houston. More info can be found at http://www.visithoustontexas.com/, and http://www.houstonitsworthit.com/ has more on the ironic side life in Houston. The http://fresharts.org/ website lists a lot of the alternative arts places and events.

Updated 2010-Oct-04.

Go to the persjohn home page.