In our series of Must Do Things Around Greater Houston, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of neighborhoods to bring you five fun, tasty, and enticing reasons you should give each a visit.
The strip along Washington Avenue stretching from Downtown through Memorial Park has seen a revival in recent years. Now a jungle of bars and restaurants, mixed use developments, art studios, theaters, and a stock of fresh townhomes and apartment complexes, the district is a playground for the young and the young at heart. That’s not to say the area has lost its original charm, as a few favorite stalwarts remain. Here’s a look at where to eat, drink, and play in this vibrant ‘hood.
Note: For purposes of this list, Washington Corridor and Memorial Park are defined by this map.
5 Must Do Things in Washington Corridor & Memorial Park
- Escape urban life at Memorial Park – Even in Houston’s hottest months, you’ll find dedicated locals making their rounds around Memorial Park’s three-mile loop. Lace up and hit the track for a jog or a nice walk, and look out for running clubs if you need some extra motivation. The park also boasts thirty miles of hiking trails, ample free space for a pick-up flag football or soccer game, softball fields, sand volleyball, tennis and croquet courts, and a driving range where you can get your practice swing on. Golf lovers can book tee times for the 18-hole Memorial Park Golf Course, swimmers can hit the lanes at the Memorial Park Fitness Center (daily or monthly memberships are available), and cyclists can hit the awesome trails of the southwest section. After working up a sweat, treat yourself to a burger at the onsite Becks Prime…you’ve earned it. Click here for directions.
- Eat and drink your way down Washington Ave – Start at cult classic Stanton City Bites. Just a few blocks north of Washington on the hood’s east end, the burger joint has been keeping locals well fed since it was first established as a grocery store in 1961. Make your way to B&B Butchers & Restaurant, where you’ll find a bespoke butchery pumping out standout deli sandwiches and a steakhouse with some serious chops. Stop for a mint julep at one of Houston’s hottest (and appropriately named) bars, the Southern cocktailery Julep. Near Sawyer, you don’t want to miss the smokey queso and great happy hour at Beaver’s Ice House. If you’re still feeling quenched, chill spots like Liberty Station, Porch Swing, and Underdogs Pub should do the trick. As you make your way west, you’ll hit the funky noodle joint Ninja Ramen, fried chicken and champagne purveyors Max’s Wine Dive, taco hotspots Laredo Taqueria, El Rey and Velvet Taco, excellent brunch spot Benjy’s, and a whole lot of bars and restaurants in between.
- Experience the arts – As with any thriving section of town, this neighborhood is rich in arts and theater. There’s the Art Car Museum – dubbed the “Garage Mahal” – which houses an awesome collections of art cars emphasizing personal expression and pop culture; and the Beer Can House, a house and yard plastered with beer cans that started as a project for a retired upholsterer and turned into a beloved folk art installation. Silver Street Studios and The Silos at Sawyer Yard play home to a lineup of pop-up art galleries, boutique markets, and other creative events. You can also catch live improv and sketch comedy at Station Theater and cutting-edge, theatrical performances from the Stark Naked Theatre Company at Studio 101.
- Stroll through a 19th-century cemetery – Established as a private cemetery in 1871 and built on a site with a distinctive natural feature, Glenwood Cemetery is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the city (as crazy as that may sound). According to architectural historian Stephen Fox, Houstonians of the late 19th century considered it to be not only a cemetery, but also a park, complete with rolling landscapes along the ravines of the Buffalo Bayou, curved walkways, and romantic gardens. Eventually, an irrigation system and fountains were installed, a greenhouse was added, the bridge was renovated, and the property expanded to include a (since filled) lake. Today, the cemetery gates are open to the public every day from 7am to 5pm, with docent-guided walking tours available four times a year by reservation only. Click here for directions.
- Sip 1836 at Buffalo Bayou Brewery – This homegrown brewery is crafting some of the most exciting and innovative suds in town, with a stock of house favorites, small batches of wacky flavors, and a strive to celebrate the “adventurous spirit of a city built on outlaws and invention.” The 1836 Copper Ale is their pride and joy, and IPA fans will love the More Cowbell Double IPA, an easy drinker with hints of grapefruit. Things get crazier with brews like Sam’s Strawberry Shortcake, a cream ale aged on strawberries and vanilla, and Maple Chili Jam, the perfect companion to sticky, smoked barbecue. See what kind of shenanigans the brewery is up to by taking a tour, open every Saturday from noon to 3pm. $10 will get you entry, 3 samples, and a glass. Click here for directions.