5 Must Do Things Near River Oaks

Blue Bar at Brenner's on the Bayou | Courtesy of Brenner's

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.

Though River Oaks is truly a 1,100–acre residential community, most locals consider its boundaries to expand beyond the homes. The classy neighborhood is home to a wealth of restaurants and shopping destinations, beautiful gardens, and more – all of which are included in this neighborhood hit list of our five River Oaks must dos.

Note: For the purposes of this list, the neighborhood of River Oaks is roughly bound by Buffalo Bayou and Memorial Drive to the north, Westheimer to the south, Dunlavy to the east and 610 to the west.

5 Must Do Things Near River Oaks

  1. Take in the beauty of the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens  Housed in the former home of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg (a.k.a. “The First Lady of Texas”), this picturesque garden and art collection is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visit it year-round to feast your eyes on the majestic formal gardens and woodland ravines surrounding the 28-room historic southern home, as well as the rare masterpieces of American art and antiques that it showcases. Get directions.
  2. Shop local at the Urban Harvest Farmers MarketHitting Urban Harvest’s Saturday farmers market should become your new weekend ritual. Located just south of Westheimer in the St. John’s School parking lot off Buffalo Speedway, the year-round market features a lineup of Houston’s finest makers, from farm stands boasting beautiful produce and organic meats to cult favorite local vendors like Bee2Bee Honey, Dumpling Haus, and Tatemó. Saturdays 8am to noon, rain or shine. Get directions.
  3. Slurp oysters and enjoy a hearth-fired supper at State of Grace – After killing it with a pack of successful restaurants in Atlanta, Houston native Chef Ford Fry returned home to open up this modern stunner a few years back. Executive chef Bobby Matos helms the kitchen, complete with a massive wood-fired hearth, and pumps out a globally-inspired menu with local flair. Munch on Thai curry octopus, sweet pea agnolotti, and wood-roasted porterhouse for two alongside one of the best oyster menus in town. Get directions.
  4. Hit the patio for happy hour at Brenner’s on the Bayou – While enjoying a steak dinner at the charming lodge restaurant is always a great idea, so is happy hour at Blue Bar, the chic patio bar set right on the lush Buffalo Bayou. Offered Monday through Friday from 4pm to 7pm, sip $5 craft beers, $9 cocktails and martinis, and $7 wines by the glass as you nosh on tasty treats like crispy tempura shrimp, charcuterie & cheese, and Nashville “hot chicken” sliders. Bonus: the bar is known to host a special happy hour with live music on Sunday afternoons in the springtime, and there’s a Wine Garden Wednesday, too. Get directions.
  5. Shop, wine and dine at the River Oaks District – The neighborhood’s hottest new feature is full of luxury boutiques and a burgeoning lineup of restaurants. Shop ‘til you drop at upmarket stores like Intermixx, Stella McCartney, and Dior. Stop for a bite to eat at spots like the haut monde tapas bar MAD, Parisian-inspired Toulouse Cafe and Bar, cool and casual Hopdoddy Burger Bar, sophisticated Vietnamese eatery Le Colonial, seafood hotspots Loch Bar and Ouzo Bay, or high-class steakhouse Steak 48. Finish the night at iPic, where you can catch a blockbuster in the comfort of a cozy pod complete with reclining seats, free popcorn, and a blanket. Oh, and a ninja-like server that will quietly bring you filet mignon sliders alongside a stellar selection of craft cocktails, beer, and wine. Get directions.
Bayou Bend Gardens & Collections | Photo: Rick Gardner ;courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .