5 Must Do Things in Third Ward

Courtesy of Emancipation Park Conservancy

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. 

One of Houston’s six historic wards, Third Ward is a culturally rich, historically African-American neighborhood that houses Texas Southern University, the University of Houston, and Emancipation Park, a 10-acre park founded by formerly enslaved people that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

It was also once the home to popular figures including Debbie Allen, blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins, and yes, the Beyoncé. The dynamic neighborhood, boasting a mix of old and new, is still a driving force in Houston’s culture today and remains a vital historic community within the city.

In addition to the beautifully revamped Emancipation Park (which hosts concerts, recreational activities and more), here are five other excellent things to do in Third Ward.

Note: For the purposes of this list, the Third Ward is defined by the area represented in this map.

5 Must Do Things in Third Ward

  1. Support the Project Row Houses – Founded in 1993, this inspiring community-based arts and culture organization transformed a group of shotgun houses into art studios that showcase incredible local artworks in seasonal rotations. Today, the organization continues to promote local artists while preserving, revitalizing, and empowering one of the oldest African American neighborhoods in the city. After a pandemic pause, Project Row is slated to reopen to the public on Saturday, July 31, 2021. The space is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5pm. Tours are available with docents every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. Get directions to Project Row Houses.
  2. Feed your soul at Houston’s This Is It – Opened in Midtown in 1959 before moving to its current location down the street from Texas Southern University, this family-run spot is one of the oldest soul food restaurants in Houston. The homestyle kitchen draws crowds with slow-braised, meltingly tender oxtail, gravy-smothered chicken & homemade dumplings, and collard greens. Try it all, but save room for dessert. Get directions to This Is It Soul Food.
  3. Take in the arts on campus – At Texas Southern University, make your way to the University Museum, which boasts a deep collection of traditional African art, including over 200 pieces from West, Central, and East Africa, plus other works from across the vast African diaspora. At the University of Houston, be sure to hit the Blaffer Art Museum, where six to eight visual and contemporary art exhibitions are curated every year. Or get tickets to a show at the Cullen Performance Hall, which hosts a lineup of music, opera, dance, and theatrical events.
  4. Get a taste of the original Frenchy’s – You can find Frenchy’s Louisiana-style fried chicken all over Houston, but none seem as good as the lip-smacking eats from the original, likely because it’s an H-town institution. Though the original 1969 Scott Street location has been torn down in recent years, you can still get flawlessly crisp, Creole-flavored fried bird with a side of dirty rice and some sweet potato pie at its new spot just a couple blocks away. Get directions to Frenchy’s Chicken.
  5. Fuel up with coffee and vegan eats at Doshi House  Tucked on a sleepy corner not too far from Emancipation Park, Doshi House is part-coffeehouse, part-art space, part-eclectic eatery, and fully awesome. The cozy neighborhood hangout acts as a sort of community center, with all walks of life stopping in to enjoy local roasts alongside a daily roster of fresh eats, some of which are vegan. Get directions to Doshi House.
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Photo courtesy of Project Row Houses

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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 .