In our My Top 5 series, we turn to the Houstonians who create and shape Houston’s character and ask them to share their own favorite things that make H-Town home. This week, we’re delighted to feature Julia Morales, Houston Astros reporter for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m a Texas girl, born and raised, and I grew up in a small town but absolutely love the big city vibe.
When I got here, I loved how busy it was. I love the congestion of it all. Everywhere you look, there were people and restaurants and something to do all within a small radius. It’s hard to find an area that you really don’t like within Houston. As big as it is, I’ve kind of made it small over the last few years because I’ve met so many different people with my job. In a city with millions and millions of people, I feel like I’m really at home and it’s kind of just one happy neighborhood that I live in.
My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston: Julia Morales
- Memorial Park & Buffalo Bayou Park – One of my favorite things about living in Houston is my access to Memorial Park and the Bayou trail. Those are two of my favorite places in the heart of the city. My husband and I had our engagement photos done on the bayou bridge that overlooks Downtown and I drag him down to that little corner every year to take my bluebonnet pictures. Now I take my kid, which is really cool, because that is my roots; my mom made us do it growing up and now it’s a tradition in my family, so that area is really special to me. I love running down Memorial Park, but I can’t run down there without getting recognized, which is really funny. I always get stopped or waved at and it keeps me going, makes me think, “Okay, somebody might know who I am, I really need to pick up my pace.” I can’t just be lackadaisical out on the trail. Honestly, I’m an outdoor girl and a runner, and it doesn’t get any better than that.
- Rice Village – I love going to Rice Village, it’s a whole different vibe. I spend a lot of time over there. My good friends own the Chocolate Bar, so I go there often because I get my chocolate-covered Oreos and give those as gifts a lot. Especially on Opening Day for the Astros, I always stop there and I come with goodie bags. I hit up all the shops, especially the ones that are local and have really cool finds. Premium Goods is a great spot for some good sneakers, and tasc Performance have a cool store and their stuff is really super soft—I have, like, five of those hoodies.
- River Oaks Shopping Center – I shop at Hemline a lot, that store has saved me. The one I go to is off Gray Street, another area that I frequent often because I’ll sometimes hit up Ann Taylor in River Oaks Shopping Center and get work clothes really quick if I can’t find anything to wear. But there’s a Hemline, which is perfect for events. I have a ton of galas, I’m always emceeing things like fundraiser events. Every time I have a day off, there’s a fundraising event, so I need a dress. Hemline is my go-to.
- Date Night Restaurants – My husband and I are big date night people, even with the baby, so we do like to try new restaurants and make sure we have our own time. Bludorn shot up on our list real quick. We were extremely impressed with that restaurant and are glad it’s here. We go and order a bunch of stuff—it’s one of those where you just share—and so literally everything we’ve ever ordered is bomb, it’s so good. We’re frequent goers to Potente, Downtown by the ballpark; the truffle pasta is to die for, it is one of my favorite dishes of all time. And Coltivare is a favorite date night place, too. In the summer, even when it gets hot, it’s worth going out to the garden because it’s so beautiful and they have fans out there, so you just take it all in. That place is awesome; get some pizza, get some black pepper spaghetti. You’ll be happy, trust me.
- Go to the ballpark – Is it corny to say go to Minute Maid Park when you have a chance? If you haven’t gone to an Astros game, like, what are you doing? As a Major League Baseball reporter, I’ve been to all 30 ballparks, plus some that have closed, and I can tell you that Minute Maid Park is one of the best. It’s one of the elite ballparks in experience, how beautiful it is inside, and all the things you can do. Of course, there’s great food; Killen’s is in there, there’s great tacos, you can get some elote, all kinds of great ballpark food. And the team is the best team in the American League, so you’re going to watch excellent baseball and it’s always a good time, no matter what. There’s so many things to do for kids, on all the way up. The Home Run Alley area has been built up, the Hall of Fame area is great out in center field that a lot of people may not have seen, tons of murals are up that are great for fans to check out, and lots of Instagram spots if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s really just the perfect experience for anything, date night or celebrating, it’s just absolutely worth going to.
About Julia Morales
Houston-native Julia Morales grew up in areas across Texas, eventually working as a reporter in Austin and Tyler covering sporting events like the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series and College Baseball World Series. She landed again in Houston in March 2013 to cover the Houston Astros as a reporter for AT&T SportsNet Southwest, where she’s been for nearly 10 years, notching two Emmy Awards for her work on the weekly Astros Bases Loaded program and live broadcast.
In addition to her work on the field, Julia also serves on the board of directors for Houston Pets Alive!, a no-kill animal rescue, and works with Sunshine Kids, an organization that aims to raise awareness on childhood cancer and impact families and pediatric cancer patients.