5 Must Do Things near Washington Avenue

A plate of barbecue with sides and bread
Truth BBQ serves up plates 'til they're gone for one of the best 'que servings in Houston | Courtesy of Truth BBQ

In our Must Do Things Around Greater Houston series, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of communities, neighborhoods and destinations to bring you five fun, tasty, surprising and enticing reasons you should give each one 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. But 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 near Washington Avenue

A person reading a book while in a bird blind facing the Memorial Park prairie
The new Land Bridge and Prairie at Memorial Park offers expansive views and plenty of peaceful space | Courtesy of Memorial Park Conservancy

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 30 miles of hiking trails, the gorgeous Clay Family Eastern Glades and new Land Bridge and Prairie, ample free space for a pick-up flag football or soccer game, plus 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), cyclists can hit the awesome trails of the southwest section, and locals can check out a lineup of scheduled events, from food truck visits to trail days.

After working up a sweat, treat yourself to a burger at the onsite Becks Prime… you’ve earned it.

Two drinks on a bar with a mound of shaved ice and shelves of liquor behind them
Take to Southern hospitality and cocktails at Alba Huerta’s Julep | Courtesy of Julep

Eat & drink your way down Washington Ave

Whether brunch, happy hour, or beyond is what you have in mind, Washington Avenue delivers.

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.

Sixth Ward general store Henderson & Kane can be found nestled in the neighborhood, serving up bountiful brunch plates of breakfast tacos, tamales, smoked brisket and more, along with shelf after shelf of ingredients and foods from local small businesses.

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; and its sibling establishment B.B. Lemon, where you’ll find burgers, oysters, and French onion soup, just down the way.

On Sawyer, celebrity chef Christine Ha and crawfish master Tony J. Nguyen teamed up to open hit Vietnamese spot Xin Chao.

Get brews crafted with Tex heart and Australian soul at Platypus Brewing, or stop for a mint julep at one of Houston’s hottest (and appropriately named) bars, the Southern cocktailery Julep. If you’re still feeling unquenched, chill spots like Porch Swing Pub and Underdogs Pub should do the trick.

As you make your way west, you’ll hit one of the best bbq joints in all of Texas, Truth BBQ; 24-hour doughnut darling Voodoo Doughnut; funky noodle joint Ninja Ramen; fried chicken and champagne purveyors Max’s Wine Dive; taco hotspots Laredo Taqueria, El Rey and Velvet Taco; prime social scenester The Sporting Club; and a whole lot more bars and restaurants up and down the street (including all the tasty spots in Arts District Houston).

People in a hallway looking at colorful hanging artwork
Check out artist studios and rotating exhibitions at the Silos at Sawyer Yards | Courtesy of Arts District Houston

Experience the work of artists at Arts District Houston

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 collection 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.

The Arts District‘s Sawyer Yards offers a creative campus spanning over 55 acres of industrial warehouses, with highlights including Silver Street Studios and The Silos at Sawyer Yards, both of which play host 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 4th Wall Theatre Co.

Tombstones with sculptures of Angels in front of blooming trees
The ornate grounds of Glenwood Cemetery makes for a secluded experience on Washington Avenue | Courtesy of Glenwood Cemetery

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 5:30pm (when Daylight Savings Time is in effect, the gate closing is extended to sunset or 5:30pm, whichever is earlier), with docent-guided walking tours available four times a year by reservation only.

Please note, as the cemetery continues construction work on a state-of-the-art facility, the public should use the back entrance on Kane Street.

A group of people sitting at a table with food and drink and the Downtown skyline behind them
Buff Brew in Arts District offers a rooftop beer garden with skyline views | Courtesy of Buff Brew

Sip 1836 with skyline views at Buff Brew

This homegrown brewery is crafting some of the most exciting and innovative suds in town, with a stock of house favorites, batches of wacky flavors, and a strive to celebrate the “adventurous spirit of a city built on outlaws and invention.”

Stop by Buff Brew’s 3-story, 28,000-square foot headquarters over in Arts District Houston and you can sip through brews like its flagship 1836 Copper Ale and fan favorite Crush City IPA to the Dreamsicle Blonde and espresso-infused Wake ‘N Bake, all with views of Downtown’s skyline and next-level eats like masala-fried cauliflower, smoked beer cheese & birria, and loaded bar pies made with 72-hour fermented pizza dough.

In addition the aforementioned Platypus Brewing and Buff Brew, you can also sip on local craft offerings at Urban South HTX Brewery, Holler Brewing, and cider bar City Orchard.

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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 .