I’ve traveled to 9 countries and 37 states in the U.S., but nowhere makes me happier than my hometown – Houston, TX. I’ve often taken my city for granted because I was born and raised here. Since I moved back in 2000, I’ve managed to reconnect with Houston and I’ve learned to appreciate the things that make it a great place to live. My wife was reluctant to move to Houston when my job transferred me here from Florida, but now she loves it as much as I do. The weather is great if you can stand 100 degree summers, the cost of living is reasonable, and there are many parks, restaurants, cultural venues, and employment opportunities. Of course the downsides of living in Houston are the traffic, the sprawl, hurricanes, and the 100 degree summers.
I recently got an opportunity to share some of the great things Houston has to offer as part of Samsung’s Coast to Coast Photo Post. The team is traveling from California to New York in an Airstream van with a Samsung SH100 in-hand to document all the interesting people and places they see along the way. I was selected to show the team around when they stopped in H-Town.
The Breakfast Klub
On the day of the team’s arrival, I was still in New Orleans. My plane was delayed and I wondered if I’d even make back home in time. Thankfully, things worked out and I was able to get a flight out. After I arrived at George Bush International Airport, I drove directly to The Breakfast Klub, one of four finalists in Good Morning America’s Best Breakfast in America Challenge. The line to get in was wrapped around the corner because this is one of the trendiest spots in town. If you don’t get in before, 9:00am, be prepared to wait. Two members of the Samsung team, Chin and Daisy, had secured tables and were waiting on me.
“Everyone looks so stylish,” Chin said. “I feel a bit under dressed.”
“People in Texas like to look good,” I replied. “But don’t worry. Everyone is laid back and friendly.”
We ordered the signature dishes, Katfish & Grits and Wings & Waffles. Chin asked me what was the proper etiquette for eating the chicken.
“There is no etiquette,” I said. “Just pick it up and eat it.”
“I can’t do that,” she said. “I’ll use my knife and fork.”
She started eating her meal and immediately drew the attention of the owner, Marcus Davis.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m eating my breakfast,” Chin replied. “What’s wrong.”
“You can’t eat chicken like that,” he said. “You have to use your hands.”
“But I’m trying to be a proper lady,” she said.
“Listen,” Marcus said. “There is nothing sexier than a woman who knows how to get down on some chicken. That’s what initially attracted me to my wife.” We all laughed. Chin continued to eat her chicken with her knife and fork.
McQueen’s Custom Tailors
As I mentioned, Houstonians like to look stylish. I’m no different. Therefore I like to visit my friend Lawrence McQueen at his establishment, McQueen’s Custom Tailors. McQueen a stylish man and skilled tailor who knows how to help men and women develop their own personal sense of style.
I first visited McQueen’s in 2009. I had recently lost 25 lbs and I was ready to show off my new physique with some great looking clothes. McQueen took my measurements and recommended some fabrics and colors that would work well for me. He told me that he could make me an outfit that consisted of brown pants, a baby blue shirt, and cuff links. I was skeptical, but I trusted his expertise. I must admit that the outfit looked fantastic and fit better than anything I could have bought off the rack. Since then, McQueen has made me a few more shirts and has accessorized me with ties (he taught me how to tie a bow-tie), watches, and more cufflinks. While I was there, I selected some fabric for a new suit. I can’t wait to wear it.
Hermann Park and the Museum District
Houston is home to many parks. Three of my favorite are Discovery Green, Memorial Park, and Hermann Park. As a kid, I would visit Hermann Park with my mom and sister. We would ride the train, visit the zoo, race down the hill, and attend concerts and plays at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Now that I’m a parent, I have kept this tradition alive with my kids. In addition to the aforementioned things, my kids and I like to ride the paddle boats and feed the ducks by the lake.
If a have a few minutes of downtime, I like to visit some of the more serene spaces in the park. I took Chin and Daisy to two of my favorite quiet places – The Japanese Garden and the Houston Garden Center. Both areas have beautiful flowers and plants and offer a sense of peace. I sometimes sit underneath a tree with my guitar teacher and strum a few songs.
Houston’s Museum district is adjacent to Hermann Park. I like to take my family to The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and Buffalo Soldier National Museum. Chin, Daisy and I visited the Cockrell Butterfly Museum inside the HMNS. Visitors can walk through a living butterfly habitat and marvel at living examples of some of the world’s largest and weirdest arthropods. There’s also an iguana.
On the way out, we saw some kids riding a gyroscope. I asked Chin and Daisy if they wanted to ride. They both declined.
Our Journey Ends
“Is there a good place to get some ice cream around here?” Chin asked.
“I know just the place,” I replied.
I took my new friends to the best ice cream parlor in Texas, Hank’s Ice Cream. Chin was impressed that Beyonce and the rest of Destiny’s Child frequent this spot. We tried the Butter Pecan, Mango, and Grape Nut & Vanilla. They were all delicious.
We wrapped up the day with a trip through downtown. Chin and Daisy were amazed by the architecture and the traffic.We drove through past the Toyota Center, Minute Maid Park, the Theater District, and the Downtown Aquarium.
I took a few more photos (see them here) and returned the camera to Chin. I had a great day touring Houston, and I was able to reaffirm my love for my hometown.
Question: What are some hidden gems in your hometown?