Gay Boys weekend in H-Town
Hot times in the big city
Ready to revel in a weekend with your boys? Houston delivers with fabulous shopping, unique attractions, and a nightlife scene that keeps the party going into the wee hours. If you don't know where to begin, here's your guide to three days of fun and adventure.
Where to Stay: Houston has more TAG-certified, gay-friendly hotels than any other city in Texas, including the Hilton Americas, Four Seasons Houston, The Westin Galleria and the Intercontinental Houston.
Getting around: Traveling from Bush Intercontinental take Super Shuttle or a Metro bus to Downtown or a cab anywhere you need to go. In the city: Take a cab or use the MetroRail to travel between downtown, the Museum District, and other neighborhoods.
NOON: After you’ve checked into your hotel, you’ll probably want to grab lunch. Head over to Lankford Grocery for a juicy burger in the middle of one of Houston’s gayborhood, Montrose. Lankford is ranked one of the best in town and was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Looking for a bit lighter fare? In that case, pay a visit to Barnaby's Cafe, also a Montrose hotspot. Think of Barnaby’s as Houston’s version of Hamburger Mary’s. This snug little diner features fresh, uncomplicated, contemporary food. Plus, the service is quick, and the price is right.
2 PM: If you’re paying a visit to Houston, you’ve got to at least consider buying a pair of boots. And what better place to look than Cavender's Boot City a one-stop-shop for the urban cowboy. Another option for a slightly higher-end experience? Pinto Ranch in the Galleria area offers beautifully designed boots, belts, buckles, and apparel.
3 PM: Speaking of the Galleria, no visit to H-Town is complete without a visit to the largest shopping mall in Texas. And why not start off with those new threads before you head tonight? Spanning 3 million total square feet, the Galleria features stores such as Prada, Gucci, Zara, Penguin and many more.
5 PM: One of Houston’s newer gay clubs, F Bar, also has one of the city’s best happy hours. Pretty much everything is half-off from 5-10 p.m. F Bar opened in the spring of 2011 to rave reviews and is drawing a regular crowd. The happy hour scene is chill and relaxed, with great people watching on the patio. The action definitely heats up later in the night.
7 PM: After a change of clothes and a quick refresh at the hotel, it’s time for dinner. In a town known for excellent food from all over the world, picking just one place to eat can be a challenge. Going the local route you’ll want to check out Benjy's in Rice Village for great ambiance and a unique American bistro menu. The upscale casual favorite also features a stylish lounge and lively weekend brunch scene. For a different take on traditional Tex-Mex try celebrity Chef Bryan Caswell’s latest venture, El Real Tex-Mex inside a historic theater space in Montrose. The queso con carne and puffy tacos are amazing.
10 PM: Friday nights are wild in H-Town. Start off the evening at a Houston institution, JR's. This quintessential gay hangout with Southwestern-inspired decor and a fabulous patio has been a staple for the gay crowd for more than three decades. For a more laid-back experience head over to Guava Lamp, a fabulous lounge where the locals go for cocktails and conviviality.
9 AM: Assuming you handled your night like a pro, you're still going to need a little jolt. Check out David Buehrer's Lower Westheimer coffee spot Blacksmith. Here, java is more art than simple function with beans from around the world. Blacksmith's baristas hail from around the country (New York City, New Orleans, Grand Rapids and Seattle), as well as from Houston. Guests who want to spend a little more time here will find an expanded, sit-down menu on offer.
10:30 AM: Go ahead and admit it. Ever since you were old enough to work your parents VCR you’ve dreamed of being Scarlett O’Hara--a center-of-attention drama queen living in a big Southern mansion. Well no one’s bringing back the Old South (too many petticoats, not enough vodka) but you can get a taste of aristocratic charm at Bayou Bend, the sprawling estate and cultural mecca in Houston’s Memorial Park.
NOON: Houston is a culture rich town, and perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the Museum District. Check out the Museum of Fine Arts Houston for its treasure trove of art through the ages. Allot at least two hours to explore the multiple galleries in the complex. Or perhaps the Houston Museum of Natural Science is more your speed. HMNS is one of the most heavily visited museums in the U.S., features the Wortham IMAX Theatre, Burke Baker Planetarium, Cockrell Butterfly Center, permanent exhibit halls and traveling exhibitions. If you have more time, consider purchasing a Houston CityPASS, which gives you acces to these attractions, the Houston Zoo, Space Center Houston and more!
3 PM: Hailed as one of the best museums of its kind in the world, The Menil Collection is a Houston treasure. See the life's collection of Dominique and John de Menil, from antiquity to uber-modern works.
5 PM: You won’t find a more civilized place for drinks than Anvil Bar & Refuge. This former tire store-turned-hotspot on Lower Westheimer serves up a wide array of creative cocktails developed by master mixologist Bobby Heugel. Everything about this place is inviting, from the warm woods and extra-long bar top to the expert bartenders who know their regulars by name.
7 PM: “Dam good food, drinks and fun” is the motto of Beaver's Ice House. Opened by the famous local chef Monica Pope (of Sparrow Bar + Cookshop), Beaver’s is an upscale (food wise) version of an ice house, barbecue joint.
9 PM: F Bar gets crazy on Saturday nights. Definitely try one of their signature margaritas. Finish off the night with some dancing at South Beach in the heart of the gayborhood, or head over to House of Pies--one of Houston's best diners--for a late night bite.
11ish AM: Cool and hip, but still relaxed – you'll love classic and flavored mimosas at Gloria's. This chic Midtown restaurant and bar has become one of the most popular places for Sunday brunch. A rocking DJ, awesome Mexican and Salvadoran plates and a lively atmosphere keep patrons coming back. Nearby, Weights + Measures offers up creative cocktails and bites ranging from wood-fired pizzas to avocado toast. If you're looking for upscale, head to Triniti on Shepherd. The restaurant's award-winning interior is sure to inspire and the menu from Chef Ryan Hildebrand includes unique dishes like the duck confit frittata and monkey bread french toast with lavender mascarpone cream.
3 PM: Head to the Eagle for a patio-centric Sunday Funday. This is the post-brunch place to be with great weekend specials, multiple patios upstairs and downstairs and a diverse mix of patrons.
6 PM: The party migrates to F Bar later in the afternoon. Grab a pitcher of the bar's signature concoctions and enjoy the sounds of resident DJs on the patio and on the dance floor.