Biking through Houston: Sights, Shopping, Food and Drinks
Houston is known for its oil and gas industry, but its investment in bike trails and bike lanes has also made it one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Whether you ride your own, rent one from a local store or use one of the Houston B-Cycle rental bikes, you don't want to miss out on the chance to explore Houston by bike. Before you begin any biking adventure, take a gander at the Bike Houston website for up-to-date maps, path openings and closures, and clearly stated Texas biking laws and regulations.
The Houston B-Cycle stations offer inexpensive bike rentals on safe, easily maneuverable bikes, which come with a basket large enough to hold treasures found en route and a lock to secure the bike as you stop at sites. The bikes can be picked up and returned to docks around the city and there are phone apps available to aid in finding stations and providing background information.
If you only visit one park while in Houston, make it Discovery Green. Nestled in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center, its impeccable design and meticulous upkeep add to all it has to offer. Guests are welcomed with an extensive playground, sculptures and art installations, eateries, an interactive water display and a pond to sail wooden boats. The park has a schedule packed with free events, from yoga classes to film screenings to concerts.
Cross under US 59 to see BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston's soccer stadium, and check out Houston nightlife with a concert at Warehouse Live, a drink at the nerd pub Neil's Bahr or an iced beer at Little Woodrow's.
Hermann Park is a 445-acre oasis to explore.The park has miles of paths and green space as well as a reflection pond, world-renowned art installations and Miller Outdoor Theatre, which hosts free shows and films from April to November. At the edge of the park are the Houston Zoo, The Health Museum and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Just south of Hermann Park are miles of safe riding on the Brays Bayou Trail.
Fine art can be found just a few short pedals away from the park. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston has two buildings full of masterworks as well as a theater and traveling exhibitions. The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston resides across the street from MFAH and is always free.
Four miles northwest of downtown is a beautiful, funky part of the city referred to affectionately as The Heights. With quaint homes and winding paths down Heights Boulevard (as well as a designated bike lane), this little section of the city feels like a hip and cozy small town. Nineteenth Street is a shopper and foodie's dream come true with one-of-a-kind spots like Vinyl Edge for records, Casa Ramirez for traditional Mexican gifts and Manready Mercantile, a shop that carries only products made in the United States by men, for men. Refuel at Boomtown Coffee, Torchy's Tacos or for more elegant fare try Shade or Down House.
Grab a bike at Westheimer and Yoakum to get a great view of Montrose. Head north on Yoakum and you'll run directly into one of Houston's favorite restaurants, Niko Niko's. For eclectic shopping, stroll Westheimer. West of the B-Cycle spot you'll find Space Montrose, which carries artistic and funky handmade products from across the US. There are high-end thrift shopping opportunities at Pavement and Buffalo Exchange. In the evening, try the bars Poison Girl or Anvil Bar and Refuge, or get a formal meal at Mark's American Cuisine or Hugo's. For more casual fare, enjoy eating inside or out at Brasil or Empire Café.
The Buffalo Bayou trail system offers the longest paved riding opportunity and connects to numerous other trail systems throughout the city. Bike Houston's maps clearly label dedicated bike lanes, shared-use trails and signed bike routes. Whichever direction you choose to explore, you are sure to find great food, architecture and gardens along the way.
By Jenn Haight