On Feb. 5, the nation’s eyes will be locked on Houston and the gridiron victories and defeats of Super Bowl LI.
Houston is Happening
Transportation guide helps you find the latest in parking, road closures and more to help navigate your way through Houston for Super Bowl LI.
Super Bowl Live, a free nine-day fan festival from Jan. 28-Feb. 5, is being held the week of Super Bowl LI in and around Discovery Green in downtown Houston. It will feature games, attractions and live music from Houston-bred performers sucn as ZZ Top, Gary Clark Jr., Leon Bridges, Shakey Graves, Los skarnales, and Solange.
Future Flight: Experience the virtual reality of Future Flight, the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee’s “WOW” Factor for the 2017 Super Bowl Live fan festival.
NFL Opening Night: Football fans get a rare chance to spend the evening with the Super Bowl teams during NFL Opening Night on Jan. 30 at Minute Maid Park. The ticketed event includes special appearances and autographs by NFL Legends, cheerleaders and team mascots, live music by “premiere talent” and a Red Carpet fan photo opportunity. Also, fans get to sit in the stadium stands and watch thousands of media interview the Super Bowl players and coaches. They also will be able to listen to some of those interviews, televised on the NFL network, via the free radio attendees receive.
NFL Experience: Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center turns into an interactive pro-football theme park that gives fans a chance sample the Super Bowl LI atmosphere with interactive games, youth football clinics, player autograph sessions, live game action via virtual reality technology, photos with the prestigious Vince Lombardi Trophy, and more. Fans can visit NFL.com/FanMobilePass to download Fan Mobile Pass.
More Houston Events
While in town, you may have time to squeeze in a few more events such as Lunar New Year Houston, the largest Asian celebration in the state, which is set for Feb. 4-5. The event touts more than 100 dancing lions and dragons, fireworks, martial arts, drum performances, KidZone inflatables, hands-on children’s activities, displays of one million Lucky Red Firecrackers, and of course, food.
Or fill your time with sports. Feb. 4 is UFC Fight Night with Dennis Bermudez facing off with The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung. Also, Alex Grasso versus strawweight Felice Herrig, and Evan Dunham is pitted against fellow lightweight Abel Trujillo.
On Feb. 2, 3 and 7, you can catch the Houston Rockets take on the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic.
With tickets to the big event in hand, you either have the funds to live it up in H-town, or you blew this year’s entertainment budget for the experience. Or maybe, like most of us, you’ve conceded to watching it on the big screen. Either way, we share a few ways to accentuate the experience with some time on the town.
Head to Toe
First, let's get you dressed for the occasion. Add a little bit of Houston flair – from head to toe – to your wardrobe. Cowboy hats and boots are always in fashion, and work just fine with your team gear. After all, although Houston is quite the cosmopolitan city, it’s also home to next month's Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the largest in the nation.
Texas National Outfitters, as the name suggests, can get you covered with top Texas brand boots such as Lucchese and Nocona, as well as custom boots. They also carry clothes and accessories. And if you’re really feeling like Bud or Sissy from the ‘80s movie “Urban Cowboy,” there’s Gilley’s clothing and accessories here for you, too.
For happenin’ head cover, The Hat Store should do. They’ve made hats for presidents such as former President George H. Bush; musicians such as Lyle Lovett, Clint Black, Merle Haggard; and celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal.
Not going to lie. Boots and hats, especially custom-made versions, can cost a pretty penny. If that's too rich for your recently depleted entertainment budget, there are other options.
There's the usual gamble of thrift stores, but many, such as My Flaming Heart, often have boots and western wear among their common finds.
Don’t let the colossal skyline fool you. Avail yourself of the city’s green spaces, and there are plenty.
Discovery Green: This 12-acre park, in the shadow of downtown, is a showpiece green space surrounded by the George R. Brown Convention Center, hotels and downtown sports venues. It includes two restaurants, a man-made lake, dog runs, amphitheater and more. Through Feb. 5, try you ice-skating skills at The Ice at Discovery Green. Through Feb. 19, stroll through the Enchanted Promenade (along Brown Promenade), an art installation of 10 giant peony light and art bouquets. It's location makes it the perfect place for many Super Bowl events and attractions, too.
Hermann Park: In the heart of Houston’s Theater District, Hermann Park’s location makes for a perfect museum/picnic combo kind of day. But its location isn’t its only asset. Take a scenic tour around the park on the Hermann Park Railroad. Don’t be afraid to join children. It’s nice for all ages.
Find a zen moment among the waterfalls, bridges and cherry trees in the parks’ Japanese Garden. Play alongside the ducks at the Pedal Boat Lagoon. Stroll along the park’s 740-foot long, 80-foot wide reflecting pool. See if you can spot the Mamadillidaiidae and the smaller Dillidiidae. You’ll know it when you see it. They are there through April 2017. And this park is big. Within it, you’ll find the 7.5-acre Miller Outdoor Theater for performing arts and the 55-acre Houston Zoo.
Waterwall Park: The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park may not be as expansive as the previously mentioned parks, but head for uptown’s tallest structure, the Williams Tower, to find this 2.77-acre park that features a stunning 64-foot semi-circular architectural fountain with cascades of about 11,000 gallons of water per minute. Stand at the inner base of the fountain and slowly guide your eyes upward for the visual illusion of a climbing water wall. This spot also offers prime photo opportunities.
Buffalo Bayou Park: The 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park is an amazing gem of green space offering hike and bike trails, as well as bike, kayak and canoe rentals, pedestrian bridges and a skate park, accented by works of art, performance space and incredible views of the city’s skyline.
Don’t miss it’s underground wonders, too, with the Cistern, Houston’s now-decommissioned 87,500-square-foot architectural relic that served as a City of Houston underground drinking water reservoir for 80 years and is now open for guided public tours.
Art, Science and History
On a gorgeous day, you may want to stick with a park or the outdoors, but given the quality of museums in Houston, that could be a wrong call. Make time for both. Here’s a sampling of three museums, but the city is rich with many others, even in just the Museum District alone.
Houston Museum of Natural Science: One of the city’s most popular museum’s presents awe-inspiring looks at science and nature. Get wrapped up in its current special, once-in-a-lifetime exhibit, “Mummies of the World: The Exhibition.” At its only U.S. stop, see mummified remains – preserved intentionally and naturally – dating as far back as 4,500 years. Multimedia and interactive exhibits help unravel the mystery behind the mummies and the culture of their people. Time-entry tickets are required, so plan ahead. The exhibit runs through May 29.
Make time to enjoy the museum’s Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham GIANT Screen Theatre, and Cockrell Butterfly Center, as well as permanent exhibits on astronomy, space science, Native American culture, paleontology, energy, chemistry, gems and minerals, seashells, Texas wildlife and much more.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: With more than 100 galleries and frequently changing exhibitions throughout the museum, it will take more time than you have to see it all, but don’t let that stop you from dipping your toes into astonishing collections of modern, European, Asian, African, Native American, Brazilian art and more. Photography and sculpture included.
The Menil Collection: Paris-born Houston transplants John and Dominique de Menil’s private collection of about 17,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, books and prints is one of the largest private collections in the United States. Housed in this Renzo Piano-designed venue are works by Henri Mattise, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Rene Magritte, and more.
Fed Up(scale) and affordably
Houston's food scene is world-class. if you can find it anywhere in the world, you can probably find it here.
Taste of Texas: Nina and Edd Hendee have been satisfying Houston's steak enthusiasts since 1977. The Houston landmark's menu includes certified angus beef, an award-winning wine list and Texas hospitality.
Tony's: Tony Vallone's restaurant is described as "Naples influenced. Milan inspired. Houston Cherished." And the 51-year-old Italian eatery has, indeed, made its mark and is a Houston institution.
Oxheart: Oxheart's chef/owner Justin Yu has made enough of an impression with his skills that he's the recipient of a 2016 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Award (Southwest). Still, he plans to close this restaurant, focused on regional fare, and you have until March 15 to enjoy it. No worries, though. He'll put his skills to work on a new venture soon after Oxheart's closing.
Original Ninfa's on Navigation: Try Ninfa's for old-school Tex-Mex offerings, and great margaritas.
Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen:They call the owner, Sylvia Casares, the Enchilada Queen. What more do you need to know? Her restaurant is constantly rated among the best in the city.
Local Foods - The inventive menu here features ingredients produced by local farmers and food artisans. Pork, beef, fish, fowl, and cheeses come from area farmers and ranchers.
Houston's Chinatown: This eight-mile section along Bellaire Boulevard originated downtown in the early 20th Century as a tiny, three-block section with a few restaurants, grocery stores and curio shops. Today, The restaurants have multiplied, and small grocery stores are now supermarkets.
Ibiza Food and Wine Bar: The chef-driven menu weaves Spanish, Southern, Frnech, Mediterranean and Southeast Asian influences.
Backstreet Café: The seasonal menu keeps things fresh at Executive Chef Hugo Ortega's long-standing Houston eatery.
Underbelly: High regard has been given to this restaurant with a menu mimicking Houston's abundance of culture.
Hugo’s: Chef Hugo Ortega (see Backstreet Cafe) brings regional Mexican cuisine and award-winning margaritas.
Oxheart (two nightly prix-fixe menus of very inventive fare) at 1302 Nance St. in Houston.
As with food, you can turn just about any corner and find quality pours, especially at some iconic bars and newer craft breweries. Here's a sampling.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company: First-rate beverages and food produced on-site but also the prevailing camaraderie at the oldest craft brewery in Texas, Saint Arnold Brewery.
Anvil Bar & Refuge: Trendsetting beer-and-cocktail bar.
La Carafe: Housed in one of Houston’s oldest structures, La Carafe is a rare bar that’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As it was back then, it remains a popular, no-frills dive bar, serving just beer and wine.
Hay Merchant: Like beer? This place offers 80 taps, an extensive bottle list that includes cellared beers, hard-to-find bottlings and more.
Lone Pint Brewery: Local brewery creating Texas ales.