Writer June Naylor learned that proper exploration of Houston’s Hermann Park requires multiple visits, spread over two or three days. When doing so for her story, she rediscovered a nearby wealth of other worthwhile diversions, along with great places to eat and sleep. Best of all, each of these is within a short walk or a very quick drive from Hermann Park.
Places to learn
Among 18 museums in the Houston Museum District, two in particular beg for family exploration and can easily be seen before or after playtime in Hermann Park.
Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr.; 713/639-4629. You’ll want to return again and again to investigate the treasures here, found in the Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham IMAX Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center and to take the “prehistoric safari” in the Morian Hall of Paleontology. Open daily, the museum offers free admission from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Children’s Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz St., 713/522-1138. Permanent exhibits turn investigate, enlightening experiences into big-time fun, as evidenced in Cyberchase, letting kids participate in a math-based mystery adventure, based on the PBS series. In Kidtropolis, kids take charge of their own city, running places like banks, stores, media operations, city hall, and an art school. Open Tuesday through Sunday, the museum offers evening hours on Thursday.
Places to sleep
Hotel ZaZa, 5701 Main St., 713/526-1991. Perfect for the Hermann Park adventurer, as it’s positioned at the northeast corner of the park, the hotel offers 315 rooms and suites with beautiful views of the museum district. There’s a swimming pool, too. Picnic in the Park packages include lodging, valet parking, $25 credit toward a picnic lunch for two, train or pedal boat tickets, a lawn throw, and a kite, starting at $309.
La Maison in Midtown, 2800 Brazos St.,713/529-3600. One of my favorite experiences on a recent visit, this quiet inn is just a six-block walk from the McGowen station on the METRO light rail line that deposits visitors at the park entrance. The inn offers seven luxurious rooms, a sumptuous breakfast and free parking. Rooms start at $169.
Places to eat
On my Hermann Park expedition weekend, these nearby restaurants — easily reached on foot or very quick drives— won me over.
Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen, 4611 Montrose Blvd., 713/807-8883; ultra-New Orleans in flavor and flair, this restaurant’s Sunday blues brunch is superb, thanks to expertly made eggs Benedict and shrimp Creole and a wonderful band. Working off the indulgence was accomplished on the 15-minute walk to Hermann Park along shady, scenic Montrose.
Lucille’s, 5512 La Branch St., 713/568-2505; Southern cuisine includes fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, plus slow-fried chicken with smoked greens and mac and cheese. Just two and a half blocks from Hermann Park, this is a good place to dine before or after playing in the park.
Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, 3201 Louisiana St., 713/491-2222; Thai curry mussels, barbecued shrimp and duck confit gumbo start the show, and crispy redfish with short rib meat and succotash make for good centerpiece eats. From the Museum District stop at the Hermann Park entrance, this lovely restaurant is just a 15-minute ride on the METRO. Otherwise, it’s a two-mile drive and a perfect place to toast the joys experienced at Hermann Park and all the Museum District.