Category Archives: Places of Interest

Explore the cultural landscape of Houston, Texas with these posts about places of interest in the Greater Houston Area.

The P.O.D.A Project Has Arrived!

The opening reception for the P.O.D.A. Project kicked off tonight at Discovery Green. Hundreds ascended on the park for a rockin’ party, complete with St. Arnold suds and Fusion Taco treats.  The eight PODS containers were a huge hit!  We can’t wait for AAM attendees to get to Houston so they too can enjoy this amazing public art exhibit, as well as all the other fun things happening in the park during the conference. 
Below are some photos taken during tonight’s opening reception by Local Host Committee member, Kim Davenport, the director of Rice Univeristy Art Gallery. Thanks for sharing these with us, Kim!

 –Monica Rhodes, AAM 2011 Local Conference Coordinator


Frozen Happy Hours – the Secret to Surviving (and enjoying!) Houston’s Hot & Humid Summers

Hello AAMers!  We are so excited to host you in just a few short weeks!!!  Are you getting amped?  Some things you should know … you might have heard some things about Texas recently on the news … wild fires , drought, record heat – it’s true, you should pack some extra deodorant and don’t forget your swim suit.  Summer has hit our fair city early.  And while we’re big fans of air conditioning here, we also still know how to enjoy patio happy hours even into the hot and humid hundreds.  Answer: frozen drinks.

Background: I asked my Facebook buddies what are the must-do drinks for out-of-town guests. More than 75% of the responses included frozen drinks.  And, that, my friends is how this post became what it is.  Of course, you don’t have to take my Facebook friends’ words … the Houston Press also covered the subject a couple months ago. And included other tasty frozen treats like frozen martinis, bellinis, hurricanes and white Russians!  Check out their blog here:

Pack your sunscreen and seersucker and I’ll meet you on the patio. Just remember: brain freezes are no fun … drink slow.

photo courtesy of Matthew Wettergreen

Under The Volcano [Rice Village]
I have to agree with the two or three friends who nominated Volcano – it’s always a place I take out-of-town guests. It has character – think eclectic tiki Island with attitude – it also has a great enclosed back patio as well as covered front patio. Keeping with the theme – get the frozen Cuba Libre [rum & coke]. It’s like the adult coke icee. Also worth mentioning the [not frozen but extremely wonderful] Strawberry Basil Margarita and what I will nominate as the best Bloody Mary in Houston.

The Flat [River Oaks/Montrose]
Nominated by more than one person as the best in Houston, The Flat is a must stop for a frozen mojito. Jamaican empanadas, great back patio and apartment atmosphere with some eclectic art thrown in – The Flat is a casual stop you can pass hours at without realizing it (and where’s the harm in that?)

photo courtesy of Boheme’s facebook page 

Boheme [Montrose]
Speaking of frozen mojitos….I’m so glad someone else nominated Boheme for their version of this yummy concoction. I’ve written about Boheme previously on this blog for their wine. It would seem a bit biased if I sang their accolades again. But hey, when you’ve got it, you’ve got it! They’ve recently expanded their back patio and noshing menu, too.  Their walls boast work from local artists, the playlist is run by the bartender’s Pandora preference … it’s your local neighborhood coffee, wine & more spot.

photo courtesy of El Patio’s facebook page

El Patio [Midtown]
Throw caution to the wind at this Midtown staple. In the words of my Facebook friend on her El Patio frozen ‘rita nomination … “It’s a one-two punch. One, you’re woozy, two, you’re out. Plus, they’re tasty and cheap.” El Patio is festive – music is always playing … and so are the mariachis.

El Tiempo  [Greenway Plaza, Washington, Montrose]
While my first choice is not always a margarita (I know, I know … I’m going to have my Texan card revoked), it is my first choice at El Tiempo – their frozen sangria swirl margarita is, as they say, “The Bomb” … but as with El Patio, Texan margaritas are not for the faint – one you’re good, two you’re down.

photo courtesy of MK Campbell

Little Woodrows [Midtown]
I discovered Little Woodrow’s frozen mimosas by sheer accident.  On a day when a friend and I were off from work and craving a patio and some cerveza , we hit the brakes driving by Woodrow’s and thought – that’ll work. We spent the next three hours catching up and catching some rays while the rest of the world worked away.  It was a mini-vacation.  And while it started as a “oh, let’s try that frozen drink in the machine,” once we started on the mimosas, they flowed freely the rest of the afternoon.

Mam’s House of Ice [Mobile]
Mam’s is not a bar, nor do they sell alcoholic beverages.  They will keep you cool and keep with the frozen theme.  Mam’s is a local fave serving “New Orlean’s Style Snoballs” – it’s a local legend. This is not your typical crunchy sno-cone, Mam’s are soft fluffy snowballs complete with 50 flavors … yes, even Tiger’s Blood. They’re usually stationed in the Heights but keep an eye on their twitter and Facebook for hours and location updates.

So there you have it….my Facebook family’s list of must-sip chilly libations to melt away the day.  I hope you’ll find some time to check some out.

Houstonians – any other suggestions to share with our AAM friends on the best frozen finds in our city? Comment below and let us know!

–Mandy Graessle, AAM 2011 Houston Hospitality Subcommittee member

Science and History Buffs, Listen Up!

Houston is home to many world-renowned art venues, but did you know that there are tons of science and history museums in town, too?  While I am a little biased about my own science and history museum – The John C. Freeman Weather Museum in the Houston Museum District – I know that there are many others also worth exploring.

I recently came across a great resource – and saw their picks for the Top 10 Science and History Museums in Houston, which included George Ranch Historical Park, Houston Fire Museum, Museum of Printing History, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Space Center Houston, Children’s Museum of Houston, John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science, Holocaust Museum Houston, Heritage Society and The Forbidden Gardens (which recently closed down).

What’s so special about these venues, you might ask? How did they make the top 10?  Well, it was no surprise to me to see some museums on the list; the ones that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit absolutely stand out in my mind as quite deserving of the recognition.  However, there are many on the list that I haven’t been to (even though I’ve lived in Houston for five years, I must admit, I haven’t made a lot of time to explore. I work a lot! What can I say?!?)

I did a little research and it didn’t take me long to figure out why all these places made the cut. I definitely need to get on the ball and check them out. And I encourage all my museum friends – from Houston and beyond – to visit them soon.

Here’s what I learned….

George Ranch Historical Park

George Ranch Historical Park

At George Ranch Historical Park, visitors can get a feel for present-day Texas and trace the state’s history through the homes and lives of the Jones family. A living history park with costumed characters and real hay rides! I’m not a native Texan, so I can’t think of a better place for me to learn more about my new state.  I pulled my boots out of the closet and have them ready to go to the George Ranch for the evening event they are hosting during AAM, complete with a big BBQ dinner with all the fixings, singing cowboys and a campfire sing along. Yeehaw! (isn’t that what Texans say?! Haha!)

The Houston Fire Museum explores firefighting in the city from its earliest days and displays vintage equipment which ranges from antique helmets to a 1938 REO salvage truck that kids can climb on.  I know a fewHouston firefighters myself, so it’ll be a real honor to pay tribute to them and their courageous calling by visiting the Houston Fire Museum.

Houstonians and visitors from around the world can learn about the diverse history of the Houstonregion by visiting The Heritage Society, a museum complex located at Sam Houston Park. I’ve seen their beautiful buildings set against the backdrop of the Houston downtown skyline. Quite picturesque! They too are hosting an evening event during AAM that is sure to delight!  Where else will you be able to feast on “armadillo eggs”?!

The Museum of Printing History not only displays ancient and modern printing tools but also lets visitors participate in the process.  And – they have a sheet from the Gutenberg Bible from 1455 and colonial documents, including a Pennsylvania Gazette printed by Ben Franklin in 1765, which I am very curious to see so that I can get a taste of home. I hail fromPhiladelphia, ya know.

Holocaust Museum Houston

Holocaust Museum Houston

While at the Holocaust Museum Houston, which is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and teaching the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy, guests can trace the persecution of Jews and other minorities in 20th-century Europe through photographs, films and text.  This museum is just down the street from The Weather Museum, so I can walk there, pick up a COEXIST bumper sticker for my car and do my part to Stop Hate, Starting Here.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Houston Museum of Natural Science

From dancing under the dinosaurs to the exciting IMAX shows to star gazing in the planetarium to the eye catching bling in the gem vault — there’s something for everyone at Houston Museum of Natural Science. And it’s about to get bigger! HMNS is expanding. In the Summer of 2012, the Museum is opening its new two story, football field sized Paleontology Hall, and adding over 15,000 square feet of combined exhibition, education and classroom space.  Between now and then, though, there’s still a lot to explore and learn. In the Wiess Energy Hall, I learned that one barrel of crude oil produces 19.9 gallons of finished motor gasoline. In the Earth Forum, I saw firsthand how the wind shapes and reshapes dunes and witnessed the formation of a cloud using cool air and water vapor. The meteorologist in me LOVED that! I can’t wait to go back!

Voted America’s No. 1 Best Children’s Museum by Parents magazine, the Children’s Museum of Houston is truly a playground for your mind, offering a multitude of exhibits bursting with action-packed fun that engage kids in the ultimate learning experience.  I wish there was a museum like this in Philly when I was growing up! I am a kid at heart, so I need to borrow some of my friends’ kiddos (Jess, Jaleigh, Sarah, Scarlett or Maverick, are you ready?!?!) soon for a trip to CMH. (All my nieces and nephews live in New Jersey and Philadelphia so I can’t take them.) We can start in Kidtropolis, the city for kids, run by kids (this is my chance to run for mayor!) and then solve brain teasers in Think Tank. And the day won’t be complete without making a splash in FlowWorks and coming up with the next big idea at the “Inventors Workshop” in Invention Convention.  Should I apply for a patent now?!?

Another interactive museum experience awaits at The Health Museum, right next door to the Children’s Museum. This museum is ALL ABOUT YOU!  Walk through the human body (can you say “22-foot-long backbone?!?!) in the Amazing Body Pavilion and tickle the vocal cords and keep your eye on the eyeball. Then, picture yourself as another gender or ethnicity and see what you might look like in 30 years in You: The Exhibit. Plus, you can catch a whiff of the McGovern Theater,Houston’s only 4-D experience!

Space Center Houston

Space Center Houston

This being Space City and all, it’s only natural for our city to be home to out-of-this-world adventures at Space Center Houston (SCH).  SCH is the only place in the world where visitors can see astronauts train for missions, touch a real moon rock, land a shuttle and take a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA.

AAM attendees, are you ready to explore these exceptional institutions?

Houstonians, what local science and history museums make your top 10 list?

–Maureen Maiuri, Executive Director, The John C. Freeman Weather Museum;
Hospitality Information Event Task Force Co-Chair; Hospitality Subcommittee member

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

As the fourth largest city in the nation, Houston has a lot to offer, and the Houston Astros, our hometown baseball team, is extending some southern hospitality to attendees of the 2011 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo™ by offering exclusive discount tickets. Minute Maid Park, located in thriving downtown (just down the street from conference headquarters at the George R. Brown Convention Center), is certainly a sight to see for anyone visiting, and enjoying America’s favorite past time when the Houston Astros take on the Los Angeles Dodgers at these discounted prices cannot be beat!

Enter the park through what was once Houston’s Union Station, and cheer on the Astros…a home team homerun or win will send the stadium train, which pays homage to the site’s history as a former train depot, moving along its 800 foot track. And, as long as temperatures aren’t soaring, the retractable roof will be open so that fans can take in the sights and sounds of the game with downtown towering around them.

Games start at 7:05 p.m. on Monday, May 23 and Tuesday, May 24, and 1:05 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25. Prices are low as $8 for a View Deck II Seat, normally $13, and $23 for a Field Box Seat, normally $41.

This offer is open to AAM visitors and local museum friends alike!  To purchase your tickets, log on to, and enter the password: AAM. For group ticket purchases of 20 or more, or for more information, contact Jeff Troncoso at 713.259.8318 or

–Lisa Sursavage, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Special Free Art Gallery Tour for AAM attendees – Saturday, May 21, 4 – 8 pm

Hello AAM and museum friends! 

Gus Kopriva of RedBud Gallery, Wayne Gilbert of G Gallery, and Catherine Anspon, PaperCity magazine Fine Arts & Social Editor and author of the new and exciting book, ” Texas Artists Today,”  here! 

We are hosting a special (and gratis!) tour of some of Houston’s premiere gallery spaces, planned especially for AAMers, on Saturday, May 21 from 4 – 8 pm (from the Hilton Americas Houston hotel) and hope that you can join us!

Houston is a proven leading international center of business, trade, medicine, education and art. Houston has always maintained a leading position in the arts and is proud to introduce AAM attendees to a small taste of what has become accepted as the Third Coast of American Art.  

 G Gallery

The tour will start with a little glance at just a few of our past Presidents, large sculptures by Houston artist David Adickes, while in route to the historic Houston Heights for a look at the RedBud Gallery, G Gallery and NauHaus gallery. This cluster of galleries highlights a largely eclectic mix of art from every genre, exhibiting early, middle and late career artists. It is not unusual to have a world famous artist in one gallery, a locally renowned artist in another and a self taught, early career or perhaps a MFA graduate in the other.

From there, our group will proceed to the Hiram Butler Gallery nestled in a delightful tree laden section of Houston called the Washington Corridor. Hiram Butler is one of Houston’s oldest galleries and has a strong tradition of Prints and Drawings and exhibits some of Houston’s best artists such as Joe Havel, Terrell James, as well as internationally famous artist such as Jennifer Bartlett and James Turrell.

Next stop on the tour – the Sicardi Gallery and McClain Galleries in the Upper Kirby District. Sicardi Gallery is the premier connection to Latin American art, showing modern and contemporary artists. McClain Gallery principals Robert and Cynthia Cage McClain,  have focused on the exhibition and the acquisition of museum quality artist such as John Alexander, Aaron Parazette, Louise Nevelson, Julian Schnabel and Cy Twombly, to name a few.

From there, we’ll head down the road for a cocktail reception at the Colton Farb Gallery where we will be fortunate to catch a glimpse of two of Houston best known artists, Sharon Kopriva and Angelbert Metoyer, as well as many beloved international artists.

Last but not least, we’ll stop at Moody Gallery, nestled in an area commonly referred to as Gallery Row or Colquitt Row, and one of 14 galleries in the neighborhood. Betty Moody, of Moody Gallery, is affectionately known as the grand dame of the Houston art community and has been a leading advocate of art and artists in Houston, helping make Houston the great art center it has become. Moody Gallery exhibits a selection of some of the leading artists in America.

While there isn’t enough time on the tour to see the other 13 galleries on Colquitt Row, we encourage AAMers and locals alike to come back soon to visit these gems.  We also recommend other Houston galleries such as Meredith Long, Archway Gallery, those on 4411 Montrose, including Anya Tish Gallery, Peel Gallery, and Barbara Davis Gallery, and the powerhouse group on Main Street, including Bryan Miller Gallery, Art Palace and Kerry Inman Gallery.

As for the exciting overview of Houston’s art scene that will be featured on the tour, we do hope you’ll join us. Space is limited, so please reserve your seat soon by sending an email with your contact information (name, company, email and phone) to by May 6. 


–Catherine Anspon, Gus Kopriva, and Wayne Gilbert

Check out Houston’s Art Galleries!

We know Houston has a plethora of very exciting and diverse museums, covering a range of subjects from art, history, science and beyond. We can’t wait for AAMers to arrive so that we can show off our great city and fantastic museum community.

In addition, we are excited to showcase our splendid art gallery scene.  For those that weren’t aware, Houston is home to a wide array of outstanding art. From emerging to internationally acclaimed artists, fine art photography to ceramics, whatever your preference, chances are you’ll find it in Houston’s galleries.

In preparation for the American Association of Museums 2011 Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo™, the Local Host Committee has gone the extra mile to reach out to many of Houston’s galleries to ensure that they know about AAM coming to Houston so that they are prepared to be open (and exhibiting) for the duration of the conference.

Participating galleries will be listed in a handout that will be made available in the Hospitality Lounge for all attendees. The Hospitality Lounge serves as our distribution center for information on Houston area hot spots and must see and dos.

Houston Art Galleries – if you haven’t heard from us or a member of our art gallery outreach task force about our efforts and would like to participate, please send a message, along with details of your plans and hours to by May 6.  If you have any questions, please call Albert at 713.353.1570.

AAM Attendees – We encourage you to venture out and see all that Houston has to offer!  After all, May is HOUSTON ARTS MONTH!  Pick up the list of art galleries (many that are holding special hours just for you!) in the Hospitality Lounge located on the 3rd floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center and set sail. 

If you are going to be in town on Saturday, May 21, from 4 – 8 pm, a group of art gallery owners are hosting a special FREE tour of some of Houston’s hottest gallery spots. More details regarding this tour are still to come and will be made available later this week on this blog. In the meantime, feel free to RSVP for the tour by emailing Space is limited, so please act soon!

–Albert Sanchez, AAM Houston 2011 Conference Intern

AAM Attendees and Houstonians, Come on Down to Discovery Green!

Discovery Green park is the “front yard” for the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Houston hotel. That’s why the AAM 2011 Local Host Committee has planned a slate full of activities and programs during the 2011 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo™, especially for AAM attendees and the local community. From engaging performances during the lunch hour and early evening, to a special exhibition created especially for AAM 2011, there’s never a lack of fun happening at Discovery Green! For more information, visit the Houston Hospitality Lounge in the George R. Brown Convention Center during the conference or go to

Art Car Parade Sneak Peek
Saturday, May 21
6 – 10 pm
Twas the night before the parade and all through the park, the art cars were glowing and I saw a spark…
Celebrate Houston’s Art Car Culture! Get your first look at the new cars for 2011 (including the Houston Area Museums Art Car!) and see some old favorites from years past. Enjoy live music with illuminated Art Cars and entertainment throughout the park. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the cars if you can’t go to the parade on Sunday. And, if you are going to the parade, come check out the cars in the dark! They are pretty cool when they are all lit up!

The Portable On Demand Arts (PODA) Project
Be one of the first to see a unique public art exhibition in Houston designed especially for AAM!

Sponsored by the American Association of Museums 2011 Local Host Committee in partnership with PODS Houston, the City of Houston and Houston Arts Alliance, the PODA Project is a temporary public art exhibition on display at Discovery Green featuring the work of Aerosol Warfare, Box 13 ArtSpace, Jillian Conrad, Lynne McCabe, Gabriel Martinez, Metalab, Anthony Shumate and The Joanna. Each artist or collective of artists will uniquely transform a PODS® container into a work of art.

Created in conjunction with the 2011 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo™, and responding to the futuristic theme of the conference– the Museum of Tomorrow – the PODA Project provides a non-traditional platform for artists to explore the cultural, ecological, political, scientific and socio-economic forces shaping Houston’s aspirations for the future, and showcase the city as a vibrant arts and cultural capital and museum mecca for locals and visitors alike.

This traveling exhibition will debut at Discovery Green May 18 – June 5, 2011, before touring a series of locations (TBA) throughout the greater Houston region.

Celebrate Houston Arts
The Houston Arts Alliance and Discovery Green have teamed up to present an array of performances and activities while AAM is in town, showcasing the best of Houston’s performing and visual arts.

Sunday, May 22, 8 pm
The Aurora Picture Show and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston present Space, Land and Time: Underground Adventures with Ant Farm, a film directed by Laura Harrison and Elizabeth Federici (USA, 2010, 78 min.) that is the first independent video documentary to delve into the work of the renegade 1970s art/architecture collective Ant Farm, best known for its iconic land-art piece Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Radical architects, video pioneers and mordantly funny cultural commentators, the Ant Farmers created a body of deeply subversive work that questioned everything by posing a set of creative and comedic alternative. The filmmakers will be in attendance and will host a Q&A session with attendees following the film.

Monday & Tuesday, May 23 & 24
12 – 2 pm AND 6 – 8 pm
Houston Arts Alliance Folklife and Traditional Arts Program presents Local Roots/Global Culture, showcasing the city’s diverse performing arts traditions from Creole to Carnatic music, from Highlife to hard core Honky Tonk.

Fitness in the Park
Discovery Green offers a regular series of free exercise and movement classes for the community. While AAM is in town, here’s what’s on the schedule:

Saturday, May 21
                930 – 1030 am:                  Slow Flow Yoga
                11 am – 1 pm:                       Strictly Street Salsa
Sunday, May 22
                1030 – 1130 am:                Discovery Hoop Dance (hula hoops!)
Monday, May 23
                630 – 730 pm:                    Bum-ba before you Zumba
Tuesday, May 24
                630 – 730 pm:                    Joyful Yoga
Wednesday, May 25
                630 – 730 pm:                    Zumba

Other Fun Activities in the Park

Sunday, May 22 (every Sunday)
12 – 4 pm
Urban Harvest Farmers Market and Craft Beer Garden

Wednesday, May 25 (every Wednesday)
12 – 130 pm
Weekly Blues & Burgers Series, featuring Rue Davis, “the Man with Many Voices.” Pick up a bite to eat at the park’s Lake House Café and enjoy this blues music lunchtime outdoor concert

–Susanne Theis, Discovery Green