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5 Houston Hotspots to Check Out

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from friends that “Houston is cool,” but it’s got to be in the hundreds. For some reason, America’s 4th-largest city has never really appealed to me. NYC, LA, and Chicago have always been at the top of my USA travel lists. But Houston? Nope. I’m not sure if it was the rumored humid weather (apparently only in summer), the bad traffic, or the fact that it’s just a big city in Texas — but I just never visited Houston. Until this month! At the persistence of a local, I found myself making the 4-hour drive down from Dallas to Houston for a weekend in a surprisingly cool city.

Here are five of the coolest places I visited in Houston…

Siphon Coffee

Clearly the most hipster coffee shop in Houston — maybe all of Texas — Siphon Coffee has excellent brews, an awesome interior design, and their secret weapon: the siphon. It’s a unique method of brewing coffee that uses halogen burners to create a precise cup of coffee — kind of like a science experiment. But the coffee here isn’t just a good show, it’s a top-quality brew, too.

The Menil Collection

A museum and outdoor complex in Houston, the Menil Collection includes almost 17,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and artifacts — and the best of it is on display in a building designed by Renzo Piano. The collection leans heavily to pop and contemporary artists such as Yves Tanguy, Magritte, Picasso, and Rothko; but, you’ll find other items from ancient Byzantine and medieval cultures, too. Perhaps the most striking part of the collection, however, is the Rothko Chapel.

The Rothko Chapel

Set on the grounds of The Menil Collection, the Rothko Chapel is important enough to deserve its own attention. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much, but this non-denominational chapel has inspired millions. Inside, Mark Rothko designed and painted a series of murals. It’s a peaceful and quiet place — great for contemplation — where celebrities and peace activists from around the world have visited. The feeling you might get inside is difficult to capture, so you really just need to visit for yourself.

Anvil Bar & Refuge

In Houston’s trendy Montrose district, this bar has been serving its contemporary cocktails since 2009. They make their own bitters here, and have a curated list of 100 classic cocktails. The bar’s industrial-chic interior contrasts the cozy and friendly vibe inside. And the drinks? Top!

Hermann Park

Houston might be famous for its traffic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of green spaces in the city. In fact, the city is #1 among the USA’s most populous cities for dedicated parks and open spaces. The Hermann Park is one of Houston’s largest, and includes a number of great sites — including a Japanese garden, an outdoor theater, the Houston zoo, a small lake, and the picturesque McGovern Centennial Gardens.

Have you ever been to Houston? If so, what’d you think? Any suggestions for things to see and do in the city? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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