Travelling always involves special challenges when you are needy. And by needy I mean when you want to eat healthier foods (further complicated by having Pesco-vegetarian preferences), when you want to experience culture/art/music with a story (read: HIPSTER), and when you want to take interesting pictures. So what do you do when you head to Houston, Texas (a city that has been cited numerous times for being the fattest city in the US, and it not known on the street as being the most culturally exciting place on the map)- you do a little extra legwork to find some truly delightful hidden gems amongst the fast-food concrete jungle.
Our first stop - Rice University followed by a stroll around Rice Village... because nothing gets your tummy rumbling for Parisian goodies like a stroll around James Turrell's Twilight Ephiphany Skyspace (obviously).
Rice University has a truly beautiful campus (the small portion we saw) with manicured lawns and well placed benches all along the way. The Skyspace is a very unique spot that is definitely worth checking out. While I expected the structure to be a bit larger in person, it was still very impressive as a piece of art and a piece of engineering. Pictures definitely don't do this structure justice, but the cloudy day sure made for an interesting backdrop.
So after checking the art/photography box, the obvious next stop involved food- allow me to introduce Sweet Paris in Rice Village. The moment you cross the street and head into the adorable front doors of this Parisian eatery, you immediately feel transported to some other place. Then you check out their full menu of crepe deliciousness and you realize you never want to leave this other place. Ever.
As I reflect on this portion of our adventure, I am not sure what made me happier: the Nutella, strawberry and banana crepe, the frothy dirty chai, or my outrageous feeling of coolness as I drank still water from my Acqua Panna bottle. Regardless, there is nothing bad to be said about this bomb creperie (and just to be clear- I am fully aware that crepes do not fall into my healthy food category, but it is still vacation people!).
Final foodie discovery came on a suggestion from our friends- a fun little joint called Dish Society. Hello to creative flavor combos and farm-to-table goodness. The balsamic bacon brussel sprouts will blow your mind along with the amazing citrus glazed salmon which was cooked to perfection. Anyplace that will whip up a yummy fresh-pressed juice is fine with me (Also, someone spent the mental energy to create an adult beverage made with elderflower and Prosecco, and this too is fine with me because bubbly Italian wine and flowers garner major self-allocated cool points). Overall- this place had something for everyone while promoting higher food standards that mean so much to us.
In the end, even though we had to do some work to find some things in our sphere of interest, Houston gave us some great times with great people. And in the end, that is the true definition of vacation.
Practical info: The "Skyspace" display is located by The Shepherd School of Music on the Rice University campus. We visited during the middle of the day in June, so we didn't get to see the light display that occurs at sunrise and sunset. Regardless, it made for a great afternoon visit and is a must-see if in the area. The best place to park was by the Rice Stadium.
The following website provides additional detail on James Turrell's masterpiece: Skyspace