There really is nowhere in the world like the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, Texas. One of America’s most walkable neighborhoods, Montrose is an eclectic mix of professionals, artists, families, students, and people who simply like to live in artistic areas or near Downtown Houston. Some parts of Montrose present in-style shopping, clubs, bars and other nightlife. Other parts are quieter and geared more toward coffee shops, art galleries, and bookstores. Still others carry an amazing Bohemian vibe, and stand out uniquely when contrasted with other parts of America’s 4th largest city.
Regardless of what your perfect Saturday looks like – especially if you have diverse tastes – Montrose has activities you will love, often for a price that’s right, and attractive nooks and crannies to explore, too. Practically every inch of the neighborhood has something to look at, do, and experience.
To get you started, here are five wonderful ways to spend the day in Montrose.
#1: Menil Park
Location: 1533 Sul Ross St, Houston, TX 77006
Menil Park may be one of the most peaceful areas in the city, as evidenced by the significant foot traffic you find there on an almost daily basis. Saturdays carry their own experience in the park, as people tend to flock there to enjoy a day in the sun. Any given Saturday, expect to see dogs, lovers, gymnasts, meditation practitioners, dancers, Frisbee throwers and anyone else with an appreciation for green grass and sunlight.
Why we love Menil: This really is a cornerstone location for Montrose. Menil Park is beautiful and features a museum of the same name that is as beautiful as the area around it. The Menil Collection has one of the finest surreal art collections in the world and showcases art from all kinds of styles, artists and parts of the globe. Menil Park and the Menil Collection form one perfect indoor-outdoor experience.
Quote: “I have had some of my most amazing experiences at Menil Park. It is Houston’s answer to the parks of the Texas Hill Country. It’s urban, yet peaceful and open. I love it.”
Bonus tips: Most Saturdays there is a food truck nearby, or at least someone on an ice cream bike. Menil is also extremely close to the gorgeous St. Thomas University campus, as well as the Rothko Chapel. Rothko is a unique spiritual experience unmatched by any other structure in the world. If you go to the Menil, you should take a look there, too.
#2: Coffee and Antique Shop Corner
Location: Dunlavy and Westheimer, 77006
By parking down the street from this famous Montrose cross-street, you will find yourself within a short of walk from four of Houston’s most pleasant coffee shops, including Empire Café, Brasil’s Coffeehouse, Agora Coffee and Bacchus Coffee and Wine Bar. All four of these shops are worth a visit and have their individual strengths. They are also sandwiched in between several antique stores with diverse artifacts any antique lover will appreciate.
Why we love the Coffee and Antique Shop Corner: Where to begin? First, we love coffee. Second, we love antiques. Beyond that, this stretch of road is unique both architecturally and socially. If you like to people watch, this area lets you watch your heart out. Or, if you prefer to peruse some art, there’s a store-gallery hybrid next door to Brasil’s called Space and a gallery north of Westheimer called Archway. Try them both!
Quote: “I grew up in the Montrose coffee shops and still love going there. It takes a while to become a regular at four places within walking distance of one another that do the same thing, but that’s what has happened. They’re just so pleasant.”
Bonus tips: If you feel like waking up just a little early, you can often slide in to one of these locations before the lunch rush and have a chance to put your feet up while you have your morning brew. They all have wifi, but take some time to enjoy the environment and the experience as a whole rather than tap away on a tablet. Save your work for a different day and take in Montrose’s best coffee.
#3: Eleanor Tinsley Park
Location: Houston, TX 77019
Known by many Houston music fans as the venue of Free Press Sumer Fest, Eleanor Tinsley Park presents a long, expansive area that works for joggers just as well as it does dog walkers. The park is one of the hillier parts of Houston, a city mostly at sea-level. There are very pretty overpasses by the water in the area. It’s a favorite of the exercise crowd, and accessible by several major roads, including Allen Parkway.
Why we love Eleanor Tinsley Park: Aside from the fact that Willie Nelson played there (and far be it from us to dislike anywhere Willie Nelson has ever stepped foot), Eleanor Tinsley Park is connected to some rather unusual and interesting parts of the city. Joe and Lee Jamail Park, a skate park next door, is often frequented by Montrose’s skate community. There is also a Frisbee golf course available for public use right there in the park, and Houston’s skyline towers over the park at the perfect angle for onlookers.
Quote: “Eleanor Tinsley Park is an island in West Central Montrose where the coffee lovers go after they’ve gotten hydrated. It also has some of the most representative views of the City of Houston.”
Bonus tips: Guess what? You are in a magical part of Houston that allows you to easily reach either Montrose or the Heights. With a little planning, you can spend the morning window shopping or dining in the Heights, move to Eleanor Tinsley Park and wind up at the Montrose coffee shops that same afternoon. Or you can do the whole thing in reverse order. The point is, it’s good to consider your options.
Location: 1001 Bissonnet, Houston, Texas 77005
The MFAH is Houston’s largest art museum, and perhaps most prestigious. It houses a large collection of various forms of art. Not to overlook its awe-inspiring Greek collection, the Museum of Fine Arts also has more modern art from artists that take up the walls in its rotting galleries. It’s no stranger to the world’s greatest names; the MFAH once exhibited Picasso’s black and white work. The aesthetics outside are just as nice as they are inside. Every native Houstonian has been there on a field trip. Every young adult Houstonian has been there on a date.
Why we love MFAH: MFAH is lovely. It’s quiet, beautiful and easy to walk around in. But the outside makes the entire experience holistically pleasant. There are often food trucks in the lot. People walk in the area and drivers are fairly nice to pedestrians. You can spend the whole day at the museum and barely scratch the surface. MFAH is a classic spot, the kind of spot that separates major cities from medium-sized towns.
Quote: “When I need inspiration, MFAH is my number one option. I love all art, but there is something to the grand prestige of a place that has a long history but has not lost its character.”
Bonus tips: OK, we are going to cheat. Go on a Friday night when there is an event to display the art work of a featured artist. In addition, make sure to walk around in the sculpture garden nearby. It has unique art, some of which is interactive.
#5: Herman Park
Location: 6001 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030
Herman Park is considered by some to be the Museum District or Medical Center, yet bikers and animal lovers in Montrose claim it as their own. The park is home to Theater Under the Stars (TUTS), a nifty miniature train, a small reflecting pool with equally small monument, and the Houston Zoo. Herman Park is the apex of awesome outdoor activities, and even presents a Japanese rock garden as a potential option.
Why we love Herman Park: Herman Park truly meets the definition of a place to spend your Saturday in Houston; it’s connected to some rather amazing areas of the city. It’s accessible from Downtown Houston by METRO rail and is a hop, skip and a brisk walk away from Rice University.
And it has the Houston Zoo, where you can see a wide array of gorgeous species of animals.
Quote: “I love the Zoo! They have an amazing support program and young professionals group. Any animal lover should visit.”
Bonus tips: Use the rail to your advantage. You can travel to awesome areas far and wide from the park. You can also easily visit the science museum of MFAH. If you have an age-appropriate child with you, make sure to let them rolled down the hill. It’s a wonderful experience for a kid.