10 Houston Neighborhoods to Hike & Bike
One of the best ways to get to know a city is to walk it. Houston is a vibrant city full of history, culture, and diverse architecture. Now more than ever, taking advantage of walking to exercise and enjoy fresh air is crucial to our wellbeing. Below are 10 self-guided tours around Houston that you can enjoy on a walk or bike ride. When group gatherings resume, we recommend taking advantage of various monthly tours offered by AIA Houston.
The original footprint of the Heights, in northwest-central Houston, was the city’s first mixed-use community. While it’s a hot neighborhood to live and work in, the Heights retains its vintage vibe with mid-century buildings on 19th street, quirky businesses and rows of Queen Anne and Craftsman-style homes. Grab a cup of coffee at Boomtown and a burger at Cedar Creek to enrich this tour. Sandlot Engineering is proud to call The Heights home and is committed to supporting the local community.
Montrose is one of the most diverse, eclectic and vibrant neighborhoods in Houston featuring some of the city's most noteworthy architecture including spectacular mansions, charming bungalows, the campus of the University of St. Thomas, Rothko Chapel, and the Menil Collection. Both Rothko Chapel and the Menil Collection display award-winning architecture that is well worth a visit.
While Downtown Houston has a reputation as being all business, this highly dense part of the city has a lot to offer. From the intimate Market Square to the sprawling Discovery Green, Downtown includes a variety of inviting greenspace. Take time to visit Houston’s famed Theater District, home to nine professional performing arts organizations in a 17-block radius. Or beat the heat by touring Houston's tunnel system sited 20 feet below Downtown’s streets and covering more than six miles. Connecting 95 city blocks, the tunnels feature movie theaters, restaurants, and a variety of retail options. Wells Fargo Plaza and McKinney Garage on Main offer the only direct access from the street to the tunnel.
Buffalo Bayou is more than just another drainage solution in the Bayou City, it is a waterway that gave Houston life and has served as its backbone for 182 years. Buffalo Bayou Park features 160 acres of green space west of downtown Houston and includes beautiful gardens and native landscaping, hike and bike trails, paddle craft and bike rentals, and public art. For a truly unique experience, visit the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, a decommissioned underground reservoir built in 1926 that now features engaging art installations. Check out Buffalo Bayou Partnership to learn more about how to explore in the area.
EADO, short for East Downtown Houston, is a bustling area of Houston that has moved beyond its original up-and-coming status. With views of both Minute Maid Park and the towering BBVA Compass Stadium, EADO boasts a strong art scene and hike and bike trails throughout. Enjoy some of the best Vietnamese food in the city at Huynh Restaurant or channel your inner nerd at Neil's Bahr, a hot spot for comic book and video game fans.
The Houston Museum District is one of the few areas in the country with such a dense population of museums, public art, contemporary architecture, and landscape design. The district is comprised of 19 museums, all within a 1.5 mile radius of Hermann Park. The museums focus on art, culture and science and include the Houston Zoo, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Contemporary Arts Museum, Children’s Museum of Houston and the Holocaust Museum of Houston. Take a moment to stop by the 15-acre McGovern Centennial Gardens to enjoy the unique landscape and 30-foot hill with city views.
The Third Ward is located inside the 610 Loop, immediately southeast of Downtown Houston and to the east of the Texas Medical Center. The Third Ward is one of Houston’s original subdivisions, with a history and legacy as the center of the city’s African American community. The district’s anchor is Emancipation Park, a 10-acre site that was renovated in 2017 and features a storied history. This district is best explored by bicycle through the park and on to Houston Community College, Project Row Houses art community, the Buffalo Soldiers Museum, and Texas Southern University.
Rice University and the surrounding neighborhood is beautiful and full of architectural intrigue. On campus, enjoy walking paths lined with magnificent oak trees, a variety of thoughtful outdoor spaces, and grand buildings. A 2.9-mile dirt trail loops around the campus and is great for running, and there are numerous delicious restaurants to enjoy when your tour is complete.
University of Houston
A variety of art, architecture and campus design can be explored on the University of Houston’s main campus. Works by Frank Stella, Jim Love, William King and The Art Guys are found within the context of a campus featuring buildings designed by notable architects Philip Johnson, Alfred C. Finn, Gensler, Lake|Flato, BNIM and Cesar Pelli.
Texas Medical Center
TheTexas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world. Equivalent to the 8th largest business district in the United States, TMC has over 50 million square feet of patient care, education, and research space. While too large to cover in one tour, check out the architecture of Baylor College of Medicine, the new Texas Children's Hospital Maternity Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center and Methodist Research Center.