Summer is officially upon us as Houstonians excitedly make plans for Memorial Day and its three-day weekend—if you're lucky enough to get Monday off. The long weekend celebrated at the end of May honoring Memorial Day is not only a fantastic time to share with family and friends, but a chance to remember those who have courageously given their lives while serving our country. Having immigrated from India at a young age, I am proud to call this country my home and feel especially thankful each Memorial Day. With that being said, I like to make the most of this three-day weekend and celebrate each day to the max. Check out some "out of the box" ways to celebrate a fun, relaxing and of course tasty long weekend in Houston.

Concerts and Cocktails at The Nightingale Room

The Nightingale Room
308 Main St.
832-968-3370
nightingaleroom.com

Downtown Houston seemingly has a new up-and-coming hot spot at every turn. Walking down Main Street on a typical weekend night, you would be astonished at the bars and restaurants lined up side by side, each one distinct and unique, and each packed with curious Houstonians exploring downtown again for the first time in years. From tequila bars to late-night coffee and wine bars, there really is something for everyone.

One of the most successful downtown openings of 2014 was the Nightingale Room, an eclectic venue featuring live music from the inspiring team behind Anvil Bar & Refuge, the pride of Montrose. With an unassuming entrance, your Uber driver may think he brought you to the wrong place, but in fact the trendy two-level bar is stocked with superior sound equipment, artsy decor and an intriguing vibe.

Weekdays will find the casual after-work crowd enjoying craft cocktails like the Dark & Stormy, made with Blackstrap rum and homemade ginger beer from Anvil or happy hour specials including $5 hot dogs made with 44 farms dogs. However, weekends are reserved for "turning up," and three day weekends are about as far up as one can get "turnt." The Nightingale Room actively promotes live bands and DJs who perform in the second-level space of the bar. The view is great from the bar below and tables lined against both walls. You can find a calendar of events on the bar's website, as well as specials, events and more posted regularly on social media.

If you dare to venture out beyond the lounge-y scene and enter the world of live music, the Nightingale Room will be hosting Khris Royal & Dark Matter at 7 p.m. on May 21st as part of their Thursday Night Concert Series. Tickets are $10, and it's a great way to kick off the long weekend a touch early.

Brunch and Browsing Along 19th Street

Shade
250 W. 19th St.
713-863-7500
shadeandcanopy.com

I understand "turning up" isn't for everyone; heck, even I have my days where I want to enjoy chocolate chip pancakes and an afternoon of antiquing. For some Houstonians, long weekends mean getting that one extra day to sleep in, enjoy a late breakfast, go window shopping and relax. One of my favorite things to do in Houston when I know I have an afternoon off is to spend a day in the Heights. It is a mini escape from the fast-paced lifestyle we're all used to and an area that generally caters to everyone.

The popular West 19th Street is a definite go-to spot when exploring the Heights. Pedestrian friendly and lined with restaurants, antique shops, clothing stores and street vendors, it is an excellent place to pass the time. While the area is booming with new restaurants, I have always been fond of Shade for brunch. Eye-catching and favored by the locals, the American brunch fare consists of dishes such as crab cakes benedict, fried chicken and waffles, and no shortage of sandwiches and salads. Mimosa pitchers (available in delicious blood orange) are in high demand during weekend brunch, in addition to spicy Blood Marys, Shade Shandys and Sunburst Martinis made with gin, St. Germain, elderflower, champagne and orange juice. It is no wonder Shade remains a top choice for brunch on West 19th.

While the remainder of the afternoon is open to a variety of options, it is touring the Heights via B-cycle that I personally recommend. The Houston bike-sharing program allows riders to pick up bikes from one station and drop off at any other station in the city for a very small fee. The service has gotten immensely popular over the last year, especially during the spring season while the weather is at its best. B-cycles are available all over Houston and you can even plan your trip before leaving the house by looking at the B-cycle map online at houston.bcycle.com. The Heights offers a fantastic hike and bike trail to work off those fried chicken and waffles, so why not take advantage! (Though be warned; the only station in the Heights proper as of right now is at Stude Park.)


If going away on the long weekend isn't in the cards for you this year, celebrate Memorial Day exploring Houston in a way you have never seen it before. Make it fun, make it different, and more than anything...make it tasty. Whether it's a holiday weekend, special event or an unforgettable moment, no occasion is too big or too small to celebrate out of the box!

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