Whether you didn't get a drone for Christmas or whether you already crashed and/or lost the drone you did get, rest easy, budding photographer: There are plenty of places to get that dramatic downtown skyline shot from the ground.
Below, our favorite vantage points around Houston to take in a dramatic, skyscraper-filled view:
This 84-acre historic site has long hosted some of Houston's prettiest scenery, elaborately carved headstones, weeping angels, cherub fountains and all. Its rolling terrain drops off sharply towards the bayou, offering a wide-angle shot of the skyline from the west as it towers above a man-made lake in the foreground. Park near the cemetery's office, housed in an 1880s-era cottage, for best results.
The former Robert E. Lee Elementary School, built in 1919, was converted to this Neighborhood Centers location in 2013, and now boasts a B-cycle station among other amenities for its Northside community. A newly opened trailhead for the White Oak Bayou Greenway Trail will take you from a viewing platform that offers one perspective of the skyline to another, just below and around the bend in Hogg Park.
Take the White Oak Bayou Greenway Trail south just past this Heights-adjacent park until you pass under Hogan Street. Here, the concrete channelling along White Oak Bayou ends and its natural, wild banks tumble towards downtown and its eventual confluence with Buffalo Bayou. Angled correctly, a shot of the skyline from the north can also capture the iconic Boooooogie On graffiti in the foreground.
You could always climb to the top of the 12-foot-high memorial, but we prefer to get a skyline shot from this portion of Buffalo Bayou Park that captures the stepped ziggurat itself as well as the skyscrapers beyond.
These twin bridges across Buffalo Bayou offer an unusual shot of the skyline from the west that looks straight down the greenery-crowded waterway. The Federal Reserve Bank gently peeks out from one bank but the view is otherwise lush and uninterrupted. Prepare to stake out a spot; this is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
Though the skate park itself has still not yet reopened, you don't need to sneak past the construction fencing to get a great shot here. Just stand at the entrance, then turn around and face the skyline as it erupts over the historic Sabine St. bridge. You can also try for a shot from the bridge itself, though you'll need a wide-angle lens to capture the entire skyline, as this is about as close as you can get without crossing the Pierce Elevated into downtown itself.
The granddaddy—or, in this case, grandmomma—of all downtown skyline shots makes for a perfect postcard view over the manicured lawn of the park as it slopes gently towards Buffalo Bayou. You may notice lots of other folks scoping out the ideal spot for a shot of their own here, so be mindful and share the view with your fellow parkgoers.
Houston's answer to the infamous Pont des Arts bridge in Paris has proven somewhat less attractive for local lovebirds, which means that our own padlock-decorated bridge won't be coming down anytime soon—unlike the Parisian version, which was dismantled in 2015 after the multitude of locks was declared "no longer acceptable for the cultural heritage" of the French city. Guess what city doesn't care about cultural heritage? That's right, y'all.