Flights are expensive and fuel isn't that cheap, either. So what are those of us with wanderlust and limited funds to do? Try taking a vacation in your own city by immersing yourself in a different neighborhood for the weekend—and, potentially, seeing a whole new side of your hometown.
This new summer series serves as a guide to experiencing all that Houston's various enclaves have to offer, so book that Airbnb from the oil-and-gas dude who's never in town and get to exploring.
The Upper Kirby Experience
Check out this well-appointed apartment with resort-style pool and other amenities, from $82 per night; you'll be directly adjacent to all the action, so you may not even need to use your car this weekend. Bonus!
7 p.m. Check in after work, then head to BB's Cafe a block away to relax and unwind on the patio over Cajun-spiced peel-and-eat shrimp, boudin balls and AbitaRitas. Walk/stumble back to the apartment later.
8:30 a.m. Work off your Cajun feast at Levy Park, with free bootcamp classes every Saturday morning. (Can't wake up that early? There's also a free yoga class in the park at 10 a.m.)
10 a.m. Walk across the street to the massive Eastside Farmers Market and pick up supplies for a brunch picnic. You'll find plenty of ready-made meals here—not just fresh produce and farm eggs—in addition to hand-made products you can take home for later use: honey, candles, soaps, jellies, jams, coffee and much more.
11 a.m. Spread out in Levy Park with your picnic and enjoy. We suggest setting up near the aptly-named Activity Lawn, where you'll find a putting green, foosball, table tennis, board games and books, the latter courtesy of the park's "public reading room."
1 p.m. It's the heat of the day; head back to the apartment for some pool time and, later, perhaps a disco nap.
7 p.m. Head to the lavish Kiran's a block away for your dinner reservations. If you're a vegetarian, perhaps you've booked the Vegetarian Feast menu; if you're a pescatarian—or simply living it up—perhaps you've booked the Lobster tasting menu, whose six courses all feature the crustacean in some fine fashion. Whatever you end up ordering, you're going to leave extremely full and extremely well-taken-care-of.
10 a.m. You could always go to a service at the legendary Lakewood Church inside the former Summit, but we suggest waking up over a cup at the cheerful Cavo Coffee. Hungry? The toast menu—yes, toast menu—offers a range of delicious options, from sweet pan de mie slathered with cinnamon-sugar and espresso cream to a hearty sourdough topped with truffle sausage country gravy and a sunny-side-up egg.
11:30 a.m. Now that you're properly caffeinated, sprawl out on the huge patio at the dog-friendly Kirby Ice House instead for some high-quality hair-of-the-dog: mimosas and bloody Marys are $5 until 5 p.m. Didn't opt for breakfast? One or two favorite local food trucks typically set up shop in the parking lot around this time too.
1 p.m. Escape from the heat into the cool confines of the theater and catch a silly summer flick at the nearby Edwards Greenway Grand Palace.
3 p.m. Head home and start planning your next Houston staycation!