That’s a Wrap! The Best Holiday Shopping Spots in West Houston

“If you like it, then you should have put a bow on it.” These are the immortal (and severely paraphrased) words of Houston native Beyoncé, and she was (probably) referring to the excellent array of shops and craft fests that greet our fair city every holiday season. In December, our hometown transforms into a wonderland of giving and gorgeousness, so get out there and get into the spirit of West Houston!

CityCentre Houston
Located a mere 10 minutes from our front door, CityCentre blends fine dining panache with holiday shopping convenience. Sprawling over a span of 37 acres, this upscale yet down-home destination is the perfect locale for anyone braving their gift list… or for those who are seeking a great meal to muster up their strength for another foray into the shopping breach!

Tomball German Festival Christmas Market
Nothing says yuletide like The Chardon Polka Band! They will be joined by Yodel Blitz, Tubameisters and over 160 street vendors to create an uber-unique spin on the season this December 7th through 9th. The festival is a short jaunt north in Old Town Tomball, but well worth the trip. In the span of about 30 minutes, you’ll feel like you crossed the globe and went back in time!

Katy Mills Mall
Put on your comfy shoes (or buy some new ones) because this huge-mongous shopping center covers a whopping 1.3 million square feet. That’s “million” with a WHAA? Boasting over 200 retailers, the Katy Mills Mall either has what you need, or you need a new shopping list. Also, refresh your palate with some tasty Texas Blue Bell ice cream to refresh after all of that walking/shopping/awesome’ing.

Rice Village
As eclectic as its neighbor, Rice University, this mainstay of Houston shopping dates back to the 1930’s, yet it constantly innovates and evolves to match our thriving city. Big name shops dovetail with local mom and pops to create a tapestry of triumph!

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No matter where you get your shop on, be sure to pay with the preferred currency: a smile! After all, Houston’s greatest resources are hospitality, heart, and home.

Get Outta Town! The Best Hiking Spots Near Houston.

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and food, food, food! ‘Tis the season for stuffing yourself royally, but all those extra calories might leave you hungry for a chance to burn off the excess baggage.

Well, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail! These three hometown havens are all within an hour of Houston, but a world apart from the ordinary…

Galveston Island State Park
No one is an island, but this destination is singular in solitude, serenity, and sightseeing opportunities. Birdwatching soars to the top of the itinerary as majestic herons, curlews, and laughing gulls fly overhead – no joke! Watch as these feathered wonders fish for sustenance and then follow their lead; the fishing off of Galveston is unparalleled.
Paddle your way around the coastline and camp to your heart’s content. If you’re not in the mood for roughing it (due to all of that tasty goodness in your belly), then you can rent a cabin and glamp the weekend away!

Stephen F. Austin State Park
Oh deer! The nature viewing at this placid locale is filled with lush greenery, fresh air, and, of course, deer. Boasting six miles of trails, this spot is ideal for biking, hiking, and generally communing with Mother Earth. Park guests can also access a nearby 18-hole golf course, wade the Brazos River trolling for catfish, and camp under the stars of the Lone Star state. The sky truly is the limit at Stephen F. Austin Park!

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Sam Houston National Forest
For the eagle-eyed Houston traveler, this wooded wonderland is an ideal vantage point to see bald eagles during the colder months of the year. These patriotic birds are joined by rare red-cockaded woodpeckers who make a home in the Sam Houston National Forest. If your hiking and birdwatching efforts become too strenuous, you can always float your way to a natural nirvana with a boat ride in one of the area’s beautiful lakes: Conroe and Livingston.

Sam Houston National Forest

No matter where you may roam this holiday season, Houston flourishes with nearby getaways and general gorgeousness. And, as always, your return home to Alta City West is the most beautiful destination of all.

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The Three Best Live Music Venues in West Houston

There’s nothing like live music, and Houston is an amazing place to catch your favorite bands and musicians. You can find a wide variety of genres. From country to jazz to piano, there are clubs and bars dedicated to showcasing the best artists. When you live in West Houston, you’re close to some of the best spots for live music in the city. Here are the three best live music venues in West Houston.

Firehouse Saloon
For an authentic honky-tonk, you can’t go wrong with Firehouse Saloon. The country music venue is owned by retired firefighters and is a rustic Lone Star bar. You can find the newest up-and-coming acts as well as some of your favorites. Miranda Lambert performed on their stage seventeen times before she catapulted into national stardom. Speaking of national stars, Firehouse Saloon was named one of the top 15 best venues for live country music in the U.S. by Americantowns Media.

Martini Blu
If you’re looking for some cool jazz, head to the Galleria and Martini Blu. Inside, you’ll find walls decked with fine art, a bar serving up craft cocktails and their eponymous martinis, and performers that’ll take you to a time of speakeasies and sultry singers. There’s a cover charge unless you visit on Wednesdays and Thursdays when you can get in for free all night. You can also get your first glass of wine for a dollar. Another twist is weekend brunch when you can dig into an all-you-can-eat buffet and be serenaded by jazz musicians.

Caps Piano Bar
You’ll be singing along to the classics at Caps Piano Bar. Also located in the Galleria, their talented band plays jazz and blues, and will even throw in some Top 40 if the tips are right. This venue isn’t just for listening, though. They’ve got a dance floor that invites you to get up and swing and sway to the music. There’s no cover charge and the drinks are affordable, making this a perfect spot out for date night or an evening with friends.

When you’re looking for live music, West Houston has some of the best venues in the city. For more concert venues, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. And follow our blog here for more West Houston happenings!

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The Three Best Spots for Sushi in West Houston

When you’re in the mood for sushi, nothing else will do. The Japanese delicacy is one of the most popular cuisines in Houston, and there’s even a 17,000 member club dedicated to sushi. You can get it from places as diverse as high-end restaurants to strip mall storefronts. There are several options to satisfy your cravings for maki, nigiri, and sashimi. If you’re looking for the freshest and tastiest, these are the three best spots for sushi in West Houston.

Aka Sushi House
For lunch or dinner in a quaint neighborhood spot, visit Aka Sushi House. They’re known for offering sustainable seafood, and their menu features all the standard rolls you’ve come to expect. They also offer ramen, made at their sister restaurant Tiger Den. They’re probably best known, however, for their generous happy hour. From 3 pm to 7 pm and from 9 pm to close during the week, and all day on Saturday and Sunday, they offer an extensive selection of discounted items.

Aka Sushi

Kata Robata
Generally acclaimed as the best sushi restaurant in Houston, Kata Robata is helmed by a James Beard-nominated chef. Their fish is flown in directly from Japan multiple times a week, and you can also get locally-sourced soft shell crab. For the complete experience, get a seat at the sushi bar and try the omakase menu. This prix fixe extravaganza is considered one of the best dining experiences in the city.

Teppay Japanese Restaurant
This tiny spot is a perfect place for an intimate dinner. Teppay Japanese Restaurant offers an authentic Japanese dining experience. Sushi is the star, but they also offer traditional dishes like tonkotsu ramen and udon. Be sure to ask what’s been flown in fresh, as they also get deliveries from Japan several times a week.

There are so many great places for sushi in West Houston, and these are just a few of our favorites. Each has their own appeal so you can find one that suits your tastes. Let us know your favorite sushi restaurants in Houston on Twitter and Facebook.

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The Three Best Spas Around Westchase

Self-care is important, but it’s something we all-too-often forget in our rush to get everything done. Instead of waiting until you’re at your wits’ end to take some time out for you, why don’t you go ahead and book a spa day? Nothing is as relaxing as a session of pampering. We’ve made it easy for you by finding the three best spas around Westchase.

Victoria Heavenly Spa
You’ll be on cloud nine when you book a service at Victoria Heavenly Spa. It’s a full-service wellness center that offers massages, facials, and body wraps. What separates this spa is that they also offer laser treatments, body contour and cellulite treatment, and post-liposuction treatment. If your skin needs a little tightening, they can do it with radio frequencies. It’s a non-surgical method that reduces the “early signs of loose or sagging skin and stimulates subdermal collagen production.”

Akyish Japanese Retreat and Spa
Take a trip to Asia without leaving Houston at Akyish Japanese Retreat and Spa. They’ll take care of your nails, scalp, feet, hands, and eyelashes, and many of the products they use are straight from Japan. Reflexology is also offered, and if you’re going out for a night on the town, they’ll provide styling and do your makeup, too.

Amy’s Skin Care
Don’t let the name fool you; Amy’s Skin Care offers much more than just treatments for your epidermis. Her menu includes massages, waxing, tweezing, tinting, and both hair and skin tag removal. Her skin care really does shine, though, with comprehensive services including microdermabrasion, electrolysis, and permanent makeup. The philosophy behind this Houston day spa is based on ayurvedic principles, so you can expect holistic treatments in a restorative atmosphere.

When it’s time to unwind and take care of you, these Houston day spas are the best in Westchase. Let us know about your favorite local spas on Facebook or Twitter. And Follow our blog here for more local tips and recommendations.

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Best Brunch in Uptown Houston

When the weekend arrives, you’ve got one thing on your mind: Brunch. This mix of breakfast and lunch is perfect for relaxing with friends and indulging in treats like French Toast and eggs benedict. Whether you prefer mimosas, bloody marys, or fair-trade coffee, here are some of the best places for brunch in Uptown Houston.

Get a fresh start to your brunch routine with fresh seafood. Caracol, little sibling to the much-vaunted Hugo’s, specializes in Mexican coastal cuisine, and that means an abundant selection of fish, ceviches, and oysters on-the-half-shell. Saturday brunch is a la carte, and Sunday is buffet day. In addition to seafood, you can also load up on chilaquiles with eggs, migas, huevos a la Mexicana, tostadas, chile rellenos con huevo, and more.

Dish Society
If you like your brunch old-school, then Dish Society is your classroom. They’ve got standards like shrimp and grits, beignets, and a traditional breakfast of three eggs, two pieces of bacon, toast, and fresh fruit. Want some Texas flavor in your brunch? Then get the brisket n’ eggs, a dish of smoked and pulled brisket with tomatillo relish, two sunny-side eggs, smoked gouda grits, and a house buttermilk biscuit.

Peli Peli
Break out of the standard breakfast routine with a visit to Peli Peli. Specializing in South African cuisine, their menu invites you to dig into kitka french toast, chicken schnitzel, and deep fried waffles. Their Filet Medallions and South African Eggs Benedict is a must-try, made with tenderloin, baby spinach, and eggs benedict South African style on an English Muffin and served with red potatoes.

La Table
Day drinking is de rigueur at brunch, which is one of the many reasons to visit La Table. It’s a Parisienne-style cafe that offers your choice mimosas, bellinis, and bloody marys with your buffet. You can indulge in eggs benedict, prepared traditionally; egg white frittatas, a classic Caesar salad, and more.

These are just a few of the many places you can have brunch in Uptown Hosuton. For more delicious ways to begin your weekend mornings, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Get Your Sugar Fix at the Best Dessert Places in West Houston

Whether you think every meal should start with dessert, or you only occasionally indulge in sweets, there’s no sense in getting less than the best. When you need to get that sugar fix, we’ve found the best dessert places in West Houston.

House of Pies
Need pie and nothing else will do? It doesn’t matter what time of day or night it is, you can get a slice at this old-school diner that’s open 24 hours. House of Pies has been serving up baked goods since 1967. Stop in for some Bayou Goo, Bavarian Chocolate, or French Silk if cream pies are your thing. If you prefer fruit but are watching your sugar, they’ve got sugar-free apple and cherry. You can get one piece or the whole pie, and if you need some cookies on the side, they’ve got those, too.

Ooh La La Dessert Boutique
Chef Vanessa O’Donnell has been taking care of sugar cravings since 2007. That’s when she opened Ooh La La Dessert Boutique, after graduating from the Art Institute of Houston’s Baking and Pie program. You can find just about anything your sweet tooth desires, from from-scratch cakes to dessert bars and more. They’ve even got a gluten-free menu featuring cookies and cheesecakes.

Dessert Gallery
Dessert Gallery also has a full menu of treats, but what they’re really known for is cake. They’re serious about their retro-style, from the decor to the Old Fashioned Diner cake. It’s layers of golden cake topped with buttercream chocolate frosting. Their petit fours are popular holiday gifts. If you can’t make it into the location, they’ll ship all over the country.

Cacao & Cardamom – Galleria
Sometimes only handmade chocolates will do, and that’s when it’s time to visit Cacao & Cardamom. They make all of the truffles and chocolate bon-bons in-house with natural spices and fruit purees. You can get these treats by the piece or by the box. If your sugar craving is in overdrive, you can get some drinking chocolate, too.

When you need a sugar fix, you can’t go wrong with these dessert places in West Houston.

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Kick Up Your Heels at the Best Places to Dance in West Houston

If you love dancing, then there’s no doubt that Houston is the place to be. The city’s got an amazing nightlife and there’s something for every style, with honky-tonks, discos, and salsa clubs in the mix. When you’re looking for a place to kick up your heels, we’ve found the best places to dance in West Houston.

Wild West
Billed as a “high-class honky-tonk,” Wild West is a Houston standby. For twenty years, the Texan-owned spot has been inviting Houstonites to two-step on in. Their solid oak dance floor is built for boots, and their drink specials will have you loose enough to let it all hang out. Not so sure about your moves? They’ve got dance lessons on Fridays and Sundays. Just be sure to dress appropriately; the bar may be called the Wild West, but your clothes better be up to snuff.

Firehouse Saloon
With cowboy boots in the rafters and an exterior straight out of an old movie, Firehouse Saloon is all about that Country Western life. Owned by firefighters, this honky-tonk brings the music to you live, with bands playing nearly every weekend. The dance floor is huge, and there’s plenty of seating when it’s time to give those dogs a rest.

Club Tropicana
Next time you really want to heat things up, look inside the strip-mall exterior of Club Tropicana. This spicy Latin club is the place to go if you’re looking to dance salsa, merengue, or bachata. Some serious pros take over the dance floor, but if you’re just learning your Cuban motion, there’s no need to sit on the sidelines. They’ve got lessons on Friday nights, and any other time a lot of those experts are happy to show you how it’s done.

Barbarella Houston
If you want to dance downtown, Barbarella Houston is your spot. “Barbs,” as the regulars call it, is laid back and casual, and everyone’s welcome. The DJ plays videos along with the music, and they’re known for their theme nights. Thursdays are soul and Motown, Fridays are all about new music that you won’t hear anywhere else, and Saturdays are “Footloose” and fancy free, paying homage to the eighties.

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80 night now!

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Check out these four bars next time you’re looking for the best places to dance in West Houston, and be sure to let us know on Twitter and Facebook which is your favorite.

4 Fun Ways to Celebrate Oktoberfest in Houston

When Fall arrives in H-town, that means three things: football season has begun, school is in session, and Oktoberfest is near. While the annual festival in Munich is in full swing, you don’t have to fly to Germany to participate. In fact, there are several of these distinctly German parties right here in Texas, so check out these events celebrating Oktoberfest in Houston.

Oktoberfest Houston
Started in 2011, Oktoberfest Houston is now an eagerly-anticipated annual event that celebrates both German and Texas culture. You can wear a dirndl, drink authentic German beer and dance to polka music, and also put on your cowboy boots and drink local craft brews. You can also compete in Olympiad games including the Stein Race, Barrel Roll, Stein Hoisting, and the Legendary Brat Toss. It’s all taking place September 29 at The Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park.

King’s Oktoberfest
King’s Oktoberfest is so big it needs two weekends. The bierhaus has two locations, so why not visit both? Attendance on October 7th and October 21st gets you a raffle to win a trip for two to the real deal – the winners fly to Munich for Oktoberfest in 2019. Entertainment includes adult carnival games, arm wrestling, and a Bavarian strongman competition. Winners of the bier pong tournament will get $500 cash, which will buy a whole lot of beer.

Texas Renaissance Festival
A ren faire doesn’t automatically say Oktoberfest, unless it’s the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission. Take a day trip September 29 or October 1 and you’ll say Huzzah! to Old Bavaria at this themed weekend. They’ll have polka music, brats, and strudel. Dust off your lederhosen before you go and you can compete in the costume contest.

Saint Arnold Oktoberfest
Party in a classic German-style beer hall at the Saint Arnold Oktoberfest on October 6th and 7th. Named after the patron saint of brewers, this brewery is Houston’s oldest. Look the part and you could be crowned the King or Queen. They’ll have their full line-up of beers poured in a commemorative glass boot as well as a special German dinner.

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