Downtown Houston Views
July 9, 2009 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Awesome views of downtown Houston?

I'm looking for recommendations for great views of downtown Houston--the skyline, the city lights, awesome urban-y stuff. Restaurants, hotels, and public spaces are preferred; if it's a bar, it has to be 18-up. I already know about Eleanor Tinsley Park and Discovery Green, and I'm looking for something more... indoors? Air-conditioned? It's not required, but definitely preferred. I'd like to hear all suggestions, though! Thanks in advance!
posted by thack3r to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Williams tower, maybe? It's outside of downtown and really tall.
posted by mrstrotsky at 11:37 AM on July 9, 2009

The new criminal and civil courthouses have pretty cool (and *free*) views of downtown.

If you're willing to duck a doorman and defeat some simple locks the roof of the Houston House Apartments is pretty breathtaking. (This may no longer be as simple as it was when I understood this to be the case.)

The Williams Tower (used to be Transco Tower) has an observation deck, but is no longer open to the public -- so says Wikipedia. It's a pretty fantastic view if it has reopened or you can finagle an invitation.

St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital
and Memorial Hermann both have views, as well as many other easily accessible medical facilities in the Med Center.
posted by GPF at 11:47 AM on July 9, 2009

I'm sure I read somewhere that the Williams Tower deck was open again, can't find anything on the Chron, but doesn't it face out towards the Galleria and beltway anyway? Might be worth a call or e-mail to check.
posted by IanMorr at 12:05 PM on July 9, 2009

How about the ferris wheel at The Aquarium?

What's the goal here? Personal inspiration? A picture? A proposal? Somewhere to sit and chat? I love most of the views of downtown from I-45 (although I think 59 has my favorite).
posted by greekphilosophy at 12:05 PM on July 9, 2009

Scott Gertner's Sky Bar has a nice indoor view. But you have to have a VERY high tolerance for mediocre R&B and Smooth Jazz.
posted by GPF at 12:13 PM on July 9, 2009

Eh - anywhere in the Med Center is too far away to get a stellar view of Downtown. I mean, you can see downtown. but it's a little hazy from the smog and the lights are too dim to really do the scene justice. You'll want to be north of the med center - maybe at some of the bars or restaurants in midtown?

IMO, the best view of downtown can be had by taking 288 N to 59 S. As you go around that high curving ramp, the view is perfect. Sadly, there's nowhere to stop, so it's a fleeting scene.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:17 PM on July 9, 2009

Response by poster: greekphilosophy, I'm looking for a nice place to take my girlfriend for her birthday. She really enjoys views of cities, buildings, lights, etc.--she stares at them in awe like many of us stare at really gorgeous natural landscapes. I'd like somewhere where we might be able to enjoy a slice of cake, but it's totally not necessary: I just want to take her somewhere she'll enjoy. We can have cake elsewhere. Sorry for not being clearer.

IanMorr, thanks for the link, I'll check the Williams tower out.

Any other suggestions?
posted by thack3r at 1:09 PM on July 9, 2009

Try the Petroleum Club of Houston, although you may have to be a member to get into the dining area. I think their restaurant is high up in a building in downtown Houston. Maybe on Bell St. There's also Hotel ZaZa which, frankly, has hideous and tacky decor, but the rooms have amazing views of Houston
posted by lyndhurst at 2:13 PM on July 9, 2009

Skyline Bar & Grill
posted by GPF at 2:19 PM on July 9, 2009

...Skyline is at the Hotel Americas downtown, next to the convention center.
posted by GPF at 2:20 PM on July 9, 2009

You could try the 43rd floor restaurant in the Wedge building. Only ever been there for lunch, but there's some nice views and the food is pretty good, wait staff are friendly. Decor is a little dated for my tastes though, got some weird ostrich skin paneling in one of the dining rooms.
posted by arcticseal at 6:06 PM on July 9, 2009

Seconding Skyline Bar & Grill. I also love skylines. At night, the bar can be romantic but I prefer the daytime views. In December, Mr. Yeoja (aka, Namja) and I took the Hilton elevator up to the Skyline bar around 12 noon on a Sunday. The Skyline bar was open but completely empty (not even any staff) so we walked around and gazed out the windows. Nice views - you can see our pictures here, here and here.

Another suggestion is the Chase Tower Observation Deck in Downtown. I haven't been there myself, but friends who work in the building say you get some amazing views of Houston. It's open to the public, but the catch is it's only accessible during working hours.

And lastly, you might try King Biscuit Cafe in the Heights. I haven't been there for quite a while, but they used to have great views of downtown from the outdoor patio.
posted by yeoja at 6:35 PM on July 9, 2009

FWIW, the last time we tried to go up to the observation deck in the Williams Tower, they wouldn't let us, citing 9/11. I think this was in 2006.

The JP Morgan Chase tower will still let you up, though.
posted by zinfandel at 10:03 PM on July 10, 2009

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