Mellow and distracting spots near the Galleria
March 28, 2013 7:23 PM   Subscribe

In a week I'll be attending a big family event all the way down in Houston, Texas. The main family hotel is the Hilton and most events will be happening in the Galleria mall. I know I'm going to need an escape from all the intense family time, but I won't have a car and I'm low on non-family-time funds. I haven't been back to Houston almost at all as an adult. Is there anywhere nearby or in the mall that I can visit to regain a little calm or find a little funky charm to distract myself?

Assume I have absolutely no sense of direction, but a functioning smartphone with GPS and I can read a map. I don't like to walk all that far and please assume cabs are out, but I have virtually no sense of the area. If there's a nice main pedestrian drag I'm happy to walk farther.

I guess I'm looking for things like actual local cafes, quiet nooks with comfortable benches (and wifi?) or non-chain shops with interesting merchandise to distract me. I love yarn stores, bookshops, and tea houses. I'm an omnivore but if there's a really good veggie place nearby please suggest it because I doubt I'll be eating healthily the rest of the weekend.

A huge bonus would be somewhere with good wifi where I could sit and do some work away from my hotel room for a couple of hours on Friday. Also just somewhere beautiful and quiet where I can sit for 20 minutes and recuperate, preferably nearby the Post Oak Hilton.

I'll be able to make my escapes on Friday and Saturday during the day; mornings and evenings are booked full of synagogues and dancing gangnam style with 13 year olds, so evening haunts are not relevant.

Thank you for assisting me in not having an introvert's meltdown in the middle of the mishpocha.
posted by Mizu to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's a Barnes and Noble across the street (across Westheimer) from the Galleria (not a local funky cafe, but they probably do have wifi). There's the waterwall park... don't know that there's wifi, but if the weather's nice, it's not a bad place. Galleria area is not my usual haunts in Houston, but those are what spring to mind that are easy walking distance from the Galleria.
posted by smcameron at 7:29 PM on March 28, 2013

Beautiful and quiet means Rothko Chapel, which Google maps tells me is a direct bus ride, then < 1/2 mile walk.
posted by brujita at 7:41 PM on March 28, 2013

Do you like ice skating? You can skate and/or watch the skaters at the ice rink in the galleria.
posted by nightwood at 7:44 PM on March 28, 2013

Houston arboretum and nature center is close. ...Well, by bike/car/bus. 2.6 miles or so. they have a lovely pond.

The Path of Tea, West Alabama Street, Houston, TX, 3.2 miles. Ruggles and Field of Greens are right by path of tea too. Ruggles has meat (including buffalo) and is pretty healthy. FoG is vegetarian.

A little south of the Waterwall is a good sized pond, just across the street.

If you can make it to the Rothko, also hit the (free!) Menil,

But, in general, that (Galleria) part of Houston is fairly loud and busy and by the freeway. A little travel goes a long way.
posted by Jacen at 8:08 PM on March 28, 2013

You could spend an entire day people watching in the Galleria and not spend a dime (AND you can ice skate)! But beyond that, and in the area:
1. Have lunch at Jenni's Noodle House on Post Oak Blvd. It's super good and not too expensive.
2. You can always go to the bar at the Hotel Derek (just on the other side of 610) for an afternoon drink.
3. I don't know the bus routes, but Houston has INCREDIBLE museums that are not too far away from the Galleria (even just take a cab...or your hotel may offer a shuttle). I think there is a Picasso exhibit at the MFA right now, and the new paleontology wing at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is phenomenal. We also have the Menil, the CAM, and the Cy Twombly gallery, just to name a few. And all of these museums are close to one another, so make it a day.

Have fun. The weather right now is fantastic - hopefully that sticks around for your visit!
posted by junipero at 8:08 PM on March 28, 2013

Follow up:
I didn't see the part about wanting to get some work done in a quiet spot. If you can make your way down Westheimer (probably bus or cab would take you there), try Agora or Brasil. Both are great for getting some work done.
posted by junipero at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2013

There are no bookstores in the Galleria area anymore--the B&N across the street and the Borders inside are both gone. My wife says there are no yarn stores nearby or even anything similar.

There's a Jenni's Noodle House practically next door to your hotel, which will be decent. There's a duck pond a little south of the waterwall park (an extra block from your hotel) that's probably more restful. I think the waterwall has benches, but it's not really a tranquil spot. I don't recall benches at the duck pond. Grady Park on San Felipe has several shady benches that are usually open, but the playing fields are in constant use by the middle school next door (if you happen to go there, though, the Marathon Oil tower next door also offers a ton of underutilized couches and comfy chairs in a big open lobby on the second floor). If you decide to just go to the Galleria to hang out, I agree with the recommendation to watch the skaters--there are chairs on upper floors around the skating rink atrium that are kind of in the walkway but perhaps those farthest up will be quiet.

I know the area like the back of my hand, but I think you've asked a fairly hard question. There's a reason everyone's telling you to get over to the Montrose/Museum District area.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:33 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

nthing the Waterwall Park. It's effectively a white-noise generator. Tether your laptop to your smartphone in the shadow of Barad-Transco Williams Tower and you're set.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:53 PM on March 28, 2013

Google Maps suggests it's a 15 bus ride from the Galleria down Westheimer to Agora. You should check the schedule s online for the particular day. I was also going to suggest Rice Village but sometimes you have to transfer, other times it seems to be 25 minutes on one bus.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:58 PM on March 29, 2013

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