KEEP CALM IN HOUSTON
Amid the hustle and bustle of the fourth largest city in the United States, it can be difficult to escape all the noise. But Houston does have its share of tranquil escapes. Here are a few quiet places to find some peace.
BY MADELEINE MUNFORD
1409 Sul Ross St., Houston, TX, 77006
The famed Rothko Chapel is not a typical religious facility, but more of a spiritual space. The building contains 14 murals created by American artist Mark Rothko. Visitors are invited to find relaxing solitude, as well as to experience the art and the tranquil environment at their own pace. In addition, reoccurring classes focusing on developing the mind and body relationship through yoga and tai chi are offered on the lush grounds. Barnett Newman’s “Broken Obelisk” rises out of the reflecting pool on the plaza outside the building, offering another quiet escape for visitors. Admission is free.
6001 Hermann Park Dr., Houston, TX, 77030
Hermann Park’s 445 acres are much-loved by Houstonians. Celebrating its centennial in 2014, the park is continually being improved it seems by the Hermann Park Conservancy. Located in the heart of the city, visitors can enjoy a train ride and pedal boats, a stroll around the McGovern Centennial Gardens, tour the Japanese Garden, dance in the interactive fountains at the Lake Overlook and Molly Ann Smith Plaza, as well as hike, bike, paddle, and grab a snack. Special events, such as the Kite Festival and Park to Port bike ride, also take place here. Check the website for hours and a map.
AGORA COFFEE SHOP
1712 Westheimer, Houston, TX 77098
Visit one of Houston’s top coffeehouses and enjoy the ambiance provided inside with a nice cup of joe or even a cold beer. There are areas to snuggle up with a book or magazine, or there’s the second floor, which has an atmosphere similar to a library—very conducive to quiet work activities if you want to bring your laptop.
Located in Hermann Park:
6000 Fannin St., Houston, TX 77030
For more than 25 years, Houstonians have enjoyed the peacefulness of the Japanese Garden, a popular destination within Hermann Park. Originally designed by Japanese landscape designer Ken Nakajima, the garden has been maintained over the years by a Japanese team of gardeners, who prune shrubs and trees in the Japanese style. A“dry” stream garden, designed by noted Japanese landscape architect, the late Terunobu Nakai, is located just inside the west gate, welcoming visitors and setting a serene tone. There are waterfalls, bridges, and stone paths that meander among crepe myrtles, azaleas, Japanese maples, dogwoods, and cherry trees. There is also a teahouse and gazebo, which add to the overall feeling of serenity. Admission is free.
HOUSTON ARBORETUM AND NATURE CENTER
120 West Loop North, Houston, TX 77024
The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is open seven days a week and includes many trails for hiking as well as relaxing strolls. Dogs on a leash are welcome. There are several gardens here, including the Carol Tatkon Sensory Garden, which immerses visitors in scents and nature sounds. There is also a meadow, pond and observation decks, as well as the Charlotte Couch Birding Platform, which overlooks Buffalo Bayou and offers a secluded spot overlooking the habitat of many wild creatures. Events, programs and classes are offered here, include gardening topics, such as edible wild plants, as well as art and photography talks. For trail maps and events, visit the website.