Houston Bucket List - 100 Things To Do in Houston Before You Die: Wine and Dine on the Hill

Photo by Adam Baker via Flickr
The Houston Press is presenting a series of posts leading up to a feature story in the print edition of the 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die. Each blog post contains one of our top 10 bucket list items along with nine others in the top 100. To narrow our list, we chose only items unique to Houston -- or items to which Houston provides a unique twist -- and everything on the list must be in or occur within 30 miles of downtown Houston (so, nothing from Galveston, for example). We welcome your suggestions in the comment section.

For our ninth and final online installment of the Houston Bucket List (our number one selection and the last nine others will appear in the August 8 print edition), I tried to imagine an experience that blended the cultural and the casual because that might be one of the better ways to describe Houstonians. We enjoy good food, beautiful art and all the benefits of the fourth largest city in America. But, we like to do it in shorts, especially in the summertime. We get dressed up from time to time, but our default approach to life is comfort, partly out of necessity and partly because it best reflects who we are as people. In short, we ain't stuffy. This ninth member of our top 10 fits us well in every way.

Picnic on the hill for a free performance at Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Sure, you could sit in the seats for a show at the nearly century-old free outdoor theater, but where's the fun in that. The first time I ever sat on the hill was when I was a kid. My aunt took me to see a musical performance. We sat on the hill on a big quilt and ate sandwiches. I'm sure I was more enamored with the food than the performance, but it is an experience I've repeated a handful of times in adulthood, most recently with my fiancée and her niece.

The views from the hill are excellent and during cooler months, there are few places more pleasant than Hermann Park. The wide range of performances showcased at Miller offer enough diversity that I can't imagine anyone in Houston not being interesting in at least one show per season. Best yet, it is always free. Don't forget to bring wine!

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Maybe I'm just getting old.  I've taken a picnic to Miller Theatre close to a hundred times over the years, maybe even more.    If you care at all about what's on stage, go early and get tickets for the seats.   It's hard to hear on the hill, you're at the mercy of the audio mix, and it's full of kids running around, dogs running around, people on phones, people talking freely, and all kinds of distractions.   Also, there's usually not much air movement, it's difficult to find a comfortable way to sit on the slope, and you have to carry all your picnic junk.  Here's how to have a good experience at Miller Theatre:   Get tickets the day of.  Eat at home.  Drive to the Fannin South Park-n-Ride lot.  Take the rail.  Walk leisurely past the reflection pool and splash pad, and take your seat.  After the show, walk leisurely back to the train.  Done.

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