Whether you thirst for coffee or something stronger, Houston watering holes will wet your whistle. Brazil, in the Montrose area, is a laidback coffeehouse with free wi-fi. From lunchtime on, the West Alabama Ice House pours Texas beers -- Lonestar, Shiner Bock, Southern Star, and St. Arnold -- for a cross-section of Houstonians. The Anvil is a classic bar that cocktail cognoscenti consider one of the country's best, thanks to its use of homemade liquors and fresh ingredients. And the Absinthe Lounge (609 Richmond Avenue; no sign out front) specializes in cocktails made with the green elixir.
Highlight: Don't Overlook the Oddities
There's the Beer Can House, the work of one possessed drinker who downed a half dozen brews a night for years. It's clad with his empties, 50,000 flattened aluminum cans. A visit to the Funeral Museum isn't as ghoulish as it sounds. It's got the country's largest display of funerary artifacts plus a dozen fantasy coffins. Then cruise over to the Art Car Museum, where vehicles are transformed into imaginary items.
Houston doesn't like to blow its own horn like Austin, but there are plenty of places to groove to the beat. Houston's Continental Club, an outpost of the Austin original, features rockabilly acts and birthday tributes to Elvis, Buck Owens, Wanda Jackson, and other greats. McGonigel's Mucky Duck features live music (primarily acoustic) every night except Mondays, which is open mic night so you never know what you'll see and hear. Pub grub and libations are served. Should live blues, Zydeco, and jazz be your passion, sashay over to The Big Easy, where Hurricane Katrina refugees wail.