Friday Fun: Red Bull Illume Exhibit is a Great Date!

The Red Bull Illume Exhibit made its U.S. debut in Houston. The exhibit runs now through Jan. 17
Photo by Tristan Afre at Red Bull Illume Houston. Check out more photos by Tristan on flickr!

Grab a date and head to the Red Bull Illume exhibit at Discovery Green (Schipul client) this weekend.

I’ve been ranting and raving about it like a crazy woman since the event  made its U.S. debut in Houston last Friday. And I’ve been twice since – and I’m planning a third trip this evening. It’s that good.

Red Bull Illume is a worldwide action and adventure sports photography competition.  More than 22,000 images were submitted to the contest of which 50 finalists were chosen by a panel of 53 photo experts.  The photos from those finalists are the Red Bull Illume exhibit.

Where – Discovery Green Park in Downtown Houston

When – 6-10pm each night through Jan. 17

Price – Free – absolutely Free. You’re welcome.

The Scene – 50 photos aligned in neat rows on 4-ft tall illuminated displays; a DJ and free Red Bull with beautiful Discovery Green as a back drop. Priceless.

How to do it right –

  • Make it a date ! The cold weather gives you  are reason to get close. The photos give you something to talk about. The music makes great filler for potential awkward silences.
  • Grab a free copy of the program. It’s pretty and features a print of each  photo, the photographer and the story of how they got the shot.  (For my photography nerds – the technical details for each photo are included as well (Camera, Lens, ISO, F-stop and Shutter Speed) – I’d faint if the histogram was included.)
  • Dress warm with cozy shoes – it’s chilly this weekend in Houston and the exhibit is on the lawn.

Summer Staycation

Since I’m still one of the new guys here at Schipul, I don’t have a lot of vacation time saved up. That said, I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time close to home this summer. However, that does not mean I can’t get that vacation feel right here in Houston. So today’s post is dedicated to the wonderful world of staycations. I also recommend any of these options for a friend coming in from out of town.

I lived with my parents (in Sugar Land) for a while after graduating from college.  During the heydey of the Super Bowl and various All-Star Games,  you could generally find  me somewhere in the vicinity of Downtown. During that time, I had the pleasure of staying in the Alden Hotel,  Magnolia Hotel and the Inn at the Ballpark. I also got to spend the week with the Rutgers Football team in the Hyatt Regency during the 2006 Texas Bowl. In short, I know my way around Downtown Houston hotels.  Let’s break them down:

A Night at the Theater
Alden Hotel
– Perfect for a Downtown weekend taking in the offerings of Houston’s Theater District. a+ is a great way to start your evening with amazing food and atmosphere. The hotel will whisk you to and from the theater, and their bar is the perfect end to a perfect evening.

Magnolia Hotel – The rooftop pool, while a tad bit small, presents a fantastic view of Downtown Houston and the surrounding areas. This is also a great location for Theater District events. However, they do not have a restaurant on site. Nor does their bar really have that great hotel bar feel. Still, if you want a quiet weekend away from it all, book a night at the Maggie. NOTE: Request a room with a view.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Inn at the Ballpark
– While this is probably not a great summer to catch an Astros game, there is no doubt walking across the street to see on is a unique experience in its own right. Plus you have Vic & Anthony’s right next door. If you like baseball, this is your place to stay.

Inn at the Ballpark

Night on the (Down)Town
Hyatt Regency – If you went to high school in Houston, there is a distinct chance your prom was held at this hotel. If you haven’t been to it since your prom, you might be surprised to see how things have changed. new Lobby Bar, new restaurant, new everything really. The rooms are very nice, and it’s got a nice vibe. Plus, you’re blocks away from the Houston Pavilions. The Hyatt is one of the largest hotels in Downtown, so there’s always bound to be a number of travelers to swap stories with at the bar.

Four Seasons Houston Resort Pool

Four Seasons – What is it about a Four Seasons Hotel? Like the Hyatt, the Four Seasons has gone through some major renovations in an attempt to draw more locals. Their resort-style pool is tops among their Downtown brethren, if not any hotel in Houston. Besides, there is just something about staying in a Four Seasons. Add their convenient location to Discovery Green and Houston Pavilions, and you’ve got yourself an  itinerary  fit for the most ambitious fun seeker.

I know what you’re saying, I live inside the Loop, I can see Downtown from my window. Okay, so maybe Downtown isn’t going to give you that exotic out-of-town feel you’re looking for, but can you handle going outside the Loop? What about the Beltway? One of the funny things about Houston’s size is that you can drive across it, and feel like you’ve just been on a serious road trip. The burbs have done a good job creating places for people to visit. Both Sugar Land and  The Woodlands have developed Town Centers that feature hotels and various dining and entertainment options. I’ve been to Sugar Land Town Square, and I highly recommend it. Kind of a small town feel with cosmopolitan style.

Sugar Land Town Square

I know, OMG, THE BURBS! Okay, okay, I’ll keep trying. I do have one last recommendation for you, and it is JUST inside the Beltway. I am talking about the recently opened CITYCENTRE. I had the recent opportunity to spend the evening here with my friends from the Fresh Arts Coalition and Spacetaker during their Arternative Happy Hour event. What will probably surprise you first, is the number of people calling CITYCENTRE their nightlife home. Indeed, there was a great scene going at Yard House and Straits. I’ve eaten at both, and HIGHLY recommend both. The evening wound down with live music at  Monna Lisa in the Hotel Sorella. The atmosphere was so great, that one friend exclaimed, “I feel like I’m out of town.”

So you see, a vacation doesn’t have to always be somewhere outside the city you live. All you need is the right frame of mind, and a fantastic destination. See you by the (hotel) pool!