West University and Rice Village
Pedestrian and Foodie Friendly
A favorite spot around Houston is the West University and Rice Village area, located between highway 59 and the 610 loop. It’s an area that is incredibly pedestrian friendly with quaint little shops, notorious and pricey neighborhoods and their monstrous tree-lined streets.
The area is also home to Rice Village, which is an outdoor shopping and dining area that has recently been revitalized with new structures and boutiques and attracts locals and tourists alike on a regular basis. Parking is somewhat limited in the area (street parking is available if you can find it), but there are also two garages and most places will validate parking – all you have to do is ask.
Rice Village is also the closest shopping district to downtown Houston and has remained one of the most visited and beloved spots in Houston dating back to the 1930’s. So it goes without saying it has a ton of culture along with some unique artifacts and pieces that have lasted many decades. The row of boutique-area bars doesn’t hurt for visiting purposes either.
Rice Village is a 16-block section of shops, boutiques, and coffee shops (local and chains like Starbucks), with more than 300 vendors to choose from. It’s incredibly easy (and worth it!) to spend the entire day there.
Whatever food you’re in the mood for, you can find sweets (crepes, ice creameries, cupcakes, macaroons and more!), Italian, French, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Spanish, Mediterranean, and Vietnamese and new restaurants are popping up every month.
Given the name and the location, Rice Village is located just a few blocks from Rice University, and not only does that help make it a diverse and thriving Houston neighborhood, you can take advantage of the beautiful (not to mention shaded!) 3-mile loop around the beautiful campus. Anytime day or night you’ll catch tons of runners and walkers getting in their daily exercise, or a group of friends grabbing coffee and crepes or brunch at one of the many nearby spots.
Some notable stops in the area include The Chocolate Bar (as featured on The Food Network a few years back), Tinys No. 5, Kendra Scott (multiple Houston locations, but the one in Rice Village is great for snagging a piece of jewelry!), and Hungry’s Café and Bistro offering market fresh flavors throughout their huge menu.