Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bat Watching in Houston!

 

HOUSTON'S BAT COLONY IN RESIDENCE

Did you know that Houston is home to over one-quarter MILLION Mexican free-tailed bats YEAR-ROUND?   My husband and I took our 2-year-old to view the bats' evening emergence Saturday night, and I'm pretty sure we enjoyed ourselves even more than our son, Jean-Luc! 

Buffalo Bayou Bat Colony

The summer months are your best bet for viewing the highest concentration of bats, who swarm out of their under-the-bridge residence at Waugh and Allen Parkway every night at dusk by the tens of thousands at a time in gorgeous swirls that resemble horizontal tornadoes.  While Houstonians have gathered ad hoc to observe these thrilling mosquito-eating nocturnal hunters forever, the wide observation platform on the east side of the bridge (whence all the bats emerge each night without fail) makes bat-watching an easy endeavor for Houstonians of all ages.  For the more adventurous, try a night kayak or canoe ride under the bridge or hop on one of Buffalo Bayou Partnership's PONTOON BAT BOAT TOURS!  Just another super cool "perk" to living in Space City!

 

Houston's Best Neighborhoods: Round 1, Part 2: MONTROSE

I'm a little biased towards the Houston Heights since that's where I put down roots, but there's SO much more to Houston than my own neighborhood - try 600 square miles in Houston proper according to Wikipedia.    And that figure doesn't take into account the array of established suburbs sprawling out north, south, and westward whose residents maintain their identity as Houstonians regardless of technical city boundaries.  Here's my perspective on some of the best places to live in Houston, Texas.  Click here for more on Houston's Best Neighbhorhoods .

ROUND 1: 

MAKING THE LOOP "INSIDE THE LOOP": HOUSTON'S CLOSE-IN NEIGHBORHOODS

Part 2:

MONTROSE



A haven for young professionals, artists, and college graduate students alike, Montrose is one of Houston's oldest neighborhoods where the old and new blend beautifully.  The diverse folks that make up Montrose society live in equally diverse homes stately century-old mansions and charming handmade cottages co-exist comfortably and peacefully alongside modern stream-lined townhomes and mid-rise condos.  Offering a wide array of fashionable restaurants, from world-renowned fine dining to gyros and sliders, Montrose boasts perhaps the highest concentration of the diverse eating establishments that make Houston famous.  Encircling the peaceful UST college campus (pictured), Montrose boasts independent theatres, art galleries, coffee shops, antique stores, and boutiques, making this vibrant community a favorite among sophisticated Houstonians who enjoy their leisure time.  Conveniently wedged between downtown Houston and River Oaks, Montrose steadily draws new residents into its fold.

TOP-RANKING SCHOOLS IN HOUSTON

THE BEST ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS IN HOUSTON:

Children at Risk Releases 2014 School Rankings

There is much debate regarding school rankings and standardized testing, but in reality there is little variance among various school rankings as to what schools make up the "Top Tier" in Houston's public schools.    Children at Risk, a non-profit focused on "whole child" development and research-based solutions to improving Houston's public schools, has released their 2014 school rankings.  Here is an alphabetical listing of the elementary schools scoring A or A+ out of HISD, SBISD, and Houston's close-in charter schools:

Briarmeadow Charter

Bunker Hill

Bush

Condit

Frostwood

Harmony School of Excellence

Harvard

Herod

Horn

Houston Heights Learning Academy

Hunters Creek

KIPP Sharp College Prep Lower School

KIPP Shine Prep

Kolter

Lovett

Mark Twain

Memorial Drive

Oak Forest

Parker

Poe

River Oaks

Roberts

Rummel Creek

School at St. George Place

T.H. Rogers

Travis

West University

Wilchester


Check out more detailed school rankings for the Greater Houston area at elementary, middle, and high school levels - as well as methodologies and technical reports on our public education system ere:  http://childrenatrisk.org/research/school-rankings/houston/

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Houston's Best Neighborhoods: Round 1, Part 1: THE HEIGHTS

I'm a little biased towards the Houston Heights since that's where I put down roots, but there's SO much more to Houston than my own neighborhood - try 600 square miles in Houston proper according to Wikipedia.    And that figure doesn't take into account the array of established suburbs sprawling out north, south, and westward whose residents maintain their identity as Houstonians regardless of technical city boundaries.  Here's my perspective on some of the best places to live in Houston, Texas.  Click here for more on Houston's Best Neighbhorhoods .

ROUND 1: 

MAKING THE LOOP "INSIDE THE LOOP": HOUSTON'S CLOSE-IN NEIGHBORHOODS

Part 1:

THE  HOUSTON HEIGHTS


At home in the Heights
 
Don't just take it from me.  CNN recently listed the Houston Heights as one of the TOP 10 NEIGHBORHOODS IN AMERICA!  Craftsman architecture, front porches, sidewalks, parks, and hike-and-bike trails combine to give residents a sense of community that many Houston neighborhoods lack - all in the shadow of downtown Houston and an easy commute to all major business districts in the greater Houston area.  An ever-growing multitude of local restaurants and mainstream and boutique retail shopping enhance the charm of the area for residents across the age spectrum, and the convenience to most major business and cultural districts in the Houston make the Heights the perfect choice for its loyal residents.  The "small-town America" charm, the highly-regarded public schools, and a grassroots community spirit make it especially sought out by young couples and growing families, and the  high concentration of restaurants, bars, retail, neighborhood festivals, and LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION make the Houston Heights a top destination for single working professionals and empty-nesters looking forward to retirement as well.