Advance paid reservations are required for all tours.
Meet your guide inside the elegant Bistro Lancaster. Perhaps you'll choose an optional drink as you stroll through the lobby of Houston's oldest, continuously operating hotel, which is still owned by the original family. Restrooms are available.
The Lancaster lies in the heart of Houston's Theater District, second in size only to New York City.
Access to the buildings will depend upon the varying schedules of the nine companies that perform here. There is enough to see and talk about on this tour to fill an entire day or two, so your tour guide will emphasize different attractions on each Friday.
This neighborhood wasn't always elegant. Exit the Lancaster and learn about the original Town of Houston. You might be surprised at what you find inside one of the windows on Louisiana Street.
Visit the 1969 Alley Theatre, featuring two intimate stages -- the 824-seat Hubbard and the 310-seat Neuhaus -- home to a company of actors, designers, artisans, and craftspeople. The Alley's 11 annual productions are built and rehearsed in the Center for Theatre Production, a 75,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility located atop the Alley Theatre Garage, which also includes Birraporetti's, "a great Italian restaurant and a heck of an Irish bar." Restrooms are available.
On Lyric Center's plaza, you'll see -- and hear -- David Adickes' "Virtuoso" leading a little string quartet.
North of the Lyric Center is Houston's 2011 Ballet Center for Dance, America's largest professional dance facility, complete with a slipper-shaped skybridge connecting it to Wortham Center.
Your guide will lead you through Sesquicentennial Park, celebrating Houston's 150th birthday (1986), to a dramatic waterfall set in front of downtown's famous high-rise skyline. Great photo opportunity.
Leaving the park, you'll find yourself on Fish Plaza in front of the 1987 Wortham Center, home of the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera. Step inside to see Albert Paley's festive sculpture created along the escalator leading up six stories to the Grand Foyer and two theaters, the Alice and George Brown Theater (2,400 seats) and the Roy and Lillie Cullen Theater (1,100 seats).
Across Texas Avenue is the two-block Bayou Place, an entertainment center featuring two stories of clubs, restaurants, and Houston's Sundance Theater. After a rest stop inside the Hard Rock Café, view the Albert Thomas historic display, which includes photos of John and Jacqueline Kennedy at a dinner for Thomas in Houston the night before the President was assassinated in Dallas. West Bayou Place is home of one of Houston's oldest trees -- the Hanging Oak -- and Houston's Architecture Center. You'll have a chance to see the current exhibit at the Center. Restrooms are available.
Next, visit the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (2002) at Bagby and Walker, home to two theaters -- the 2,600-seat Sarofim Hall and the 500-seat Zilkha Hall.
Take a rest stop at Houston's Visitors Center inside the 1939 Art Deco City Hall. You'll find a short video about things to do in Houston, lots of free literature, souvenirs, and another David Adickes sculpture, a life-size "Sam Houston."
Finish your tour by walking to Jones Plaza, the park above a parking garage that ties the Theater District together, and to the 1966 Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, home of the Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts.
Bistro Lancaster (View)
701 Texas Avenue
Houston, TX 77002