Houston Without the Car

Exploring Houston's Urban Landscape Aboard the METRORail

Light rail has been the option of choice for Houston locals and visitors who want a quick, inexpensive and reliable way to zip across the city. The original Red line has been running North/South across the expanse of the inner Loop since 2004. It has a total of 25 stations and 13 miles of track. The Red line provides access to some of the most prestigious spots in Houston, including the Museum District, Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo and NRG Park. Downtown you'll find ample dining and nightlife options, particularly around the Market Square historic district where you can dine at Niko Niko's

In 2015, Houston opened two new rail lines, the Green and the Purple, which provide access to the southeast of parts of the city. These areas include a wide range of sports venues and bar-hopping spots previously difficult to reach by foot.

For the first time, all major sports arenas are accessible by a light rail ride and short walk. The Red line brings travelers close to Minute Maid Park to watch the Astros play baseball, the Toyota Center to watch the Houston Rockets play basketball and Rice University to watch the Owls in any number of athletic pursuits.

The Purple and Green lines share stops at the beginning of their routes and will take you to the BBVA Compass Stadium where you can see the Dynamo play soccer. After the BBVA Compass Stadium, the two lines split. The Green line continues east into the second ward and the Purple line heads southeast into the third ward. The Purple line passes one more opportunity to cheer for the team - The Robertson Stadium where the University of Houston Cougars reside.

If sports aren't your game, take the Green line instead. It offers access to some of the most interesting and offbeat bars in Houston. If you get off the train at the Coffee Plant/Second Ward stops, you will be a short walk away from Voodoo Queen. This New Orleans-inspired, black light-infused bar offers a huge menu of specialty drinks as well as a hearty selection of beer on tap, or canned. A few old-school video games and a stage are also on-site and may be used for costume contests or other quirky events.

Walking a couple of blocks further will land you at Moon Tower Inn. With an enormous selection of beers and ciders on tap and a foodie-friendly burger and taco menu, Moon Tower is a neighborhood favorite. All seating is outside in a comfy, casual setting. If you're looking for one of Houston's more eccentric spots, head to one of the most infamous dive bars in the city, D&W Lounge. It's been operating since the 1940s and opens at 7am to cater to third-shift workers. Painted red, white and blue and decorated with velvet paintings and lava lamps, D&W is as unpredictable as it is interesting. Hit D&W on a Friday or Saturday night to see some old school karaoke.

If the thought of learning the metro system is too daunting, all of these sites are always accessible with a phone call to call a cab, via Uber or other transportation services.

Written by Jenn Haight