Dana DuTerroil grew up in the Heights and then returned to the neighborhood after a number of years spent in New Orleans. Living in New Orleans with its distinctive sense of place, DuTerroil found it easy to play tour guide there for friends and family.
She wanted to do the same in Houston.
“Houston can feel so massive,” DuTerroil said. “I wanted to help people find their own version of Houston.”
Now, with friend and Houston transplant Joni Fincham, DuTerroil runs a company called Trip Chandler, which offers tours of Houston to visitors and locals. The name is a play on a ship’s chandler, who was a personal shopper for captain and crew in past times.
The two also collaborated on a new book, "111 Places in Houston That You Must Not Miss," published in October 2020 and already scheduled for a reprint. Local photographer Daniel Jackson took the pictures for the book.
DuTerroil said Emons Verlag, the book’s publisher in Cologne, Germany, has a collection of U.S. city guidebooks — all with 111 places to visit. The number 11 is good luck in the German city.
“They only hire local authors,” DuTerroil said. “We love writing and research, so it was a good fit.”
They started working on the book in 2018. DuTerroil said she and Fincham did not have a hard time coming up with places to recommend.
“We did it separately and compared notes,” DuTerroil said. “We were on the same page.”
Their backgrounds as transplant and native were also helpful in getting a well-rounded picture of Houston. DuTerroil said there were a lot of great spots that didn’t make the book, such as restaurants and bars.
“We had to put limits on them because so many other guides focus on that,” DuTerroil said. “We tried to find other places that people might not know about.”
One of these is certainly the book’s “most unusual bathroom,” another request from the publisher. The authors found Houston’s bathroom at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum.
“The docent started talking about (the bathroom) and we knew we had been given a gift,” DuTerroil said. “When the cast of the movie "Giant" was traveling to Marfa they landed in Houston. They gave Liz Taylor her own powder room to freshen up. The chaise lounge they put in there for her is still there.”
Heights picks include Casa Ramirez Folk Art Gallery on West 19th Street and Doug’s Barber Shop on East 11th Street.
“Part of the movie 'Rushmore' was filmed in that barbershop,” DuTerroil said. “People don’t know that the director Wes Anderson is from Houston.”
Barbershop owner Doug Dreher died in 2020, as did Casa Ramirez founder Macario Ramirez, but DuTerroil said they were both aware of their inclusion in the city guide.
The tour business started out with do-it-yourself personalized guides that DuTerroil and Fincham would put together for clients. Later, when they realized people wanted a tour guide, they got certified by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and began to shepherd school groups, journalists and senior citizens around the city.
DuTerroil said they enjoy putting together theme tours, like their popular mural tours and in December 2019 for a wedding party largely from Asia — a Christmas-themed tour of the city’s light displays. There is also an Arts and Brewery option.
“We like to pair things together,” she said.
Because of COVID-19, they haven’t done any tours in person lately but recently did a Zoom mural tour and lecture for South Texas College of Law students.
“We’ve built the business to react to whatever comes our way,” DuTerroil said. “We’re going to see how things look this spring.”
For now, they are updating the book for its reprint.
“We’ve enjoyed telling stories about the things that are hidden in plain sight,” she said.
Visit https://www.tripchandler.com/ for more information.