[y] Houston Visitors Guide
Houston, Texas, offers a medley of activities, attractions, and cultural outlets for its guests to savor. As the largest city in the state, the city boasts an eclectic medley of dining, entertainment, and institutions to create a lasting impression for its visitors. The metropolis has established esteemed performing arts centers that feature Broadway shows, ballets, operas, classical music concerts. Known as “Space City”, the metropolis abounds with verdant parks, trails, professional sports events, amusement parks, and rodeos.
Houston Fun Guide
The largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States, Houston has a population of over 1,500,000. This Texas city has much to offer both visitors and residents including more than twenty universities and colleges such as the distinguished University of Houston, the University of Texas-Houston Health and Science Center, Texas Southern University, and Rice University.
Houston’s international cuisine, moderate weather, and superb arts offerings are just a few of the reasons for the city’s popularity. Outdoor recreation in Houston all year and find quality entertainment day or night in local theme parks, major-league sports arenas, and in Houston’s highly acclaimed museums. Restaurants and entertainment are a short walk or trolley ride away in the downtown area. The METRO light rail whisks riders through the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, to the state-of-the-art Reliant Park sports and event facilities.
Visitors enjoy a variety of outdoor fun throughout the city. Guests can work on their handicap at Bear Creek Golf World, Meadowbrook Farms Golf Course, and Old Orchard Golf Club. Admirers of natural life visit the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center and Herman Park. Beach and surf lovers head to local Galveston Bay for fun in the sun.
Houston is a sports city with several professional teams including the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL), the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Houston Astros of the Major League Baseball (MLB). The Rockets play at the Toyota Center. The Astros compete with their rivals at Minute Maid Park, and the Houston Texas play at Reliant Stadium.
Guests have access to exotic and beautiful wildlife at the Houston Zoo. They learn and experience the wonders of space travel at the Johnson Space Center & Space Center Houston.
These Houston attractions are popular spots for both residents and visitors vacationing in the area. Whether you are traveling with the family, as a couple or are simply looking for a place to get away from the stress of life back home, Houston is an excellent travel destination. From zoos to museums and shopping malls, there’s nothing that you won’t find to enjoy days filled with fun in the Texas city.
Cockrell Butterfly Center
Take a journey into the rainforest, where you will come face to face with a wide variety of butterfly species. This glass-enclosed butterfly museum simulates the feeling of a rainforest with cool, misty air and beautifully colored flowers everywhere you turn. Thousands of butterflies call the Cockrell Butterfly Center their home and spend their days lounging upon exotic plants and flying past the 50-foot waterfall found within the center. Butterflies may even land on guests visiting the center.
Children’s Museum of Houston
The Children’s Museum of Houston is the perfect place to bring the kids for a fun learning experience. Toddlers and children of all ages will enjoy hands-on exhibits that are completely interactive through play, touch, smell and more. Learn about the development of the human body, science, the arts, technology, and history all while having fun at each and every exhibit.
The Houston Zoo is home to over 6,000 animals, each living in an ecosystem designed to feel like and resemble their home in the wild. Millions of guests come from all over each year to experience the Houston Zoo’s fun, educational animal exhibits. A trip to the zoo would not be complete without a stop at the Primates House and African Forest, where you can see monkeys, baboons, gorillas, giraffes, elephants, and much more. The fun-filled children’s zoo also gives kids of all ages the chance to pet goats, sheep, and other friendly animals.
Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts is known as the first municipal art museum in the state of Texas. Many works of art from local artists as well as world-renowned artists can be found here. Popular exhibits include African tribal art, Renaissance art, a sculpture garden, and Post-Impressionist art. Special exhibits visit the museum on a regular basis, providing you with a new experience during each visit.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science
Learn about dinosaurs, the space-age, minerals and much more at The Houston Museum of Natural Science. See real live dinosaur skeletons, view a model of the space station, check out the planetarium and then view an educational movie performance at the IMAX theater. website
Houston Downtown Hotels
Downtown Houston, Texas is the central business district of the city. The boundaries of the area are roughly the area between Interstate 10, Interstate 45 and Highway 59. Downtown Houston is home to several major corporations such as Shell Oil and El Paso Corporation. Many skyscrapers dominate the area including the Bank of America Center and the Continental Center. The area is divided into several districts.
The oldest area of downtown, and of the entire city, is the historic district. This district dates back to the founding of the city in the late 1830s. Old Market Square Park is at the heart of the district.
Another interesting district is the theater district. This area is the home of many fine dining establishments and the headquarters of the Houston Library system. Many concert venues are located in this area. The downtown area is also the home of the Houston Pavilions development. This project is expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the area and provide many additional dining and shopping opportunities.
Many would tell you that the weather in Houston is quite unpleasant. To a certain extent, they would be right! In July, the daily average high easily exceeds triple digits. Humidity can range anywhere from 90 percent to 60 percent during the day. Obviously, Houston is not a comfortable place to be in the summer.
But for the rest of the year, Houston can be a very nice vacation destination. Autumn is usually quite warm, with highs ranging from the upper 60s to lower 80s. Most people like to think of the Houston-Galveston area as constantly being vulnerable to hurricanes at this time of year, but such is not the case. Hurricanes, although devastating to the region when they hit, have only hit the city directly twice in the past three decades.
Winters are almost always very mild and temperate, making it the ideal location for Christmas travel. Even in January, the coldest month of the year, the high averages around 63 degrees, while the low stays around 43 degrees. Snow and ice are a very rare occurrence in the city and usually melts within days of falling.
Spring in Houston is gradually warmed up from winter. Highs will vary from the high 70s to low 80s, while lows will remain around 60 degrees. Around this time of year, thunderstorms will often form, inaugurating the beginning of a ten-month long growing season.
These thunderstorms often serve as a reminder to observers of an irregular constant of Houston’s weather: rainfall. Because the city’s climate is subtropical, rain can happen at any time throughout the year. June, the wettest month of the year, will receive an average of about 6 inches of year. By the end of the year, precipitation averages a sum of about 50 inches.
Rain in Houston falls between 40-50 days out of the entire year. Rainfall, although irregular in the city, can fall quickly and intensely. Flash flooding has been a continuing problem for the area, because of its flat terrain.
As for severe weather, Houston, unlike most of Texas, experiences it infrequently. Unlike Dallas, another large Texan metropolitan area, it is not located in Tornado Alley. If and when tornadoes do occur in the Houston area, they are often weak and cause light to moderate damage.
Houston can be a wonderful place to visit, given the right time of year. If you’re considering a trip to Houston, just remember that its weather yields all the best that Texas can offer.
When traveling to Houston, there are numerous attractions to see and things to do. Often times when you are going out sightseeing, shopping, or going to get a bite to eat, you will need some form of transportation. Houston offers many different forms of transportation that can be used to get to the various destinations of your choosing.
One way to get around Houston is by catching a taxi. They will take you anywhere you need to go and are easy to find, with over 2,400 taxis within the Houston fleet. There are numerous taxi stands within the Houston area where cabs wait for people that need to use them. You could also hail a cab in one of the areas that are designated for this. Another option with a Houston taxi is to have them pick you up where you are. You can contact one of the several companies and they will pick you up and bring you to the destination you choose.
The METRORail is a great way to get into downtown Houston. The rail system runs near the Museum District and has many other great attractions and places to go along the way. The METRORail is continuously being expanded, which will continue to give you additional areas to ride the rails to overtime.
The Metro Bus system is another way to get where you are going. There are two options in services that the Metro Bus system provides. The first is local services. This will take you where you need to go within the city. The buses will stop at every corner giving you plenty of opportunities to get on and off. The second is a park & ride service. This service is for those that are going longer distances.
This is a free way to travel within the downtown area. The buses run during the week from morning to early evening. You can use this type of transportation to get you to different destinations such as Main Street Square, Macy’s, and the Main Street METRORail.
A popular way to get around Houston is to rent a car. This gives you the freedom to go where you want when you want. You will not have to wait for a taxi or get to one of the bus stops. There are approximately 30,000 rental cars in Houston with a variety of companies.
Houston is one of the best cities in the country for restaurant dining. The selection and quality of the thousands of gems make dining out a real pleasure. Of course, Texan-style steakhouses, Tex-Mex cuisine, and seafood are extremely popular. Also growing in popularity are the small businesses that use mobile fleets of trucks and vans to serve tacos, chicken, cupcakes and more. Whatever anyone desires to eat is fantastic and readily available in Houston’s huge metropolis.
Restaurant and food lovers have a wide array of options to select from to satisfy their appetites, including Le Mistral, fresh steaks at Lynn’s Steakhouse, Mexican food at Pappasito’s Cantina and Lupe Tortilla, fine dining at Pappa Bros, seafood at Denis Seafood, Italian cuisine at Damian’s Cucina Italiana and Carmelo’s Ristorante Italiano and French delicacies at Bistro Provence. Asian food aficionados taste the local influences at the Vietnamese Kim Son Restaurant and Chinese at P.F. Chang’s and Hunan Chinese Restaurant.
When it comes to local food, Houston’s farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and top restaurants offer the best from reputable local sources and farms. The San Jacinto River, the Bay of Galveston and the Gulf of Mexico provide crawfish, crabs, oysters, and another crustacean as well as numerous fish. The Slow Dough Bakery bakes artisan bread for restaurants across the city. Houston Dairymaids makes wonderful cheeses of almost every kind imaginable. Corn, strawberries and watermelon are just a few of the locally grown produce brought in to the city from farms in the region.
When it comes to particular foods and cuisines, most of the districts in Houston have their specialties. Mahatma Gandhi District has its cuisine from India and Pakistan. The new Asian district on Bellaire Boulevard has small and large Chinese and other Asian restaurants. Then, Mexican and Tex-Mex dining taquerias and cafes are all over Houston, and West Houston has a wide range of restaurants featuring cuisines from around the globe.
Capturing glimpses of the most popular restaurants in the city of Houston where reservations for dinner are especially recommended for weekends stirs the hunger pains. For fine dining Texas-style, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse serves steak as well as seafood and American dishes. An entire Japanese experience, Uchi provides artistic plates and a unique cultural atmosphere. The restaurant has a sushi bar. Still another well-loved place is Brennan’s of Houston that provides an incredible mix of Creole and Cajun flavors and dishes. Brennan has been in the city for 40 years. These and many restaurants like them provide Texas’ finest foods.
The urban sprawl of Houston provides many distinct districts each with its own mini-cultures and food favorites. Locally grown items and seafood are available in markets and dining establishments. Some restaurants have grown to be famous and featured on TV and in food and travel magazines and websites. Others are just so well-known that residents and visitors frequent them. No matter what type of food is preferred, Houston has plenty of incredible places to find the dining experience and flavors of dreams.
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest annual event held in the city, and it was able to attract over more than 2 million people in 2011. The event lasts for 20 days in February and March, and it is currently held in Reliant Stadium. While the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the world, it also features a barbecue cooking contest and concerts from some of the biggest stars in country music. Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band and The Band Perry were just four of the 20 artists performing at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2012.
Houston International Festival
The Houston International Festival takes place every year during the final two weeks of April, and it is designed to celebrate art and music from a variety of cultures. The Houston International Festival started in 1971, and it has quickly become one of the largest music festivals in the state of Texas. There is no better way to discover music from the rest of the world with over 100 different musicians performing at the event each year. There is even an art market at the event where artists can attempt to sell their pieces.
Bayou City Art Festival
If you are looking to attend one of the best art festivals in the country, then you definitely need to visit the Bayou City Art Festival in Houston. Since this is a biannual event, you can experience the Bayou City Art Festival in the spring or the fall. There is no better way to see all of the great works of art created in the city.
Houston Greek Festival
The Houston Greek Festival has been around since 1966, and it is a three-day event that takes place every October. There is no better place in Houston to experience authentic Greek culture, food, music, and dance. The Houston Greek Festival was created by the Greek Orthodox churches in the area, and all of the money raised at the event go directly to the charity.
Houston Art Car Parade
If you attend the Houston Art Car Parade, then you are guaranteed to see something that you have never seen before in your life. The Houston Art Car Parade was first created in 1986, and it currently receives more than 100,000 visitors each year. The parade consists of hundreds of moving art pieces. The Houston Art Car Parade is always great fun, and it is a great way to celebrate the quirky nature of the city.
Family Fun near Downtown Houston
Houston has many family-oriented activities for a day of fun. The massive Children’s Museum of Houston has been ranked as one of the best children’s museums in the country. The museum contains 14 fascinating exhibits, ranging from ecological studies to physical challenges. In addition, there are daily activities and performances that add up to a full day of fun. The museum’s full-service restaurant serves a variety of items including many healthy options.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Houston Museum of Natural Science, one of the most popular museums in the United States, offers four floors of exhibit areas examining areas of science such as astronomy, energy, chemistry and paleontology. The museum also contains the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, the Burke Baker Planetarium and the Cockrell Butterfly Center. The Wortham Screen Theatre showcases educational films in support of the exhibits shown in the museum, and the Burke Baker Planetarium schedules various educational films related to astronomy. The Cockrell Butterfly Center consists of a walk-through environment where visitors can enjoy a living butterfly habitat.
The Houston Zoo contains over 6,000 animals within its 55 acres. In addition to the many animal exhibits, there are special activities at the zoo including a 4-D movie theatre, giraffe feeding and a wildlife carousel. There are many events at the zoo taking place daily throughout the year. For example, each day there are more than a dozen Meet the Keeper talks, training and feedings. The sea lion show is one of the highlights of the zoo.
Space Center Houston
The Space Center Houston is Houston’s top attraction and also one of the best for family fun. Serving as the official visitor’s center for NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, the Space Center Houston allows visitors to tour the NASA control center. There are a variety of fun, informative attractions and exhibits at the Space Center including two major theater attractions. The Space Center Theater is the largest giant screen theater in Texas which totally immerses visitors into the world of spaceflight, and the Blast Off Theater gives visitors the feeling of blasting into space!
Houston’s Downtown Aquarium provides a fun family outing for all ages. In addition to a showcase of 200 species of sea life from around the world, the Downtown Aquarium contains amusements, shopping, and a full-service restaurant. The seven large themed exhibits in the Downtown Aquarium range from the Rainforest to the Louisiana Swamp. For additional fun, the amusement rides at the Downtown Aquarium consist of a drop ride, carousel, Ferris wheel and a train ride through the center of a shark tank!
Shopping near Downtown Houston
Lovers of shopping choose from a bevy of malls such as the Houston Premium Outlet Mall, Town and Country Village, the Katy Mills Mall, featuring more than 200 retail outlets as well as the Galleria, a luxurious facility with a skating rink and shopping center.
The Galleria in Houston, Texas, has designer boutiques, upscale department stores and specialty shops. Women who are interested in designer handbags will find them at Louis Vuitton, Prada and Kate Spade. Shoe lovers will find plenty of additions to their shoe collections at Jimmy Choo and Gucci. Chanel, Ralph Lauren and St. John sell designer clothing. Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom offer designer handbags, shoes and clothing. Specialty stores here include Tiffany & Co., Godiva Chocolatier and Sephora. Shoppers can reach this mall by bus.
Shops at Houston Place
The Shops at Houston Place are in downtown Houston. Shoppers can buy clothes at Dress Barn and Jos. A. Bank. Pet toys are available at the Animal Kingdom. Trudy’s Hallmark sells cards and gifts. Other stores in the downtown area include Macy’s and Books-A-Million. There are a number of bus stops in downtown Houston.
People shopping for clothes will enjoy a visit to the River Oaks Shopping Center. Women’s clothing is sold at Ann Taylor, J.Jill and Talbots. Jos. A. Bank has men’s suits, dress shirts and shoes. Children’s clothing is available at Gymboree. Barnes & Noble, Chandail Needlework and Sur La Table are some of the other stores here. Buses stop near this shopping center.
A variety of merchandise is available in the shops at CITYCENTRE. Cooks will enjoy browsing through the kitchen items at Sur La Table and the specialty olive oils at OLIVE & VINE. Paper Source offers stationery, gift wrap and greeting cards. Women can buy clothing at J. Crew and accessories at Charming Charlie. Several bus stops are less than a quarter of a mile from this shopping center.
Willowbrook Mall can also be reached by bus. Shoppers will find a large selection of clothing, shoes and accessories at Macy’s and Dillard’s. Old Navy and Banana Republic have casual clothing for the whole family. Women looking for formal dresses will find them at Jessica McClintock. Shoes for every occasion are sold at Payless ShoeSource.
The Village Arcade is an outdoor shopping center that is accessible by bus. Clothing for the whole family is available in the stores here. Ann Taylor has women’s clothing. Children’s Clothing is available at Gymboree and The Children’s Place. Men can shop at Express. Other stores here include Sephora, Bath & Body Works and Nadeau Furniture.
People who want to shop at outlets can visit Katy Mills approximately 25 miles west of Houston and the Houston Premium Outlets approximately 30 miles north of Houston.
History of Houston
Houston was named for Samuel Houston (1793-1863), the politician and general who was at the forefront of Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico. He later became President of the Republic of Texas; when Texas became part of the Union, serving as a Senator and later as Governor of Texas.
In 1914 the Houston Ship Channel was created, beginning a whole new life for Houston. The 50-mile long channel linked Houston to Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. This deep-water port became a major shipping link and an important junction for the U.S. grain market.
The following year oil was discovered and the boom began. Oil companies flooded the area and by the end of the decade, there were forty companies located in the city. World War II found Houston a major supplier of many commodities. In 1958 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration made its home in Houston assuring the city its place in space-age technologies.
Houstonians are proud of their city’s diversity. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Art Car Parade, the International Festival, Fiesta Patrias, the Westheimer Street Festival, the Children’s Festival, and a variety of holiday celebrations bring the City together throughout the seasons of the year and are a source of great enjoyment for visitors.
Houston is renowned as a world center of oil, natural gas, iron and steel, paper products, electrical and electronic machinery. Above all, however, Houston is a city of great neighborhoods that welcome the visitor to a rich cultural environment and an enjoyable and memorable vacation.
Guests have access to additional information at the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau. The city is certain to satisfy the curiosity and needs of its guests whether they enjoy fine dining, shopping or watching live professional football games. Houston welcomes its guests with warmth and cares to create a lasting impression that inspires its guests to return time and again.
Map of Hotels in Houston
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport – Find Hotel Near Aldine, Humble, Williams Airport & Spring.
- Houston Downtown – Find Hotel Near Hobby Center, Minute Maid Park & Houston Park
- University of Houston – Find Hotel at Copa Cabana, Minute Maid Park & Hogg Park.
- Zoo Houston – Find Hotel Near University Palace, Hermann Park & Children Museum
- Banana Beach – Find Hotel at Sheldon, Barrett & Highlands.
- Houston Raceway Park – Find Hotel at Mont Belvieu, Old River Lake & Dutton Lake
- Natural Science Museum – Find Hotel Near West University Place, Hermann Park & Children Museum
- Kemah Boardwalk Houston – Find Hotel at Nassau Bay, Clear Lake Shores & Seabrook
- Clear Lake Houston – Find Hotel Near Bay Forest, Clear Lake City & Friendswood
- Preston Station Houston – Find Hotel at University of Houston, Jones Hall & Minute Maid Park