Houston City Guide
Houston is a massive metropolis and the fourth largest city in the US. It is the largest city in Texas. This huge city is situated across the Gulf Cost Plain of East Texas and extends over an area of 579 square miles. Houston is home to more than 2 million people.
Houston is named after the former Republic of Texas President, Sam Houston and is a city with year-round hot and humid climate. In spite of this unfriendly weather, the city is quite verdant and green as it is located at the edge of a forest and is populated by marshlands and bayous, which are lined with cypress trees.
Houston is not usually regarded as a prime tourist destination since the city has more of a business travel focus. It is a prominent center for the oil and natural gas, computer manufacturing and medical industries. However, Houston actually has many good shopping, dining and sight-seeing attractions for leisure tourists as well.
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Where to stay in Houston
Houston is a gargantuan city. Houston residents define the center city area of Houston, which lies within the interstate 610 that forms a loop around the downtown area of Houston, as being ‘inside the loop’ or the city center while they regard the areas that lie outside the loop area to be the suburbs of Houston.
The sky scraper laden downtown area of Houston lies within this loop and contains the city’s Central Business District and the Theater District along with other attractions like the, Bayou Place Entertainment Complex, the Discovery Green Park, the George R. Brown Convention Center as well as prominent sports venues for Houston’s teams like the Minute Maid Park, which is home to the city’s baseball major league baseball team, the Astros and the Toyota Center, where the city’s professional basketball team the Houston Rockets and its professional ice hockey team the Houston Aeros play.
The downtown area of Houston, accordingly, has the largest concentration of hotels in the city and also sports an air-conditioned seven-mile pedestrian tunnel system, which is full of restaurants and shops that were built specifically to protect both visitors and locals from the harsh Houston heat. This is a must experience place during Houston vacations.
Besides downtown Houston, other accommodation choices for visitors to the city are located in its various neighborhoods; such as the Midtown district that lies just southwest of downtown and the trendy diverse district of Montrose, which offers many shopping and restaurants options and several city parks.
Places to see in Houston
Space Center Houston
This world class aeronautical museum is the prime attraction in Houston. The museum is the official visitor center of the adjacent NASA’s Johnson Space Center ( Mission Control for the U.S. Space Program) and should feature as must-do activity for any space buff visiting Houston.
The Space Center is equipped with many interactive displays like a mock communications console along with other attractions like the Lunar Rover Trainer, which was once used to train astronauts for their outer space journeys, a theater as well as behind the scene tours of the Johnson Space Center, all of which help space fans to get an insight into the fascinating outer space journeys performed by astronauts. It’s a must-see place during your vacations to Houston if astronomy and space interest you.
The Museum District is yet another important attraction in the city, which is located in a scenic section of central Houston. Houston’s Museum District hosts 17 diverse museums along with the 50 acre Houston Zoo and the 445 acre green space of Hermann Park. Some of the most popular museums that are situated within this district include the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Holocaust Museum, and the Children’s Museum and Museum of Health and Medical Science, which features a walk-through re-creation of the human body and is the most visited health museum in the country. The Houston Museum of Natural Science also has added attractions like an IMAX theater and a Planetarium.
Buffalo Bayou is the main waterway of the bayou city of Houston. Visitors to Houston are offered canoe, kayak, and pontoon boat tours of the Bayou, which offer gorgeous view of the Houston skyline.
These guided tours also pass under Waugh Driver Bridge that is home to 250,000 Mexican freetail bats. Witnessing the spectacle of the bats emerging from their day time refuge is a popular activity with vacationers. The best place to view this display is from the sidewalk over the Waugh Drive Bridge or from the adjacent grassy area located near the Wortham Fountain.
Sam Houston Historical Park
The Sam Houston Historical Park offers a valuable insight into Houston’s history for this 19 acre park hosts seven of the city’s oldest buildings that have been restored and relocated here.
The Downtown Aquarium
The Downtown Aquarium is a newish attraction in Houston that was opened in 2003 and is housed in what was once Houston’s Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks building. This entertainment and dining center is equipped with many attractions like a Ferris wheel and a 500,000 gallon aquarium, which features sharks, sting rays, tropical fish and a recreated Louisiana swampland that has alligators and other native creatures. This aquarium is the place to see during your Houston trip if marine life interests you.
Best time to visit Houston
Houston experiences a humid, subtropical climate and the city is swamped by year round winds that bring the heat from the deserts as well as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Due to these factors, weather in Houston is hot and humid for most of the year.
The best season to plan vacations to Houston is during the winter months that extend from November to February for the weather during these months is generally cool and temperate. Moreover, the city experiences no snowfall though it often receives some rain during these months which helps to cool things down further.
Getting around in Houston
Houston boasts off a massive airport system. In fact, it is the fourth largest in US and sixth largest in the world. Its three airports: Bush Intercontinental, Hobby, and Ellington Field - service 200 cities worldwide. Understandably, getting there by air is therefore the most ideal option. So if you choose to fly to Houston, do try our attractive inventory of highly attractive and cheap air tickets and save a lot. Once you have reached the airport, you can use the Metro, shuttles or Car rental service to move around.
The public transport system in Houston is operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) and is made up of Metro buses that provide an efficient and extensive coverage of the city and a 7.5 mile light rail system (Metro Rail), which connects much of the city center including prominent locations like Downtown, Midtown, the Museum District, Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center and Reliant Park.
If you plan to use the public transport options in Houston, you must make sure that you have exact change for your rides else you may consider buying stored value cards and day passes in order to access the system. Houston is also equipped with taxis though they are rather expensive to use and difficult to find in the city center.
Another viable option for getting around Houston is to hire a car as car rentals are quite inexpensive and they provide the easiest and most convenient way to navigate this spread out city. Fare Buzz also offers affordable car rentals so if you need one for your vacations in Houston visit do make sure you ask about/check out Houston car rentals while you make your hotel booking with us.
Where to shop in Houston
Houston is renowned as an excellent shopping destination. The city is equipped with many malls, markets, boutiques, specialty and vintages stores that offer something for all shoppers. If you enjoy shopping in malls and shopping centers, then you will enjoy your shopping expeditions in Houston for the city is home to some magnificent malls that offer a plethora of goods and services. Houston’s most famous mall is undoubtedly the Galleria. Believed to be one of the largest shopping malls in the US, the gigantic Galleria which is modeled on the renowned Galleria in Milan, Italy encompasses 2.4 million square feet of retail space. The Galleria was built in 1970 and offers a mix of high-end stores along with outlets of well-known national chains. Aside from 375 retail outlets, the mall also hosts an ice rink, two hotels and several restaurants.
Other popular malls in the Houston include high-end bastions of retail, like Uptown Park, a mall that is modeled on a European piazza and offers fifty boutiques and specialty stores set amongst lush gardens and sparkling fountains. Also worth a mention are malls like the River Oaks Shopping Center and Highland Village, both of which host outlets of well-known brands like Ann Taylor, Allen Edmonds shoes, Jos A.Banks and more. However, if outlet shopping is more in tune with your tastes, then you are in luck in Houston, for the city offers much discount shopping at its two main outlet malls namely the Katy Mills Mall, a climate controlled mall located 25 miles west of downtown that hosts 200 outlet stores of brands like Kenneth Cole, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike, Banana Republic and more, and the Houston Premium Outlet Mall, a designer discount heaven situated on the outskirts of the city.
Other recommended Houston shopping sites include Rice Village, an enclave of eclectic and indie stores located near Rice University and Harwin, a district located in the south- west part of the city that offers knock-offs of popular brands and numerous other bargains.
Where to eat in Houston
Houston dining scene aims to please all palates and the city hosts a wide range of restaurants that offer both local and international cuisines. Favored Houston eateries currently include restaurants like Oxheart, Mocking Bird Bistro, The Pass, Just Dinner (All New American restaurants), De Marco, Mancuso’s Italian table, Bellissimo Ristorante (Italian), Chama Guacha Brazilian Steakhouse (Brazilian), Uchi (Japanese) and Thai Gourmet (Thai).
Nightlife in Houston
Houston’s rocking nightlife scene features bars, dance clubs, honky-tonks and live-music venues that provide locals and visitors a chance to kick back and let down their hair. Some of the best spots in Houston, to take in some live- music include establishments like Anderson Fair, Boondocks, Dosey Doe, Firehouse Saloon, The Continental Club and House of Blues. Aside from these live-music venues, the city also offers a variety of nightlife haunts which currently include hotspots like Club26Ten and Main stage (dance clubs), Lola’s Depot, Shark Bar and La Carafe (all dive bars) and Dark Horse Tavern (a pub).