Learn more about this great destination and what it has to offer. Choose a section below for information on the area, including history and transportation details.
Welcome to the Bayou City! Houston is famous for offering a vast range of opportunities and cultural experiences to its 5.5 million residents. Often described as a "sprawling Texas town", the greater Houston area covers more ground than any other major city in America. This creates a sense of living in a medium-sized town—one that just happens to offer big-city convenience and opportunity.
During the day, the downtown skyscrapers are alive with activity and the sidewalks are filled with bustling executives in designer suits. Do not let the daytime business atmosphere fool you, however. This city cares about much more than business, and it is out to prove it. When the sun goes down, the downtown area comes alive with an entirely different personality.
Catch a performance in Houston's renowned Theater District, which spans 17 blocks. Houston is one of a few U.S. cities with permanent, professional resident companies in opera (
If all of this is not enough to impress you, then give the underground tunnels and some shopping a try. A trip through this "city under the city" is an interesting experience that should not be missed by anyone—tourist or resident.
The prestige and glamour of the Galleria area is undeniable. Office space in one of the nearby skyscrapers is expensive, and the shopping consists primarily of exclusive shops offering designer merchandise. If money is no object, put a trip to
Restaurants and clubs, like most things in the area, tend to be fairly sophisticated and cosmopolitan.
Developed in 1911, Montrose covers approximately four square miles, bordered by Buffalo Bayou's Allen Parkway on the north, the Museum District and Highway 59 on the south, Bagby and the revitalized Midtown on the east and Upper Kirby District and Shepherd Drive on the west. Find some quiet time at the
21st century Houston is a thriving art nexus, the home of world-class museums, acclaimed art galleries and a huge community of talented artists. At the heart of it all: The Houston Museum District, whose 15 museums and 50-acre zoological park—all within walking distance of one another and accessible by METRO Rail—form one of the largest cultural districts in the country, with more than half a million square feet of exhibition space. It's also one of the most vital in the nation, drawing six million visitors annually. The
Hermann Park Running alongside the
Besides providing a peaceful view and getaway for the local medical workforce, the park offers a variety of fun options to tourists and residents. Sports enthusiasts can commune with nature while exploring the bike and jogging trails or hit the golf course for the afternoon. Families can enjoy spending the afternoon riding the train around the park and exploring the water on paddle boats. For a little cultural enhancement,
If you enjoy learning a thing or two while having a good time, visit the
If you head south past the Loop on I-45, you will run into the Clear Lake/Kemah area. Unless you are the boat-loving outdoors type, the greatest attraction in this area is
If you happen to prefer the "splashier" side of life, you will undoubtedly love this area for its water sports and boating activities. Both Clear Lake and Galveston Bay offer ample opportunities to get your feet wet. In fact, this area has been labeled "the nation's third coast for boating" and contains one of the largest concentrations of pleasure boats in the country.
Of course, an area with ocean access has to provide delectable seafood offerings, or it simply would not be worth its weight in salt. The
East Houston/San Jacinto
A visit to
Traveling through the area also offers a chance to see the famous Houston Ship Channel. While it is not necessarily as scenic, the sight is certainly splendorous in its own way. Depending on the route taken, you can cross the channel via a toll bridge or a ferry. Naturally, the ferry is recommended for the best view.
As the newest section of the city, the west side has the distinction of being fresh and modern. There are not a lot of tourist attractions on this side of town, but you will find excellent restaurants and shopping centers. Town & Country Center, a modern, three-story shopping mall, offers the perfect blend of traditional mall retailers and unique specialty stores. The Center's newest neighbor, Town & Country Center, is a sprawling shopping center that has wisely followed the same pattern. Many designer and specialty stores stand next to the more recognizable names.
Katy Mills Mall hums with both shoppers ever since it opened. It is a sight to behold. The mall is home to the first Bass Pro Shop in the Houston area. And if you have the kids along, be sure to grab a bite to eat at
While contemporary restaurants still tend to gravitate to the downtown and Galleria areas, the west side holds its own when it comes to a juicy cut of steak or spicy Tex-Mex fare.
Although a few other businesses have managed to squeeze into the crevices here and there, the number of restaurants, bars and nightclubs lining this strip is phenomenal. The western portion of Richmond Avenue is fairly tame and civilized, but once you cross Hillcroft on your way downtown, the fun and games begin.
With so many choices available, it is hard to nail down the most popular spots in the area, but City Streets would no doubt qualify. This vast nightclub houses seven distinctly different clubs, including a 1970s Pop Disco, a piano bar and a huge Country & Western dance hall. If you enjoy perfecting your gaming skills with the latest in high-tech virtual reality and video game equipment, head to
Restaurants along the strip are both diverse and impressive.
As long as glitz and glamor are not on your agenda, the strip offers the perfect solution for a night out. Head there and you will inevitably stumble across the perfect spot.
From its humble beginnings as a cotton-shipping port to its current designation as the "Energy Capital of the World", Houston has enjoyed more than 160 years of existence.
The first settlement in this area was actually started by John Harris in 1826 and was called Harrisburg. At that time, the area was still under Mexican rule, but Texans were growing increasingly discontent. Ten years later in 1836, war between Texas and Mexico was in full swing, and Harrisburg was destroyed by Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna as he chased the Texas army across the area. A short week later, General Sam Houston led the Texas troops to victory and independence at the Battle of San Jacinto.
Later that same year, Augustus and John Allen, two brothers and land speculators from New York, purchased land near the burned-out remains of Harrisburg and started a new settlement. They decided to name the new city after Sam Houston, in honor of his amazing victory at
With its economy was based primarily on the shipping of cotton, the town grew slowly during the early years. After the widening and deepening of Buffalo Bayou—now part of the Houston Ship Channel—in 1869 and the periodic addition of railway systems, the town began to grow into a transportation center for southeast Texas. The city's full-blown surge into expansion and prosperity was brought about by the discovery of oil in the area in 1901. The construction of refineries and other petroleum-related industries began during World War I; these were expanded during World War II. The completion of the Houston Ship Channel in 1914 established Houston's importance in the shipping world, and the city hasn't stopped growing since.
Houston's prestigious billing as the "Energy Capital of the World" is a fact that is well known, but energy is only a small part of what makes the city the thriving corporate center it has become. The chemical industry produces almost half of the United States' petrochemical supply. Manufacturing firms are valued at over billions of dollars, and one out of every three jobs in the area is tied to international business in some way. With the
Houston medical facilities oversee the health of residents and people across the globe; local medical centers provide some of the best patient care, medical research and medical education in the world. The renowned
And last, but certainly not the least; remember those first words spoken from the moon? "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed". Houston's past and future impact on the aerospace industry is in a league of its own.
The city's extreme industrial diversity has resulted in a cultural blend that is equally impressive. With over 60 primary languages spoken in the homes of Houston Independent School District families, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States. It has been further estimated that an additional 30 languages are also spoken on a smaller scale.
Residents typically have a broad knowledge and a great deal of respect for other world cultures and enjoy numerous cultural events every year. Along with common neighborhood events,
The visual arts are equally represented in the numerous museums and galleries that are located primarily in the Museum District. In 1987, the
To a large extent, the growth and development of Houston has been based on the education of its residents. The city has always put significant emphasis on the education of children at both the primary and secondary levels. Several of the local school districts traditionally win state and national achievement awards for academic aptitude.
To this day, residents of Houston are more likely to have completed four years of college than the rest of the U.S. adult population. The city boasts some excellent universities and colleges. Among them are the very prestigious and highly acclaimed Rice University, which first opened for classes in 1891, the University of Houston (1927), Texas Southern University (1947), University of Saint Thomas (1947) and Houston Baptist University (1960). Also, both Baylor and the University of Texas have prominent medical schools in the
From tiny cow-town to the fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston has had quite a historical journey. Petroleum might be what launched the city on the path to growth and success, but it is the diverse population and quality of life that make it a city worth living in and visiting. Houston is truly an international city in every sense of the word.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) +1 281 230 3100 http://www.fly2houston.com/
IAH is located 35 miles north of Houston.
William B. Hobby Airport (HOU) +1 713 640 3000 http://www.fly2houston.com
HOU is located seven miles from downtown.
IAH services the following airlines:
Aero Mexico (+1 800 237 6639 / http://www.aeromexico.com) Air Canada (+ 800 268 0024 / http://www.aircanada.ca) Air France (+1 800 871 1366 / http://www.airfrance.com) Alaskan Airlines (+1 800 252 7522 / http://www.alaskaair.com) American Airline (+1 800 433 7300 / http://www.aa.com) British Airways (+1 800 247 9297 / http://www.british-airways.com Delta (+1 800 221 1212 / http://www.delta.com) Frontier Airlines (+1 800 432 1359 / http://www.frontierairlines.com) Lufthansa (+1 800 645 3880 / http://www.lufthansa.com) Southwest (+1 800 435 9792 / http://www.southwest.com) United (+1 800 241 6522 / http://www.united.com) US Airways (+1 800 428 4322 / http://www.usairways.com)
Airport Map & Information: http://www.airguideonline.com/WIDirports/WIDirport_iah.htm
Airport Services: http://www.airguideonline.com/WIDirports/WIDirport_iah2.htm
Airport Transportation: http://www.airguideonline.com/WIDirports/WIDirport_iah3.htm
HOU services the following airlines:
American Airlines (+1 800 433 7300 / http://www.aa.com) Delta (+1 800 221 1212 / http://www.delta.com) Southwest (+1 800 435 9792 / http://www.southwest.com/) Jet Blue (+1 800 538 2583 / http://www.jetblue.com) Comair (+1 800 221 1212 / http://www.comair.com) AirTran (+1 1 800 247 8726 / http://www.airtran.com) Atlantic Southeast (+1 404 766 1400 / http://www.flyasa.com) American Trans Air (+1 800 435 9282 / http://www.ata.com) Southwest Airlines (+1 800 435 9792 / http://southwest.com)
Airport Map & Information: http://www.airguideonline.com/WIDirports/WIDirport_hou.htm
Airport Services: http://www.airguideonline.com/WIDirports/WIDirport_hou2.htm
Airport Transportation: http://www.airguideonline.com/WIDirports/WIDirport_hou3.htm
From the Airport
Car Rental: Advantage (+1 800 777 5500 / http://www.arac.com/) Alamo (+1 800 462 5266 / http://www.alamo.com) Avis (+1 800 230 4898 / http://www.avis.com) Budget (+1 800 527 0700 / http://www.budget.com/) Dollar (+1 800 800 4000 / http://www.dollar.com) Enterprise (+1 800 325 8007 / http://www.enterprise.com) Hertz (+1 800 654 3001 / http://www.hertz.com) National (+1 800 227 7368 / http://www.nationalcar.com) Thrifty (+1 800 331 3550 / http://www.thrifty.com)
Taxi: If money is not a concern a taxi presents the quickest option to downtown. Passengers are charged the cheapest fare between a flat rate and a metered rate. Most rides, factoring in traffic, take an hour. Some of the more noted cab companies are:
Fiesta (+1 713 236 9400) Liberty (+1 713 695 6700 / www.libertycab.net/) Square Deal (+1 713 659 5105) United (+1 713 699 0000 / www.unitedcab.com) Yellow Cab (+1 713 236 8877 / www.yellowcabhouston.com)
Shuttle: Express Shuttle (+1 713 523 8888 / +1 877 615 4577 / http://www.coachusa.com) is the popular choice with most arriving passengers. Call well in advance to know the Shuttle service operating hours and total cost.
Bus: Bus service, via the METRO (+1 713 635 4000 / http://ridemetro.org), is the ideal choice for the budget minded. All rides are reasonably priced. The buses run from 4:30a-12:45a and can be found on the south side of Terminal C.
Amtrak (+1 800 872 7245 / http://www.amtrak.com) pulls into downtown Houston's train station (902 Washington Avenue) three times a week. The Sunset Limited services between Los Angeles and Orlando but does not possess a solid reputation for arriving on time. The station's surrounding area leans towards the seedy side. Stemming your walking radius is recommended.
Greyhound (+1 800 231 2222 / http://www.greyhound.com) ushers passengers in from all over the country via Houston's city bus terminal.
Driving options into downtown are many, highlighted by Interstate 610 (I-610). Better known as the loop it completely surrounds Houston's outer rim, making it a good choice for bypassing rush hour situations. Interstate 10 (I-10) accesses downtown from an east/west direction. And Interstate 45 (I-45) runs north/south, making it the popular route for drivers traveling from Dallas.
Because of Houston's staggering sprawl a car is necessary. Its web of Interstates give Houston the stunning distinction of being one of the very few cities in the last ten years to see traffic congestion subside, making it easy to negotiate even for visitors who loathe city driving. However, Houston's strange need to pin two and three names to its Interstate system creates confusion. Interstate 45, for example, goes by North Freeway to the north, Gulf Freeway to the south, and the Pierce Elevated through downtown. Your best bet is to disregard the names and only pay attention to the Interstate numbers.
The METRO (+1 713 635 4000 / http://www.ridemetro.org) services all of Houston via 100 bus lines. Geared towards weekday commuters service extends as far north as the Bush Intercontinental Airport and as far south as Clear Lake near Galveston Bay. On weekends, however, service is far more limited in range. Call ahead for further details.
The Metro Trolley (+1 713 635 4000) offers free transportation in the downtown area only. Trolleys pass every 12 minutes.
The Uptown Shuttle (+1 713 621 2011 / http://www.uptown-houston.com/), a bus decorated as a trolley car, provides free service up and down Houston's famed Post Oak Boulevard. It stops at or near most of the strip's popular restaurants and shops.
Taxis are quick, but pricey. Charges are heavy for every mile. So, check before you get into one.
Thanks to Houston's ambitious Bikeway Program (http://www.houstonbikeways.org) the city provides around 227 miles of bike paths and on-street bike lanes.
To find out city traffic information go to http://www.traffic.com/
If traveling overseas, take the safety precaution of registering your trip at https://travelregistration.state.gov and for helpful, practical advice about traveling technicalities and safety standards check out http://travel.state.gov/
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