Houston, Texas is America's fourth-largest city and one of its most culturally diverse. Filled with art galleries, shopping complexes, historic landmarks and world-class dining, the city is often overlooked as a tourist destination - despite being one of the best cities for all round entertainment in the whole country. Visitors will find that Houston offers a different atmosphere to many northern US cities, with friendly locals who are keen to share their proud Texan heritage.
Houston is a big city, so choosing where to stay will require some careful research before you go. The midtown areas and River Oaks areas are particularly popular with both tourists and those on businesses. Wherever you choose, you may wish to consider booking into serviced apartment over a traditional hotel, as these no only offer an enhanced degree of privacy and conveniences such as kitchen facilities and secure access, but still offer many benefits associated with traditional accommodation, such as reception and room cleaning services - giving you the best of both worlds.
Houston has much to offer even the most seasoned traveller. The huge amount of modern and historic attractions in the city centre keep most first-time visitors busy for days, whilst the innumerable excursion options offer opportunities for those looking to get off the beaten track and see some of the incredible landscapes of the US south.
For those interested in learning about the USA’s fascinating history, Houston offers numerous museums and landmarks, many of which offer guided tours. There’s also a great range of family attractions, from space-themed activity centres to one of the country’s biggest zoos. Those who enjoy nature may also like to take a trip out to one of several nearby national parks.
Houston also has fantastic nightlife. From world class dining experiences to vibrant bars and nightclubs, the city has a great atmosphere for enjoying an evening out. Whether you are looking for a pumping dance club, or a chilled out blues bar, there really is something for everyone - locals say there is never a dull moment in Houston.
Houston has some of the best dining anywhere in the US. For the local specialties, Taste of Texas is a great place to start, offering big grill dishes with traditional chilli flavourings. Brennan’s of Houston is an Iconic spot for Southwestern-Creole fare, whilst Caracol is an upscale Mexican eatery. There’s also plenty of international cuisine on offer too, with places like Uchi and North Italia service dishes from around the globe.
America is famous for its shopping malls and Houston is no exception. The River Oaks centre, the Shops at Houston centre and Galleria are all large complexes which offer everything from designer brands to homewares. There’s also Highland Village and Green Street, which are popular shopping locations with residents of the city.
There’s plenty to do in Houston, with attractions suitable for all ages. The Space Centre is particularly popular, as the city has become synonymous with the space race since ‘Houston we have a problem’ became a popular movie quote. Houston Zoo and Downtown Aquarium are also popular places to visit, as is Wet 'n' Wild SplashTown. For something a little more refined, there’s the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural Sciences.
Houston covers a large area so visitors will likely need to make use of public transport or even hire a car for the duration of their stay. METRORail is the most convenient and accessible service for journeys in the city centre between downtown Houston and NRG Park, whilst buses are the better option if you plan to visit the suburbs. Both bus and rail services can be paid for cheaply using day tickets, costing as little a $3.
Of course, Houston is big oil country and many of the firms based in the city are related to the energy sector in some way. It is also a global leader in petrochemical processing - home to Occidental Petroleum and Westlake Chemical, amongst many others. There is also a large offering of tech and medical research firms, as both industries have seen continued growth in the area in recent years.
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