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[[Image:186998827 821b56f515 b.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Main Street Houston]]
 
[[Image:186998827 821b56f515 b.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Main Street Houston]]
  
'''Houston''' is the largest city in [[Texas]] and the fourth largest in the [[United States]].  It is huge, both in population and in land area.  "Urban sprawl" is a term tailor-made for this city, due to Houston being the largest unzoned city in the country.  Houston is a multicultural city home to some of the nation's largest Asian, Arab and Latin American populations.  But its culture is not limited to diverse population — it also boasts a world class symphony and theater district that includes a full-time ballet company and opera.   
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'''Houston''' is the largest city in [[Texas]] and the fourth largest in the [[United States]].[http://www.houstonproperties.com/city-of-houston-overview.html] It is huge, both in population and in land area.  "Urban sprawl" is a term tailor-made for this city, due to Houston being the largest unzoned city in the country.  Houston is a multicultural city home to some of the nation's largest Asian, Arab and Latin American populations.  But its culture is not limited to diverse population — it also boasts a world class symphony and theater district that includes a full-time ballet company and opera.   
  
 
==Districts==
 
==Districts==
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| region1color=#d56d76
 
| region1color=#d56d76
 
| region1items=[[Houston/Downtown|Skyline District]], [[Houston/Downtown|Theater District]], [[Houston/Downtown|Historic District]], [[Houston/Downtown|Warehouse District]]
 
| region1items=[[Houston/Downtown|Skyline District]], [[Houston/Downtown|Theater District]], [[Houston/Downtown|Historic District]], [[Houston/Downtown|Warehouse District]]
| region1description=Center of the city, still the home of high finance and big business. Houston is second only to New York City in corporate headquarters of Fortune 500 companies. Many of them are located downtown including some of the world's largest energy companies. Downtown Houston also boasts the second largest theater district in the United States and the city has world class permanent organizations such as the Houston Symphony and Houston Ballet. The Houston Pavilions entertainment district opened in October 2008 between Main St. and the Toyota Center.
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| region1description=Center of the city, still the home of high finance and big business. Houston is second only to New York City in corporate headquarters of Fortune 500 companies. Many of them are located downtown including some of the world's largest energy companies.[http://www.houstonproperties.com/city-of-houston-overview.html] Downtown Houston also boasts the second largest theater district in the United States and the city has world class permanent organizations such as the Houston Symphony and Houston Ballet. The Houston Pavilions entertainment district opened in October 2008 between Main St. and the Toyota Center.
  
 
| region2name=Neartown
 
| region2name=Neartown
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What this means to visitors is that Houston covers a larger land area with less population than might otherwise be expected. The city is primarily built on the energy industry and nearly everyone owns a car and drives everywhere they go. However, the city is becoming more dense and walkable, particularly in the Midtown/Montrose areas. With a few exceptions, almost everything to see or do is in Houston's urban core inside the 610 Loop and more specifically in between downtown, the Galleria, and the Texas Medical Center.
 
What this means to visitors is that Houston covers a larger land area with less population than might otherwise be expected. The city is primarily built on the energy industry and nearly everyone owns a car and drives everywhere they go. However, the city is becoming more dense and walkable, particularly in the Midtown/Montrose areas. With a few exceptions, almost everything to see or do is in Houston's urban core inside the 610 Loop and more specifically in between downtown, the Galleria, and the Texas Medical Center.
  
==Visitor Information==
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==Visitor information==
 
'''The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau''' operates the Houston Visitors Center,[http://www.visithoustontexas.com/].  The center is located in the heart of downtown Houston at 901 Bagby (corner of Bagby and Walker St.), on the first floor of the historic City Hall.  Find information on Houston's history, attractions, restaurants, hotels, directions, maps, purchase Houston merchandise and watch an 11-minute film on Houston.  You'll find over 10,000 brochures and magazines to help plan your visit to the Houston area. The center is open Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 
'''The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau''' operates the Houston Visitors Center,[http://www.visithoustontexas.com/].  The center is located in the heart of downtown Houston at 901 Bagby (corner of Bagby and Walker St.), on the first floor of the historic City Hall.  Find information on Houston's history, attractions, restaurants, hotels, directions, maps, purchase Houston merchandise and watch an 11-minute film on Houston.  You'll find over 10,000 brochures and magazines to help plan your visit to the Houston area. The center is open Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  
===Climate===
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==Climate==
 
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Houston's climate generally ranges from a hot summer to a cool winter. The months of October to April make for fantastic times to visit to avoid the heat.  
 
Houston's climate generally ranges from a hot summer to a cool winter. The months of October to April make for fantastic times to visit to avoid the heat.  
  
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** '''Southwest''', 5690 Southwest Freeway.
 
** '''Southwest''', 5690 Southwest Freeway.
  
*'''Megabus''', [http://us.megabus.com]. Low-cost bus line with service from [[Dallas]], [[Austin]], [[San Antonio]], and [[New Orleans]]. Fares from $1 and up.
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*'''Megabus''', [http://us.megabus.com]. Low-cost bus line with service from [[Dallas]], [[San Antonio]], and [[New Orleans]]. Fares from $1 and up.
** '''Downtown''', Clay St and Travis St, on the northeast corner.
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** '''Downtown''', 815 Pierce St (north of Travis St).
  
 
*'''El Expreso''', [http://www.elexpreso.net/]. Mexican trans-border bus line, also serves destinations throughout southeastern United States.
 
*'''El Expreso''', [http://www.elexpreso.net/]. Mexican trans-border bus line, also serves destinations throughout southeastern United States.
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** '''Southwest''', Hillcroft at Southwest Freeway (US 59)
 
** '''Southwest''', Hillcroft at Southwest Freeway (US 59)
  
*'''Grupo Senda''', [http://ticket.gruposenda.com/]. Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico.
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*'''Turimex Internacional''', [http://ticket.gruposenda.com/]. Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico.
 
**'''Harrisburg''', 7011 Harrisburg Blvd.
 
**'''Harrisburg''', 7011 Harrisburg Blvd.
 
** '''Southwest''', Hillcroft at Southwest Freeway (US 59)
 
** '''Southwest''', Hillcroft at Southwest Freeway (US 59)
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*'''Omnibus Mexicanos''', [http://www.omnibusmexicanos.com.mx/]. Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico.
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**'''Third Ward''', 3200 Telephone Rd.
  
 
You can get to Houston easily from Mexico (from as far as Mexico City and Michoacan) on a bus. In the bus stations of many major cities in Mexico you will see buses advertised to go to Houston.
 
You can get to Houston easily from Mexico (from as far as Mexico City and Michoacan) on a bus. In the bus stations of many major cities in Mexico you will see buses advertised to go to Houston.
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===By car===
 
===By car===
 
Houston has a number of major highways that make getting around Houston fairly easy. (See list of freeways under the "Get in" section.)  A number of obstacles, however, can make driving in Houston a less than pleasant experience.  One is construction, which seems to be ever-present, and the other is traffic.  Evening rush hour in Houston begins as early as 4 PM and can last more than 2 hours.  Morning rush hour is between 7 and 9 AM.  During rush hour, traffic on the highways can come to a halt.  The strip of the West Loop near the Galleria, between US-59 and IH-10, is an area you should definitely avoid during rush hour if possible.   
 
Houston has a number of major highways that make getting around Houston fairly easy. (See list of freeways under the "Get in" section.)  A number of obstacles, however, can make driving in Houston a less than pleasant experience.  One is construction, which seems to be ever-present, and the other is traffic.  Evening rush hour in Houston begins as early as 4 PM and can last more than 2 hours.  Morning rush hour is between 7 and 9 AM.  During rush hour, traffic on the highways can come to a halt.  The strip of the West Loop near the Galleria, between US-59 and IH-10, is an area you should definitely avoid during rush hour if possible.   
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One peculiarity about Houston's freeway system is the ubiquity of '''frontage roads,''' or, as they're called by the locals, '''feeders.''' These are pairs of one-way surface roads which run parallel to nearly every freeway in Houston and its suburbs, similar to what are called ''service roads'' in other parts of the country. The most basic thing to remember is that, after you've turned onto a feeder road from a surface street, you'll have to take another ramp to enter the freeway. Rest assured, they're easy to navigate once you get used to it.
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*Houston Traffic Map [http://traffic.houstontranstar.org/layers/]
 
*Houston Traffic Map [http://traffic.houstontranstar.org/layers/]
 
*The outstanding freeways system [http://www.houstonfreeways.com/]
 
*The outstanding freeways system [http://www.houstonfreeways.com/]
  
Some of the freeways have an '''H.O.V. (High-Occupancy Vehicle) lane''', which are limited-access lanes located in the median strip of the highway. The HOV lanes are operational Monday - Friday in the morning hours (5AM - 11AM) in the inbound direction and in the outbound direction in the afternoon and evening (from 2PM - 8PM). The HOV lanes are restricted to cars with 2 or more passengers, however some HOV lanes require 3 or more passengers during peak travel periods (6:45-8:00AM and 5-6PM, for IH-10 west; 6:45-8AM only for US-290).  The HOV lanes are marked with signs bearing a white diamond on a black background.  Highways with HOV lanes are: IH-45 North, IH-45 South, US-59 North, US-59 South, IH-10 West (Katy Freeway), and US-290.  The Katy Freeway HOV lanes have been expanded into the Katy Toll Road, a 24-hour multi-lane HOV with paid Single-Occupancy Vehicle access cost-adjusted based on HOV usage.
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Some freeways have limited-access lanes located in the median strip of the highway, generally called '''HOV (High-Occupancy Vehicle) Lanes.''' These lanes usually can't be entered directly from the feeder roads, so using them usually requires finding a METRO Park-and-Ride. Google Maps doesn't seem to know they exist, but if you can navigate METRO's HOV maps, these traffic-free lanes can save you a lot of time if heading to or from downtown during rush hour.
*HOV lane map & schedule [http://www.hou-metro.harris.tx.us/services/hovsystem.asp]
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The HOV lanes are generally operational Monday - Friday. In the morning morning hours (5AM - 11AM) they run inbound, and in the afternoon and evening (from 2PM - 8PM), outbound. The HOV lanes are generally restricted to cars with 2 or more passengers, but the Northwest freeway's HOV lanes require 3 or more passengers during peak travel periods (6:45-8AM).  The HOV lanes can be marked with signs bearing a white diamond on a black background, or, more recently, with signs bearing a green strip saying "Express lane" at the top.  Highways with HOV lanes are: I-45 North, I-45 South, US-59 North, US-59 South, I-10 West (Katy Freeway), and US-290.   
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Recently, The Katy Freeway HOV lanes have been expanded into the Katy Freeway Managed Lanes, a 24-hour multi-lane HOV with paid Single-Occupancy Vehicle access cost-adjusted based on HOV usage. In addition, METRO has announced a program to allow Single-Occupant Vehicles onto HOV lanes with the payment of a toll. More information about these new '''HOT Lanes''' can be found at the aptly-named [http://www.ihatehoustontraffic.com/ ihatehoustontraffic.com].
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*HOV lane map & schedule [http://www.hou-metro.harris.tx.us/SchedulesMaps/HOV.aspx]
 
*Katy Managed Lanes on Harris County Toll Road Authority website [https://www.hctra.org/katymanagedlanes/index.html]
 
*Katy Managed Lanes on Harris County Toll Road Authority website [https://www.hctra.org/katymanagedlanes/index.html]
  
 
===By public transportation===
 
===By public transportation===
Currently, public transportation in Houston is limited to METRO [http://www.ridemetro.org/], which operates bus lines as well as the new and very popular light rail line called METRORail [http://www.ridemetro.org/TransportationServices/MetroRail.asp].   
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The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, better known as '''METRO''' [http://www.ridemetro.org/], operates local and express bus lines, as well as the new and very popular light rail line called '''METRORail''' [http://www.ridemetro.org/TransportationServices/MetroRail.asp].  Visitors may be able to get around without a car, especially if they stick close to downtown, but ample free and cheap parking, combined with Houston's suburban sprawl, make public transit an unpopular choice for Houstonians themselves.
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All METRO fares can be paid with exact change in coins and $1 bills, or with the recently-implemented reloadable fare smartcard, the '''Q Card'''. Q Cards can be obtained for free at METRO's RideStore downtown, and at many local supermarkets, usually at the same service center you'd go to to cash a check or send a wire transfer. Oddly enough, the machines at Park & Ride lots and METRORail stations do ''not'' sell Q Cards, so bring exact change or buy your Q Card before boarding. There are four options for re-filling your Q Card:
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* '''Credit Vending Machines''' in Park & Ride lots, which accept credit and debit cards
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* '''Ticket Vending Machines''' at METRORail stations, which accept both cash and credit cards
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* '''Bus Reloaders''' at the back of every local bus. These are a bit counterintuitive to use, but once you get them, they're quite simple. Insert a bill, and ''then'' place your card in the slot. These machines take $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills, and will reload only one bill at a time.
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* '''Places where cards can be bought''': any store that sells Q Cards can also reload the card for you—just ask at the service desk!
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====By bus====
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If you're brave enough to see Houston from the back seat of a bus, a Q Card is definitely worth the investment, as it's the only way to obtain transfers from one route to the other. Unlike other systems, which require you to transfer at a central point, or only give you a short amount of time to switch buses, METRO gives you unlimited, free transfers for a full three hours after boarding the first bus. No need to ask the driver for a transfer—just tap your Q Card like you would normally. The computer will make sure you pay the least amount possible.
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====By rail====
  
 
METRORail is a seven and a half mile light rail line that runs between downtown, midtown, the museum district, the Medical Center, Reliant Park, and the Fannin South Park & Ride (which is a handy place to park and is located near the 610 loop). It costs $1.25 for a one-way ticket. (Also see the [[#Stay Safe|stay safe]] section.)
 
METRORail is a seven and a half mile light rail line that runs between downtown, midtown, the museum district, the Medical Center, Reliant Park, and the Fannin South Park & Ride (which is a handy place to park and is located near the 610 loop). It costs $1.25 for a one-way ticket. (Also see the [[#Stay Safe|stay safe]] section.)
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===By bicycle===
 
===By bicycle===
Houston is so spread out and (most of the time) humid and hot that bicycles are often best used for exercise or to get to somewhere that is closeby. On the other hand, if you have a little bit of stamina and perseverence, Downtown, Midtown, Rice, Uptown and the Medical Center/Hermann Park/Museum District area are within a 30 minute ride. Multi-modal transportation is also possible, since most city buses have easy to use racks in the front that can get traveler and bicycle near to a final destination.
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Houston is so spread out and (most of the time) humid and hot that bicycles are often best used for exercise or to get to somewhere that is closeby. On the other hand, if you have a little bit of stamina and perseverance, Downtown, Midtown, Rice, Uptown and the Medical Center/Hermann Park/Museum District area are within a 30 minute ride. Multi-modal transportation is also possible, since most city buses have easy to use racks in the front that can get traveler and bicycle near to a final destination.
  
 
The city of Houston has 290 miles of marked bike routes, plus another 80 miles of hike and bike trails in city parks, with concrete plans for even more expansion.  For more information on the Houston Bikeway program, including a complete map of all marked bike paths, visit the City of Houston Bikeway Program website [http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/bikeways/index.htm].
 
The city of Houston has 290 miles of marked bike routes, plus another 80 miles of hike and bike trails in city parks, with concrete plans for even more expansion.  For more information on the Houston Bikeway program, including a complete map of all marked bike paths, visit the City of Houston Bikeway Program website [http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/bikeways/index.htm].
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====Professional sports====
 
====Professional sports====
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* <do name="Houston Aeros" alt="" address="5300 Memorial Drive, Ste. 770" directions="" phone="+1 713-974-7825" email="acavazos@aeros.com" fax="+1 713-361-7900" url="http://www.aeros.com">Houston's American Hockey League team plays it's games at the Toyota Center in Downtown Houston. The team plays from October to April predominatly on the weekends. The games are a family friendly cost effective entertainment event.</do>
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* <do name="Houston Astros" alt="" address="510 Crawford St.." directions="" phone="+1 713-259-8000" email="" fax="" url="http://houston.astros.mlb.com"> The city's Major League Baseball team, playing at Minute Maid Park in downtown, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2012. It will also be the last season for the Astros in the National League; they will move to the American League in 2013.</do>
 
* <do name="Houston Astros" alt="" address="510 Crawford St.." directions="" phone="+1 713-259-8000" email="" fax="" url="http://houston.astros.mlb.com"> The city's Major League Baseball team, playing at Minute Maid Park in downtown, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2012. It will also be the last season for the Astros in the National League; they will move to the American League in 2013.</do>
  
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* <do name="Houston Dynamo" alt="" address="1001 Avenida de las Americas, Ste. 200" directions="" phone="+1 713-276-7500" email="info@houstondynamo.com" fax="+1 713-276-7572" url="http://www.houstondynamo.com">Houston's Major League Soccer team opened its new BBVA Compass Stadium in May 2012. Located in the East End, it is the first major soccer-specific stadium in the US in a downtown area.</do>
 
* <do name="Houston Dynamo" alt="" address="1001 Avenida de las Americas, Ste. 200" directions="" phone="+1 713-276-7500" email="info@houstondynamo.com" fax="+1 713-276-7572" url="http://www.houstondynamo.com">Houston's Major League Soccer team opened its new BBVA Compass Stadium in May 2012. Located in the East End, it is the first major soccer-specific stadium in the US in a downtown area.</do>
 
<do name="Houston Motocross" alt="" address="relient " directions="" phone="" url="" hours="May 22" price="Free" lat="" long="">factory motocross racers from all around the world. to race once a year. </do>
 
  
 
====College sports====
 
====College sports====
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==Learn==
 
==Learn==
 
<!--This section is supposed to list places someone passing through might take a short course of some kind, not a place to list every university, college, and trade school around. Alternately, if a certain campus has historical significance or lovely to wander around in, put it in the See section.-->
 
<!--This section is supposed to list places someone passing through might take a short course of some kind, not a place to list every university, college, and trade school around. Alternately, if a certain campus has historical significance or lovely to wander around in, put it in the See section.-->
Houston is home to one of the top universities in the country, Rice University. Its beautifully wooded campus is ideal for an afternoon stroll or jog with loved ones. Australian's with Danish heritage looking to find true love in Houston should look no further. It is also home to the University of Houston and St. Thomas.
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Houston is home to one of the top universities in the country, Rice University. Its beautifully wooded campus is ideal for an afternoon stroll or jog with loved ones. It is also home to the University of Houston and St. Thomas.
  
 
==Work==
 
==Work==
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In general, prices in Houston are lower than in other major US cities.
 
In general, prices in Houston are lower than in other major US cities.
  
A very popular place to go shopping in Houston is the Houston Galleria. The Galleria is the largest mall in Texas and the ninth largest in the United States. They have anything you could ever think of and more. At the Galleria you can find people shopping at high end stores such as, Bebe, Coach, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Gucci, Macy's, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, The Sharper Image, Ralph Lauren Collection, Louis Vuitton and Houston's only Nordstrom. You can also find people ice skating in the ice rink on the bottom floor. Also, you will find nail salons, 375 fine stores and restaurants. And to top it off at the Galleria there are two Westin hotels. The Galleria is widely recognized as the number one shopping and tourist destination in Houston. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Galleria]
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A very popular place to go shopping in Houston is the Houston Galleria. The Galleria is the largest mall in Texas[http://www.houstonproperties.com/galleria-uptown-park-houston-real-estate.html] and the ninth largest in the United States. They have anything you could ever think of and more. At the Galleria you can find people shopping at high end stores such as, Bebe, Coach, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Gucci, Macy's, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, The Sharper Image, Ralph Lauren Collection, Louis Vuitton and Houston's only Nordstrom. You can also find people ice skating in the ice rink on the bottom floor. Also, you will find nail salons, 375 fine stores and restaurants. And to top it off at the Galleria there are two Westin hotels. The Galleria is widely recognized as the number one shopping and tourist destination in Houston. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Galleria]
  
 
==Eat==
 
==Eat==
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Houston has outstanding dining options, and is widely considered the most restaurant-oriented city in the United States, with a thriving community of ethnic restaurants, superb Tex-Mex, classic Texas steakhouses and Gulf Coast seafood, as well as chain restaurants. Houston's fine dining scene has exploded in recent years, with Downtown, Montrose, Midtown, and the Heights (including the Washington Corridor) as the epicenter of what's hot-and-happening now.   
 
Houston has outstanding dining options, and is widely considered the most restaurant-oriented city in the United States, with a thriving community of ethnic restaurants, superb Tex-Mex, classic Texas steakhouses and Gulf Coast seafood, as well as chain restaurants. Houston's fine dining scene has exploded in recent years, with Downtown, Montrose, Midtown, and the Heights (including the Washington Corridor) as the epicenter of what's hot-and-happening now.   
  
Although high-quality, authentic Mexican food can be found just about anywhere in the city (for some of the best surprises, stop by any nondescript taqueria and order nearly anything at random), the best ethnic dining is generally found in West Houston - in particular the area west of Highway 59 and south of I-10, with everything from Middle Eastern to Ethiopian to Bosnian. The bustling Mahatma Gandhi District around Hillcroft St. is the place to go for top-notch Indian and Pakistani cuisine. In years past, you'd go east of Downtown or to Midtown for your Chinese or Vietnamese fix (respectively); nowadays the new Chinatown (or sometimes "Asiatown") is the new one-stop shop for your cravings. Lying just north of I-10, Long Point Drive and North Gessner sport crowded Korean joints, fantastic taco trucks, and hidden Thai gems.
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Although high-quality, authentic Mexican food can be found just about anywhere in the city (for some of the best surprises, stop by any nondescript taqueria and order nearly anything at random), the best ethnic dining is generally found in West Houston - in particular the area west of Highway 59 and south of I-10, with everything from Middle Eastern to Ethiopian to Bosnian. The bustling Mahatma Gandhi District around Hillcroft St. is the place to go for top-notch Indian and Pakistani cuisine. In years past, you'd go east of Downtown or to Midtown for your Chinese or Vietnamese fix (respectively); nowadays the new Chinatown (or sometimes "Asiatown" which locate on Bellaire Blvd. at Beltway 8) is the new one-stop shop for your cravings. Lying just north of I-10, Long Point Drive and North Gessner sport crowded Korean joints, fantastic taco trucks, and hidden Thai gems.
  
 
With hometown stars such as Monica Pope (T'afia) and Bryan Caswell (Reef, Little Big's, El Real) making their debut on TV shows such as Top Chef and on the Food Network, and more and more chefs and restaurants getting name-checked in media (like GQ's Best Of lists, or Bon Appetit's recent declaration of Houston as the best food city in Texas) and earning award nominations (Randy Rucker's Bootsie's Heritage Cafe was up for the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant - the "Oscars of the restaurant world"), Houston's dining scene seems slowly but surely to be staking out room on the national stage.
 
With hometown stars such as Monica Pope (T'afia) and Bryan Caswell (Reef, Little Big's, El Real) making their debut on TV shows such as Top Chef and on the Food Network, and more and more chefs and restaurants getting name-checked in media (like GQ's Best Of lists, or Bon Appetit's recent declaration of Houston as the best food city in Texas) and earning award nominations (Randy Rucker's Bootsie's Heritage Cafe was up for the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant - the "Oscars of the restaurant world"), Houston's dining scene seems slowly but surely to be staking out room on the national stage.
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===Local Beer===
 
===Local Beer===
 
   
 
   
*'''The Saint Arnold Brewery''' [http://www.saintarnold.com/], located in Houston, is billed as Texas' oldest microbrewery. Their brews are often sold in local bars. Very popular beers are the Texas Wheat, Oktoberfest (August through October), and Christmas Ale (November through December). The brewery tour is open Monday through Friday from 3:00PM to 4:15PM, and Saturday 11:00AM to 2:00PM.
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*'''The Saint Arnold Brewery''' [http://www.saintarnold.com/], located in Houston, is billed as Texas' oldest microbrewery. Their brews are often sold in local bars. The brewery is open for public tours Monday through Friday from 3:00PM to 4:15PM, and Saturday 11:00AM to 2:00PM. In addition to, or in lieu of taking the tour, you can bring food and sit at the rows of picnic tables in the large beer hall. Admission includes four 8oz samples of beer. This unique admission setup exploits a loophole in state law that tries to prevent brewpubs from packaging and distributing beer.
  
 
==Sleep==
 
==Sleep==
 
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*<sleep name="Crowne Plaza Suites Houston" alt="" address="9090 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX 77074" directions="" phone="7139950123" url="http://www.crowneplazasuites.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">This Houston Hotel is an all suite hotel conveniently located just minutes away from all the attractions and places to visit while in Houston. This Crowne Plaza Suites Houston is an atrium hotel with conference and catering facilities, restaurant and lounge, room service, indoor pool, whirlpool, fitness room, free business center, free parking and much more! </sleep>
 
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==Stay safe==
 
==Stay safe==
 
===Crime===
 
===Crime===
Like most large US cities, Houston has its share of crime. Residents of Texas are allowed to carry concealed firearms after completing training and a thorough background check. Almost all people who possess a firearm do so responsibly, and crime among this group is practically nonexistent. Like many other US cities, certain areas of Houston are considerably less safe including the area within Loop 610 on the east side and some areas in Southwest Houston near Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Tollway).  
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Like most large US cities, Houston has its share of crime. Residents of Texas are allowed to carry concealed firearms after completing training and a thorough background check. Almost all people who possess a firearm do so responsibly.  
  
 
Travelers to Houston should follow common safety procedures such as staying away from deserted areas in the middle of the night, keeping their valuables stored out of sight, keeping purses/wallets in a secure location, and always put valuables in a car trunk. For emergency assistance, travelers can contact Houston Police Department by dialing 911. In addition, travelers should dial 911 to report most crimes in progress. For non-emergency assistance and for crimes not in progress such as minor assault, car theft, home invasion, property damage, and theft, dial 713-884-3131 and request police assistance. The Houston Police Department also allows citizens to file online reports for minor property damage and theft if they are under $5,000 in damages.
 
Travelers to Houston should follow common safety procedures such as staying away from deserted areas in the middle of the night, keeping their valuables stored out of sight, keeping purses/wallets in a secure location, and always put valuables in a car trunk. For emergency assistance, travelers can contact Houston Police Department by dialing 911. In addition, travelers should dial 911 to report most crimes in progress. For non-emergency assistance and for crimes not in progress such as minor assault, car theft, home invasion, property damage, and theft, dial 713-884-3131 and request police assistance. The Houston Police Department also allows citizens to file online reports for minor property damage and theft if they are under $5,000 in damages.
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* [[Image:ca-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="Canada" alt="" address="5847 San Felipe St Ste 1700" directions="" phone="+1 713 821-1440" url="http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/houston/index.aspx?lang=eng" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" email="hston-td@international.gc.ca" fax="+1 713 821-1611"></listing>
 
* [[Image:ca-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="Canada" alt="" address="5847 San Felipe St Ste 1700" directions="" phone="+1 713 821-1440" url="http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/houston/index.aspx?lang=eng" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" email="hston-td@international.gc.ca" fax="+1 713 821-1611"></listing>
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* [[Image:co-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="Colombia" alt="" address="2400 Augusta Dr. Suite 400" directions="" phone="+1 713 527 8919" fax="+1 713 529 3395" email="chouston@cancilleria.gov.co" hours="M-F 9AM-2PM" url="http://www.colhouston.org/"></listing>
  
 
* [[Image:ch-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="China" alt="" directions="" address="3417 Montrose Blvd" phone="+1 713 520-1462" email="" fax="+1 713 521-3064" url="http://houston.china-consulate.org/eng/" hours="M-F 9AM-11:30AM, 1:30PM-3PM" price=""></listing>
 
* [[Image:ch-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="China" alt="" directions="" address="3417 Montrose Blvd" phone="+1 713 520-1462" email="" fax="+1 713 521-3064" url="http://houston.china-consulate.org/eng/" hours="M-F 9AM-11:30AM, 1:30PM-3PM" price=""></listing>

Revision as of 18:50, 28 January 2013

Houston is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Main Street Houston

Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States.[1] It is huge, both in population and in land area. "Urban sprawl" is a term tailor-made for this city, due to Houston being the largest unzoned city in the country. Houston is a multicultural city home to some of the nation's largest Asian, Arab and Latin American populations. But its culture is not limited to diverse population — it also boasts a world class symphony and theater district that includes a full-time ballet company and opera.

Contents

Districts

The city has a number of districts. Historically, these districts were called "wards" and they tended to have distinct populations. Redevelopment has rendered most of those distinctions meaningless, but the modern version of Houston still has districts.

Downtown (Skyline District, Theater District, Historic District, Warehouse District)
Center of the city, still the home of high finance and big business. Houston is second only to New York City in corporate headquarters of Fortune 500 companies. Many of them are located downtown including some of the world's largest energy companies.[2] Downtown Houston also boasts the second largest theater district in the United States and the city has world class permanent organizations such as the Houston Symphony and Houston Ballet. The Houston Pavilions entertainment district opened in October 2008 between Main St. and the Toyota Center.
Neartown (Montrose, Midtown, EaDo-East End)
Ideally bordered by Midtown, Heights, River Oaks, and the Medical Center. Montrose is Houston's longtime home of its LGBT population. Lower Westheimer (Westheimer in between Montrose Blvd. and Shepherd) offers an array of resale fashion shops, eclectic shopping as well as antique stores. The gay nightlife is centered around Pacific St. and surrounding streets. Many Montrose neighborhood pubs attract an eclectic and diverse crowd.
North Loop (The Heights, Washington Corridor)
A large district of gingerbread Victorian homes as well as early 20th Century bungalows. Like its sister neighborhood Montrose, The Heights is home to a diverse population from artists and musicians to wealthy professionals. Parts of the Heights are still dry, fostering a large number of BYOB restaurants ideal for those who enjoy their own selected wine.
South Loop (South Main, Museum District, Med Center)
To the south and east of downtown lie Rice University, the many attractions of Hermann Park, Reliant Stadium, and the Texas Medical Center (or just "the med center"), including some of the world's best hospitals. The Rice Village is a highly concentrated area of restaurants, bars, and shopping.
West Loop (Uptown, River Oaks, Upper Kirby & Greenway, West U)
Uptown or The Galleria Area is known for its namesake, a huge high-end shopping mall complex and has the tallest building in the United States outside of a main downtown area, the Williams tower. Nearby River Oaks is home to Houston's most exclusive and affluent neighborhoods and businesses, home to eye-popping mansions and the River Oaks Shopping Center, one of America's first suburban shopping districts and a great display of Art Deco architecture. This area has many great restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and infamous traffic jams during peak hours.
Outside 610 (West Houston, East Houston, North Houston)
Off-the-beaten-track, these areas have plenty to offer for the patient traveler.

Understand

Houston is the largest city in the United States without any appreciable zoning. While there is some small measure of zoning in the form of ordinances, deed restrictions, and land use regulations, real estate development in Houston is only constrained by the will and the pocketbook of real estate developers. Traditionally, Houston politics and law are strongly influenced by real estate developers; at times, the majority of city council seats have been held by developers.

What this means to visitors is that Houston covers a larger land area with less population than might otherwise be expected. The city is primarily built on the energy industry and nearly everyone owns a car and drives everywhere they go. However, the city is becoming more dense and walkable, particularly in the Midtown/Montrose areas. With a few exceptions, almost everything to see or do is in Houston's urban core inside the 610 Loop and more specifically in between downtown, the Galleria, and the Texas Medical Center.

Visitor information

The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau operates the Houston Visitors Center,[3]. The center is located in the heart of downtown Houston at 901 Bagby (corner of Bagby and Walker St.), on the first floor of the historic City Hall. Find information on Houston's history, attractions, restaurants, hotels, directions, maps, purchase Houston merchandise and watch an 11-minute film on Houston. You'll find over 10,000 brochures and magazines to help plan your visit to the Houston area. The center is open Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Climate

Houston's climate generally ranges from a hot summer to a cool winter. The months of October to April make for fantastic times to visit to avoid the heat.

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 63 66 73 80 86 91 94 95 90 82 73 64
Nightly lows (°F) 43 47 53 59 68 74 75 75 70 61 52 45
Precipitation (in) 3.4 2.2 3.4 3.3 5.1 5.9 3.8 3.8 4.1 5.7 4.3 3.7

Check Houston's 7 day forecast at NOAA

Get in

By plane

George Bush Intercontinental airport

Houston is served by two major commercial airports and two smaller regional airports.

The large airports are:

  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport , (IATA: IAH) [4]. The larger of the two airports and is located 23 miles north of downtown near Beltway 8, between IH-45 North and US-59 North. It is the largest hub for United Airlines and serves 24 domestic and international airlines.
  • William P. Hobby Airport, (IATA: HOU) [5]. Located 7 miles south of downtown and is located off of I-45 South. It is convenient if you're travelling downtown or south of the city, such as to Galveston. Its main carrier is Southwest Airlines, and it also served by Delta Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, and AirTran (which has been purchased by Southwest and will be absorbed by that carrier in 2012).

The smaller airports are:

  • Sugar Land Regional Airport, (IATA: SGR) [6]. Located 25 miles southwest of downtown on TX 6, just north of U.S. 59. It is a popular choice among the well-heeled corporate aircraft set.
  • Ellington Field, (IATA: EFD) [7]. Located 19 miles southeast of downtown, just off I-45. Formerly an air force base, now used for general aviation, non-passenger commercial traffic, and government aviation (NASA, Texas Air National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard).

By train

  • Amtrak, 902 Washington Ave, [8]. Amtrak's Sunset Limited line is the only passenger train route with a stop in Houston, although a daily bus provides a direct connection from the Houston Amtrak station to the Texas Eagle at Longview.

By car

Houston's major freeways include:

  • IH-45 North ("North Freeway"): To Dallas
  • IH-45 South ("Gulf Freeway"): To Galveston
  • IH-10 West ("Katy Freeway"): To San Antonio
  • IH-10 East: ("Baytown/East Freeway", not to be confused with "Eastex freeway") to Beaumont
  • IH-610 ("The Loop"): Loop around downtown
  • US-59 South ("Southwest Freeway"): to Victoria
  • US-59 North ("Eastex Freeway"): to Lufkin
  • US-290 West ("Northwest Freeway"): to Austin
  • SH-249 North ("Tomball Parkway"): to Tomball
  • SH-288 South ("South Freeway"): to Freeport
  • SH-225 East ("Pasadena Freeway"): to La Porte
  • BW-8 ("The Beltway/Sam Houston Tollway"): Loop about twice as far out as IH-610.

Approximate distance to nearby cities (in miles):

By bus

  • Greyhound Lines, [9].
    • Downtown station, 2121 Main St.
    • Crosstimbers Station, 4001 North Freeway.
    • Northwest, 1500 West Loop North.
    • Southeast, 7000 Harrisburg Blvd.
    • Southwest, 5690 Southwest Freeway.
  • El Expreso, [11]. Mexican trans-border bus line, also serves destinations throughout southeastern United States.
    • Downtown station, 2201 Main St.
    • Harrisburg, 7701 Harrisburg Blvd.
    • Southwest, Bissonett at Southwest Freeway (US 59)
  • Autobus Americanos, [12]. Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico.
    • Harrisburg, 7700 Harrisburg Blvd.
    • Southwest, Hillcroft at Southwest Freeway (US 59)
  • Turimex Internacional, [13]. Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico.
    • Harrisburg, 7011 Harrisburg Blvd.
    • Southwest, Hillcroft at Southwest Freeway (US 59)
  • Omnibus Mexicanos, [14]. Mexican trans-border bus line with services to various points in Mexico.
    • Third Ward, 3200 Telephone Rd.

You can get to Houston easily from Mexico (from as far as Mexico City and Michoacan) on a bus. In the bus stations of many major cities in Mexico you will see buses advertised to go to Houston.

There are many private bus companies in Houston that exclusively serve Mexico.

Get around

By car

Houston has a number of major highways that make getting around Houston fairly easy. (See list of freeways under the "Get in" section.) A number of obstacles, however, can make driving in Houston a less than pleasant experience. One is construction, which seems to be ever-present, and the other is traffic. Evening rush hour in Houston begins as early as 4 PM and can last more than 2 hours. Morning rush hour is between 7 and 9 AM. During rush hour, traffic on the highways can come to a halt. The strip of the West Loop near the Galleria, between US-59 and IH-10, is an area you should definitely avoid during rush hour if possible.

One peculiarity about Houston's freeway system is the ubiquity of frontage roads, or, as they're called by the locals, feeders. These are pairs of one-way surface roads which run parallel to nearly every freeway in Houston and its suburbs, similar to what are called service roads in other parts of the country. The most basic thing to remember is that, after you've turned onto a feeder road from a surface street, you'll have to take another ramp to enter the freeway. Rest assured, they're easy to navigate once you get used to it.

  • Houston Traffic Map [15]
  • The outstanding freeways system [16]

Some freeways have limited-access lanes located in the median strip of the highway, generally called HOV (High-Occupancy Vehicle) Lanes. These lanes usually can't be entered directly from the feeder roads, so using them usually requires finding a METRO Park-and-Ride. Google Maps doesn't seem to know they exist, but if you can navigate METRO's HOV maps, these traffic-free lanes can save you a lot of time if heading to or from downtown during rush hour.

The HOV lanes are generally operational Monday - Friday. In the morning morning hours (5AM - 11AM) they run inbound, and in the afternoon and evening (from 2PM - 8PM), outbound. The HOV lanes are generally restricted to cars with 2 or more passengers, but the Northwest freeway's HOV lanes require 3 or more passengers during peak travel periods (6:45-8AM). The HOV lanes can be marked with signs bearing a white diamond on a black background, or, more recently, with signs bearing a green strip saying "Express lane" at the top. Highways with HOV lanes are: I-45 North, I-45 South, US-59 North, US-59 South, I-10 West (Katy Freeway), and US-290.

Recently, The Katy Freeway HOV lanes have been expanded into the Katy Freeway Managed Lanes, a 24-hour multi-lane HOV with paid Single-Occupancy Vehicle access cost-adjusted based on HOV usage. In addition, METRO has announced a program to allow Single-Occupant Vehicles onto HOV lanes with the payment of a toll. More information about these new HOT Lanes can be found at the aptly-named ihatehoustontraffic.com.

  • HOV lane map & schedule [17]
  • Katy Managed Lanes on Harris County Toll Road Authority website [18]

By public transportation

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, better known as METRO [19], operates local and express bus lines, as well as the new and very popular light rail line called METRORail [20]. Visitors may be able to get around without a car, especially if they stick close to downtown, but ample free and cheap parking, combined with Houston's suburban sprawl, make public transit an unpopular choice for Houstonians themselves.

All METRO fares can be paid with exact change in coins and $1 bills, or with the recently-implemented reloadable fare smartcard, the Q Card. Q Cards can be obtained for free at METRO's RideStore downtown, and at many local supermarkets, usually at the same service center you'd go to to cash a check or send a wire transfer. Oddly enough, the machines at Park & Ride lots and METRORail stations do not sell Q Cards, so bring exact change or buy your Q Card before boarding. There are four options for re-filling your Q Card:

  • Credit Vending Machines in Park & Ride lots, which accept credit and debit cards
  • Ticket Vending Machines at METRORail stations, which accept both cash and credit cards
  • Bus Reloaders at the back of every local bus. These are a bit counterintuitive to use, but once you get them, they're quite simple. Insert a bill, and then place your card in the slot. These machines take $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills, and will reload only one bill at a time.
  • Places where cards can be bought: any store that sells Q Cards can also reload the card for you—just ask at the service desk!

By bus

If you're brave enough to see Houston from the back seat of a bus, a Q Card is definitely worth the investment, as it's the only way to obtain transfers from one route to the other. Unlike other systems, which require you to transfer at a central point, or only give you a short amount of time to switch buses, METRO gives you unlimited, free transfers for a full three hours after boarding the first bus. No need to ask the driver for a transfer—just tap your Q Card like you would normally. The computer will make sure you pay the least amount possible.

By rail

METRORail is a seven and a half mile light rail line that runs between downtown, midtown, the museum district, the Medical Center, Reliant Park, and the Fannin South Park & Ride (which is a handy place to park and is located near the 610 loop). It costs $1.25 for a one-way ticket. (Also see the stay safe section.)

By taxi

  • Outside of Downtown, don't expect to catch a taxi on the streets, but there are various cab stands located at various parts of downtown proper. Taxis in Houston are generally dispatched by various companies the largest being Yellow Cab, 713-236-1111 or from their web page [21].

By Limousine

Traveling via a limousine has become more popular lately. Many Houston limousine companies offer full ground transportation options such as town cars, classic cars, stretch limos and luxury vehicles that can be utilized for special occasions like airport transportation, parties, school dances, business functions and weddings. Consider hiring a limousine service to handle your travel needs.

By bicycle

Houston is so spread out and (most of the time) humid and hot that bicycles are often best used for exercise or to get to somewhere that is closeby. On the other hand, if you have a little bit of stamina and perseverance, Downtown, Midtown, Rice, Uptown and the Medical Center/Hermann Park/Museum District area are within a 30 minute ride. Multi-modal transportation is also possible, since most city buses have easy to use racks in the front that can get traveler and bicycle near to a final destination.

The city of Houston has 290 miles of marked bike routes, plus another 80 miles of hike and bike trails in city parks, with concrete plans for even more expansion. For more information on the Houston Bikeway program, including a complete map of all marked bike paths, visit the City of Houston Bikeway Program website [22].

Talk

Houston, like many American cities, is diverse. As the state's largest city and the nation's fourth largest, Houston is home to more than 100 languages. Signs can be found in Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese, among others, but English is the lingua franca. Knowing some Spanish may help in certain neighborhoods, but most people will speak English.

See

Discovery Green Park

Travelers planning to visit multiple attractions may benefit from Houston CityPASS [23], which grants admission to 6 Houston attractions within 9 days of first use for a much reduced rate and includes expedited entry in some cases. The included attractions are: Space Center Houston; Downtown Aquarium; Houston Museum of Natural Science; Houston Zoo; Option Ticket One with choice of either Museum of Fine Arts or The Children's Museum of Houston and Option Ticket Two with choice of either George Ranch Historical Park or The Health Museum.

Do

Bayou City Arts Festival


Parks

Events & Festivals

The Houston CaribFest! Celebrating Caribbean/West Indian Cultures!

  • Art Car Parade, Runs along Allen Parkway, [24]. May. A parade that must be seen to be believed. For example, last year there were cupcake motorcycles, fire breathing chicken cars, and many other spectacular cars. There are vendors nearby selling water, hats, and food as well. It can get very hot! Free.

Sports

Professional sports

  • Houston Aeros, 5300 Memorial Drive, Ste. 770, +1 713-974-7825 (, fax: +1 713-361-7900), [25]. Houston's American Hockey League team plays it's games at the Toyota Center in Downtown Houston. The team plays from October to April predominatly on the weekends. The games are a family friendly cost effective entertainment event.
  • Houston Astros, 510 Crawford St.., +1 713-259-8000, [26]. The city's Major League Baseball team, playing at Minute Maid Park in downtown, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2012. It will also be the last season for the Astros in the National League; they will move to the American League in 2013.
  • Houston Texans, Two Reliant Park, +1 866-GO TEXANS (468-3926) (fax: +1 832-667-2191), [27]. Houston's National Football League (NFL) team plays at Reliant Stadium in the South Loop area, next to the now-vacant Astrodome.
  • Houston Rockets, 1510 Polk St., +1 713-627-DUNK (3865) or +1 877-NBA-ROCKETS (622-7625), [28]. The city's NBA (basketball) team plays downtown at the Toyota Center.
  • Houston Dynamo, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, Ste. 200, +1 713-276-7500 (, fax: +1 713-276-7572), [29]. Houston's Major League Soccer team opened its new BBVA Compass Stadium in May 2012. Located in the East End, it is the first major soccer-specific stadium in the US in a downtown area.

College sports

Houston has four universities whose sports teams play in the top-level NCAA Division I:

  • Houston Cougars, [30]. The teams representing the city's largest school, the University of Houston, currently compete in Conference USA (C-USA), but will move to the Big East Conference in July 2013. Most athletic venues are on campus, with the best-known being Robertson Stadium (football) and Hofheinz Pavilion (basketball).
  • Rice Owls, [31]. Rice University, the city's most prominent private school, currently competes alongside Houston in C-USA, but will not move to the Big East. As with UH, Rice's main venues are on campus, among them Rice Stadium (football), Tudor Fieldhouse (basketball), and Reckling Park (baseball).
  • Texas Southern Tigers, [32]. Especially of interest to African American visitors, or those interested in African American culture, are the teams representing Texas Southern University, the city's historically black university. The Tigers compete with other HBCUs in the Southwestern Athleitc Conference. Most venues are also on campus, but the football team plays off-campus; it will share BBVA Compass Stadium with the Dynamo, and occasionally uses Reliant Stadium.
  • Houston Baptist Huskies, [33]. Houston Baptist University, a relatively new addition to Division I, is located in the Sharpstown area along the Southwest Freeway. The Huskies are currently in the Great West Conference, but will move to the Southland Conference in 2013. HBU does not have a football team yet, but plans to start one in 2013.

Theater

Houstonians like theater and the community supports many types of performing arts companies. Most professional theater is centered in the Theater District[34], but other companies are located in different districts around town. The lively culture of Houston also includes numerous community theater organizations and several well regarded university programs.

The major downtown performing arts venues include The Wortham Center [35] The Hobby Center [36] Jones Hall [37] and The Alley Theater. [38]

Learn

Houston is home to one of the top universities in the country, Rice University. Its beautifully wooded campus is ideal for an afternoon stroll or jog with loved ones. It is also home to the University of Houston and St. Thomas.

Work

As of the census for 2011, Houston, TX has over 6,200,000 people living there. That being a factor, the city is a great place where you will find jobs of all sorts. Ones from working at the local McDonald's ranging to working in the hospital. The only downfall about the job opportunities is that most people from out of town tend to take them. There are a lot of people that will drive over 2 hours just to get to work everyday in the city of Houston.

Buy

Many of the shopping malls are concentrated to the west of downtown in Uptown.

In general, prices in Houston are lower than in other major US cities.

A very popular place to go shopping in Houston is the Houston Galleria. The Galleria is the largest mall in Texas[39] and the ninth largest in the United States. They have anything you could ever think of and more. At the Galleria you can find people shopping at high end stores such as, Bebe, Coach, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Gucci, Macy's, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, The Sharper Image, Ralph Lauren Collection, Louis Vuitton and Houston's only Nordstrom. You can also find people ice skating in the ice rink on the bottom floor. Also, you will find nail salons, 375 fine stores and restaurants. And to top it off at the Galleria there are two Westin hotels. The Galleria is widely recognized as the number one shopping and tourist destination in Houston. [40]

Eat

Houston has outstanding dining options, and is widely considered the most restaurant-oriented city in the United States, with a thriving community of ethnic restaurants, superb Tex-Mex, classic Texas steakhouses and Gulf Coast seafood, as well as chain restaurants. Houston's fine dining scene has exploded in recent years, with Downtown, Montrose, Midtown, and the Heights (including the Washington Corridor) as the epicenter of what's hot-and-happening now.

Although high-quality, authentic Mexican food can be found just about anywhere in the city (for some of the best surprises, stop by any nondescript taqueria and order nearly anything at random), the best ethnic dining is generally found in West Houston - in particular the area west of Highway 59 and south of I-10, with everything from Middle Eastern to Ethiopian to Bosnian. The bustling Mahatma Gandhi District around Hillcroft St. is the place to go for top-notch Indian and Pakistani cuisine. In years past, you'd go east of Downtown or to Midtown for your Chinese or Vietnamese fix (respectively); nowadays the new Chinatown (or sometimes "Asiatown" which locate on Bellaire Blvd. at Beltway 8) is the new one-stop shop for your cravings. Lying just north of I-10, Long Point Drive and North Gessner sport crowded Korean joints, fantastic taco trucks, and hidden Thai gems.

With hometown stars such as Monica Pope (T'afia) and Bryan Caswell (Reef, Little Big's, El Real) making their debut on TV shows such as Top Chef and on the Food Network, and more and more chefs and restaurants getting name-checked in media (like GQ's Best Of lists, or Bon Appetit's recent declaration of Houston as the best food city in Texas) and earning award nominations (Randy Rucker's Bootsie's Heritage Cafe was up for the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant - the "Oscars of the restaurant world"), Houston's dining scene seems slowly but surely to be staking out room on the national stage.

Eating Local

Like any city with a respectable, trendy food scene, Houston's top restaurants seem to be all about what's seasonal and local these days (oh, and Houston is just now getting into gourmet food trucks), as well as becoming increasingly prominent in stores as well. Fresh produce to seek out include tomatoes, sweet "1015" onions (not as sweet as the Hawaiian variety, but pretty impressive), watermelon, strawberries, peaches, corn, carrots, and squash blossoms. Look for local cheese from the Houston Dairymaids - who make just about any variety you can think of - and bread baked daily and shipped to restaurants from the Slow Dough Bakery. Houstonians are just as crazy for crawfish (no "crayfish" down here, Yankee) as Louisianans are, as well as catfish and Gulf seafood such as red snapper, blue crab, and shrimp; gaining in popularity are local species that were previously overlooked, such as blackfin tuna, tilefish, grouper, almaco jack, and black drum. Houston has always had a steady supply of oysters from Galveston Bay, but the program of oyster "appellations" has only recently been revived, meaning high-quality specimens are labeled with their reef of origin, just like the well-known varieties from the east and west coasts - look for varieties such as Ladies Pass and Pepper Grove.

Drink

Local Beer

  • The Saint Arnold Brewery [41], located in Houston, is billed as Texas' oldest microbrewery. Their brews are often sold in local bars. The brewery is open for public tours Monday through Friday from 3:00PM to 4:15PM, and Saturday 11:00AM to 2:00PM. In addition to, or in lieu of taking the tour, you can bring food and sit at the rows of picnic tables in the large beer hall. Admission includes four 8oz samples of beer. This unique admission setup exploits a loophole in state law that tries to prevent brewpubs from packaging and distributing beer.

Sleep

  • Crowne Plaza Suites Houston, 9090 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX 77074, 7139950123, [42]. This Houston Hotel is an all suite hotel conveniently located just minutes away from all the attractions and places to visit while in Houston. This Crowne Plaza Suites Houston is an atrium hotel with conference and catering facilities, restaurant and lounge, room service, indoor pool, whirlpool, fitness room, free business center, free parking and much more!


Contact

Phone

Houston has multiple telephone area codes and mandatory 10-digit dialing. For any number, even within your own area code, you need to dial areacode + number. For local calls, you do not dial a 1+ or a 0+ before the number. Some calls within Houston are considered long distance, and for those you need to dial 1 + areacode + number.

Houston's area codes are: 713, 281, and 832.

Stay safe

Crime

Like most large US cities, Houston has its share of crime. Residents of Texas are allowed to carry concealed firearms after completing training and a thorough background check. Almost all people who possess a firearm do so responsibly.

Travelers to Houston should follow common safety procedures such as staying away from deserted areas in the middle of the night, keeping their valuables stored out of sight, keeping purses/wallets in a secure location, and always put valuables in a car trunk. For emergency assistance, travelers can contact Houston Police Department by dialing 911. In addition, travelers should dial 911 to report most crimes in progress. For non-emergency assistance and for crimes not in progress such as minor assault, car theft, home invasion, property damage, and theft, dial 713-884-3131 and request police assistance. The Houston Police Department also allows citizens to file online reports for minor property damage and theft if they are under $5,000 in damages.

Natural disasters

Houston is like much of the Gulf Coast in that it is very vulnerable to hurricanes in the summer and fall. If a hurricane is forecast to make landfall anywhere near Houston, listen to officials and heed mandatory evacuation orders if one is ordered. The last major hurricane to hit Houston was Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008.

Houston is very hot and humid in the summer, with temperatures around 31°C-38°C (87°F-100°F), and summer climate in Houston is easily comparable to the average climates in tropical cities like Manila or Panama City during the summer. However, in the winter, Houston can be mild with temperatures ranging from -1°C-18°C (30°F-64°F), and winter climate is usually comparable to winters in the rest of the Southern United States or Southern California.

METRO Rail

Unlike other large cities in the nation such as Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, Houston doesn't have a local rail rapid transit network in place. METRO Rail is the initial line of what is planned to be a rapid transit system. The line starts at UofH Downtown, through downtown, into Midtown, to Texas Medical Center, and then the Reliant Complex near the south side, for a length of just over seven miles. Houstonians have a tendency to park along the rail line or the south side lot to go into downtown or the medical center as it is easier to get in and out of those areas with the train without the hassle of parking and traffic.

Please be careful when coming near the METRO Rail track, especially at intersections.

Follow the signs since the trains move very quickly and run at almost all hours of the day and night. It runs almost silently. At many streets, left turns are not permitted. Also watch the signs and signals, because some will change as trains approach. Do not drive on the tracks as there are large raised white domes that separate the roadway and the rail line. In some areas signs may indicate driving (or walking) on the tracks is permitted (currently only in the Texas Medical Center) but make sure it is safe to do so.

Drive across the tracks only when you are sure it is safe to do so, especially at night as an oncoming train may not be heard by a driver inside a car.

Cope

  • Meditation Classes for Beginners , [43]. Relaxation meditations and meditation classes to increase inner peace.

If that isn't your thing. try the simple thing most Houstonians do when they need to release tensions of big city madness: take a walk in the beautiful parks or go walking and shopping downtown. If you know someone who lives in Houston, you can have a lunch on a gorgeous spring day outside. Sometimes the most relaxing and peaceful things don't always involve money.

Consulates

  • As-flag.png Australia (Honorary), 4623 Feagan St, +1 713 782-6009 (fax: +1 713 862-8364), [45].
  • Ch-flag.png China, 3417 Montrose Blvd, +1 713 520-1462 (fax: +1 713 521-3064), [50]. M-F 9AM-11:30AM, 1:30PM-3PM.
  • Fr-flag.png France, 777 Post Oak Blvd Ste 600, [52].
  • Gm-flag.png Germany, 1330 Post Oak Blvd Ste 1850, +1 713 627-7770 (fax: +1 713 627-0506), [53]. M-F 9AM-noon.
  • Gr-flag.png Greece, 520 POST OAK BLVD, Suite 450, +1 713 840-7522, +1 713 840-7523 (, fax: +1 713 840 0614), [54]. M-F 9AM-16PM.
  • In-flag.png India, 4300 Scotland Street, +1 (713) 626-2148 (+1 713 626-2149, fax: +1 713 626-2450), [55].
  • Ei-flag.png Ireland (Honorary), 2630 Sutton Ct, +1 713 961-5263 (fax: +1 970-925-7900).
  • Ja-flag.png Japan, 2 Houston Center Bldg 909 Fannin St Ste 3000, +1 713 652-2977 (, fax: +1 713 651-7822), [58].
  • Mx-flag.png Mexico, 4507 San Jacinto St, +1 713 271-6800 (fax: +1 713 271-3201), [59].
  • Nz-flag.png New Zealand (Honorary), San Felipe (45 mi W of Houston), +1 713 973-8680 (, fax: +1 713 973-6679).
  • Pk-flag.png Pakistan, 11850 Jones Road, +1 281 890-2223, [62].
  • Po-flag.png Portugal (Honorary), 3300 S Broad St, +1 713 953-1255, [63].
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom, 1000 Louisiana Ste 1900 Wells Fargo Plaza 19F, +1 713 659-6270 (fax: +1 713 659-7094), [65].

Get out

  • Galveston— Only about an hour's drive southeast from the city, Houstonians go to Galveston island for its beaches, the Strand, Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston, and Moody Gardens.
  • Surfside— Another beach, less crowded than Galveston. About an hour from Houston.
  • Schlitterbahn [66], in New Braunfels(about 174 miles west of Houston). Huge waterpark, rated #1 waterpark in America by the Travel Channel.
  • Kemah— Nice boardwalk with great restaurants and amusement rides that is south of Houston and on the way to Galveston Island.
  • Blue Bell Creameries[67] See the Texas countryside in Brenham and tour the creamery. About one hour (75 mi) north west of Houston along US 290.
  • A Taste of Coastal Texas— An itinerary leading you through sights along the Texas Coast down to Corpus Christi.


Routes through Houston
San AntonioWeimar  W noframe E  BaytownLake Charles
DallasMustang  N noframe S  WebsterGalveston


This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!







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