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added listing A Classic Bloom
[[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.
| region1color=#d56d76
| 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.
| region2name=Neartown
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 Informationinformation==
'''The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau''' operates the Houston Visitors Center,[]. 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.
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.
| units = Imperial
| janhigh = 6163
| febhigh = 66
| marhigh = 73
| aprhigh = 7980| mayhigh = 8586
| junhigh = 91
| julhigh = 94
| aughigh = 9395| sephigh = 8990
| octhigh = 82
| novhigh = 7273| dechigh = 6564| janlow = 4143| feblow = 4447| marlow = 5153| aprlow = 5859| maylow = 6568| junlow = 7174| jullow = 7375| auglow = 7375| seplow = 6870| octlow = 5961| novlow = 5052| declow = 4445| janprecip = 3.94| febprecip = 2.92| marprecip = 3.54| aprprecip = 3.63| mayprecip = 5.61| junprecip = 5.19| julprecip = 3.48| augprecip = 3.78| sepprecip = 4.31| octprecip = 45.7| novprecip = 4.3.7| decprecip = 3.67
| description = {{ForecastNOAA|Houston|29.76229|-95.36974}}
* '''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
** '''Southeast''', 7000 Harrisburg Blvd.
** '''Southwest''', 5690 Southwest Freeway.
*'''Megabus''', []. Low-cost bus line with service from [[Dallas]], [[San Antonio]], and [[New Orleans]]. Fares from $1 and up.
** '''Downtown''', 815 Pierce St (north of Travis St).
*'''El Expreso''', []. 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''', []. 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''', []. 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''', []. 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.
===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 []
*The outstanding freeways system []
Some freeways have limited-access lanes located in the median strip of the freeways have an highway, generally called '''H.O.V. HOV (High-Occupancy Vehicle) laneLanes.''' 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, which are limitedthese traffic-access free lanes located in the median strip can save you a lot of the highwaytime if heading to or from downtown during rush hour.  The HOV lanes are generally operational Monday - Friday in . In the morning morning hours (5AM - 11AM) in the they run inbound direction , and in the outbound direction in the afternoon and evening (from 2PM - 8PM), outbound. The HOV lanes are generally restricted to cars with 2 or more passengers, however some but the Northwest freeway's 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 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: IHI-45 North, IHI-45 South, US-59 North, US-59 South, IHI-10 West (Katy Freeway), and US-290.  Recently, The Katy Freeway HOV lanes have been expanded into the Katy Toll RoadFreeway 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 []. *HOV lane map & schedule []
*Katy Managed Lanes on Harris County Toll Road Authority website []
===By public transportation===
CurrentlyThe Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, public transportation in Houston is limited to better known as '''METRO ''' [], which operates local and express bus lines , as well as the new and very popular light rail line called '''METRORail ''' []. 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|stay safe]] section.)
===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 perseverenceperseverance, 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 [].
===Events & Festivals===
The Houston CaribFest! Celebrating Caribbean/West Indian Cultures!
*<do name="Art Car Parade" alt="" address="Runs along Allen Parkway" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="May 22" price="Free" lat="" long="">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!</do>
====Professional sports====
* <do name="Houston Aeros" alt="" address="5300 Memorial Drive, Ste. 770" directions="" phone="+1 713-974-7825" email="[email protected]" fax="+1 713-361-7900" url="">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>
* <do name="Houston Astros" alt="" address="510 Crawford St.." directions="" phone="+1 713-259-8000" email="" fax="" url=""> 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 Rockets" alt="" address="1510 Polk St." directions="" phone="+1 713-627-DUNK (3865) or +1 877-NBA-ROCKETS (622-7625)" email="" fax="" url=""> The city's NBA (basketball) team plays downtown at the Toyota Center.</do>
* <do name="Houston Dynamo" alt="" address="1001 Avenida de las Americas, Ste. 200" directions="" phone="+1 713-276-7500" email="[email protected]" fax="+1 713-276-7572" url="">Houston's Major League Soccer team is opening the 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====
Houston has three four universities whose sports teams play in the top-level NCAA Division I:
* <do name="Houston Cougars" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="">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).</do>
* <do name="Texas Southern Tigers" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="">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.</do>
* <do name="Houston Baptist Huskies" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="">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.</do>
<!--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.
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. []*<buy name="A Classic Bloom" alt="" address="2514 Dorrington Street" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">A Classic Bloom has been offering the Houston, Texas area superior floral arrangements and assortments since 2000.</buy> 
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.
*<eat name="" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long=""></eat>
===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.
*<sleep name="La Quinta Inn & Suites Houston Normandy" alt="" address="930 Normandy st. Houston, TX 77015" directions="" phone="713-451-0009" url="" checkin="3pm" checkout="11am" price="Call" lat="" long="">Welcome to La Quinta Inn & Suites Houston Normandy, situated on Houstons East side at Interstate 10 East between Loop 610 and Beltway 8 means you will have easy access to downtown Houston, as well as Bush International Airport and Houston Hobby Airport. Our hotel is within easy driving distance to many local businesses in the downtown area, Baytown, Pasadena, Deer Park, Channelview and the Houston Ship channel. </sleep> 
==Stay safe==
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).
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.
* '''Meditation Classes for Beginners ''', []. 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 ciy 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.
* [[Image:ca-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="Canada" alt="" address="5847 San Felipe St Ste 1700" directions="" phone="+1 713 821-1440" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" email="[email protected]" fax="+1 713 821-1611"></listing>
* [[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="[email protected]" hours="M-F 9AM-2PM" url=""></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="" hours="M-F 9AM-11:30AM, 1:30PM-3PM" price=""></listing>
| directionl1=W
| majorl1=[[San Antonio]]
| minorl1=[[LulingWeimar (Texas)|Weimar]]
| directionr1=E
| majorr1=[[Lake Charles]]
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