|Houston Quick Facts|
|County||Harris, FortBend, and Montgomery|
|Area||627.8 sq miles|
|Population||2,099,451 (2010 estimate)|
|Time Zone||CST (UTC-6)|
|Area Code(s)||713, 281, 832|
Situated near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Houston is the county seat of the Harris County and the largest city in Texas. This city was founded in 1836 by two entrepreneurs, John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen, who named it after Sam Houston, the then-President of the Republic of Texas and the hero of Battle of San Jacinto. The city was incorporated on June 5, 1837 and was also made the temporary capital of Texas state.
The initial attempts to shape Houston as a center of commerce were marred by epidemics, lawlessness, and economic difficulties. The city soon overcame these obstacles and became an important commercial hub. Today, Houston is a global city and a major contributor to the US economy. It is well known for its energy and manufacturing sectors, oilfield equipment, aeronautics, and transportation industries. The Port of Houston is the busiest port in the United States in terms of international tonnage.
Economically affluent Houston also has a rich history. During the American Civil War, this city served as the headquarters of General John Bankhead Magruder and the organization point of the Battle of Galveston. In terms of education and research, the city is home to some of the best universities in the United States and is an important center of biomedical and aeronautical research. Houston is also a popular tourist destination, thanks to its beautiful cityscape and lively cultural scene that draws thousands of tourists every year.
Which is the best season to visit Houston
Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Houston. The cultural scene is vibrant with various shows and exhibitions being held at this time of the year. Fall is also the season for hurricanes, and hence is avoided by many tourists. Winter in Houston is mild with occasional snow and is quite popular with tourists.
Airport Connectivity & Public Transport in Houston
The city of Houston is served by three airports- the George Bush International Airport, William P.Hobby Airport (both commercial) and the Ellington Airport (used by government, NASA, the US military and the aviation industry). As far as public transport is concerned, the predominant form of transportation is private automobile, though the city has a well organized network of buses, light rails, and lift vans managed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO). Cycling is also very popular and Houston has the highest number of cyclist in Texas.
Hotels in Houston
Some popular luxury hotels in Houston are the Best Western Plus Westchase Mini Suites, Crown Plaza Houston Galleria Area, Crown Plaza Houston River Oaks, Embassy Suites and Magnolia Hotel. Looking for a comfortable stay in a budget hotel, Super8 Houston, America's Inn Beltway 8, Howard Johnson Houston, Econo Lodge, Days Inn and Suites are the best options.
Things to do
Entertainment and activities in Houston
Houston has a very vibrant cultural scene. The Houston Theater District houses nine performing arts organization in the city. Some venues located in this district are Alley Theater, Wortham Theater Center, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. The most famous, perhaps, is the Bayou Place which is an all-in-one entertainment complex.
The Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park hosts free outdoor performances (theater, live concerts) throughout the year. Another popular venue for live concerts is the Houston Verizon Wireless Theatre. Houston Symphony is the right choice for lovers of classical music.. So, one can say that the entertainment scene in this city is always abuzz.
The multicultural ethos of the city is well reflected in the festivals and events organized to celebrate this diversity. The biggest of these events is the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a must see event for every tourist. Other large celebrations include the annual Gay Pride Parade, Houston Greek Festival, Art Car Parad,e and Bayou City Art Festival.
The Houston Museum District is an association of 19 museums and art galleries, dedicated to promotion of art, science, and culture. Some significant museums that are a part of this district are the Museum of Fine Arts (has a collection of more than 62,000 works from all over the world), Houston Museum of Natural Science, Holocaust Museum Houston (fourth largest holocaust museum in America), Children's Museum of Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (non-profit museum), Buffalo Soldiers national Museum (dedicated to African-American soldiers) and the Health Museum (dedicated to medical science). A museum that is not affiliated to the Museum District, but, definitely worth a visit is the Space Center Houston (science museum and official visitor's center for NASA). Take your kids there and let them experience how it feels to be walking in space or landing on the moon. Another unusual but popular museum is the National Museum of Funeral History where you can learn about the history of funerary customs and look at the largest collection of funeral exhibits in the US.
Explore Parks & Gardens
Houston has as many as 337 parks and some of the most popular ones are Hermann Park, Lake Houston Park, Memorial Park, Tranquility Park, Discovery Garden, and Sam Houston Park. The Houston Zoo is located inside the Hermann Park. Besides these, some well known green spaces are the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, Lee and Joe Jamail Skate Park, Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary, Houston Audubon and Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden. The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is another tourist favorite and a great place to unwind.
Take a trip through the Historic District
Houston has a number of churches that add beauty to the cityscape. Visit the Byzantine Fresco which is home to wonderful frescos depicting religious scenes. The Rothko Chapel has a very modern architecture and is a tribute to contemporary art. The Christ Church Cathedral is an Episcopalian cathedral and is noted for it beautiful architecture while the ornate interiors of the Chapel of St. Basil are breathtaking.
Take a walk through the Downtown Historic District Market Square and get a feel of old Houston with its colonial style houses in the neighborhood. Do visit the Rienzi Mansion, which is a house museum for European decorative exhibits. Do not miss the Houston City Hall (famous for art deco architecture) and the century old campus of Rice University.
Where to eat in Houston
Given the city's multicultural fabric, there is no dearth of restaurants that bring you cuisines from all parts of the world. Some popular restaurants are Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Masraff's, Taste of Texas Restaurant, America's, The Breakfast Club and Mark's American Cuisine (for American Cuisine); Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, Finger Licking Bukateria (for mouthwatering African Cuisine), Istanbul Drill and Deli Turkish Cuisine, Kasra Persian Grill and Yildizlar (for Middle Eastern delicacies); Sage400 Japanese Cuisine, Cafe Japon, Teppay Japanese Restaurant, The Fish (for Japanese food), P.F Chang's China Bistro, Ambassador Chinese Restaurant, Tan Tan Restaurant and Fung's Kitchen (Chinese Cuisine); Shri Balaji Bhavan, Mogul Indian Restaurant, Shiva Indian Restaurant and Indika (for delicious Indian Cuisine).
Where to shop in Houston
Houston is considered the fashion capital of the South. Some popular shopping centers are The Galleria (s good place to shop for hip designer wear), West Ave (Art-Deco architecture, good for pedestrian shopping), Highland Village (exclusive stores and great restaurants), River Oaks Shopping Center (Houston's first shopping center), Rice Village (near Rice University, popular with students), Historic Heights (experience the beauty of Victorian houses and old streets while shopping high fashion), and Harwin (for bags, glasses electronics and perfumes).
Higher Education in Houston
Houston is an important center of biomedical and aeronautical research. The Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world is situated here. The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC), NASA's human space flight training and research center is also located in Houston.
The city has four state universities - University of Houston, University of Houston Clear Lake, University of Houston Downtown, and Texan Southern University. Houston has various private institutes of higher learning, including the Rice University which is considered one of the top twenty universities in the United States. Houston is also served by three college systems-The Houston Community College System, Lone Star College System, and the San Jacinto College.
Last Updated On : September 01, 2012