Houston’s Cosmopolitan and Down-home Vibe
The style-savvy residents of the USA’s fourth-largest city and third-largest county (Harris) know that there’s no place quite like Houston.
With more than 2.2 million residents, the city attracts visitors and transplants with a wonderful mix of world-class arts, booming businesses, professional sports and award-winning cuisine.
And the world is discovering what locals have known all along: Just last year, Houston landed on several “best of” lists, including the Travel + Leisure roundup of America’s Favorite Cities and the Hotwire.com index of most affordable U.S. vacation destinations.
In Houston, much of daily life happens outdoors, thanks to mild, year-round temperatures. Take time to explore eclectic, culture-filled neighborhoods, galleries and attractions, which offer diverse activities and vibes that can only be found here.
Take the food, for example. Countless cutting-edge chefs have made a home in Houston, where diners eat out more than residents of any other city. You’ll find James Beard Award-winners and internationally renowned chefs serving up innovative cuisine that frequently catches the attention of foodies in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and Saveur.
The stylish dining scene is only a slice of Houston’s epicurean side – a fact that the city’s culinary masterminds intend to prove with the Houston Culinary Tours. Each of the intimate, 16-person, chef-led tours shows the hidden side of the city’s food scene, one taco truck and ethnic market at a time.
Venture downtown during your stay and discover a thriving professional arts scene, with professional resident companies in ballet, opera, symphony and theater; only four other U.S. cities can boast the same. The nearby Museum District stakes its claim as the country’s fourth largest, with 18 cultural powerhouses set within blocks of one another.
Houston even has its own version of Central Park, with more than 600 hectares of green space in the heart of the city. Just inside "the loop," an interstate highway around the city, Memorial Park is home to a public golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts, trails and more. Downtown, Discovery Green is a park with Wi-Fi, a farmers market, dog runs, fine dining and ice-skating during the winter – just one more of the 650-plus urban green spaces filling the city.
Businesses also recognize Houston’s allure. Twenty-five companies on the Fortune 500 list call the Energy Capital of the World home. Aeronautic research is unsurpassed at NASA headquarters – the facility responsible for putting the first man on the moon – and Texas Medical Center remains the largest in the world with 47 highly lauded research and treatment institutions.
Live like a local for a few days and discover why Houston’s mix of international appeal and Southern charm have captured the imagination of tastemakers the world over.
Houston, Texas Highlights
Montrose is an eclectic, historic neighbourhood where antique stores mingle with chic shops and fun dive bars, and where hipsters party with young professionals alongside baby boomers.
Don’t leave without tasting…
- Barbecue at Goode Co., a local institution
- A Pliny’s Tonic cocktail at Anvil Bar & Refuge
- Fajitas at Ninfa’s on Navigation
- Korean Braised Goat & Dumplings
History happened here
The San Jacinto Battlefield, where Texas won its independence from Mexico, is now the site of the San Jacinto Monument and a permanent museum of Texas history.
One awe-inspiring building
The Menil Collection, the first building in the USA designed by Renzo Piano, is often cited as one of the most architecturally compelling buildings of the latter half of the 20th century.
Put these events on your calendar
- Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (March)
- Art Car Parade (May)
- Freedom Over Texas (July 4)
- Texas Renaissance Festival (November)
- Nutcracker by the Houston Ballet (December)
With more than 375 retailers, including the most popular brands and luxury stores, the Galleria is one of the wonders of Houston. For bargains, go shopping on Harwin Drive. There are shops specialising in everything from fabrics and apparel to home furnishings and electronics. And don’t miss the Premium Outlets in nearby Cypress.
Top photo opportunities
- The Williams Water Wall in Uptown
- The panoramic view of downtown from the observation deck of the JP Morgan Chase Building
- Atop the Mount at the McGovern Centennial Gardens
- The skyline and Buffalo Bayou as seen from the Sabine Street Bridge
- James Turrell Skyspace at Rice University
Where locals go to relax
You’ll find folks kicked back at chill bars and Texas icehouses like Little Woodrow’s and Sawyer Park in Midtown and Washington Avenue. Houstonians also like to enjoy the sunny weather at one of the many parks, such as Discovery Green in the heart of downtown (see a free concert or film, sail remote-controlled boats on the lake, ice skate in winter) or Hermann Park (go pedal-boating, take a walk through gardens, see a show at Miller Outdoor Theatre). Locals also love boating on Galveston Bay, just a few miles from downtown Houston.
You might be surprised by...
Houston is now the most ethnically diverse large metropolitan area in the USA—more than 90 different languages are spoken in the region. With that diversity comes an impressive culinary scene, including food from more than 30 different countries and American regions, and one of the largest concentrations of restaurants per capita.
Your child will always remember…
Children’s Museum Houston, the best museum of its kind in the country according to Parents magazine, featuring exhibits such as Kidtropolis USA and FlowWorks!