Houston is a sprawling port city in Southeastern Texas. An oil boom and continuing international immigration has brought explosive growth to the city, and it is now the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States. While at first glance, the city appears to be a 9-5 central business district surrounded by a sea of suburbs and strip malls, there are many hidden gems to be discovered.
Until 1915 the city was subdivided into "wards" and they tended to have distinct populations; the names survived in neighborhoods centered around similar areas. Since 1915 continual sprawl has created new districts and neighborhoods, some with distinct characters.
|Downtown (Skyline District, Theater District, Historic District, EaDo)|
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 Rockets, Astros and Dynamo all play downtown.
|Neartown (Midtown, Montrose, 4th Ward)|
Neartown encompasses Midtown, an older light industrial area cum trendy apartment archipelago; Montrose, a pleasant streetcar suburb that was abandoned and resurrected by Houston's LGBT community; and the historic 4th Ward, a Freedman's town that was built by the hands of freed African American slaves and now facing gentrification by a development company.
|North Inner 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 Inner Loop (Museum District, Med Center, University Place)|
To the south and east of downtown lie Rice University, the many attractions of Hermann Park, NRG 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. The Museum District is the center of Houston's visual arts and museums.
|West Inner Loop (River Oaks, Upper Kirby & Greenway, West Inner Loop)|
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.
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.
|Outside 610 (West Houston, East Houston, North Houston, Clear Lake)|
These districts are located outside the I-610 freeway loop (except part of East Houston). Off the beaten track, these areas have plenty to offer for the patient traveler.
Houston has a character that, while very "Texan," is also a great melting pot of many cultures and socio-economic groups. You'll find well-to-do suburban mansions, LA-style shopping strips, Latin-American neighborhoods, towering skyscrapers, historic African-American neighborhoods fighting off gentrification, massive refinery complexes, large Asian communities, and pockets of artist communities. From October to May, the weather is relatively pleasant, and many restaurants and bars take advantage of it with plenty of outdoor seating and beautiful lighting. Houston's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico also makes it a lush, tropical paradise compared to the rest of Texas.
In a sense, Houston is the gritty step-cousin of wealthy Dallas and middle-class hippie Austin. You won't see many cowboys or giant hairdos in downtown Houston (outside of Rodeo season), but you will see a quite diverse mix of people servicing the oilmen, petroleum engineers and high-end doctors.
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 them. This arrangement has made Houston a very sprawled-out and very automobile-dependent city. The benefit of this lack of zoning is that some neighborhoods like Montrose contain a plethora of hidden bars and art galleries nestled among historic neighborhoods - an arrangement not possible in zoned cities across the country.
For one desiring a walkable visit, the areas close to downtown are gradually becoming more dense and walkable as islands of trendy mixed-use developments pop up. Many areas can be downright hostile to pedestrians and bikers as sidewalks are privately built (if at all) and roads are littered with massive potholes. The city is primarily built on the energy industry and nearly everyone owns a car and drives everywhere they go, even to a destination less than a mile away.
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.
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, 9AM to 4PM
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Houston's climate generally ranges from a hot humid summer to a mild winter. The months of October to April make for fantastic times to visit to avoid the heat. Visitors from areas with mild summers or dry climates should be extremely careful if planning to travel there in the summer months, especially around August. The combination of high heat and thick humidity can result in stifling and oppressive weather. It's by no means "a dry heat"! Even some lifelong residents of Houston complain about the August weather. If visiting in the summer, stay hydrated and try to limit outdoor exposure during the hours between 10AM and 7PM. The nights are very hot too, but not as dangerously hot as during the day. Visitors from cooler, drier places will be amazed at the tolerance levels of some of the locals. You can see people wearing long sleeve shirts, boots and jeans when the temperature is above 100°F (38°C) and dew points above 70°F. But it can not be stressed enough: this place is extremely hot and if you're not prepared or used to this type of heat, you're in for one rude awakening. But have fun!
- See also: Air travel in the US
Houston is served by two major commercial airports and two smaller regional airports (QHO IATA) (IATA code for all Houston area airports).
The large airports for commercial traffic are:
- 1George Bush Intercontinental Airport, (IAH IATA). The larger of the two airports and is 23 miles (37 km) north of downtown near Beltway 8, between IH-45 North and US-59 North. It is the second largest hub for United Airlines and it serves 24 domestic and international airlines.
- METRO bus line 102 departing from Terminal C runs to downtown, which it reaches in 1 hr 10 min for $1.25. From downtown, the easiest place to catch the bus is the Downtown Transit Center station of the METRORail. During the day, the bus runs approximately every 30 minutes. Be aware the bus stop located at terminal C is exposed to the elements and subject to extreme heat, sun, and rain. The stop is located on a traffic island three lanes from the door. Check the schedule and then wait indoors by the window for your bus. Step outside 5-7 min before the scheduled departure time.
- Rental cars are located off site at the IAH Car Rental Center. Frequent dedicated buses shuttle passengers, taking 5-7 minutes to travel between a given terminal and the IAH Car Rental Center.
- 2 William P. Hobby Airport (HOU IATA) (7 mi (11 km) south of downtown off of I-45 South). It is convenient if you're traveling downtown or south of the city, such as to Galveston. Its main carrier is Southwest Airlines, and it also served by Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Via Air. With the opening of an international terminal at Hobby, Southwest began serving destinations in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. In 2023, Southwest announced plans to expand the international terminal.
Houston offers 27 airports within 50 miles, and although William Hobby is the most popular choice for private charter flights, there are several airports that focus on serving the business and luxury aviation community. Air charter companies including Tavaero and Houston Jet Charter offer access to planes based at airports across Houston, ranging from twin-engine aircraft and light jets to luxury Gulfstreams and executive airliners.
- 3 Sugar Land Regional Airport, (SGR IATA). It's 25 mi (40 km) southwest of downtown on TX 6, just north of U.S. 59. It is a popular choice among the well-heeled corporate aircraft set.
- 4 Ellington Airport, (EFD IATA). It's 19 mi (31 km) southeast of downtown, just off I-45. This former air force base is now used for general aviation, non-passenger commercial traffic, and government aviation (NASA, Texas Air National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard).
- Houston Executive Airport (FAA LID: TME). It's about 28 miles directly west of downtown Houston in Brookshire, Texas. Primarily caters to executives jets in the Energy Corridor area of Houston.
- David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (FAA LID: DWH). It's on the north side of Houston just off the Grand Parkway in Spring, Texas. It's the busiest general aviation facility in the state, and consistently ranks as one of the busiest general aviation airports in the United States.
- Pearland Regional Airport (FAA LID: LVJ) It's 17 miles (27 km) south of Downtown Houston just south of the Sam Houston Tollway and just east of US 35 in Pearland, Texas. The airport, formerly known as Clover Field, is managed by Texas Aviation Partners, LLC.
- Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport (FAA LID: CXO). It's about 37 miles north of downtown Houston near I-45 and U.S. 105 in Conroe, Texas. Formerly known as Lone Star Executive, CXO is popular for international business jets, with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Station on-site to serve international business travelers.
- Houston-Southwest Airport (FAA LID: AXH). It's 15 miles (24 km) southwest of downtown Houston in Arcola, Texas, near State Highway 6 (SH 6), the South Freeway (SH 288), and the Fort Bend Parkway.
- West Houston Airport (IWS IATA). Located 15 miles west of downtown Houston on TX 6, just north of I-10. About 100,000 flight operations per year.
- Amtrak, 902 Washington Ave. Amtrak's Sunset Limited line is the only passenger train route with a stop in Houston on its way between New Orleans and Los Angeles (via San Antonio) three times a week. There is a daily Thruway Bus (operated by Lone Star Coach) that provides a direct connection from the Houston Amtrak station to the Texas Eagle in Longview.
Houston's major freeways include:
- I-10 West ("Katy Freeway"): from San Antonio
- I-10 East: ("Baytown/East Freeway", not to be confused with "Eastex freeway") from Beaumont
- North ("North Freeway"): from Dallas
- South ("Gulf Freeway"): from Galveston
- & South ("Southwest Freeway"): from Victoria; signed as US 59 south of Rosenberg
- & North ("Eastex Freeway"): from Lufkin; signed as US 59 north of Cleveland
- I-610 ("The Loop"): loop around downtown
- West ("Northwest Freeway"): from Austin
- North ("Tomball Parkway"): from Tomball
- South ("South Freeway"): from Freeport
- East ("Pasadena Freeway"): from La Porte
- & BW-8 ("The Beltway/Sam Houston Tollway"): loop about twice as far out as IH-610.
Approximate distance from nearby cities (in miles):
- Austin: 160
- Baton Rouge, LA: 270
- Beaumont: 90
- Dallas: 240
- El Paso: 745
- Galveston: 50
- Lake Charles, LA: 140
- New Orleans, LA: 350
- San Antonio: 200
- Waco: 180
Buses connect Houston to Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Baton Rouge and other cities in the southeastern U.S. to as far as North Carolina, Chicago and Florida in the U.S. Northbound buses from Mexico typically cross through Brownsville/Matamoros, Laredo/Nuevo Laredo or McAllen/Reynosa. Bus companies have many terminals and stops in different parts of the city. Several companies have terminals, one next to the other, along Harrisburg Blvd between 65th St and 75th St in the Magnolia Park neighborhood, in the eastside of town in addition to other locations. Some companies have multiple stops/stations in different parts of town. Check your tickets and reservations closely regarding your stop as their buses do not stop into all of the company's stop or stations in town:
- Arrow Trailways of Texas (Southwestern Stagelines), (Greyhound Bus Terminal) 2121 Main St (Main & Webster St in Downtown), ☏ +1 254 634-3843. From Killeen to Temple, Waco, Round Rock, Austin and Houston in Texas.
- Autobus Los Chavez, 915 Collingsworth St, ☏ +1 713 222-7543, +1 713 237-8227. Buses from Morelia, Michoacan, through San Felipe, Texas; San Luis Potosi, SLP; and Celaya, GTO in Mexico.
- El Expreso & Tornado, (office & terminal) 2201 Main St (Main & Webster in downtown), ☏ +1 713 650-6565. Buses from various cities in Texas, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North and South Carolina and Alabama to Houston and on to various Mexican cities south of the border. Connections to other Mexican bus lines for travel from further south. They have additional terminals at:
- Harrisburg (southeast), 7100 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston Tx 77011, ☏ +1 713 670-3263.
- Company Headquarters & Terminal, 800 Lockwood Dr, ☏ +1 713 928-5500.
- Flixbus, (bus stop) 605 Gray St (Bus will board in the parking lot at 605 Gray St. Wait for the bus at the east side of the parking lot closest to the intersection of Smith St. and Gray St.). Connects Houston to San Antonio, Lafayette, Baton Rouge along the I-10 corridor; up to Dallas & Ft Worth via I-45 and to Austin on US Hwy 287.
- Greyhound, Autobus Americanos and Valley Transit Co. (VTC), (Bus terminal) 2121 Main St (Main & Webster in downtown), ☏ +1 713 759-6565, toll-free: +1 800 231-2222. Additional stations and stops at:
- Baytown Travel Center (East), 1901 I-10 East, Baytown
- Handi Plus 42 Chevron (Southeast), 17230 Hwy 6, Manvel
- Katy Food Mart (West), 653 Pin Oak, Katy
- Southeast Bus Terminal, 7000 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston
- Agencia de Autobuses (Southwest), 6590 Southwest Freeway, Houston
- Megabus & Kerrville (CoachUSA), (bus terminal) 815 Pierce St (north of Travis St). Low-cost bus line with service from Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Fares $1 and up. Additional stops in:
- Katy Mills Mall Entrance #8 (Katy), 5000 Katy Mills Circle, Katy, bus stop at south entrance (#8) of the mall by AMC 20 movie theater.
- Select Shell Station (Northwest), 13250 FM 1960 W (off of US Hwy 290)
Buses do not stop in all three stops listed in above. Check reservations and tickets closely as to which stop you bus will stop in.
- Turimex Internacional, (Bus terminal) 7011 Harrisburg Blvd, toll-free: +1 800 733-7330 (US), +52 81 8151-5253 (Mexico). Turimex Internacional serves destinations throughout southeastern United States. Connections to Grupo Senda for onward travel south of the border.
- Southwest, 5800 Bellaire Blvd
- Omnibus and Autobuses Adame, (Bus terminal) 3200 Telephone Rd (Telephone Rd & Wayside Dr in the Third Ward), toll-free: +1 800 923-1799.
- Hillcroft Terminal (Southwest), 6580 Southwest Freeway, ☏ +1 713 785-0035.
- [dead link] Pegasso Tours, 6614 Harrisburg, ☏ +1 713 923-7383. Buses from Monterrey through Rosenberg, El Campo, TX; Victoria,Tx; McAllen, Reynosa and Cadereyta
- Zima Real, 6949 Harrisburg Ave, ☏ +1 713 923-9116. Buses from Matehuala, San Luis Potosi, Rio Verde and Celaya in Mexico to Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin in Texas.
- Greater Heights (North), 1829 Airline Dr
Houston's major highways make getting around the city fairly easy. (See list of freeways under the "Get in" section.) 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 4PM and can last more than 2 hours. Morning rush hour is between 7 and 9AM. During rush hour, traffic on the highways can come to a halt. The strip of the West Loop near the Galleria, between IH-69 and IH-10, is an area you should definitely avoid during rush hour if possible.
- Houston Traffic Map
- The outstanding freeways system
Some of the freeways have an H.O.V. (High-Occupancy Vehicle) lane, which are limited-access lanes 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 (2-8PM). 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 (6:45-8AM 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, IH-69 North, IH-69 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.
By public transportation
Public transportation in Houston is operated by METRO, which runs light rail lines called METRORail[dead link], as well as bus lines. The cost to ride is $1.25 each way (Feb 2017).
If you pay using your METRO Q Fare Card, METRO Day Pass, or METRO Money, you get free transfers in any direction for up to three hours. METRORail provides 23 miles (37 km) of light-rail service to some of the region’s most popular destinations:
- Red Line (North Line) - Travels from NRG Park to the Texas Medical Center, Museum District, Downtown, Northline and numerous stops in between.
- Green Line (East End Line) - Travels along Harrisburg from the Magnolia Transit Center through the Historic East End to a variety of downtown and entertainment and business destinations.
- Purple Line (Southeast) - Travels from downtown along Capitol and Rusk to popular destinations such as Texas Southern University and the University of Houston.
There have been some extensions of the rail network in the 2010s and more are planned for the coming years.
- Taxis are easily found in Downtown, Uptown, Midtown, the Medical Center, the suburb of Galveston and both airports. Taxis in Houston are generally dispatched by various companies the largest being Yellow Cab, ☏ +1-713-236-1111 or from their web page.
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.
Houston is so spread out and (most of the time) hot and humid that bicycles are often best used for exercise or to get to somewhere that is close by. 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.
Houston has 290 miles (460 km) of marked bike routes, plus another 80 miles (130 km) 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[dead link].
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.
Travelers planning to visit multiple attractions may benefit from the Houston CityPASS, 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.
- Astrodome. Dubbed the "8th Wonder of the World," it was one of the world's first fully indoor stadiums and the birthplace of astroturf (that was vacuumed by people in astronaut suits between innings). It was abandoned when the Astros threatened to move unless Minute Maid Park (formerly Enron Field) was built. The stadium is no longer open to visitors, but it is still a spectacle.
- Wildcat Golf Club.
- Houston Country club.
- River Oaks Country Club.
- Buffalo Bayou
- Eleanor Tinsley Park - The beautiful city skyline backdrops this scenic portion of the park. It remains one of the most popular outdoor spaces for recreation and relaxation.
- Lost Lake - At this location, visitors can rent kayaks and discover the water trails.
- Discovery Green
- Houston Arboretum
- Hermann Park
- McGovern Centennial Gardens - Home to a diverse collection of gardens including an arid garden, a rose garden, a woodland garden, an interactive family garden, and more. Visitors can also enjoy walking the spiral path to the top of a 30-foot (9 m) mount.
- Memorial Park - A large park near Uptown and I-10 Freeway. Many running and walking trails, fields, and more. A Smoothie King can also be found within the park.
Events & festivals
- Houston CaribFest. Celebrating Caribbean/West Indian Cultures.
- Art Car Parade, Runs along Allen Parkway. May. A parade that must be seen to be believed. For example, in 2010, 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.
- Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, Reliant Park. March. HLSR is one of the largest live entertainment and livestock exhibitions in Texas. It runs for 20 days and includes activities for everyone. The rodeo in Houston is considered the city's "signature event" akin to "Mardi Gras" in New Orleans, the Texas State Fair in Dallas, Comic-Con in San Diego, and the "Ball Drop" in New York City.
- McDonald's Houston Children's Festival, April. Quite possibly the largest children's festival in the United States. It runs for 2 days and includes activities for kids of all ages, including face painting, stage shows, and a whole lot more. The festival is usually held on the first weekend of April.
- Houston Gay Pride Parade[dead link], Downtown. June. The Houston Gay Pride Parade and Festival is an annual event that celebrates the city's LGBT community. The parade is a colorful and campy affair. You see people of all ages and ethnicities including families, drag queens, and people dressed in campy, kitch, or costumes. Free
- Texas Renaissance Festival, Todd Mission, October & November. Located an hour outside of Downtown Houston, the Texas Renaissance Festival ("Ren Fest") runs during the weekends from the months of October to November. Guests are welcomed to attend in costume. Tickets run from $20-40.
- Houston Astros - the city's Major League Baseball team, playing at Minute Maid Park in Downtown.
- Houston Texans - the city's National Football League (NFL) team, playing at NRG Stadium in the South Inner Loop area, next to the now-vacant Astrodome.
- Houston Rockets - the city's NBA (basketball) team plays at the Toyota Center in Downtown.
- Houston SaberCats - the city's Major League Rugby team (rugby union) plays at Aveva Stadium at the Houston Sports Park just west of the South Freeway (SH-288) between 610 and the Beltway.
- Houston Dynamo (Major League Soccer/MLS) and Houston Dash (National Women's Soccer League/NWSL) play in Shell Energy Stadium, in Downtown across from Minute Maid Park.
- Houston Motocross, reliant. May 22. Factory motocross racers from all around the world. to race once a year. Free.
Houston has four universities whose sports teams play in the top-level NCAA Division I:
- 1 Houston Cougars. The teams representing the city's largest school, the University of Houston, compete in the American Athletic Conference but are set to join the Big 12 Conference in 2023. Most athletic venues are on campus, with the best-known being TDECU Stadium, which opened in 2014 at the site of the former football home of Robertson Stadium, and Fertitta Center (basketball).
- 2 Rice Owls. Rice University, the city's most prominent private school, has remained in Conference USA during the near-constant conference changes in the early 2010s, but will move to the American Athletic Conference in 2023. As with UH, Rice's main venues are on campus, among them Rice Stadium (football), Tudor Fieldhouse (basketball), and Reckling Park (baseball).
- 3 Texas Southern Tigers. 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 Athletic Conference. Unlike Houston and Rice, whose football teams play in the top-level FBS, Texas Southern football is in the second-level FCS. Most venues are also on campus; the football team has an on-campus stadium, but occasionally uses NRG Stadium.
- Houston Christian Huskies. Houston Christian University (renamed from Houston Baptist University in September 2022), a relatively new addition to Division I, is located in the Sharpstown area along the Southwest Freeway. The Huskies joined the FCS-level Southland Conference in 2013, and started a football program at that time.
Houstonians like theater and the community supports many types of performing arts companies. Most professional theater is centered in the Theater District, 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 The Hobby Center Jones Hall and the Alley Theater.
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. Baylor College of Medicine is one of the nation's top medical schools, though it does not admit undergraduates. It is also home to the University of Houston, St. Thomas University, Texas Southern University, and Houston Christian University.
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 and the ninth largest in the United States. 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 stores, restaurants, and two Westin hotels.
Groceries and other basics
The major supermarket chains in Houston are Kroger, Randall's (which is owned by Albertsons), H-E-B, and Fiesta Mart. In addition the nation's largest discount store chain, Walmart, has several stores in Houston most of which are also open 24 hours and most Kroger stores in Houston are also open 24 hours as well. In addition many specialty and organic supermarkets such as Whole Foods Market, Central Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Trader Joe's can also be found throughout the area.
Due to its huge expat and immigrant population, Houston also features a large variety of ethnic grocery stores, including Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and of course, Mexican.
- Individual listings can be found in Houston's district articles
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, 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.
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 (such as the GQ magazine, Best Of lists, or the declaration by Bon Appetit 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.
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 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.
- 1 The Saint Arnold Brewery. 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 3PM to 4:15PM, and Saturday 11AM to 2PM.
- Karbach Brewing Co, 2032 Karbach St. Beer Garden/patio is open M-F 2:30-9PM, Sa noon - 9PM, Su noon - 5:30PM. It is building an expansion of the brewery and a restaurant/brewpub.
- Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company, 5301 Nolda St. In the Washington Corridor. Focused on their Witbier recipe and interesting variation of that. Tours/tasting hours Saturday Noon to 3PM.
- 8th Wonder Brewing Company, 2202 Dallas St (In EaDo near BBVA Stadium). Taproom open Th F 5-10PM, Sa noon-8PM, Su noon-8PM. Great for a few beers before a Dynamo game away from the crush at Lucky's and Little Woodrow's.
- Xela Coffee Roasters, 4409 Canal St, ☏ +1-713-640-5189. 8AM-2PM (closed Tuesday). Coffee roaster serving freshly roasted coffee via batch brew and pour overs (single origins) as well as espresso drinks. Front porch and back patio make it a great place to enjoy a fresh drink when the weather allows for it. Black coffee: $2.00; single origin pour over for 2 people: $5.00; breakfast tacos $2.50.
- Blacksmith, 1018 Westheimer Rd,, ☏ +1-832-360-7470. Daily 7AM-5PM. Coffee shop serving freshly roasted coffee (batch brew and pour overs), espresso drinks and mix of breakfast and lunch options. Coffee drinks range in price from $3.00 (daily batch brew) to ~$5.00 for lattes. All food options are $15.00 or less..
- Individual listings can be found in Houston's district articles
Houston has several 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, 346 and 832.
At the George Bush International Airport, the wireless connection is paid and organized by Boingo (wireless network Boingo Hotspot). From the Boingo welcome page, one can also choose (slow) sponsored free internet connection, which is good for an hour. Sometimes, after one hour the next sponsored connection could be opened.
While not as infamous as Detroit, Baltimore, or Memphis, the crime rate in Houston is high and the city has a reputation among Texans as a dangerous city. Houston is the largest hub for human trafficking into the United States and is also a major hub for drug and weapons trafficking. Certain areas of Houston are more dangerous than others, including the area within Loop 610 on the east side and some areas in Southwest Houston near Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Tollway).
As a general rule, the areas of or portions of Spring Branch, Alief, Fondren Southwest, Sharpstown, Hiram Clarke, and Gulfton should be avoided during the night. Even during the day time, it is best that you exercise special caution in these areas as they have relatively large homeless populations and moderate levels of gang activity. The Third & Fifth Wards, and Southeast/South Central (South Park, Sunnyside, South Acres, Yellowstone) areas should be avoided during the day and night as violent crime is common in these areas. Criminal elements in Houston are known to target random people. The city center is relatively safe during the day time, but special caution should be exercised in the early morning and evening hours, and it is best to avoid the city center during the night, especially if you are alone.
Travelers to Houston should follow common safety procedures: stay away from deserted areas in the middle of the night, keep your valuables stored out of sight, keep purses and wallets in a secure location, and always put valuables in a car trunk. Call 911 for emergency assistance or report a crime 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. Residents of Texas are allowed to carry concealed firearms after completing training and a thorough background check
Like much of the Gulf Coast, Houston is very vulnerable to hurricanes. If a hurricane is forecast to make landfall anywhere near Houston, listen to officials and heed mandatory evacuation orders if applicable. Even if there isn't a mandatory evacuation order, consider avoiding the city if a hurricane is coming—officials may be hesitant to order an evacuation, even in severe situations, because the city is so huge. The last major hurricane to hit Houston was Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which caused historic flooding and widespread damage. Even tropical depressions and storms can pose a real threat, as Tropical Storm Imelda made landfall in September 2019 and brought flooding that rivaled or even exceeded that of Harvey in some areas. Hurricane season is June through November, peaking in September.
Houston is very hot and humid in the summer, with temperatures around 31-38°C (87-100°F), similar to tropical cities like Manila or Panama City during the summer. However, in the winter, Houston can be mild with temperatures ranging from -1-18°C (30-64°F), and winter climate is usually similar to winters in the rest of the Southern United States or in Southern California.
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 (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.
- 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 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.
Houston is home to many people of different nationalities and language backgrounds. Therefore, many countries have established full-service consulates (Consulate-General) in Houston to provide consular services for their nationals living in Texas and in the adjacent states in the southeast part of the U.S. as well as visa services for others seeking to visit their respective countries (if required). The Honorary Consulates are there for commercial and business purposes and offer limited or no consular services except in emergency situations. Most of the consulates are in or around the Galleria/Uptown area and the West Inner Loop neighborhoods, west of downtown. They can also be located in other parts of town too:
- Angola, 3040 Post Oak Blvd # 780, ☏ +1-713-212-3840. M-F 9AM-1PM.
- Argentina, 2200 West Loop S, Ste 1025 (West side of I-610 between San Felipe & Westheimer), ☏ +1 713 871-8935, fax: +1 713 871-0639. M-F 9AM-1PM. Tel: 832-279-5096 for emergencies only.
- Australia (Honorary), 3009 Post Oak Blvd, Ste #1310, ☏ +1 832 962-8420, fax: +1 832 831-2022.
- Belgium (Honorary), 2009 Lubbock St, ☏ +1 713 426-3933, fax: +1 713 224-1120, Houston@diplobel.org.
- Bolivia, 2401 Fountain View Dr Suite 110, ☏ +1-832-916-4200. M-F 9AM-3PM.
- Brazil, Park Tower North, 1233 West Loop S, Ste 1150, ☏ +1 713 961-3063, fax: +1 713 961-3070, email@example.com. M-F 9AM-noon, By appointment only. NE of intersection of I-610 & Post Oak Blvd. Access from Exit #9 (San Felipe Rd Post Oak Blvd) from the northbound lanes and #9B (Post Oak Blvd) from the southbound lanes
- Canada Trade Commissioner (Honorary), San Felipe Plaza, 5847 San Felipe St Ste 1700 (SE of intersection of San Felipe St & Augusta Dr, 1.7 mi west of I-610), ☏ +1 713 821-1440, fax: +1 713 821-1611, firstname.lastname@example.org. NE of intersection of I-610 & Post Oak Blvd. Access from Exit #9 (San Felipe Rd Post Oak Blvd) from the northbound lanes and #9B (Post Oak Blvd) from the southbound lanes and go west along San Felipe St to Augusta Dr.
- Chile, 1300 Post Oak Blvd, Suite 1130, ☏ +1 713 621-5853, fax: +1 713 621-8672.
- China, 3417 Montrose Blvd, ☏ +1 713 520-1462, fax: +1 713 521-3064. Due to tensions between U.S. and Chinese relations the U.S. government has ordered the closure of the consulate in Houston. All consular affairs are now dealt by the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C.
- Colombia, 2400 Augusta Dr #400, ☏ +1-713-527-8919, email@example.com. M-F 8:30AM-1:30PM.
- Costa Rica, 3100 Wilcrest Dr #260, ☏ +1-713-266-0484. M-F 9AM-1PM.
- Ecuador, 2603 Augusta Dr Ste #810, ☏ +1 713 572-8731, firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-1PM.
- Egypt, 5718 Westheimer Rd Suite #1350, ☏ +1-713-961-4915. M-F 9:30AM-1:30PM.
- El Salvador, 8300 Bissonet St, Suite 400 (Big office building NE of intersection of Bissonet & Gessner Rd, across street from Emanuel Memorial Pk Cemetery), ☏ +1 346 571-5198. M-F 9AM-4PM.
- Equatorial Guinea, 6401 Southwest Fwy, ☏ +1-713-776-9900.
- France, 777 Post Oak Blvd Ste 600.
- Germany, 1330 Post Oak Blvd Ste 1850, ☏ +1 713 627-7770, fax: +1 713 627-0506. M-F 9AM-noon.
- Greece, 520 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 450, ☏ +1 713 840-7522, +1 713 840-7523, fax: +1 713 840-0614, email@example.com. M-F 9AM-4PM.
- Guatemala, 6300 Richmond Ave Suite #103, Houston 77057, ☏ +1 713 953-9531. M-F 8AM-3PM. They also have "mobile consulates" for a couple of days once monthly or every other month for their nationals living in other cities in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. Check their website for dates, times and locations.
- Honduras, 3731 Briarpark Dr Suite #155, ☏ +1 346 201-6711. M-F 9AM-3:30PM.
- India, 4300 Scotland St, ☏ +1 713 626-2148, +1 713 626-2149, fax: +1 713 626-2450. The consulate itself handles emergency matters, TATKAAL passports and other services not outsourced to Cox & King (see below)
- Cox & King Global Services LLC (CKGS), 1001 Texas Ave, Suite #550, ☏ +1 917 444-7911, +1 917 444-7752. M-F 9AM-5PM By Appointment only. They accept and process applications for Indian passports, visas, OCI cards, PIO cards and applications for the renunciation of Indian citizenship.
- 1 Indonesia, 10900 Richmond Ave, ☏ +1 713 785-1691. M-F 9AM-5PM; Consular & Visa M-Th 9AM-1PM, F 9AM-noon.
- Ireland (Honorary), 2630 Sutton Ct, ☏ +1 713 961-5263, fax: +1 970-925-7900.
- Israel, 24 Greenway Plaza, Suite 1500 (Greenway Plaza), ☏ +1 832 301-3500, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Italy, 1300 Post Oak Blvd Ste 660, ☏ +1 713 850-7520, fax: +1 713 850-9113, email@example.com. M Tu Th F 9AM-12:30PM.
- Japan, 2 Houston Center Bldg 909 Fannin St Ste 3000, ☏ +1 713 652-2977, fax: +1 713 651-7822, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mexico, 4507 San Jacinto St, ☏ +1 713 271-6800, fax: +1 713 779-0701. Mexico maintains additional consulates in Austin, Brownsville, Dallas, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, El Paso, Laredo, McAllen and San Antonio
- Netherlands (Honorary), email@example.com.
- New Zealand (Honorary), San Felipe (45 mi W of Houston), ☏ +1 713 973-8680, fax: +1 713 481-8320, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Nicaragua, 6009 Richmond Ave #100, ☏ +1-713-789-2762. M-F 9AM-1PM.
- 2 Norway, 3410 West Dallas St, Suite #100, ☏ +1 281 620-4200, fax: +1 713 620-4290, email@example.com. M-F 9AM-4PM.
- Pakistan, 11850 Jones Rd, ☏ +1 281 890-2223.
- Panama, 24 Greenway Plaza Ste 710, ☏ +1-713-622-4451. M-F 9AM-3PM.
- Peru, 5177 Richmond Ave #695, ☏ +1-713-355-9517.
- Philippines, 9990 Richmond Ave #100N, ☏ +1-346-293-8773, firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-3PM.
- Poland, 3040 Post Oak Blvd 8th floor, ☏ +1-713-993-9685, fax: +1 713 993 9685, email@example.com.
- Portugal (Honorary), 721 Buckingham Drive, ☏ +1 713 515-5272.
- Qatar, 1990 Post Oak Blvd # 900, ☏ +1-713-355-8221, firstname.lastname@example.org. Emergency line is +1-844-355-8221
- Romania (Honorary), 19927 Parsons Green Ct., Katy TX, ☏ +1-713-629-1551, fax: +1-713-629-1553, email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Russia, 1333 West Loop S, Suite #1300, ☏ +1 713 337-3300. M-F 9AM-noon. NE of intersection of I-610 & Post Oak Blvd. Access from Exit #9 (San Felipe Rd Post Oak Blvd) from the northbound lanes and #9B (Post Oak Blvd) from the southbound lanes
- Saudi Arabia, 5718 Westheimer Rd, Suite #1500, ☏ +1-713-785-5577. M-F 9AM-4PM.
- Korea, Republic of, 1990 Post Oak Blvd #1250, ☏ +1-713-961-0186.
- Spain, 1800 Bering Dr Ste 660 (Along Bering Dr south of the), ☏ +1 713 783-6200, fax: +1 713 783-6166, email@example.com.
- Sweden, 3730 Kirby Drive, Suite 805, ☏ +1 713 953 1417, fax: +1 713 953 7776, firstname.lastname@example.org. Serves South Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
- 3 Taiwan (Taipei Economic & Cultural Office (TECO)), 11 Greenway Plaza, Suite #2006, ☏ +1 713 626-7445, fax: +1 713 626-0990. NW of intersection of Greenway Plaza Blvd & Edloe St, just north of the Edloe St Exit from I-69/US Hwy 59.
- Turkey, 1990 Post Oak Blvd, Suite #1300, ☏ +1 713 622-5849, toll-free: +1 888 566-7656, email@example.com. M-F 9AM-4PM; walk-in 9AM-noon only.
- Ukraine (Honorary), 123 N Post Oak, Suite #410, ☏ +1 281 242-6654. M-F 9AM-3PM.
- Untied Arab Emirates, 7505 Main St #510, ☏ +1-832-956-6666. M-F 9AM-4PM.
- United Kingdom, 1301 Fannin Street, Suite #2400, ☏ +1 713 210-4000, fax: +1 713 659-7094.
- Uruguay (Honorary), 1220 Ripple Creek Dr, ☏ +1 713-974-7855, fax: +1 713-974-1413.
- Venezuela, 2401 Fountain View Dr. Suite 220, ☏ +1 713 974-0028, fax: +1 713 974-1413. M-F 9AM-1PM.
- Vietnam, 5251 Westheimer Rd, Suite 1100, ☏ +1 713 850-1233, fax: +1 713 810-0159. M-F 9AM-noon (by appointment during afternoon hours).
- 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.
- Webster, southeast of the city, is the location of Space Center Houston, the visitor center of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
- Schlitterbahn, 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— 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|
|Tucson ← San Antonio ←||W E||→ Beaumont → New Orleans|
|San Antonio ← Weimar ←||W E||→ Baytown → Lake Charles|
|Dallas ← The Woodlands ←||N S||→ Webster → Galveston|
|Laredo via ← Stafford ←||S N||→ Lufkin via → Marshall via|
|San Antonio ← Weimar ←||W E||→ China → Beaumont|
|Austin ← Brenham ←||W E||→ END|
|Waco ← Bryan-College Station ←||N S||→ Sugar Land → Galveston|
|Corpus Christi ← Pearland ←||S N||→ END|