Cosmopolitan and down-to-earth at the same time, Houston is a city of wonderful contrasts and diversity. Its official nickname is Space City, but those who make their homes in the fourth largest city in the United States tend to refer to it as “Bayou City”. Friendly, warm and always lively, Houston truly deserves its designation as a ‘World Class City”.
A visit to Houston is like a trip to the candy store. There’s so much to do and see that you could spend years sight-seeing and never see it all. You’ll find something for everyone in Texas’ largest city, from the Houston Space Center for the space buff to the Galleria and Old Market Square for the confirmed shop-a-holic. Houston is one of only five cities in the United States that’s home to professional resident companies in all of the performing arts – opera, theater, dance and music, as well as professional sports teams in football, hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer and women’s basketball. The arts are represented by a Museum District that hosts more than six million visitors each year. No matter what your tastes are, you’ll find something to satisfy them in the cosmopolitan city.
Of course, no visit to Houston is complete without a day – or more – at Space Center Houston, NASA’s official showcase of the Space program. With hands on exhibits, interactive activities and more, Space Center Houston is a must see for anyone who comes to the city.
For a different kind of space exploration, visit the Sky Lobby at the JPMorgan Chase Tower. The Chase Tower is one of the tallest structures in the country, and the sky high observation deck affords a magnificent panoramic view of the entire city. The Sky Lobby is free and open to the public during regular business hours.
Houston is home to some of the finest museums in the world. An art lovers’ tour of Houston would have to include the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and the Menil Collection, one of the world’s finest private collections with more than 15,000 pieces. The Collection is the centerpiece of an enclave of neighborhood gallery spaces and displays.
Best known as the home of Reliant Stadium, the first retractable roof, natural grass stadium in the NFL, Reliant Park is a lot like its home city. Big, small and everything in between, Reliant Park can host it all. Home to the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show, the Park also regularly hosts smaller conventions, trade shows and events, including tours of the stadium for the general public.
Shopping malls have grown into far more than a collection of stores. The best and most famous of them include office towers, hotels, convention centers and shops along with entertainment venues. The Houston Galleria is the original and granddaddy of them all. The seventh largest mall in the United States, the Galleria is more than just a paradise for shoppers. With two Westin hotels and fifty restaurants and specialty food shops, the Galleria hosts over 24 million visitors a year.
Houston may be cosmopolitan, but it’s one of the most family-friendly cities in the nation. There are dozens of activities, events and places where your entire family will have fun. Check out the Downtown Aquarium with its Sunken Temple exhibit and the outdoor Diving Bell Ferris Wheel, then have lunch at the Aquarium Restaurant. Drop by the Houston Zoo, just a few minutes outside downtown, and enjoy over 55 acres of exhibits and 500 animal species in a variety of habitats. Finish off your animal world tour with a visit to the Houston Museum of Natural History, one of Houston’s most popular and visited attractions.
Looking for a more active visit than just hanging out in museums and strolling the sights? Pack up for a day at Memorial Park, which features six miles of jogging, hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, a driving range and the enormous Memorial Park Golf Course. Take along a picnic, or enjoy dinner at the park’s restaurant.
Time your visit right, and you can be part of Houston’s biggest annual event, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The show is consistently ranked as the world’s largest rodeo, and offers three full weeks of events, parties, exhibitions, carnival, the Rodeo Parade and the World’s Championship Barbecue Contest. Besides the Rodeo events and carnival, the Livestock Show books top entertainment and music acts every night.
A visit to Houston is like a step into another world, a world where everything is Texas size, including the hospitality. The welcome mat is always out, and there’s always, always something going on.
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