If you’ve ever imagined Houston, Texas to be a dusty, desert city you’d be supremely wrong.
Houston is a very green city, which boasts four of the biggest city parks in America. Yes, there’s space-a-plenty here. Even though Houston is 80 km inland, the city boasts one of the world’s busiest ports thanks to the Houston Ship Channel which connects Houston to the Gulf of Mexico.
America’s fourth-largest city by population is also one of its biggest by area, with a mere 195 golf courses located within Houston’s metropolitan area.
A truly cosmopolitan city, Houston’s citizens hail from a large pool of diverse nationalities that is reflected in the city’s culture, music, traditions and cuisine. With 10,000 restaurants, visitors have a plethora of choices to make, but TexMex and Barbecue are two of the staples, so munching into a local fajita or slow-cooked brisket does represent the true taste of Texas. Being a multicultural city, you can also enjoy a vast range of cuisines. Prize-winning restaurants range from serving Greek and Vietnamese to vegan, even in a city that hosts one of the world’s biggest rodeos in celebration of its history as a cattle town.
Downtown Houston has the fifth tallest skyline in the United States. It can get hot and humid, so an 11 km grid of tunnels and skywalks connects the city centre to protect pedestrians from the worst of the weather.
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It may surprise you to know that Houston is one of the world’s premier destinations for medical care. The Texas Medical Centre is the largest life sciences destination in the world. Incredible breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment happen at the campus’ eight different academic and research institutions, not to mention the 21 different hospitals.
This is Texas, so you’ll hear some great Country & Western music, as well as the Local TexMex, or Tejano music as it’s now called. Then, there’s the rest. Ballet, opera, symphony and drama are all popular in Houston, and they pride themselves in their artistic pursuits being affordable.
In the museum district, there are 19 institutions that cater for those who like to browse. The Houston Museum of Natural Science, one of the most heavily attended museums in the U.S., features the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, Burke Baker Planetarium, Cockrell Butterfly Centre, permanent exhibit halls and travelling exhibitions. The Museum’s Hall of Paleontology contains more than 450 fossils and fossil replicas, providing a vivid glimpse into the incredible 3.5-billion-year story of life on Earth. From the humble trilobite to the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.
And then there’s space!
America’s manned rockets may have been launched from Cape Canaveral, but all the preparation and training were done in Houston. A visit to the Space Centre Houston is an absolute must. At the NASA Johnson Space Centre, you can visit the actual control room from which so many missions were run. In the Starship Gallery see many returned capsules. Go inside the shuttle replica Independence, mounted on top of the historic and original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft. Learn about the future of space exploration, and be amazed at how America’s space programme was achieved.
Houston is a city that is full of pleasant and unexpected surprises. Houston is a place that is truly worth visiting.