Although itеs located on a flat Gulf Coast plain, Houston is a vibrant city, bursting with vast tracts of subdivisions, freeways, office parks and shopping malls. Outlying areas offer marshy grasslands in the south and woods in the north. The city is not usually considered a tourist destination, but is rather a business town based mainly on the rich oil and gas industry. Nevertheless, the sprawling metropolitan area has much to offer, including great museums, beautiful parks and a variety of excellent excursions best enjoyed with a rental car. Houston is also home to one of NASA's chief communications centres.
Houston's major airport is Bush Intercontinental Airport, which is served by major domestic and international airlines. George William P Hobby Airport is a secondary airport served by Southwest Airlines. Amtrakеs Sunset Limited rail service arrives three times a week from Los Angeles on its way to New Orleans and then Orlando (and return). Checking national travel deals on your rental car when you arrive will save you time and money.
Self-drive with car rental is the most popular mode of transport to Houston, as it allows you to get around the city and outlying areas with great convenience. Houston has good highways radiating in all directions and the city is connected to Dallas and Fort Worth by I-45, and to San Antonio, New Orleans, and Beaumont by I-10. From Austin, you can take either Texas 71 through Bastrop to Columbus, where it joins I-10, or you can take Texas 290 east through Brenham.
Located between Hermann Park and highway 59, southwest of the downtown area, the Museum District is home to an array of quality museums. The Museum of Fine Arts, dating from 1900, is the oldest art museum in Texas and displays a massive collection of American Modernists, Texan Postmodernists and French Impressionists. The Contemporary Arts Museum presents around a dozen temporary shows a year, and the Holocaust Museum is also worth seeing.
Houston Zoological Gardens, in Hermann Park, features gorillas, tropical birds, lions, bats and an adjoining aquarium. Children will love the educational Museum of Natural Science, featuring the Cockrell Butterfly Center, a three-storey dome where you can wander about among thousands of live butterflies.
You won't want to miss the Johnson Space Center if you are in the area. It is just 22 miles from Houston, and allows visitors to see Mission Control, the space shuttle training mock-up, zero-gravity labs and more. Forty-five kilometres from Houston, the San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Complex is a museum boasting an array of historical Texas artefacts and a fascinating tour detailing the battle that brought the state out of Mexican rule.
National travel deals on car rental ensure you get the best rate in town.
Cyclists will be pleased with Houston's many park trails. Also of interest and popular with locals, La Carafe occupies the oldest commercial building in the city and faces the Old Market Square. The most popular outlet mall, Katy Mills, is at the far western boundary of Houston, in the suburb of Katy. It boasts 200 factory outlet stores, restaurants and a large movie theatre.
Like any large city, Houston has its trouble spots which might not always be obvious to the visitor. Pickpockets as well as hazards while driving are all things which affect tourists in an unfamiliar environment. We strongly advise on taking out travel insurance for yourself and anyone travelling in your party.