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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Texas > Houston

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Houston Travel Guide

About Houston

Urbanistas and cowboys create a laid-back Southern vibe in cosmopolitan Houston, the USA’s fourth largest city. Oil wealth and space-race innovation have lent this sprawling Texan giant a certain swagger, fuelling inspirational museums, happening neighbourhoods and a constantly refreshing foodie scene.

You’re spoilt for choice with innovative attractions in the tree-lined Museum District. Among them is the fabulous Houston Museum of Natural Science, where you can go on an eerily realistic prehistoric safari (complete with chomping, chasing and escaping dinosaurs) or encounter rare, endangered and extinct Texan species (albeit the stuffed variety). The Museum of Fine Arts, over a century old, is home to a collection of more than 56,000 works, from ancient Egyptian coffins to curious contemporary Chinese video installations.

This is Space City, so launch yourself out of this world on a behind-the-scenes NASA tour at Space Center Houston. You can check out cutting-edge space technology, touch an actual chunk of lunar rock, and even arrange to have lunch with an astronaut.

Foodies are hard-pressed to keep up with Houston’s hottest new eateries, with restaurants opening up faster than you can polish off your starter. Create your own picnic at the huge farmers’ market on Airline Drive, which lures hungry customers with super-fresh pyramids of Texan-grown produce. If you’d rather stock up on fashion than food, filling an extra suitcase is a cinch thanks to Houston’s hip boutiques and Western outfitters. Handcrafted alligator cowboy boots, anyone?

After dark, you might catch world-class opera or ballet, or bag tickets to see NFL side the Houston Texans in action at the 71,500-seater NRG Stadium.

If you’re looking for your own piece of action, kayak along Buffalo Bayou, the 84km (52-mile) waterway coursing its way through Houston. The surrounding park has been undergoing a massive face-lift, transforming it into a go-to urban green space laced with jogging trails, bike paths, lush wetlands and a gigantic skate park.

Worn out? Grab yourself a beer in one of the legendary pubs, honky tonk bars or slick lounges along Washington Avenue, put your alligator boots up, and chill to live music.

Key facts

Population:
2.1 million (city); 6.1 million (metropolitan area)
Latitude:
29.752568
Longitude:
-95.350065

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La Quinta Inn & Suites

Part of a chain of extremely good-value hotels this one is in the upscale Galleria area. There are 173 bright clean and spacious rooms featuring free high-speed internet access. The hotel also features a pool spa and fitness centre. Breakfast is included in the rate. It is extremely good value for its location but far enough away to not be too noisy.

Hilton Americas

This impressive 1,200-room Houston hotel is connected to the George R Brown Convention Center. Hilton Americas' rooms have modern facilities including internet, a fitness room and pool and three restaurants serving American fare with The Skyline Grill on the 24th floor having panoramic views of the city.

The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa

Set in eight hectares (18 acres) of parkland close to the Galleria, this award-winning hotel has an old world charm and oozes sophistication. The rooms are tastefully decorated and have floor-to-ceiling windows. The excellent facilities include a health club, three pools and a spa facility. There are four restaurants serving regional American dishes and lighter meals.

Hotel ZaZa

After making a huge splash in Dallas Hotel ZaZa is a fun addition to the Houston hotel scene. The 315-room 12-storey property features a dynamic mix of rooms bungalows and suites - including the city's largest and most decadent accommodations with contemporary chic and bold designs. Among concept suites are the 'Rock Star' and the 'Casablanca' and there's a fabulous spa and outdoor pool too.

La Colombe d'Or Hotel

This tiny luxury hotel is situated just a few minutes from downtown with just five luxury suites and nine villas with one- and two-bedroom suites, each with a private dining room and marble bathroom. Built in 1923, the elegant French furnishings in this hotel are complemented by original art and antiques. La Colombe d'Or has a stylish restaurant serving modern French cuisine with a Texan twist, a library and a bar.

Comfort Inn Downtown

Part of a chain of budget hotels, this property is close to the Downtown Aquarium and just minutes from many major attractions. All rooms are comfortable, modern and spacious and some even have fridges and microwaves. There are limited facilities on site but there is a swimming pool. Breakfast is included.