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Things to do in Houston

Go ice-skating in Discovery Green Park

Discovery Green Park (www.discoverygreen.com) is a 12-acre space in downtown Houston located just across from the George R Brown Convention Center. In the winter, the park transforms its model boat basin into an outdoor skating rink. Indoor ice-skating is available all year in the iconic ice skating rink at the heart of The Galleria shopping centre.

Go on a brewery tour

Saint Arnold Brewery (tel: +1 713 686 9494; www.saintarnold.com) is one of Texas' oldest breweries, and famous for uniquely named plonks such as Wagger Brown, Weedwacker and the Fancy Lawnmower. Tours run on Friday and Saturday afternoons, giving numerous opportunities to taste the fruits of their labour.

Kayak down the Buffalo Bayou

Kayaking along the Buffalo Bayou (tel: +1 713 752 0314; www.buffalobayou.org) gives an entirely new perspective of the city skyline. A scenic 26-mile paddling trail goes through downtown Houston and along the route you can see birds, turtles and other wildlife.

Spend the day at the gee-gees

If you like a flutter, spend a day at the Sam Houston Race Park (tel: +1 281 807 8700; www.shrp.com) and try not to lose your shirt betting on Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse races in this state-of-the art facility. The course also has restaurants and entertainment facilities and live music performances every weekend.

Visit the house (sort of) made from beer

Back in 1968, upholsterer John Milkovisch started work on a house that now has become one of Houston's most idiosyncratic attractions - the Beer Can House (tel: www.beercanhouse.org). Approximately 50,000 cans now adorn its outside walls, greatly reducing its energy bills and apparently making it 'sing in the wind'.

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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 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.

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.