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Houston tours and excursions

Houston tours

Boat tours

The Sam Houston Boat Tour is a spectacular trip through one of the world's busiest ports. The free, leisurely 90-minute trip cruises along the Houston Ship Channel. Embarking at the port's Sam Houston Pavilion, the boat passes massive cargo boats and the port's Turning Basin Terminal. Reservations must be made in advance and passengers must present photo ID before boarding the boat.

Tel: (713) 670 2416.
Website: http://www.portofhouston.com

Culinary tours

Houston has a large number of restaurants and a great way to find some of the best is to join the monthly culinary tours and go to 'where the chefs eat'. Each month there is a different theme highlighting the diversity of the restaurants in the city. There are tastings at each stop and complimentary local beverages. These tours are very popular and restricted in group size so booking is a necessity.

Tel: (713) 437 5275/5206.
Website: http://www.houstonculinarytours.com

Walking tours

Houston is not an ideal city to walk around, but visitors who are interested in the architecture and culture of the city can join one of the monthly Sunday walking tours which are offered by the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance. The tours vary each month, so keen walkers should telephone for details and departure point information. Discover Houston Tours also offers a variety of walking tours in downtown, the Tunnel System and a ghost walk. Reservations are required.

Tel: (713) 216 5000 ; (713) 222 9255.
Website: http://www.discoverhoustontours.com

Bus tours

Houston Tours has a year-round city sightseeing tour. A minimum of three passengers is required for certain trips. The tour passes through downtown, the Museum District, the Texas Medical Center and includes the Water Wall, the Galleria and River Oaks area. Houston Tours also operates a tour to the Space Center Houston and Galveston. Pick-up for tours is from all major hotels in downtown, Galleria and Medical Center areas.

Tel: (713) 988 5900.
Website: http://www.houstontours.com

Houston excursions

George Ranch

Located 30 minutes southwest of downtown Houston, this is a 23,000 acre working ranch where costumed presenters bring the ranch alive. Visits include 1830s and 1860s homesteads, an 1890s mansion, and a 1930s ranch house. In addition there is a chuck wagon, a working blacksmith and visitors can watch cowboys at work. There are occasional special events including the re-enactment of the struggle for independence and Christmas round the campfire with the cowboys.

10215 FM762, Richmond.

Tel: (281) 343 0218.
Website: http://www.georgeranch.org

Kemah Boardwalk

This excursion is only a 45-minute drive from downtown (south along I-45 and Tex-518) and overlooking Galveston Bay, Kemah is a popular full-day trip due to its waterfront shops, restaurants and amusement rides including the Boardwalk Bullet rollercoaster and Century Wheel. The Boardwalk Beast is a 25-minute thrill ride out into Galveston Bay where the crew guarantee you will get wet. Be aware that the queues are long at weekends and in school holidays. Nearby, the Old Seabrook Historic District is a charming village with shop-lined streets, outdoor markets and seasonal festivals.

215 Kipp Avenue, Kemah 77565.

Tel: (877) 285 3624.
Website: http://www.kemahboardwalk.com

Galveston Island

Located 80km (50 miles) southeast of Houston (along I-45) on the Gulf of Mexico, this island is rich in history. The grand avenues and quiet lanes of the East End and Silk Stocking Historic Districts are home to some extravagant residences built by the wealthy merchants. The Strand has Victorian shops, art galleries and museums.

Across the island, Moody Gardens houses an aquarium representing the oceans of the world, a tropical rainforest and 3D and 4D theatres, as well as a film theatre with wrap-around screens giving the sensation of being in the film. The nearby Lone Star Flight Museum houses an extensive collection of restored aircraft.

Galveston Island Visitors Centre, Seawall Boulevard.
 

Tel: (409) 797 5145.
Website: http://www.galveston.com

San Jacinto Battleground Historical Complex

Approximately 32km (20 miles) east of Houston, (along Tex-225 and Tex-134), is the spot that marks the battleground where Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836. The battle is re-enacted every year in April.

The complex houses the San Jacinto Monument, which is a 174m (570ft) obelisk that towers over the surrounding area - there is an observation deck for visitors to enjoy the views. At the base of the monument is the San Jacinto Museum of History. Of particular interest is the Battleship Texas, commissioned in 1914, which saw action at Normandy and Okinawa.

One Monument Circle, La Porte.

Tel: (281) 479 2421.
Website: http://www.sanjacinto-museum.org

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Featured Hotels

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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.