Houston is one of the most visited cities in Texas and the nation with millions of visitors arriving annually at one of the city’s two airports and even more by car. With more than two million residents, the city is a hub of activity for people and businesses alike. Whether you are here to play or to work, Houston is an exciting city that offers an abundance of opportunities to explore and have fun.
Geography of Houston
As one of the most populous cities in the lower half of the United States, Houston is a trendy travel destination for both business and pleasure. Although the city is approximately six hundred plus square miles with dozens of skyscrapers and a top-notch medical center, it is also only an hour or so from the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
The cityscape of Houston is somewhat unique as it is divided into two main areas: downtown and uptown. Downtown Houston is inside what locals affectionately call the Loop, or the heart of Houston, whereas if you travel a little further south on Interstate 69 you will eventually come to Uptown Houston. Both areas feature a combination of skyscrapers, restaurants, and one of a kind sightseeing opportunities.
As you travel outward in almost every direction from the city, one can find more than a dozen populous towns and suburbs with residents that commute to Houston daily. Some of the most visited areas of Houston outside the immediate downtown or uptown areas can include the Texas Medical Center, The Woodlands, Bellaire, Katy, Pasadena, Clear Lake, and many more.
Houston’s Business and Economy
Houston may be in the far southeast corner of Texas, but it has an international reach when it comes to business. The city is wildly diverse in the people and businesses that call it home. Some of the leading industries thriving in Houston are oil and gas, energy, aerospace, manufacturing, healthcare, and communications.
There are more than twenty Fortune 500 companies located in Houston, Texas including industry giants such as ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, Waste Management, Kinder Morgan, CenterPoint Energy, and National Oilwell Varco to name just a few. In addition to these companies are hundreds of other smaller businesses that help contribute to and benefit from the city’s booming economy.
Some of the main business districts in Houston can include:
- Downtown Houston
- Energy Corridor
- Galleria Area
- Texas Medical Center
- The Woodlands
Houston Sports and Recreation
If your schedule allows, Houston does not disappoint when it comes to sports and recreation opportunities. Regardless of your interests, there is something for almost everyone in this beautiful and diverse city, including:
- Baseball. If the boys of summer are playing while you are in town, do not miss a Houston Astros baseball game to see these World Series Champions in action!
- Basketball. The Houston Rockets play at the Toyota Center near downtown and can make a night of courtside action an experience to remember.
- Football. The Houston Texans play at NRG stadium and bring the heat as they take on other Texas rivalries like that “other team” from Dallas.
- Soccer. If you are a futbol or soccer fan, you will want to catch a Houston Dynamo game. The atmosphere is electric, and the fans are devoted.
- Houston Zoo. Located just near the Texas Medical Center is the Houston Zoo. This wildlife center features fantastic animal exhibits including gorillas, giraffes, lions, rhinos, elephants and dozens more, along with a wonderful children’s area where adults and children can play and learn.
- Discovery Green. Nestled adjacent to downtown is a lovely area of green space that is always bustling with activity. Whether people are picnicking, playing games, catching some sun, or doing outdoor yoga, there is never a shortage of things to do at Discovery Green.
- Culture. Houston’s museum district features a staggering nineteen museums that run the gamut from natural science to history to health to art. If you enjoy taking in some culture when you travel, a stop at the museum district will surely delight.
Shopping in Houston
Houston is a Texas town that loves their sports and rodeo, but make no mistake about it, shopping is a big part of the culture here as well. The city covers hundreds of square miles, making fantastic shopping opportunities a reality in almost every direction. For those that love to shop, a stop in the following areas can be a must for the agenda:
- Houston Galleria. This shopping mecca on the southwest side of town hosts approximately thirty million visitors annually as it is one of the largest shopping centers in the nation. The Houston Galleria boasts more than four hundred retailers and restaurants across two and a half million square feet of space. If time allows, be sure to stop by the ice-skating rink in the center of the mall to either watch some amazing skating or even strap on a pair of rental ice skates to see what you can do.
- Uptown Park. Everything about this shopping strip oozes luxury and sophistication. From the beautiful curbside appeal to the hip boutiques, eateries, and bars, this area is just a short distance from the Galleria and is worth a stroll.
- Highland Village. Once you have taken in the Galleria and Uptown Park, head to the other side of 610 and walk the posh shopping center of Highland Village. This upscale area is full of unique boutiques, high-end retailers, and numerous dining establishments. At night, the area is frequently lit up with soft lights that provide a warm and festive atmosphere.
- Town and Country Village. If you are staying on the west side of town off Interstate 10, be sure to spend a little time at this charming outdoor shopping center. It features a wide range of restaurants and eateries as well as almost forty brand name retailers.
- The Woodlands Mall and Market Street. For visitors staying on Houston’s north side, The Woodlands Mall and Market Street areas are a must. The mall itself is home to national retailers and eateries while just across the way the Market Street shopping complex features dozens of high-end stores, restaurants, and even a small central park area.
Only in Houston
Houston is known for many things, but there are two things that you can find only in Houston that are worth checking out.
- Space Center Houston. For an out of this world experience only found in in H-town, visitors will want to add a trip to Space Center Houston to their travel agenda. Check out the Spacex Falcon 9 Rocket Exhibit up close and personal before heading to the Astronaut Gallery and then Independence Plaza to actually go inside a replica of the Independence Shuttle. The center is filled with educational exhibits and hands-on activities to help adults and kids learn more about the outer space experience.
- Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. This western extravaganza is a popular city-wide celebration of all things livestock and rodeo. During the months of February and March, thousands of Houstonians and visitors from all over the globe flock to NRG Stadium and the adjacent complex. Carnival fans will not want to miss out on the thrilling rides, carnival games, and the food, whether it be turkey legs, funnel cake, fried Oreos or more. Animal lovers should be sure to check out the livestock exhibits to learn more about farm life. For those that enjoy a rodeo in its truest form, they can enjoy mutton busting, barrel racing, and the like at NRG Stadium an hour or so before internationally famous performing artists take the stage to entertain.
There are hundreds of reasons why people visit Houston every year, but it is more fun to explore them in person than it is to read about them, so what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get to Houston as fast as you can!