Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States. It is huge, both in population and in land area. "Urban sprawl" is a term tailor-made for this city, due to Houston being the largest unzoned city in the country. Houston is a multicultural city home to some of the nation's largest Asian, Arab and Latin American populations. But its culture is not limited to diverse population — it also boasts a world class symphony and theater district that includes a full-time ballet company and opera.
Houston is the largest city in the United States without any appreciable zoning. While there is some small measure of zoning in the form of ordinances and land use regulations, real estate development in Houston is only constrained by the will and the pocketbook of real estate developers. Traditionally, Houston politics and law are strongly influenced by real estate developers; at times, the majority of city council seats have been held by developers.
What this means to visitors is that Houston covers a larger land area with less population than might otherwise be expected. Everything is spread out. No matter where you are, almost nothing will be within walking distance. The entire city is built on the energy industry and nearly everyone owns a car and drives everywhere they go. However, the city is becoming more dense and walkable, particularly in the Midtown/Montrose areas. With a few exceptions, almost everything to see or do is located in Houston's urban core inside the 610 Loop and more specifically in between downtown, the Galleria, and the Texas Medical Center.
The city has a number of districts. Historically, these districts were called "wards" and they tended to have distinct populations. Redevelopment has rendered most of those distinctions meaningless, but the modern version of Houston still has districts.
Houston has three areas that look like a typical downtown in a big city with high-rise buildings and, at street level, concessions to pedestrians that include shops and eating establishments.
- Downtown - Center of the city, still the home of high finance and big business. Houston is second only to New York City in corporate headquarters of Fortune 500 companies. Many of them are located downtown including some of the world's largest energy companies. Downtown Houston also boasts the second largest theatre district in the United States and the city has world class permanent organizations such as the Houston Symphony and Houston Ballet. The Houston Pavillions entertainment district opened in October 2008 between Main St. and the Toyota Center.
- Med Center and Rice - To the south and east of downtown lie Rice University, the many attractions of Hermann Park, and the Texas Medical Center (or just "the med center"), including some of the world's best hospitals. The Rice Village is a highly concentrated area of restaurants, bars, and shopping.
- Uptown or The Galleria Area is west of the city center and is known for its namesake, a huge high-end shopping mall complex. It also has the tallest building in the United States outside of a main downtown area, the Williams tower. This area has many great restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and infamous traffic jams during peak hours.
Situated elsewhere in town, between these three pillars of development and surrounding them, are a dozen or more distinct districts that define the more-accessible heart of the people and the city.
- Warehouse District - Formerly an industrial zone, the Warehouse District is now full of loft conversions and trendy residents, some good eats and nightlife.
- Montrose - Ideally bordered by Midtown, Heights, River Oaks, and the Medical Center, Montrose is both a street name and a neighborhood. Montrose is Houston's longtime home of its gay and lesbian population, as well as host to the city's museums. Lower Westheimer (Westheimer in between Montrose Blvd. and Shepherd) offers an array of resale fashion shops, eclectic shopping as well as antique stores. The gay nightlife is centered around Pacific St. and surrounding streets. Many Montrose neighborhood pubs attract an eclectic and diverse crowd.
- River Oaks - Houston's most exclusive and affluent neighborhood, home to eye-popping mansions and the River Oaks Shopping Center, one of America's first suburban shopping districts and a great display of Art Deco architecture. Notable residence: Lynn Wyatt, Caroline Farb, and Robert McNair
- Midtown - The area between Downtown and the medical center. This area experienced serious redevelopment in the 1990's and is now home to many of Houston's young professionals, newer restaurants and bars/clubs. The nightlife here is hip and very vibrant.
- The Heights - A large district of gingerbread Victorian homes as well as early 20th Century bungalows. Like its sister neighborhood Montrose, The Heights is home to a diverse population from artists and musicians to wealthy professionals. Parts of the Heights are still dry, fostering a large number of BYOB restaurants ideal for those who enjoy their own selected wine. Please see Spec's Liquor in the SEE section.
- Southwest Houston - Despite a plethora of rundown apartment complexes and a reputation for crime, it is also home to some of the city's most desirable neighborhoods, including Meyerland and the charming City of Bellaire. This area is almost completely outside of the 610 Loop, although the City of Bellaire is partially inside the 610.
- New Chinatown - Located southwest of the center, it would be the largest Chinatown in the world area-wise, but the term Chinatown is misleading due to the fact that the majority of the shops and restaurants cater to Houston's large Vietnamese population. This area is outside the 610 Loop and near the Beltway, Houston's outer freeway loop.
Houston is served by two major commercial airports and two smaller regional airports.
The large airports are:
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport , (IATA: IAH) . The larger of the two airports and is located 23 miles north of downtown near Beltway 8, between IH-45 North and US-59 North. It is a hub for Continental Airlines and serves 24 domestic and international airlines.
- William P. Hobby Airport, (IATA: HOU) . Located 7 miles south of downtown and is located off of I-45 South. It is convenient if you're travelling downtown or south of the city, such as to Galveston. Its main carrier is Southwest Airlines, and it also served by Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and AirTran.
The smaller airports are:
- Sugar Land Regional Airport, (IATA: SGR) . Located 25 miles southwest of downtown on TX 6, just north of U.S. 59. It is a popular choice among the well-heeled corporate aircraft set.
- Ellington Field, (IATA: EFD) . Located 19 miles southeast of downtown, just off I-45. Formerly an air force base, now used for general aviation, non-passenger commercial traffic, and government aviation (NASA, Texas Air National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard).
- Amtrak, 902 Washington Ave, . Amtrak's Sunset Limited line is the only passenger train route with a stop in Houston.
Houston's major freeways include:
- IH-45 North ("North Freeway"): To Dallas
- IH-45 South ("Gulf Freeway"): To Galveston
- IH-10 West ("Katy Freeway"): To San Antonio
- IH-10 East: ("Baytown/East Freeway", not to be confused with "Eastex freeway") to Beaumont
- IH-610 ("The Loop"): Loop around downtown
- US-59 South ("Southwest Freeway"): to Victoria
- US-59 North ("Eastex Freeway"): to Lufkin
- US-290 West ("Northwest Freeway"): to Austin
- SH-288 South ("South Freeway"): to Freeport
- SH-225 East ("Pasadena Freeway"): to La Porte
- BW-8 ("The Beltway/Sam Houston Tollway"): Loop about twice as far out as IH-610.
Approximate mileage to nearby cities (in miles):
- Austin: 160
- Baton Rouge, LA: 270
- Beaumont: 90
- Dallas: 240
- El Paso: 745
- Galveston: 50
- Lake Charles, LA: 140
- New Orleans, LA: 346
- San Antonio: 200
- Waco: 180
- Greyhound Lines, .
- Downtown station, 2121 Main St.
- Crosstimbers Station, 4001 North Freeway.
- Northwest, 1500 West Loop North.
- Southeast, 7000 Harrisburg Blvd.
- Southwest, 5690 Southwest Freeway.
- El Expreso, . Mexican trans-border bus line, also serves destinations throughout southeastern United States.
- Downtown station, 2201 Main St.
- Harrisburg, 7701 Harrisburg
- Southwest, Bissonett at Southwest Freeway (US 59)
Having a car is mandatory for travel around Houston since it's so spread out and almost nothing's within walking distance.
Houston has a number of major highways that make getting around Houston fairly easy. (See list of freeways under the "Get In" section.) A number of obstacles, however, can make driving in Houston a less than pleasant experience. One is construction, which seems to be ever-present, and the other is traffic. Evening rush hour in Houston begins as early as 4PM and can last more than 2 hours. Morning rush hour is between 7 and 9. During rush hour, traffic on the highways can come to a halt. The strip of the West Loop near the Galleria, between US-59 and IH-10, is an area you should definitely avoid during rush hour if possible.
Some of the freeways have an H.O.V. (High-Occupancy Vehicle) lane, which are limited-access lanes located in the median strip of the highway. The HOV lanes are operational Monday - Friday in the morning hours (5AM - 11AM) in the inbound direction and in the outbound direction in the afternoon and evening (from 2PM - 8PM). The HOV lanes are restricted to cars with 2 or more passengers, however some HOV lanes require 3 or more passengers during peak travel periods (6:45-8:00AM and 5-6PM, for the IH-10 west; 6:45-8AM only for US-290). The HOV lanes are marked with signs bearing a white diamond on a black background. Highways with HOV lanes are: IH-45 North, IH-45 South, US-59 North, US-59 South, IH-10 West (Katy Freeway), and US-290. In addition to its usual Monday through Friday hours, the Katy Freeway HOV lane also runs on Saturday in the outbound direction and on Sunday in the inbound direction.
- HOV lane map & schedule 
By public transportation
METRORail is a seven and a half mile light rail line that runs between downtown, midtown, the museum district, the Medical Center, Reliant Park, and the Fannin South Park & Ride (which is a handy place to park and is located near the 610 loop). It costs $1 for a one-way ticket, $2 for a day pass. (Also see the stay safe section.)
- Outside of Downtown, don't expect to catch a taxi on the streets, but there are various cab stands located at various parts of downtown proper. Taxis in Houston are generally dispatched by various companies the largest being Yellow Cab, 713-236-1111 or from their web page .
Even though Houston is spread out enough that a large majority of it may be too far of a distance to reach by bicycle, it's quite possible to get to locations in and around the I-610 loop by bike. Traveling longer distances will require bimodal transportation. Most city buses have easy to use racks in the front that can get traveler and bicycle near to a final destination. The city of Houston has 290 miles of marked bike routes, plus another 80 miles of hike and bike trails in city parks, with concrete plans for even more expansion. For more information on the Houston Bikeway program, including a complete map of all marked bike paths, visit the City of Houston Bikeway Program website 
Obviously, English is the main language spoken in Houston. Especially in outlying areas (though much less so in the actual city), some locals speak with thick Texan accents, and may be difficult for non-native English speakers to understand. Also, Houston has many ethnic neighborhoods, and although you probably will not find yourself in an area where nobody speaks English, knowing at least a few phrases of Spanish or another language will come in handy as a large portion of Houston's population is Hispanic.
- Space Center Houston, in Clear Lake. Indoor fun space museum with lots of hands-on space-science exhibits and artifacts from the full history of U.S. space exploration. Highlights include the actual Apollo and Mercury launch vehicles, and a tour of astronaut training facilities.
- Houston Holocaust Museum, Midtown. Phone: 713.942.8000. 5401 Caroline St. Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and millions of other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy to tens of thousands of people worldwide each year.
- Contemporary Arts Museum, ☎ 713-284-8250, . 10-5 Tu-We, 10-9 Th, 10-5 Fr-Sa, noon-5 Su, closed Mo. Free admission.
- Hermann Park - Approximately 455 acres in south of Downtown which encompasses the Miller Outdoor Theater, the Houston Zoo, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Hermann Park Golf Course.
- Menil Collection, Montrose. 1515 Sul Ross. Tel: 713-525-9400. The Menil Collection is a unique museum environment located in the Montrose-area Museum District housing the collection of John and Dominique de Menil. The museum building is the centerpiece of a neighborhood featuring satellite gallery spaces and related cultural institutions set in a parklike setting.
- Bayou Bend, .
- Discovery Green Park, Downtown. Discovery Green opened April 13, 2008. The downtown Houston park is located across Avenida de las Americas from the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel. Toyota Center, Houston Center and Minute Maid Park are only blocks away.
- Downtown Tunnel System, Downtown. The majority of Downtown Houston's buildings are connected by an intertwining, complex tunnel system. Scores of lunch restaurants and easy access to building entrances from underground keep Houston's workforce primarily underground during the day. Only open during the weekdays, the tunnels are an interesting spectacle to observe, but try to avoid getting lost.
- Chase Tower Observatory, Downtown. 600 Travis Street. The sky lobby on the 60th floor of the building is the observatory and free during business hours. The Chase Tower is the tallest building in Texas and the tallest five-sided building in the world.
- Forbidden Gardens, . Outdoor museum (expensive and sadly incomplete) replicating some of China's historic scenes
- Diverse Works, 1117 E. Freeway (N. Main at Naylor), ☎ 713-223-8346(Tickets@diverseworks.org), . noon-6 We-Sa. Alternative artwork center.Varies, some free..
- Williams Tower, in Uptown. The largest skyscraper in the world outside of a downtown area.
- Houston Ship Channel Boat Tour, . 10:30 and 2:30 Tu, We, Fr, Sa, 2:30 Th and Su.. See one of the busiest ports in the world. Advance reservations required.Free, reservations required..
- Downtown Aquarium, Downtown. Not an aquarium, but rather a restaurant with an aquarium inside it. Its high-profile location and neon lights make it hard to miss. It has a ferris wheel and other carnival-style rides.
- ZaSpa, 5701 Main Street, ☎ 713-639-4566, . A secluded, luxury spa located on the private 2nd floor of Hotel ZaZa Houston offering a variety of spa treatments for both men and women. Facilities include a pool and spa café.
- Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo - Reliant Stadium and Reliant Park. March, yearly (March 3-22 for the 2009 season). The world's largest rodeo and includes rodeo events, calf scramble, and music concerts. It is known for its big-name music acts as much as it is for the rodeo. The livestock show attracts professional breeders who bring in their world-class livestock to be judged. There is also a carnival on the grounds. 
- FotoFest  Exhibitions and art installations, film and video programs, lectures and forums created by FotoFest for FOTOFEST2006 were held February 5th, 2009.
- Bayou City Art Festival-  Built on an 8/10 mile asphalt loop surrounded by lush trees, foliage, and picnic areas, the annual fine art event boasts a stress-free outdoor gallery brimming with 300 artists working in 19 artistic media. March 27-29, 2009 10AM to 6PM.
- Houston Children's Festival  is the largest celebration for children in the United States. The Houston Children's Festival offers over 350 events packed into a couple of hectic days. April 4-5, 2009.
- WorldFest-Houston Film Festival  (now its 41st year!) continues with its totally dedicated Independent Film screening format for the upcoming April 17-26, 2009. All Screenings at the AMC Studio 30 on Dunvale, the HQ Hotel is The Renaissance Hotel, Greenway Plaza. 55 New Intl Feature Films and 100 New Short Films all introduced by their directors with a Q&A after the screening.
- The Houston International Festival (AKA iFest)  Annual international festival featuring juried arts, crafts, food, music, games and events for adults and children. April 29th, 2009.
- Art Car Parade  is the worlds largest and oldest Art Car Parade. The event features over 250 Art Cars, 200,000 plus live spectators and media from all over the world, making Houston ground zero of an international phenomenon. May 8-10, 2009.
- Latino Book & Family Festival-  Hosts a world class array of panels, authors, celebrities and entertainment for your enjoyment and enlightenment. Dec 13 - 14, 2009.
- Greek Festival-  Includes children's activities, an Athenian playground, food and entertainment. October 1 - 4, 2009.
- The Texas Renaissance Festival  is one of the nation's largest, most acclaimed Renaissance theme parks where the sights, sounds, tastes and beauty of the 16th Century come alive every Saturday and Sunday for 8 weekends October through November, from 9AM to dusk.
- Splashtown- Great water park located in the suburb of spring next to I-45. Six Flags has recently sold the park to developers that will keep the park open until further notice. 
- The Orange Show 2402 Munger St (IH-45 South (Gulf Freeway) to SH-35 (Telephone Rd) exit), ☎ +1-713-926-6368 (email@example.com, fax: +1-713-926-1506), . 10AM-5PM Sa-Su. One-of-a-kind attraction dedicated to the eccentric, artistic and scientific. Features the Beer Can House and annual Art Car Parade. $1.
- Super Happy Fun Land  is Houston's venue for experimental electronic music, underground jazz, and outsider art!
- Aurora Picture Show  is a non-profit microcinema housed in a former church building in Houston, Texas.
- Great Day Houston-  Be part of the Great Day Houston LIVE studio audience.
- The After Party-  Be part of the The After Party studio audience (for groups).
- Shooting- If you visit a shooting range you'll need a US drivers license to get to rent a gun.
- Spec's Liquor, Midtown. 2410 Smith Street. Phone: 713-526-8787. Owned and operated by the same Houston family since 1962, Spec's is a true destination shopping experience. The Warehouse Store is the crown jewel of all Spec's locations. With over 40,000 labels of wines, spirits, liqueurs, beers, and finer foods, Spec's indeed fills all 80,000 square feet of selling space. The deli offers the finest in deli meats, pates, domestic and imported cheeses, fresh caviar, and a complete assortment of domestic and imported smoked fish and salmon make the selection limited only by your imagination.
- Traders Village, 7979 N. Eldridge Rd.. A giant outdoor flea market with all sorts of wares. Deals are to be sought here. Unlike in the rest of the US, you can actually try to bargain in flea markets like this. Should not be missed by those looking to shop.
Many of the shopping malls are concentrated to the west of downtown in Uptown.
- Galleria, 5085 Westheimer Rd. (at Post Oak Blvd.), ☎ 713-622-0663, . 10-9 Mo-Sa, 11 - 7 Su. Free parking (if you find the right lots). A huge indoor shopping mall with 375 stores. Upscale shopping. Food court and fine restaurants. Indoor ice-skating rink.
- Baybrook Mall, 500 Baybrook Mall (IH-45 South at Bay Area Blvd.), Friendswood, ☎ 281-488-4620. 10-9 Mo-Sa, 11-7 Su.
- The Woodlands Mall, 1201 Lake Woodlands Dr, The Woodlands (30 miles north on IH-45), ☎ 281-363-3363. 10-9 Mo-Sa, 11-7 Su.
In general, prices in Houston are lower than in other major US cities.
Houston has outstanding dining options, and is widely considered the most restaurant-oriented city in the United States, with a wide variety of ethnic restaurants, superb Tex-Mex, a great number of steakhouses, fine dining, as well as chain restaurants. For some of the best surprises, stop by any nondescript taqueria and order nearly anything at random.
- Brooklyn Pizzeria, 9467 FM 1960 Bypass Rd. West (Suite 300)., ☎ 281-446-5500. 11:00-10:00. 100% Authentic New York style pizza.
- Goode Company Barbeque, 5109 Kirby Dr.. One of the city's most reputed barbeque restaurants.$5-10.
- 100% Taquito, 3245 IH-59 (Southwest Fwy. at Buffalo Spwy.), ☎ 713-665-2900. Trendy, authentic Mexico City-type taco joint.
- Tokyo Bowl, 2402 Bay Area Blvd., ☎ 281-480-5311. Japanese fast food.$10.
- Mai's, 3403 Milam, ☎ 713-520-7648(fax: 713-523-9043), . 10-3am Su-Th, 10-4am Fr-Sa. Vietnamese food, popular with the late night crowd.$10.
- Pappas Bar-B-Q, 1217 Pierce St., . Texas barbeque by the Pappas brothers.
- Chuy's, 2706 Westheimer Rd., . Tex-mex with flair.
- Taqueria Del Sol, 8114 Park Place Blvd.. Authentic Mexican food.
- Mission Burritos, 2245 West Alabama. A few (two?) locations, but 2245 West Alabama has more charm. Biggest, best burritos in town; they always have a 'Burrito of the Month' that is a sure bet.
- Amy's Ice Cream, 3816 Farnham (Off Shepherd, just north of US-59), ☎ 713-526-2697, . 11:30-midnight Su-Th, 11:30-1am Fr-Sa. Texas' own super premium, all natural ice cream. $5.
- Nee Hao, 5797 N. Belt East, ☎ 281-442-3402. Mon-Sat, 11:00-8:00. Serving Chinese cuisine.
- Aloha Joe's Grill, 8550 FM 1960 Bypass Rd W, ☎ 281-540-0110. Authentic Hawaiian & Chamorro style food
- Kanomwan, 736 1/2 Telephone Rd., ☎ 713-923-4236. Wonderful Thai restaurant in historic 3rd Ward; home of the "Thai Nazi" (a la "Seinfeld").
- Taste of Texas, 10505 Katy Freeway (IH-10 between BW-8 and Gessner), . The finest steaks and prime rib (only certified Angus Beef) money can buy. Award-winning wine list, lobster, freshly baked breads, etc. Menu is translated into 12 different languages.
- Nit-Noi, 2426 Bolsover, ☎ 713-524-8114, . Thai cuisine that has franchises in several locations.
- Chabuca's, 316 NASA-1, Webster, ☎ 281-554-8000(firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 281-332-5029), . South American style food and buffet served in a great atmosphere.
- Kim Son, 2001 Jefferson St., ☎ 713-222-2461(email@example.com), . 11-midnight Fr-Sa, 11-11 Su-Th. Houston's biggest Vietnamese restaurant that has several other locations in town.
- McGonigal's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk (Near Shepherd and US-59), ☎ 713-528-5999(firstname.lastname@example.org), . Pub atmosphere and great food.$10-15.
- Ruggles Grill, 903 Westheimer Rd., ☎ 713-524-3839, . An American bistro with several different locations.
- Mystery Cafe, 2400 West Loop South (Sheraton, IH-610 at Westheimer), ☎ 713-944-2583, . "Where MURDER is always on the menu!"$52.95/person.
- Niko Niko's, 2520 Montrose, ☎ 713-528-4976, . 10-10 Mo-Th, 10-11pm Fr-Sa, 11-9 Su. Authentic and tasty Greek food.
- Vargo's Restaurant, 2401 Fondren, ☎ 713-782-3888. Beautiful 9-acre garden and delicious steaks in a historic 40-year-old restaurant. Reservations recommended.
- Mark's American Cuisine, 1658 Westheimer Rd., ☎ 713-523-3800, . Lunch: 11-2 Mo-Fr, Dinner: 6:00pm-11:00pm Mo-Th, 5:30pm-midnight Fr, 5:00pm-midnight Sa, 5:00pm-10:00pm Su. Award-winning four-star restaurant by owner and chef Mark Cox. Housed in an old church for a unique atmosphere. Reservations are required.
- Tony's, 3755 Richmond Ave., ☎ 713-622-6778, . Houston's ultimate dining experience. Tony Vallone has set the tone for fine dining in Houston for decades. Parisian chef Olivier Ciesielski interprets contemporary cuisine with classic French care. Reservations required.
- Da Marco, 1520 Westheimer Rd., ☎ 713-807-8857, . One of Houston's best restaurants--known for great wine and Italian fare. Reservations required.
- Cafe Annie, 1728 Post Oak Blvd, ☎ 713-840-1111, . Insanely expensive prices, but very good American cuisine. Reservations required.
- Monarch Restaurant & Lounge, 5701 Main Street, ☎ 713-527-1800, . A fine dining option at Hotel ZaZa Houston serving seafood and steak entrees with Mediterranean flair. The Lounge is available for dancing and Monarch Terrace overlooks Main Street & Mecom Fountains.
- Catalan Food and Wine, 5555 Washington, ☎ 713-426-4260, . Catalan offers a Spanish-influenced menu and an extensive wine list. Reknowned restaurateurs Grant Cooper and Charles Clark have been wowing Houstonians and food critics alike at Catalan. Reservations required.
- Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella Blvd., ☎ 713-861-8666, . Raindow Lodge serves wild game dishes and seafood selections in a 100 year old log cabin perfect for the dining experience. Reservations required.
- VOICE Restaurant & Lounge, 220 Main Street, ☎ 832-667-4470, . Breakfast: M-F 7am-10:30am, Sat. 7am-11am, Sun. 7am-12pm; Lunch: M-F 11:30am-2:30pm; Dinner: M-Thurs. 5:3-pm-10pm, F-Sat. 5:30pm-11pm; Lounge Menu: M-Thurs. 11:30am-10pm, F-Sat. 11:30am-11pm, Sun 12pm-10pm. Hotel Icon’s new restaurant, VOICE, offers a fine dining experience and contemporary American cuisine with private rooms for events and special occasions, in room dining and a luxury wine vault.
- America's Restaurant, 1800 Post Oak Blvd., . The menu draws from the foods and cooking techniques of North, Central and South America, to make one New World Cuisine; as you pass under its Mayan-inspired door, you quickly realize that nothing about this place is ordinary.
- West Alabama Icehouse, 1919 West Alabama. Open since 1928, the Icehouse is a bar that provides outdoor seating and free hot dogs. Because of the outdoor seating, people are allowed to bring their dogs, play horseshoes, and basketball. There is usually live country music on Friday nights.
- Gingerman, 5607 Morningside Dr., ☎ 713-526-2770, . The original of a small chain, has a loyal community following. Serves lots of local and specialty beer, including hard-to-find and cask ales.$4/pt.
- McGonigal's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk (Near Shepherd and US-59), ☎ 713-528-5999(email@example.com), . Local bar, probably the best bet to find a variety of special and cask ales.$4/pt.
- The Outpost Tavern, 18113 Egret Bay Blvd. (At NASA-1), ☎ 281-333-1235(OutPostFriends@ATT.net), . Dingy local bar with a colorful crowd, (inaccurately) portrayed as an astronaut hangout in movies like Space Cowboys and Rocketman (but no less worth the visit).
- BJ's Restaurant and Brewery, 515 W. Bay Area Blvd., Webster, ☎ 281-316-3037(fax: 281-316-4213), . 11 am - 12 am MO-TH, 11 am - 1 am FR. A brewpub with several house brews and a variety of microbrews available.$4/pt.
- Tipsy Clover, 2416 Brazos, ☎ 7135240782. A nice Irish style pub full of attractive, affluent, young professionals.
- The Ginger Man , located in Rice Village, near Rice University, is the oldest pub in the Ginger Man family. Since 1985, The Ginger Man pub has been serving up great beer with great themed events, such as: Oktoberfest, Holiday beer tastings and live entertainment.
- The Saint Arnold Brewery , located in Houston, is billed as Texas' oldest microbrewery. Their brews are often sold in local bars. Very popular beers are the Texas Wheat, Oktoberfest (August through October), and Christmas Ale (November through December). Brewery tour every Saturday at 1:00. Details on the website.
- BJ's Restaurant and Brewery  has a location in Webster. Until recently, all their beer was brewed on site, but it is now subcontracted to the Saint Arnold Brewery. The Jeremiah Red, Tatonka Stout, and Berry Burst Cider are loved by locals. There are other locations in Houston including Bay Area Blvd. in Clear Lake.
- Houston International Hostel, 5302 Crawford Street, +1 713 523-1009, . More of a large family house than a hostel, with bedrooms containing bunk beds for travelers. The house is located in a residential neighborhood, so there aren't any restaurants or shops nearby. The bathroom is shared and facilities are clean. Beds start at $14.95 per night.
- Patrician Bed and Breakfast, 1200 Southmore Blvd, 1-800-553-5797, . Four rooms, including one two room suite-, all rooms with private baths and queen-size beds. Located in the Museum District, this three-story mansion was built in 1919 and has rates that range from: $95 - $175. Be sure to ask Pat about her MURDER MYSTERY parties!
- Doubletree Hotel Houston Intercontinental Airport, 15747 JFK Boulevard, Houston, TX 77032, ☎ 281-848-4000, . checkin: 3:00; checkout: 12:00. Offers a complimentary airport shuttle service and is only one mile away from the major Houston airport. This remodeled, 313-room Houston Hotel has easy access to all major freeways leading to the city. Ideal location close to Old Town Spring, Minute Maid Park, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, the museum district, the theater district, Prime Outlets, the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open, and Sam Houston Race Park.
- Crowne Plaza Houston West, 14703 Park Row, Houston, ☎ 281 558-5580, . Located near downtown, Houston Galleria, and the George R. Brown Convention Center.
- AmeriSuites Houston Intercontinental Airport/Greenspoint, 300 Ronan Park Place, (281) 820-6060, . Located just eight miles from Houston Intercontinental Airport and 10 miles from downtown.
- Courtyard by Marriott - Katy Freeway and Dairy Ashford, 12401 Katy Freeway/I-10, TX 77079, 281-496-9090, . In the 'Energy Corridor' to the West of Houston and low rise, this is a business person's hotel. Breakfast is modest and modestly priced. Parking is almost motel style but room keys are used to secure the entry to corridors as well as rooms. Reception staff are obliging. Rooms are spacious and clean with a good selection of pillows. Internet is free for light users, heavier users can upgrade to a premium package.
- Days Inn Intercontinental - Greenspoint, 12500 North Freeway/I-45, . Located 15 minutes away from the airport, with convenient free shuttle service provided by the hotel. Just across the street from Greenspoint Mall, also providing transportation to it.
- Fairfield Inn - East, 10155 I-10 East, . Seven miles from Downtown Houston, the Fairfield Inn Houston Hotel and only 30 minutes from Houston's international airport, the George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
- Hampton Inn - East, 828 Mercury Dr, 713-673-4200, . Near Jacinto city, east of Houston, only seven miles from Downtown Houston, and all the most interesting and most popular Houston tourist attractions. Only 30 minutes drive from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
- Hilton Garden Inn Houston Northwest, 7979 Willowschase Blvd, . Opened in the Spring of 2002, the 171-room property is part of Chateau Court, a 13-acre, European-style, mixed-use development that includes retail space and an office village. The rooms are equipped with a spacious work desk; two speakerphones with two lines, voicemail, dataport, and available high-speed Internet access. A hospitality center in each room includes a microwave, refrigerator and coffee maker. Iron/ironing board and hairdryer are also in all rooms. The Great American Grill serves American staples or regional favorites. The hotel is tastefully decorated in French Contemporary style with slate flooring, leather chairs, cherry wood and hand picked French artwork.
- Holiday Inn - Airport, 15222 John F. Kennedy Blvd, 281-449-2311, . A midscale hotel right outside the main Houston Airport and half an hour's drive north of downtown Houston. The hotel runs a frequent shuttle to and from the airport, and guests staying at the hotel have the benefit of free on-site parking.
- Holiday Inn - Greenway, 2712 Southwest Freeway, 713-523-8448, . 16 miles from Houston Hobby Airport, 27 miles from Houston Airport, and just 20 minutes from downtown.
- Holiday Inn Select, 14703 Park Row, 281-558-5580, . A convenient location just 0.5 mile from "Energy Corridor" in Houston and only 16 miles from downtown, while both the main Houston airports are 33 miles away.
- Hyatt Summerfield Suites, 3440 Sage Road, 713-629-9711, . A convenient location that will also connect you to the main business districts, The Medical Center, Downtown, Greenway Plaza and of course, the Houston Galleria business area.
- Marriott Houston North Greenspoint, 255 N Sam Houston Pkwy East 281-875-4000, . Conveniently located off Beltway 8, adjacent to the Greenspoint Mall, and just 15 minutes from George Bush Intercontinental Airport, this full-service Marriott Houston hotel is within walking distance of area shopping, restaurants and corporations. Enjoy legendary Texas hospitality in our 390 newly renovated rooms and suites. Indoor / outdoor pool, whirlpool, and sauna.
- Marriott Houston Hobby Airport, 9100 Gulf Freeway, 713-943-7979, . Only minutes from the heart of downtown. Perfect for meetings, conventions, or a weekend escape from the ordinary.
- Marriott Houston North Greenspoint, 255 N Sam Houston Pkwy East, Houston, Texas 77060, Phone: 281-875-4000 Fax: 281-875-6208 , . Conveniently located off Beltway 8, adjacent to the Greenspoint Mall, and just 15 minutes from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
- Wyndham - Greenspoint, 12400 Greenspoint Dr, . Conveniently located just north of Houston in Greenspoint. Across the street from Greenspoint Mall, the area's largest shopping center. Minutes from Mercer Botanical Center and SplashTown Water Park. Within a half-hour of the city's major sports venues and businesses. Eight miles from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
- Hilton Garden Inn Houston/Sugar Land, 722 Bonaventure Way, .The Hilton Garden Inn Houston/Sugar Land Texas hotel is located just minutes from Sugar Land's Town Square offering exceptional shopping and dining. Situated off Highway 6 on Bonaventure Way close to Sam Houston Tollway, Interstate 59 and Highway 90.
- Four Seasons Hotel Houston, 1300 Lamar Street, Tel. (713) 650-1300, Fax (713) 652-6220 . In 2006, this luxury hotel was ranked as one of the "Top 100 Hotels in the World" according to Instutional Investor and offers great restaurants and amenities to guests. It is also within walking distance to the Houston Center Athletic Club - great for that morning workout before business.
- Omni - Westside, 13210 Katy Freeway, (888) 444-6664, . A luxury hotel featuring an atrium lobby complete with indoor lakes and waterfalls, tropical fish and glass elevators. Located in the exclusive energy corridor just 30 minutes from George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport.
- Hotel ZaZa Houston, 5701 Main Street, Tel. (713) 526-1991, Fax (713) 526-0359 . A luxury hotel featuring fine dining restaurants, spa & spa cafe in downtown Houston. The hotel service is known for its sophistication and the accommodations are modern with an acute attention to detail.
- Magnolia Hotel Houston, 1100 Texas Avenue, Tel. 713-221-0011, Fax 832-201-7598 . This boutique hotel in downtown Houston offers accommodations for leisure travel and extended stay guests, as well as space for meetings, wedding receptions, conferences, and special events.
Houston has multiple telephone area codes and mandatory 10-digit dialing. For any number, even within your own area code, you need to dial areacode + number. For local calls, you do not dial a 1+ or a 0+ before the number. Some calls within Houston are considered long distance, and for those you need to dial 1 + areacode + number.
Houston's area codes are: 713, 281, and 832.
Houston is a big city and, like any other big city, has crime. Use common sense. Violent crime however has increased somewhat after the arrival of evacuees of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. Texas also has concealed handgun laws and many residents have obtained handgun licenses for their personal safety.
MERTO Rail is the starter line an expanding system which starts at UofH Downtown, through downtown proper, into Midtown, the Museum district, Medical center and the Reliant Complex near the south side. Houston Natives have a tendency to park along the rail line or the south side lot to go into downtown or medical center as it's easier to get in and out of those areas with the train without the hassle of parking and traffic.
Please, be careful when coming near the METRO Rail track, especially at intersections.
DO NOT IGNORE THE SIGNS, since the trains move very quickly and run at almost all hours of the day and night. It runs almost silently. At many streets, left turns are not permitted. Also watch the signs and signals, because some will change as trains approach. Do not drive on the tracks, there are large raised white domes that separate the roadway and the rail line. In some areas signs may indicate driving (or walking) on the tracks is permitted (currently only in the Texas Medical Center) but make sure it is safe to do so.
Drive across the tracks only when you are sure it is safe to do so especially at night. The train's whistle is quiet and can often not be heard by a driver inside a car.
- Battleship Texas and San Jacinto Battleground Monument, , in San Jacinto State Park, Battleground Rd., LaPorte (From IH-610 east, take SH-225 east for 11 miles to Battleground Road (SH-134), continue north approximately 2 miles. Turn right on Park Road 1836 for the Monument or continue on SH-134 another mile to reach the Battleship.), . Open every day (closed for major holidays), 10-5 (battleship), 8-6 (monument). San Jacinto Monument is free. Tour a World World II battleship. The monument commemorates the battle at which Texas won its independence from Mexico. Adults $5, Children (6-18) $3, Children (5 and under) free. Senior discounts..
- Galveston— Only about an hour's drive southeast from the city, Houstonians go to Galveston island for its beaches, the Strand, Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston, and Moody Gardens.
- Surfside— Another beach, less crowded than Galveston. About an hour from Houston.
- Schlitterbahn , in New Braunfels(about 174 miles west of Houston). Huge waterpark, rated #1 waterpark in America by the Travel Channel.
- Kemah— Nice boardwalk with great restaurants that is south of Houston and on the way to Galveston Island.
- Bluebell Creameries—  See the Texas countryside in Brenham and tour the creamery. About one hour (75 mi) north west of Houston along US 290.
- A Taste of Coastal Texas— An itinerary leading you through sights along the Texas Coast down to Corpus Christi.
This page was last edited at 18:16, on 27 March 2009 by Wikitravel user MarinaK. Based on work by Peter Fitzgerald, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, James Yolkowski and Neil Dunlop, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.