They say everything is bigger in Texas, and no city proves the Lone Star State’s grandeur more than Houston. The Southeast Texas city is home to more than 10,000 restaurants, 150 museums, 145 spoken languages and 90 places to drink outdoors. Amazingly, all of this action can be found just a 1-hour drive from the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Houston is one of few travel destinations that has it all — iconic local eats, rich culture, more than 180 years of history, countless kid-friendly attractions, and a nearby barrier island for dipping your toes in the sand. These seven reasons to visit Houston prove that “H-Town” is one of the best destinations in the country for a foodie or family getaway.
In addition to traveling to a new Texas destination, you can travel back in time in “Space City” — no matter how long your stay may be. Houston offers more than 150 museums, 19 of which are located in Houston’s Museum District. Hop aboard the METRORail system, and you can find yourself on a “prehistoric safari” at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, exploring a kid-sized Cum Yah Gullah village at the Children’s Museum of Houston or wandering more than 30,000 square feet of exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Houston isn’t your typical southern city, and you won’t find shrimp, grits and chicken ‘n waffles on every menu. This culturally diverse metropolis of more than 6 million people offers cuisines inspired by more than 71 countries, where hearty Southern plates meet flavors from around the world. Whether you’re into Tex-Mex or Thai, tapas or T-bone steaks, you can dine at a different award-winning eatery for every meal of your stay.
“Houston, we have a problem,” is one phrase you won’t be saying when you arrive at the Space Center Houston. As the city’s No. 1 attraction, there’s never a shortage of excitement at this Smithsonian-affiliated compound. The Space Center is home to more than 400 artifacts from outer space, ranging from moon rocks to retired spacecraft. Enter a Boeing shuttle replica at Independence Plaza, meet a real NASA astronaut, tour the grounds of the NASA Johnson Space Center, explore real mission control centers, and discover the history and future of space exploration in countless other ways.
Houston’s warm temperatures and more than 200 days of sunshine each year make it possible to dine, drink, adventure and even go to the movies outdoors. From brunch (including mimosa carafes) on the patio at Tiny Boxwood’s Cafe to wandering the Houston Zoo and catching a movie on the lawn at the Miller Outdoor Theater, you can stay outdoors from sun up to well after sun down.
You don’t have to pack your manners for your Houston getaway. This Texas city is home to some of the tastiest food trucks in the country, serving top-quality eats on the go. Never eaten lobster without a bib? Check out the lobster tacos, rolls, quesadillas and more at Cousins Maine Lobster Houston. The name may sound familiar, and that’s because the founders were seen making a deal with Barbara Corcoran on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Other favorite food trucks among Houston locals are the Waffle Bus (named the Favorite Food Truck in Houston in 2014), Bernie’s Burger Bus, Pho-Jita Fusion, and Frosted Betty. Whether you’re into ice cream, crepes, General Tso’s chicken, chicken tikka masala or deep-friend mac ‘n cheese, there are dozens of food trucks to rave about in “H-Town.”
It takes just over 1 hour to drive from downtown Houston to Galveston Island, which means you don’t even have to book a beach hotel to enjoy the sun and sand for a day. However, your kids will probably beg you to stay once they see dolphins playing in the Gulf of Mexico, ride the iconic Boardwalk Bullet wooden roller coaster or learn to surf at the Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark.
Houston’s METRORail system makes it easier for you to leave your vehicle and your stress behind during your visit. The rail system has recently been updated to provide service to roughly 23 miles of the city, making transportation to the Museum District, the heart of downtown and the city’s colleges fast, easy and affordable. Hop aboard the rail to visit the zoo, have a picnic in Hermann Park, see a show in the Theater District, catch a game at Minute Maid Park or dine at more than 100 restaurants. You’ll probably want your own vehicle (or a rental car) to reach farther destinations, but the METRORail makes traveling to many of Houston’s hot spots a breeze.