Along the Gulf Coast of Texas is the sprawling urban city of Houston. In a state where everything is bigger, Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States. Houston is the epitome of urban sprawl in the US, encompassing more square miles of land than any other city in the country. With 600 square miles of space inside the metropolitan area, Houston is double the physical size of New York City (300 sq. mi.); larger than Los Angeles (460 sq. mi.); and nearly three times the size of Chicago (225 sq. mi.).
When to visit
While there isn't a bad time to visit Houston, you'll find the greatest variety of events and activities available from late winter to early summer. The Houston livestock Show & Rodeo is held at Reliant Park in February and March, and is the world's largest entertainment and livestock exhibition.
If art exhibits appeal to your tastes, then iFest is the event for you in Houston. The festival takes place each April and is a contemporary, multi-disciplinary arts and music festival. Local and international vendors display arts and crafts, while offering a variety of cuisines to enjoy as well. For something bizarre, the Art Car Parade in May is a celebration of the odd. The free parade features unique works of art, such as cupcake motorcycles and fire breathing chicken cars.
As with most of Texas, Houston has warm weather year round. Summer and winter differ quite significantly from one another in one key aspect: humidity. Given its location along the Gulf of Mexico, the summer months in Houston are characterized by high temperatures and intense humidity. The average daily highs in June, July, and August are 91 F (32 C), 94 F (34 C), and 95 F (35 C), respectively.
Winters, however, are much milder throughout the area. Weather patterns in the region throughout winter are cool and mild, with average daily highs ranging from a high of 82 F (27 C) in October to a low of 63 F (17 C) in January. The best time to visit, based upon the weather, falls between October and April when the temps are still high, but the humidity is lower.
There is a little something for everyone in Houston. Memorial Park is the most popular urban park in the city, offering a 2.88-mile jogging trail, mountain bike trails, and even tennis courts. Admission to the park is free. A trip to Hermann Park offers a full day of activities for any family or individual.
Accessible by the city's MetroRail, Hermann Park includes Miller Outdoor Theater, the Houston Zoo, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. You'll also find a vast assortment of professional and collegiate sporting events at the city's modern ballparks. From the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park and the Houston Texans at Reliant Park to the Houston Cougars and Rice Owls, there is always a sporting event providing entertainment in the city.
Houston is broken down into six different districts, with each containing a number of smaller districts. Within the Downtown district, the Theater District offers professional, community, and university-based performances of dance, opera, Broadway, and musical shows, as well as chamber and symphonic events.
You cannot visit the city of Houston without spending some time at NASA Space Center Houston. For decades, America's spaceflights have been controlled by NASA specialists at the Houston facility. Tours are available for visitors, who can learn more about availability courtesy of NASA.
Tips & Recommendations
• Rent a car. As discussed, Houston is a massive city, and if you want to explore its outer reaches you'll need a car for easier travel.
• Houston has lower prices than most major American cities, generally speaking, so visit the area's top malls in the Uptown district (west of Downtown).
• Eat Local. Houston has a trendy food scene, with a variety of Tex-Mex and seafood options.
• Houston's size requires multiple area codes, so keep those in mind as you travel. The area codes are 713, 281, 832, and 346.
• Houston has the highest crime rate in the state, so exercise caution in busy public places. Never leave valuables in your car. Be smart and avoid deserted areas after dark.
Large and roomy, Motel 6 Houston Hobby Airport is a popular choice. The 2-star rating indicates the price should be right for budget travelers. Staying here puts you 2.0 km (1.2 miles) from William P. Hobby Airport.