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"Houston, Texas; Beyond Oil, Heat and Space" Top 5 Page for this destination Houston by XenoHumph

Houston Travel Guide: 1,310 reviews and 2,238 photos

More than parking lots, freeways and churches?

Houston is the 4th largest city in the USA. It was built mainly around the oil industry, but is also famous as the location of NASA-Johnson Space Center, which is among other things the training center for American astronauts. For some strange reason, Houston has a bad reputation and is thought to be an awful place to live because of "the heat", "the pollution", and the lack of "culture". All wrong!!

Despite people's presupposed ideas, Houston is a very nice place to live . Here are a few critics you generally hear and my comment on them.
1) The weather is too hot and humid.
This is true for 3 months a year (mid-June to mid September). However, personally, I prefer that over 8 months or more of winter-like weather like for example in Canada or Chicago (nothing personal, just places where I lived!). The weather in Houston is otherwise extremely pleasant throughout the year, a warm semi-tropical climate that allows flowers to bloom year-round.
2) Bad transportation. True in a sense that there is no common transportation, besides a few bus lines and a new one-line tramway downtown. A car is a must to travel around Houston. But, the freeways are good, deserve the city well and much less prone to traffic jams than other major US cities (ex: NY, Chicago, San Francisco...).
3) Houston is ugly. Very true. A maze of parking lots (necessary, as see 2)). No zoning. Some districts are pretty , however: the area around Rice University, downtown around Sam Houston Park, the Heights, North of the Galleria area (E Post Oak), the Museum District, the parks (Hermann, Memorial, Armand Bayou) . Drive to the country side, it can be very pretty (ex: Galveston bay, NW of Houston, forests N of Houston, barrier islands along the Gulf, Brazos Bend State park, Anahuac Natural preserve).
4) Houston air is polluted. True. There is a huge amount of industries, especially raffineries, East of the city. I wish Houston chemical companies would put the effort to reduce their toxic emissions like the Californian ones do. However, as Houston is located in the flattest of the flattest of lands, winds sweeps away a lot of it constantly. Consequently, there are worse places to live in terms of pollution, such as LA or Phoenix for example.

Summary on Houston : Houston is a great place to live. If you stop by for visiting a friend or for business, it is worth staying a few extra days to visit the city and surroundings. Tourism in Houston includes excellent museums, beautiful parks, great skyscraper architecture and outstanding numerous restaurants! Finally, Houston is one, if not the cheapest major city of the US to live in, in particular in terms of real estate.

Go see my pictures of Houston and its region in my Houston travelogue!

Birds and Alligators

Yes, there is beautiful nature to see in the Houston area which is famous for its birding opportunities. And yes! Florida is not the only place where you can see alligators, we have plenty in the bayous around Houston! Go see my "things to do" and "off-the-beaten path" tips for details.

Maps of the Houston area

The red star on the map shows you where Houston is located. I made a more detailed map of the Houston area (see my General tips) that shows you:
Main Neighborhoods
Main freeways and streets
Main attractions

The reason I drew this map is that nowhere could I find a comprehensive map of the neighborhoods and attractions of the Houston area. So now this map exists. I hope you find it useful!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great weather! Pleasant city to discover if you know where to go. Cheap real estate.
  • Cons:No common transportation; pollution; hurricanes
  • In a nutshell:I am happy living in Houston
  • Intro Updated Jul 16, 2010
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Reviews (101)

Comments (100)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Feb 6, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    Nice page

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2013 at 5:00 AM

    Thank you for visiting my new La Granja page.
    Puisque vous êtes née à Nivelles ce serait un plaisir pour moi d'avoir une compatriote parmi mes amis VT.
    Record de neige ici en basse Belgique. Ce n'est pas un climat pour les alligators!

    • XenoHumph's Profile Photo
      Jan 22, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      Merci d'etre passe sur ma page Houston! Hier il faisait 20 degres et on est alle voir des alligators dans un parc! Habillez vous bien alors!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 4, 2011 at 6:14 AM

    Two singers from the Houston Grand Opera are here singing here in Frankfurt this month. One of them was a guest at my opera course this week, so we've been hearing a lot about Houston. Nice tips here on your page! Glad to hear about the new tram line.

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Mar 4, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      Me again, coming back to read your updates and new tips that you have added to your Houston page since May 4, 2011. Great that you can eat Belgian mussels and fries over there!<br>My one visit to Houston was over forty years ago when I stopped by for a couple days to get acquainted with my colleagues at KPFT (I was working for KPFA in Berkeley at the time). It was weird because KPFT was more or less under siege when I was there. The transmitter had been blown up shortly before. Scary! But as I write this I am listening to KPFT live on the internet, so they seem to have survived all the troubles.

    • XenoHumph's Profile Photo
      Mar 5, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      That's really interesting! Yes, KPFT still survives! Defending the poor and minorities and injustices of this world!

  • Jun 27, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    Took the tour today, a Saturday in June. There was no activity at all--hardly a person to be seen and no work going on of any kind. I'd suggest going on a weekday and not a weekend if you want to see any action on the channel.

  • der_geograf's Profile Photo
    Dec 19, 2008 at 1:01 PM

    What?! No Rita evacuation photos of traffic all heading one direction?! LOL Neat pics, and thanks for sharing with everyone your views about what I deem the most under-appreciated metro area in the U.S.!

  • alloquisha's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2008 at 9:26 AM

    I lived in Houston for a few years and consider myself to know quite a bit about it...but you introduced me to some great new stuff! Well done!

  • sihi's Profile Photo
    Jan 7, 2007 at 3:52 PM

    Nice page about your homecity! Amazing skyline!! Welcome back to Europe:)

  • penumbra's Profile Photo
    Dec 6, 2006 at 6:05 PM

    I see what you mean. The oil money in Houston and Calgary does seem to have fueled a similar architecture.

  • Ekahau's Profile Photo
    Oct 9, 2006 at 11:27 AM

    Very nice Houston page good restaurant ideas. My dad use to live in Ward 6 like the info on that

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Jun 26, 2006 at 9:14 AM

    You've given alot of ideas for sightseeing in Houston, THANKS! Someday maybe we'll head in that direction...

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