What to Do in Houston
Spend a few hours of your trip exploring history, science and art in the Houston Museum District, a cluster of museums within walking distance of one another. The Menil Collection (1533 Sul Ross St.), with its changing exhibits, single-artist installations and outdoor sculptures, is a must-see for art lovers. If you have kids in tow, let them burn off excess energy in the 14 fun-filled galleries at The Children's Museum of Houston (1500 Binz St.).
Also in the Museum District is 445-acre Hermann Park (6001 Fannin St.), where a number of Houston highlights are wrapped up in one pretty package. Meet 6,000 animals at Houston Zoo (6200 Hermann Park Dr.), view fascinating exhibits at Houston Museum of Natural Science (5555 Hermann Park Dr.), unwind in the Japanese Garden, rent a pedal boat on McGovern Lake, ride the miniature train or enjoy free entertainment at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
flickr/Matthew Colvin de Valle
If you're looking for things for couples to do, consider catching a show at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (800 Bagby St.), the crown jewel of Houston's 17-block Theater District. The glass-walled contemporary building affords terrific views of the city skyline and neighboring parks and houses two theaters and an impressive Grand Lobby.
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Practice self-discipline (or don't!) at the upscale Houston Galleria mall (5085 Westheimer Rd.), which features 375-plus stores in addition to eateries and an ice-skating rink. Enjoy wandering around this architectural stunner that's been touted as Houston's top shopping destination.
Take a leisurely drive through River Oaks, an über-exclusive neighborhood within the I-610 Loop between downtown and uptown whose stately mansions all come with impeccably groomed lawns and hefty price tags. The community was developed in the 1920s by brothers William and Michael Hogg; they lived with their sister, renowned philanthropist Ima Hogg, in the gorgeous Southern plantation home that's now Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens (6003 Memorial Dr.), a wing of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1001 Bissonnet St.). Stop in and see the superb collection of American decorative arts dating from the Colonial era to the mid-19th century. Enjoy a nearby local restaurant while you're here.
Courtesy of Space Center Houston
Don a space helmet, hop aboard a simulator and get ready to defy gravity at Space Center Houston (1601 NASA Pkwy.). Authentic spacecraft, spacesuits and historic memorabilia plus behind-the-scenes tours provide a mesmerizing lesson in space exploration that is sure to be a highlight of your vacation.
Have a picnic in Tranquillity Park (downtown, bounded by Smith, Walker, Bagby and Rusk sts.), then work off some calories on a “moon walk” across the park's grounds, which feature depressions and mounds that resemble the lunar surface. Snap a photo or two of the signature 32-level fountain and the five rocket-like towers that rise from it.
Take yourself out to the ballgame at a treasured destination, Minute Maid Park (501 Crawford St.) and root, root, root for the home team, the MLB's Houston Astros. Even if you can't catch a game, a guided tour of this state-of-the-art, retractable-roofed stadium is a must.
Basketball fans can score tickets to watch the NBA's Houston Rockets throw down reverse dunks at Toyota Center (1510 Polk St.), a 750,000-square-foot, LEED-certified arena spanning six blocks in the heart of downtown.
Let a seasoned guide sprinkle a savory blend of education and entertainment on your Houston experience during a walking, bus or van tour of the downtown area. Houston Historical Tours usually depart from City Hall (901 Bagby St.) and offer a variety of themed excursions highlighting the city's stadiums, parks, historic buildings, observation decks, underground tunnels and art displays.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Municipalities may impose additional rates of up to 2 percent on the statewide 6.25 percent sales tax. Sales tax in the city of Houston is 8.25 percent; rates vary in the suburbs. The hotel occupancy tax in Houston is 17 percent.
Time and Temperature
Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center, (281) 890-4285; Memorial Hermann–Texas Medical Center, (713) 704-4000; Houston Northwest Medical Center, (281) 440-1000; Houston Methodist Hospital, (713) 790-3311; Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center, (832) 355-1000; West Houston Medical Center, (281) 558-3444.
701 Avenida de las Americas Suite 200 Houston, TX 77010. Phone:(713)437-5200 or (800)446-8786
Houston has two airports for visitors with airline flights.
Hertz, 2120 Louisiana St., offers discounts to AAA members; phone (713) 652-0436 or (800) 654-3080.
The Amtrak rail station is at 902 Washington Ave.; for train schedule and ticket information phone (713) 224-1577 or (800) 872-7245. METRORail light rail service connects downtown, the Museum District, Texas Medical Center and NRG Stadium and costs $1.25 for one-way service and $2.50 for round-trip service; ages 0-5 ride free.
The Greyhound Lines Inc. bus station is at 2121 S. Main St.; phone (713) 759-6565 or (800) 231-2222.
You can hire a taxi at cab stands near the major hotels in the downtown area or phone for one. One of the larger companies is Yellow Cab, (713) 236-1111. The standard fare is $4.75 for the first mile and $2.20 for each mile thereafter. A surcharge of up to $2.80 is added for trips between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Air-conditioned buses crisscross the city and suburbs. Limited and local fares are $1.25. Passengers must have exact change. Park-and-ride bus fares range from $2 to $4.50 and vary according to location. For details phone METRO Transit Authorities, (713) 635-4000.
Houston is a leading world seaport, and the Port of Houston accommodates passenger ships.