Houston, a sprawling urban metropolis in southeast Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States, is not the kind of place you can get to know in a day. The sheer size of the city means that you’ll have to have a car to get around, and the fact that everyone has a car means that you’ll generally have to deal with some traffic.
But for all its concrete, skyscrapers and strip malls, Houston’s greatest draw is its spirit. Its welcoming attitude and legendary Southern hospitality have made Houston one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. This diversity is reflected in its fantastic food scene, making Houston one of the most exciting places to eat at in the country.
The vibrant arts scene and Museum District also make it Texas’ most prominent cultural hub. Besides the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Johnson Space Center, the city is also home to the largest medical centre in the world and endless shopping options.
Over the last decade, more parks to enjoy and trails to hike have been created right in the city, thanks to citywide investment in green spaces. Houston truly is America’s new capital of cool, ready and waiting to be discovered.
When to go:
Summer is a scorcher in Houston, with high humidity and a heat index that can exceed 30°C. The best times to visit Houston tend to be spring (March–May) and fall (September–November), when the weather is sunny and mild.
How to get around:
If you’re going to spend more than a day in Houston, renting a car is the way to go. Outside of downtown Houston, parking is generally free and convenient, and a car gives visitors the flexibility to traverse the city at minimal cost.
If car rental is not an option, the next best thing would be to use a ride-sharing app like Uber or Lyft, both of which are readily available throughout the greater Houston metropolitan area. Within downtown Houston, cab fare is a fixed rate of USD$6 (S$8), but elsewhere, taxis can be cost-prohibitive due to the sheer size of the greater Houston area, which measures nearly 26,000km2.
For those staying in the central part of Houston, MetroRail services run from downtown Houston to the Medical Center and NRG Stadium. A Metro bus system is also available and runs along most city streets, but can be inefficient and time consuming. A day pass combining unlimited use of the rail and bus systems costs only USD$3 (S$4).