Houston Travel Guide

Culture

Located in the American South, Houston is a diverse city with a large and growing international community. The metropolitan area is home to an estimated 1.1 million (21.4 percent) residents who were born outside the United States, with nearly two-thirds of the area's foreign-born population from south of the United States–Mexico border. Additionally, more than one in five foreign-born residents are from Asia. The city is home to the nation's third-largest concentration of consular offices, representing 86 countries.

Many annual events celebrate the diverse cultures of Houston. The largest and longest running is the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, held over 20 days from late February to early March, is the largest annual livestock show and rodeo in the world. Another large celebration is the annual night-time Houston Pride Parade, held at the end of June. Other annual events include the Houston Greek Festival, Art Car Parade, the Houston Auto Show, the Houston International Festival, and the Bayou City Art Festival, which is considered to be one of the top five art festivals in the United States.

Houston received the official nickname of "Space City" in 1967 because it is the location of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Other nicknames often used by locals include "Magnolia City," "New Houston," a tribute to the cultural contributions of New Orleans natives who left their city during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, and "H-Town."

Arts and theatre

The Houston Theater District, located downtown, is home to nine major performing arts organizations and six performance halls. It is the second-largest concentration of theater seats in a downtown area in the United States. Houston is one of few United States cities with permanent, professional, resident companies in all major performing arts disciplines: opera (Houston Grand Opera), ballet (Houston Ballet), music (Houston Symphony Orchestra), and theater (The Alley Theatre). Houston is also home to folk artists, art groups and various small progressive arts organizations. Houston attracts many touring Broadway acts, concerts, shows, and exhibitions for a variety of interests. Facilities in the Theater District include the Jones Hall—home of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and Society for the Performing Arts—and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

The Museum District's cultural institutions and exhibits attract more than 7 million visitors a year. Notable facilities include The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Holocaust Museum Houston, and the Houston Zoo. Located near the Museum District are The Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum.

Bayou Bend is a facility of the Museum of Fine Arts that houses one of America's best collections of decorative art, paintings and furniture. Bayou Bend is the former home of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg.

The National Museum of Funeral History is located in Houston near the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The museum houses the original Popemobile used by Pope John Paul II in the 1980s along with numerous hearses, embalming displays and information on famous funerals.

Venues across Houston regularly host local and touring rock, blues, country, dubstep, and Tejano musical acts. While Houston has never been widely known for its music scene, Houston hip-hop has become a significant, independent music scene that is influential nationwide.

Tourism and recreation

The Theater District is a 17-block area in the center of downtown Houston that is home to the Bayou Place entertainment complex, restaurants, movies, plazas, and parks. Bayou Place is a large multilevel building containing full-service restaurants, bars, live music, billiards, and Sundance Cinema. The Bayou Music Center stages live concerts, stage plays, and stand-up comedy.

Space Center Houston is the official visitors' center of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The Space Center has many interactive exhibits including moon rocks, a shuttle simulator, and presentations about the history of NASA's manned space flight program. Other tourist attractions include the Galleria (Texas's largest shopping mall located in the Uptown District), Old Market Square, the Downtown Aquarium, and Sam Houston Race Park.

Of worthy mention are Houston's current Chinatown and the Mahatma Gandhi District. Both areas offer a picturesque view of Houston's multicultural makeup. Restaurants, bakeries, traditional-clothing boutiques and specialty shops can be found in both areas.

Houston is home to 337 parks including Hermann Park, Terry Hershey Park, Lake Houston Park, Memorial Park, Tranquility Park, Sesquicentennial Park, Discovery Green, and Sam Houston Park. Within Hermann Park are the Houston Zoo and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Sam Houston Park contains restored and reconstructed homes which were originally built between 1823 and 1905. There is a proposal to open the city's first botanic garden at Herman Brown Park.

Of the 10 most populous U.S. cities, Houston has the most total area of parks and green space, The city also has over 200 additional green spaces—totaling over that are managed by the city—including the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. The Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is a public skatepark owned and operated by the city of Houston, and is one of the largest skateparks in Texas consisting of 30,000 (2,800 m2) square foot in-ground facility. The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park—located in the Uptown District of the city—serves as a popular tourist attraction, weddings, and various celebrations. A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Houston the 23rd most walkable of the 50 largest cities in the United States. Wet'n'Wild SplashTown is a water park located north of Houston. A 640-acre theme park, called the Grand Texas Theme Park, will open in 2015 and is located near Houston in New Caney, Texas.

Houston is not known for being the most walkable city because of the way it was originally designed. In fact, in spite of having the 4th largest population in the US, Houston is only the 22nd most walkable city. However, there are some neighborhoods that are easy to navigate on foot. Better yet, many of these spots pack plenty of entertaining activities into a short amount of space. The number one rated place to walk in Houston is 19th Street & Rutland Drive in Greater Heights which was recently ranked 4th in CNN Money's Top 10 Big City Neighborhoods.

The Bayport Cruise Terminal on the Houston Ship Channel will become port of call for both Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line in 2013-2014.

Media

The primary network-affiliated television stations are KPRC-TV (NBC), KHOU-TV (CBS), KTRK-TV (ABC), and KRIV-TV (Fox).

The Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area is served by one public television station and two public radio stations. KUHT (HoustonPBS) is a PBS member station and is the first public television station in the United States. Houston Public Radio is listener-funded and comprises two NPR member stations: KUHF (KUHF News) and KUHA (Classical 91.7). KUHF is news/talk radio and KUHA is a classical music station. The University of Houston System owns and holds broadcasting licenses to KUHT, KUHF, and KUHA. The stations broadcast from the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting, located on the campus of the University of Houston.

Houston is served by the Houston Chronicle, its only major daily newspaper with wide distribution. The Hearst Corporation, which owns and operates the Houston Chronicle, bought the assets of the Houston Post—its long-time rival and main competition—when Houston Post ceased operations in 1995. The Houston Post was owned by the family of former Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby of Houston. The only other major publication to serve the city is the Houston Press—a free alternative weekly with a weekly readership of more than 300,000.

source: Wikipedia

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