Houston Tourist Activities
George Bush Intercontinental Airport is a large airport serving the city of Houston in the United States of America, and is recognised by its airport code of IAH. It is the busiest airport in the state of Texas and the tenth busiest in the country in terms of passenger traffic, and is considered as an important international gateway as well. A large number of arriving passengers are tourists, coming to see the wide variety of Houston attractions that are available, that include the Downtown Aquarium, the Houston Zoo, the Space Centre Houston and the Houston’s Children’s Museum. A number of attractions are found nearby the city as well, such as the Six Flags Astroworld/Waterworld amusement park, known for its fun rides and entertaining attractions for the whole family.
The city of Houston, that is found to the south of Dallas and Forth Worth, was founded in 1836, and was the country’s most wealthy exporter of oil. Although there was a slump in Houston’s economy in the 1980’s, it soon revived itself and once again became a wealthy city, attracting tourists from around the world. Houston has a population of over two million, and the main language spoken by its residents is American English. It is also large, covering an area of approximately 580 square miles, or 1,500 square kilometres. The city is also known for its thriving seaport, that features a busy shipping channel from Galveston Bay. Visitor’s will find the weather in Houston particularly warm in the month of July, with average daily temperatures of 34°C, but colder in January, when temperatures are around 16°C.
Houston is considered to have several main districts. The Downtown District is the heart of the city, and is filled with impressive skyscrapers and businesses of all kinds. It also features the historical district where some older streets can be explored. South of the Downtown District is the Midtown District. This district is attractive, with centennial buildings and smart shops, and was generally redeveloped since the 1990’s. Tourists who enjoy museum attractions will find plenty of interest in the Museum District, one of the largest of its kind in the United States. It is also the area of several noteworthy art galleries, and where the Houston Zoo is located. The Museum District is found nearby Hermann Park, just southwest of the city centre. The Theatre District, in the centre of Downtown Houston, is ideal for those seeking a variety of forms of entertainment. It is a highly established area in terms of theatre (said to be second only to New York), and is home to many ballet, opera and other performance companies. The Downtown Aquarium is also found in the Theatre District. The historical neighbourhood of The Heights dates back to the 1800’s, and is found to the northwest of downtown Houston, and the Uptown district is best known for its aspects of entertainment. It features a large number of upscale restaurants and shopping areas, including the Galleria shopping mall, which is the fifth largest in the United States.
The Downtown Aquarium, Houston Zoo and Space Centre Houston are without a doubt amongst the top Houston family attractions. The aquarium is found on Memorial Drive and features underwater life from around the world. It is a fairly new establishment, but has quickly grown in popularity. Some of its best features include the Louisiana Swamp and Amazon River exhibits and an excellent recreation of a shipwreck. The aquarium is also well known for its train that travels through a tunnel in the shark tank, its Ferris wheel and its observation tower, which offers some lovely views of the city. The Houston Zoo is home to tigers, koalas, meerkats, vampire bats and many other amazing creatures, and is found along Hermann Park Drive. Its visitors can get a closer look at some of the animals with the ‘Natural Encounters’ addition, and the Wildlife Carousel is another popular feature of the zoo. The Houston Zoo is open daily from 09:00 to 18:00. The Space Centre Houston is a strong tourist magnet, with highlights such as the moon rock, the space shuttle simulator and the ‘That’s SO Weird’ exhibition, which is a cave with creepy monsters. The space Centre also has many interactive displays that are thoroughly enjoyed by all its visitors, offers a unique opportunity whereby one can see astronauts in training for their next space walk. The Space Centre Houston is found at 1601 NASA Road 1 in Clear Lake.
Houston’s main landmarks and monuments include the JP Morgan Chase Tower, the City Hall, the Julia Ideson Library Building, the Nina Vance Alley Theatre and the Oscar F. Holcombe Civic Centre. The JP Morgan Chase Tower is the tallest building in Houston, with 75 stories and has a wonderful observation deck on the 60th floor. The Oscar F. Holcombe Civic Centre is found in downtown Houston and is a multimillion dollar complex with a wide variety of shops and restaurants. There are also four exhibition buildings that are used for events, trade shows, ballets and opera performances.
Houston attractions include a number of museums that are well worth a visit. The Children’s Museum is especially appealing to families with children aged 12 and under. It has a an amazing selection of fun, hands-on activities, and even games for babies to help develop their coordination skills. Some popular sections of the museum include those of the Dragons and Fairies, the Think Tank, Kidtropolis, the Invention Convention and the Eco Station. Another family museum is the Houston Museum of Natural Science, at 1 Hermann Circle Drive. Its wonderful collections include dinosaur skeletons, an insect zoo, precious stones and exhibits relating to the oil industry. The museum also features a fantastic butterfly centre, an IMAX theatre and a planetarium. Further museums of note in Houston are the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum, the Menil Collection and the Rienzi Museum.
Nearby Houston, attractions include the lovely beaches at Galveston, the George Ranch Historical Park, where visitors can learn how ranching used to be in the older days, the Gulf Greyhound Park, the world’s largest greyhound racing set-up, the seafood restaurants at Kemah Boardwalk, the attractions of Moody Gardens, the San Jacinto Battlefield and the Six Flags Astroworld/Waterworld amusement parks. Moody Gardens is an impressive complex of large pyramids containing an aquarium, an IMAX 3D theatre and the beautiful Palm Beach, among many other attractions.
Further details regarding Houston attractions can be found at the information/tourist counters within the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, or from the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau on Bagby Street.