February 09, 2007

Postcards from Texas: Houston


We have a lot of family in Houston and we visit here quite a bit. I have spent many a year in this city and can tell you honestly that despite its size and spreading limits, it isn't a bad place. One of the highlights of visiting here is the fact that there is always something to do and you certainly have your pick of DELICIOUS foods (a restaurant on every corner). For those who are traveling in for just a weekend and want to cram a few field trips in, the Houston Ship Channel, the Houston Zoo, and NASA are some of my favorites. I am fond of the pretty Woodlands area (hate that the city is continually destroying all the lovely pine forests in the North). The Galleria is a nice hopping area as well... and shopping areas in Houston are literally EVERYWHERE. For more attractions of interest within the city limits, click the title under this post.
Because we homeschooled in Houston for a while, we have taken quite a few field trips around town and the surrounding areas. Usually, when we are in town, we just hang out with family and enjoy dining out. While we were schooling here, however, we never ran out of fun things to do. Even though the terrain is flat and it isn't the most beautiful landscape, the Houston area is definitely worth visiting.

Here are some quick facts about H-town:

  • Houston is the fourth most populous city in the nation (trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago), and is the largest in the southern U.S. and Texas.

  • Founded in 1836, the City of Houston has a population of 1.9 million.

  • Houston metro area's population of 4.8 million is 10th largest among U.S. metropolitan statistical areas.

  • Houston has professional teams representing every major sport.

  • More than 38 million people each year fly in and out of Houston's two major airports: Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby.

  • Houstonians eat out more than residents of any other city. Houston has more than 11,000 restaurants.

  • Houston has a Theater District second only to New York City in terms of a concentration of seats in a single geographic area. Located downtown, the 17-block Theater District is home to eight performing arts organizations with more than 12,000 seats.

  • Houston has a unique museum district offering a range of museums, galleries, art and cultural institutions, including the Houston's major museums.

  • Houston has more than 500 cultural, visual and performing arts organizations, 90 of which are devoted to multicultural and minority arts.

  • More than 90 languages are spoken throughout the Houston area.

  • Houston is home to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The largest rodeo in the world, it attracts more than 1.8 million visitors each year.

  • Houston has a young population; 37 percent of Houstonians are 24 years old or younger and 34 percent are between the ages of 25 and 44.

  • Houston boasts more than 40 colleges, university and institutions - offering higher education options to suit all interests.

  • Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, with a local economic impact of $10 billion. More than 52,000 people work within its facilities, which encompass 21 million square feet. Altogether 4.8 million patients visit them each year.

  • Home to 18 Fortune 500 companies and more than 5,000 energy related firms.

  • Houston is considered by many as the Energy Capital of the world. Companies headquartered in Houston include Halliburton, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil Corp and Dynegy.

  • The Port of Houston ranks as the nation's largest port in international tonnage and second in total tonnage.

  • Houston has the most affordable housing of 10 most populated metropolitan areas; Houston housing costs are 39 percent below the average of 26 U.S. urban populations of more than 1.5 million.

  • Houston has the second lowest cost of living among major American cities.

As you can see, the Bayou City has more to offer than you might have thought.

Next time I post, I'll be somewhere else in the Lone Star State... happy trails!

Info from the City of Houston.

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jewls said...

Ooh ooh - thanks for this informative post! I think we are going to NASA soon. If you have any more fun suggestions - PLEASE post them!
I am not a city girl - so Houston freaked me out the first time I ventured there. However, we have visited the science museum and saw a great exhibit on the body. Fabulous. It was worth the excursion. For some reason if my husband isn't with me complaining when we get turned around that I'm navigating improperly - it is a lot less stressful! :)

KarenW said...

Sounds like a great place to live! I wonder if anyone speaks Romanian there. Have fun!

Sprittibee said...

Thanks Jewls. Yes, it is easier to do Houston with a friend, rather than a critic! ;) I find Houston much easier to navigate than Dallas, however. Dallas has interesting road issues (including exits without labels, frustratingly SHORT and dangerous entrance ramps, and forks and ys in the road that sneak up on you). I feel much safer driving in Houston (even though it is larger than Dallas).

Both cities have much to offer the homeschool family, however! The Dallas World Aquarium is wonderful.

You can email me off-list for more info if you are planning a Houston trip. I am not sure I have any other Houston field trips in the "works" for the blog right now. It may be a while before I do any more of them. My photos are in storage, despite the fact that I now have a scanner. That will most likely prevent me from posting anything from my Houston homeschool days for quite some time.

Karen W - Yes, Houston isn't all that bad. The traffic is awful, though. You really have to have nerves made of steel to live out in the outskirts and drive in gridlock all the way to the Galleria or downtown areas. I did it for a few years and decided life was too short to commute! I am sure someone, somewhere in the Houston area speaks Romanian - at least I would imagine so with 4.8 million people and counting!

The entire state of Arkansas where we live now has only 2,779,154 (2005 estimates by US Census Bureau). So, you could nearly fit the AR state population TWICE in the HOUSTON metroplex!!!

sara said...

the natural history museum in houston is one of my favorite places. have you ever taken the kiddos there? LOTS of fun and fascinating stuff

Sprittibee said...

Sara - I have been there, and I think my kids have also been... but it was when they were VERY young, so I doubt that they remember it. We have gone to the Imax and Butterfly Center near the Zoo as well. Both are fun. Moody Gardens in Galveston is only an hour and a half away and there are many fun things to do on the Island as well. Galveston extends Houston's drivable field trips quite a bit! My favorite thing to do there is take the ferry across the bay in my car (and feed the gulls)... oh... and catch little sea creatures on the island in buckets while walking the beach. It isn't the prettiest ocean view (brown Mississippi waters and muck), but it is the ocean, none-the-less.

sapper said...

One correction to make. I live in Clear Lake City which was annexed by Houston in the 70's and is just behind the Johnson Space Center. I grew up here and other than my time in the Army have been here for more than 36 years. Just thought I'd clarify that the 2 million mark was passed in Houston many years ago. The actual population is over 4 million in the city and upwards of 7 million for the entire metro area. If you throw in everywhere from Galveston/Freeport to Conroe to Humble/Cleveland and from Katy to Baytown/Channelview then your looking at closer to 10 million. Don't know where that 2 million number comes from but it's flat wrong.



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