Security Levels

National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) check current status

Area Overview

WELCOME TO HOUSTON: Our exciting city provides a wealth of discovery for all visitors. For helpful information about the city and surrounding areas, please check out out this link or the Houston Visitors Center.

Houston sits on the Gulf Coastal Plain which covers 3,000 square miles of southeast Texas. Elevation in the Houston area is rather low, with the highest elevation in the area of 90 feet. Houston is an exciting city with more than three million residents. It is the seat of Harris County and is located on the upper Gulf coast prairies. Houston is equidistant from both the east and west coasts and is accessible by land, sea and air. It is the international gateway to the Southwest.

CLIMATE: Houston's amiable year-round climate makes it a safe bet you'll find sunshine during a visit to the city. The weather is mild, with the normal winter maximum temperature being 65 degrees F, the normal summer maximum being 92 degrees F, the normal spring maximum being 78 degrees F, and the autumn maximum being 80 degrees F. In the summer, humidity is certainly a factor to be considered, and can make the air feel much warmer than the actual temperature. Pay attention to heat index reading during summer months.

WHAT TO WEAR: Given the warm temperatures, Houston is a somewhat casual city. In business districts such as Downtown, Greenway Plaza and the Uptown Galleria area, visitors will notice the majority of people are in business attire. Casual clothing is the norm in more relaxed areas such as sports venues, attractions and museums. Short sleeves are ideal around the clock for the summer months, while a light jacket may be necessary fall and spring evenings. December and January are our coldest months and may require a few extra layers.

TRANSPORTATION: Houston has two major airports positioned on opposite sides of the city. To the north, Bush Intercontinental Airport is located approximately 40 minutes from downtown Houston between Interstate 45 and Highway 59, just north of the Sam Houston Tollway. Call (281)230-3000 for general airport information; call your airline for flight information. To the south, Hobby Airport is located approximately 20 minutes from downtown Houston a few miles south of Loop 610, just west of Interstate 45. Call (713)640-3000 for general airport information; call your airline for flight information.

MUSEUMS/VISUAL ARTS: Bayou Bend, The Children's Museum; Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston; Houston Museum of Natural Sciences; Menil Collection Museum; Herman Park; Houston Arboretum and Botanical Gardens; Houston Garden Center; Lyndon Johnson Space Center at Clear Lake City; Houston Zoo; Downtown Aquarium; Sam Houston Park are among the many places of interest.

DOWNTOWNS DRAW: Native Houstonians are quick to point out to visitors that the city is unique in many ways. One of its most outstanding aspects is the downtown area, which has become a vibrant community for business, medical facilities, neighborhood living and entertainment. "Downtown Houston is undergoing a dramatic transformation unmatched since the Allen brother first established the city on the banks of Buffalo Bayou," says Jodie Sinclair of the Houston Downtown Management District. "It has become a canvas on which visitors can paint their own picture of entertainment."

The social events available downtown make Houston one of the country's leading cultural centers. It is one of only five cities in the United States with permanent ballet, orchestra, symphony and theater companies. Houston's theater District Association deserves much credit for downtown's current vitality.

STELLAR SHOPPING: Known for its bustling activity and busy social calendar is the Uptown/Galleria area of the city. According to Terri Diraddo, director of public affairs with the Uptown Houston District, the diversity of the Uptown/Galleria is a natural draw for visitors. "This area is unique in Houston and uniquely Houston," she says. "In just four square miles you'll find first-class hotels, lush green areas, haute couture, gourmet restaurants, fine are and , of course, fabulous shops. The Galleria is a world marketplace for international retailers that draw tourists from all over the world. The Uptown/Galleria area provides something for everyone in one upscale, glamorous location."

SOCIAL SCENE: Adjacent to the Uptown/Galleria area is the Richmond Entertainment District that flows along Richmond Avenue. Stuart Kensinger of the Richmond Avenue Management District says the area is known for its wide variety of dining and entertainment venues. "Whether you're looking for a great restaurant or want to hear live bands and visit with friends, Richmond Avenue has it all," he says. 'From arcades to nightclubs, from small private retailers to full service shopping centers, Richmond Avenue caters to the tastes of all of Houston's visitors."

MUSEUMS TO MARVEL: Of course, a trip to Houston wouldn't be complete without a visit to the internationally famous Museum District. The district is considered one of the top three centers of cultural activity in the country. The 11 museums that make up the district offer everything from fine art exhibitions to hands-on activities for children. "It's an experience for a lunch hour or a lifetime. The Museum District is a place where children and families, visitors, business people--virtually anyone--can discover culture to enjoy and learn from." Look for deals on experiencing these museums with the Houston City Pass.

Close by the Museum District are two world-famous Houston sites---Rice University and the Texas Medical Center. Rice University was founded at the turn of the century and is perhaps the most prestigious private university in Texas. According to Janet McNeil, assistant vice president for public affairs, some of the most exciting technological research for the next century will come from this world-famous institution. "Rice is an example of what civic-minded city builders can do when they work together," she adds.

THE BEST MEDICINE: The Medical Center is the world’s largest medical complex. Situated on 675 acres, the Medical Center's 42 institutions and 13 patient care facilities compare in size to many mid=sized American cities. Visitors can take campus or inner-institutional tours to learn more about the medical advances taking place at the Medical Center. "Even for those people who are fortunate enough to call Houston home. The city presents such a diverse culture and history that it's virtually impossible to see and do everything," says Sinclair. "There is little question that visitors to Houston will take home a variety of experiences and memories as well as a lingering desire to return and experience even more of the Bayou City's hidden treasures..."

SPORTS FANS PARADISE: Houston supports teams nearly every major professional sport, including the Houston Astros (Baseball), Houston Rockets (Basketball), Houston Texans (Football), and Houston Dynamo (Soccer). It also hosts many minor league sport teams, ranging from ice hockey, women’s football, and indoor football. Five Division I colleges provide a wide array of collegiate sports, as well. In addition, Houston is home to the Houston Marathon, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, and many other exciting events.

GET OUT AND RELAX: Whether the body needs a spa day or a day on a water slide, the Houston area provides it. For a romantic and relaxing day, a wide variety of spas, wineries, and resorts await. In the mood for a little more energy, try Six-Flags, Pirates Bay Water Park, Wake Nation (a cable wake park for wakeboarding, water skiing, etc.) or a trip down to Galveston. Enjoy Kemah boardwalk, Schlitterbahn Water Park, or Moody Gardens. Port Galveston is also home to several cruise liners if an adventure to the Caribbean is in order.

Outdoor activities are abundant in and outside of the city. Within the city exists a multitude of parks including the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center and George Bush Park. The Arboretum consists of 155 acres of urban forest filled with trails to get away from the noise and bustle of the city. George Bush Park, just west of Houston, covers an area of 7800 acres; the park is filled with nature, hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, baseball fields, soccer fields, dog park, playground, shooting range, and model airplane airport. If a camping trip is desired, camping areas can be reach by a 30 minute drive.

Last Modified 9/19/2013