With a twist of cosmopolitan flair and a touch of Texas hospitality, Houston is both friendly and diverse.
A stroll down any of SpaceCity’s sidewalks is likely to furnish visitors with smiles and acknowledgments in English, Spanish or any of the 90 different languages spoken in the fourth largest city in the nation. Chances are Houston has grown since the last time you’ve seen its skyline, so here’s a sampling of the distinct neighborhoods and entertainment districts.
Energized and bustling, downtown Houston is a melting pot for business, residential development and entertainment. From baseball to theater, from historical to contemporary, the heart of Houston has it all.
The city’s skyline district has several new office towers being incorporated next to an already vital and evolving 90-block area in the historic district, which features clubs, restaurants, shops and convenient parking.
The northwest corner of downtown marks Houston’s roots, where the original town plat was laid out by the founding fathers in 1836. Many of the residential and commercial façades have been preserved and marked for historical significance in the area designated as the Downtown Historic District.
The Theater District a 17-block area in downtown’s epicenter — provides venues for ballet, opera, theater companies, symphony and Broadway performers. Nationally it ranks second to New York in terms of sheer numbers of concentrated theater seats in a downtown area.
In 2002, the Theater District welcomed the new Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. And in February 2003, the Downtown Aquarium opened, offering up-close views of exotic marine life, seafood restaurants, Ferris wheel, carousel and much more. Nearby, Bayou Place boasts live music, restaurants and a movie theater for passers-by who want to sample the infinite offerings.
Midtown Houston, to the south of downtown, is an emerging jewel, immersed in redevelopment since the mid-1990s. The community-oriented, urban neighborhood expects more visitors with the completion of the 7.5-mile light-rail project in 2004, which will run from downtown through midtown to the Medical Center.
Carefully designed aesthetics adorn new developments in Midtown, while preserving some of the area’s centennial structures. Midtown offers the neighborhood services — from churches to shopping — in a centralized location.
The neighborhood called Montrose is labeled the “last bastion for entrepreneurs” by many and is home to local artists, actors, musicians and students. Brushing downtown to the south, Montrose is well known for its pioneering spirit and unique persona with its special shops and architecture.
Positioned between downtown and the Port of Houston, the historic East End encompasses 16 square miles and represents the backbone of the city’s early industry.
Authentic Mexican restaurants are hallmark and bountiful in this diverse, Latino community that houses some of the city’s first subdivisions. The community boasts landmarks such as colorful murals, the Orange Show folk art monument, the Lady of Guadalupe Church and Talento Bilingue de Houston.
Time almost stands still in a community-oriented neighborhood called the Heights, located north of downtown. Rooted in the late 1800s, the Heights area has preserved many of the Victorian homes within its perimeters. Seasonal festivals staged throughout the year give Houstonians an opportunity to revisit this beautiful area. This community, marked throughout with historical plaques, features a memorial to its WWII veterans. Antique shops and small businesses lining its town square easily convey the feeling of Main Street USA.
The Uptown/Galleria area exudes a cosmopolitan air. Because of its high-rise skyline, some visitors often confuse it with downtown, but this West Loop area has its own distinct character.
Each year, thousands of international visitors convene here for shopping, conventions and business. The world-renowned, upscale Galleria mall with its indoor ice rink is central to this four-square-mile community. The newly renovated and expanded Galleria holds the distinction of being the fifth largest shopping complex in the nation.
Showcasing four-star hotels and global cuisine, this area caters to international visitors and Houstonians alike. Ample green space is sprinkled throughout this smartly landscaped shopping and business community.
Just down the road from the Uptown/Galleria lies the Richmond Entertainment District. Here you can experience a string of themed bars and culinary delights plus continue shopping. Sports venues, arcades and health facilities are added attractions. Featuring both large and small retailers, Richmond Avenue is a great option for entertainment for all who pay a visit to West Houston.
Museum District and Texas Medical Center
Houston’s Museum District is the fourth largest museum district in the U.S., and is home to 15 world-class museums and the Houston Zoo — all conveniently located 10 minutes from downtown and adjacent to prestigious Rice University and sprawling Hermann Park. Representing one of the top cultural districts in the country, Museum District institutions feature international art from both past and present for serious as well as novice art patrons.
More than 50 years ago, insightful Houstonians began building the foundation for the network of the 42-member medical care institutions that comprise Texas Medical Center. Today there are 13 hospitals and several medical schools within its borders. Patients come from around the globe to the center for state-of-the-art procedures, quality care and medical breakthroughs. With the largest air emergency system in the nation, the center performs countless trauma-related procedures yearly, as well as a record number of heart surgeries.
Southwest of the Medical Center sits the famed Reliant Astrodome complex and the new Reliant Stadium, known collectively as Reliant Park. Sports-hungry fans can quench their thirst for adventure at the adjoining Six Flags AstroWorld, then rest and replenish in the area’s hotels and restaurants.
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