One of the most diverse cities in America, Houston is home to a range of attractions. It has a museum district, a theatre district, the NASA headquarters and is an exceptional place for food lovers to visit, the variety and quality is unmatched.
Before visiting any town or city make sure you know the basics. General details and important information.
Researching various official sources, we perceive the risk to holiday makers and travellers are as follows;
Top travel advice and interesting tip bits of information from experienced travellers.
- Houston experiences a lot of extreme weather but it also just generally known for it raining often. whether it is just some excessive rain or a natural disaster: Houston floods quite severely. There is 49.8 inches (1,260 mm) of rainfall annually. Many sections of the city have a high risk of local flooding. This is due to the overall flat landscape, the city sitting on top of primarily low-absorbency clay-silt prairie soils and inadequate infrastructure/lack of zoning. Be aware of the weather when planning, leading up to and during your trip. You mustn't live in fear but be prepared as change happens fast.
- Houston suffers from severe air pollution. Its notorious lack of zoning (the same that allows for a distinct lack of flood defences) allows industrial facilities to build near residential neighbourhoods, leaving many Houstonians vulnerable to dangerous air pollution. This has led to a persistent increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide, called a "CO2 urban dome", that is detectable by satellites- Houston is the only metropolitan area with less than ten million citizens where this is possible. Take the necessary precautions if you suffer from respiratory issues.
For the Emergency services just dial 911 from any phone.
Houston Welcome Centre: 1-800-4-HOUSTON
Houston is considered an ‘automobile-dependent’ city, with over 70% of commuters driving alone to work. Within the main city, there is public transport in the way of buses and a metro line. Surprisingly Houston also has over 160 miles of dedicated bikeways, due to it having the largest number of bike commuters in Texas.
Houston Station: Amtrak
What’s a safety top tip?
Houston is widely considered to be one of the safer big cities in America, this isn’t entirely correct.
Houston’s violent crime rate is 150 percent higher than the Texas average, which makes it a worryingly 170 percent higher than the rest of the US. However, this high level of crime is typically isolated to the ‘bad’ parts of Houston, with the more central and tourism focussed parts remaining areas to watch out for pickpockets and other more expected hazards. Areas to avoid include Sunnyside, “the Track,” and the dangerous neighbourhood that centres around the intersection of Dowling and McGowen Streets. Feel free to explore the city but plan your excursions first and maybe ask a local to advise on anywhere in particular you should keep clear of.
Treating most of Houston with the same caution you would use when in any other larger American city should see you fine throughout your trip.
Any common dangers?
Houston is one of Americas top ten riskiest places to visit in terms of natural disasters.
Due to its proximity to the coast, the Gulf of Mexico and residing just beneath Tornado Alley, Houston is subject to a lot of storms, hurricanes and tornados. The mixture of humidity and fluctuating temperatures means that there are a lot of thunderstorms too.
If there is a storm or hurricane warning, the usual advice is to shelter in place. Unplug electrical items, stay away from windows and, depending on severity, take stock of what food and clean water you have access to. Ultimately, you should keep up to date with the local emergency news and follow their advice. As the weather changes, new information may come up so pay attention.
If you are told to evacuate, then do so immediately.
What’s the weather like?
Houston is a south-easterly coastal city and has a humid subtropical climate. Therefore, it has very changeable weather: it can be humid and very hot, experience large amounts of rain and is subject to storms. Its proximity to the sea also increases humidity. It rains quite often, especially in July.
The average summer temperature is 29 °C whilst the average winter temperature is 13 °C.
For the most reasonable weather, visit in spring and summer but be prepared for a range of weather conditions.
Dress and plan accordingly.
Annual events allow a city come together for some amazing experiences. If visiting at this time, make sure you have your accommodation booked and are always aware of your surroundings when travelling around.
This annual parade celebrates the civil rights leader and his famous words by marching through the heart of Houston, drawing more than 300,000 supporters from around America. The event is set up to promote racial harmony through education on the subject and furthering the positive concepts and ideas that MLK spoke of. The parade includes floats and marching bands to celebrate the many cultures of America, showing the joy brought when they all work together.
Cajun Fest celebrates the Port Arthur area’s diverse cultures with music and food, there is a lot of both! You can drink and dance to toe-tapping music from live bands and even two-step into the Cajun dance contest. There will be plenty of spicy delicious food to sample but if you really want to go for it there is a crawfish eating contest to participate in too! There is even crawfish racing…we’re not quite sure how that works but why not go see for yourself!
Houston Barbecue Festival
Get ready for a mouth-watering, succulent celebration of meat perfection. This annual barbecue event brings well-known and respected titans together whilst also welcoming new additions to the Houston Barbecue scene for a full day of barbecue-focused fun. Celebrate the skill and craftsmanship of local pitmasters as they season, smoke and serve up the very best meats.
When you think of Houston (or Texas, in general) you don’t really think of the beach. This competition is a huge draw for tourists and reminds everyone that Houston is also a port. The American Institute of Architects Houston hosts its annual free Sandcastle Competition at East Beach in Galveston and anyone can enter. The five hour building time is preceded by months of planning and design from various artists and sculptors- its still for fun but the process is taken very seriously. Go be amazed by what people can do with just sand and water, some of it wont seem possible!
What are some good day trips?
Houston offers a huge range of day passes for multiple attractions. A good example are passes that will allow you entry to a number of museums of your choice (they include food and sightseeing passes too). There are genuinely more museums of art, culture, history and science than can be feasibly included so here is a whistle stop list:
Holocaust Museum Houston– learn something truly important about the past to set up for a better future.
Houston Museum of African American Culture– discover things that weren’t covered in school about the accomplishments and lives of African Americans.
DiverseWorks’– witness never-seen-before artistic endeavours in this creative space created for experimentation.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston– appreciate the artistry and skill of celebrated painters, sculptors and other creative talents.
The Health Museum– explore the body up close as you’ve never seen it before in this multimedia personal experience.
Houston Museum of Natural Science– engage with the exhibits and the world around you, be it animal, mineral or extra-terrestrial.
Where should I eat?
A local business that has locations all over the city, BB’s Tex-Orleans is a Cajun restaurant and New Orleans-themed café with a distinctive Texas twist. Dishing out food they like to call Tex-Orleans cuisine, there is a lot on offer: NOLA-style po’ boys, homemade gumbo, boiled crawfish, oyster bar, seafood boil choices, fried seafood, Texas and Louisiana inspired cocktails and traditional favourites! BB’s is especially famous for their po’ boys, they are award winning, in fact. French bread, shipped from a specific bakery, stuffed till the filling falls out with crawfish, fried shrimp, oysters and catfish to roast beef, fajitas and vegetables- anything you could possibly want!
This is BBQ for every occasion. Got cravings on the way home for work? There’s a drive through. Need somewhere for a family meal? Come in and sit down in the restaurant. Just heading past whilst feeling peckish? You can grab a sandwich to go. There are even private rooms to hire out for a very special occasion that will make a meat lover’s day! You can even take a bit of Brookstreet home with you as their BBQ sauce is for sale to spice up your cooking or just add some life to your usual sandwich. With feasts, sides and salads, they’ve got everything covered.
What classically Houston thing should I do?
One of Houston’s top attractions and the area’s no. 1 attraction for international visitors, Space Centre Houston is a leading science and space exploration learning centre. It’s the closest your average person will ever get to space as this is the Official Visitor Centre of NASA Johnson Space Centre. It will truly be a unique experience with more than 400 space artifacts, permanent and traveling exhibits, attractions and theatres related to America’s human space-flight program – both its past and (more excitingly) its future! Designed to engage adults and children alike, there is so much to see. I challenge any adult to not be equally excited as a child about literal rocks from the moon!
Can you think of a truer Texas experience than a fun and informative 30 minute session teaching you about the history of custom cowboy boots in Houston, plus a personal custom boot design session? This authentic workshop is headed by people who take pride in the knowledge and craftsmanship required to make the humble cowboy boot. You will learn the 6 key elements of building a custom boot and walk away with a Certificate of Completion, now an expert too!