Houston: Fascinating Facts and Information for Visitors

Updated on May 19, 2020
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

David Adickes's sculpture says it all!
David Adickes's sculpture says it all! | Source

Space City

Many superlatives can be used when addressing the subject of Houston.

When astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, what was the first word he uttered? "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Houston is nicknamed the Space City, and for good reason. Many of our astronauts have had much of their training here at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

Currently, we are the fourth largest city and the fifth largest metropolitan area in the country. That might be changing soon; according to a Houston Chronicle report, we will take Chicago's spot as the third most populous city by 2030.

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 Space Shuttle Endeavour is ferried by NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) over Houston, Texas on September 19, 2012Houston as viewed from outer space
 Space Shuttle Endeavour is ferried by NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) over Houston, Texas on September 19, 2012
Space Shuttle Endeavour is ferried by NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) over Houston, Texas on September 19, 2012 | Source
Houston as viewed from outer space
Houston as viewed from outer space | Source

Astrodome

The Astrodome was the first domed sports stadium in the entire world! It is an iconic feature of the landscape and at one time was called the "8th wonder of the world". While larger stadiums have been built it will always have the designation of being the first! Houston is currently the only city with two domed stadiums.

The Astrodome aerial view
The Astrodome aerial view | Source

Texas Medical Center

The Texas Medical Center is the largest in the entire world! There are 21 hospitals plus some 58 other related institutions located in this medical complex. From research to teaching future doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and other medical personnel, this is the place to be if ever in need of treatment.

The medical industry is big business here, with five of the top ten employers involved in this field of endeavor. It is like a city unto itself serving people from not only these parts but also from around the world. Cutting edge therapies help cure people who might otherwise not survive.

Two of the world's largest hospitals are here. They are the Texas Children's Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Over seven million visitors come to the Texas Medical Center each year for treatment. It is what first attracted me to living in Houston when I became an operating room nurse at Methodist Hospital in the Medical Center.

It was a thrill and privilege to watch Dr. Michael E. Debakey perform heart transplant surgery from a viewing room above the O.R. back in 1969. That was the first year successful heart transplants took place. He had pioneered many of the inventions leading up to that groundbreaking event.

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Aerial view of Texas Medical Center Walkways between buildings above the street in the Texas Medical Center
Aerial view of Texas Medical Center
Aerial view of Texas Medical Center | Source
Walkways between buildings above the street in the Texas Medical Center
Walkways between buildings above the street in the Texas Medical Center | Source

Energy Capital of the World

Houston is known to many as the "Energy Capital of the World." The maze of petrochemical industries located near the Port of Houston is incredulous to view.

Our Port of Houston is first in the amount of international tonnage moved through here. Its economic impact for our city and this entire region is tremendous. It accounts for many jobs in our area.

The Energy Corridor consists of 300+ companies situated in west Houston along Interstate 10. Three of the top ten employers in Houston have to do with the oil and gas business. Several companies have their world headquarters right here in our city. The oil and gas businesses plus thousands of energy-related companies employ a huge number of people in our metro area which impacts the entire world.

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Houston Ship Channel
Houston Ship Channel
Houston Ship Channel

Livestock Show and Rodeo

Did you realize that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo are the largest in the entire world? Enough said! Yee-haw!!! It is a major annual attraction which is not only a boon economically but their focus on giving scholarships to deserving students has impacted countless lives. Tens of thousands of them have been granted to date.

Theater District

Our theater district is world-class! One need travel no further than Houston to find stellar entertainment.

We have four large venues downtown and smaller ones sprinkled throughout our large metropolitan area. Houston has a professional opera company, symphony, ballet, and live theater. We also have performing arts ranging from Broadway hits to chamber music to jazz as just a few examples.

Few cities outside of New York have such a variety of venues that this city has to offer its citizens or visitors.

The Hobby Center hosts Broadway shows as well as smaller performing arts groups in Houston.
The Hobby Center hosts Broadway shows as well as smaller performing arts groups in Houston. | Source

Sports

Practically every type of sports one can imagine except for those necessitating snow is here in Houston. We even have ice skating rinks! It may be seasonal at Discovery Green Park and a few other locales. A permanent one is indoors at the Houston Galleria. Softball and soccer fields abound in various parks around town as do golf courses, both public and private.

Our professional sports teams and where they play are the following:

  • Basketball ~ NBA Houston Rockets play at the Toyota Center.
  • Hockey ~ AHL Houston Aeros also perform at the Toyota Center.
  • Baseball ~ Houston Astros play at Minute Maid Park.
  • Football ~ NFL Houston Texans play at Reliant Stadium.
  • Soccer ~ The Houston Dynamo team, plays at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Besides, there are high school and collegiate sports venues and many types of minor leagues and clubs. Annual sporting events give us even more reasons to celebrate fun and games in our home town.

Well-known architects have built many of our golf courses. Also, famed golfers such as Jack Nicholas, Bruce Devlin, Tiger Woods, and Greg Norman have likewise had their hand in creating them. Prestigious golfing tournaments have been played here on different courses. The bargain pricing to play makes it desirable for golf enthusiasts to plan vacations here.

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Minute Maid Park is home to the Houston Astros baseball team. This site is also used for such things as commencement exercises, rugby, soccer, music concerts, etc.The Toyota Center hosts the Houston Rockets basketball games, ice hockey, and concerts. Houston Galleria skating rink
Minute Maid Park is home to the Houston Astros baseball team. This site is also used for such things as commencement exercises, rugby, soccer, music concerts, etc.
Minute Maid Park is home to the Houston Astros baseball team. This site is also used for such things as commencement exercises, rugby, soccer, music concerts, etc. | Source
The Toyota Center hosts the Houston Rockets basketball games, ice hockey, and concerts.
The Toyota Center hosts the Houston Rockets basketball games, ice hockey, and concerts. | Source
Houston Galleria skating rink
Houston Galleria skating rink | Source

Museums and Public Art

Houston has a beautiful Museum District located just north of the Texas Medical Center and south of downtown. There are countless museums in and around our metro area which cover a variety of subjects, including art, history, photography, crafts and so much more. You will find over 150 of them!

The Houston Museum of Fine Arts is the 6th largest museum in the United States, and it is currently expanding. It also has has the 2nd largest endowment fund of any cultural institution in the country!

Public art abounds in and around our fair city. One need not look very far before it is evident that we appreciate all types of art. Sculptures, murals, and even graffiti art can be seen in our parks as well as in and outside of buildings.

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The Menil Collection is a fantastic art gallery free to the public containing world-class art collections.Museum of Fine Arts Houston Caroline Weiss Law building.Children's Museum of Houston
The Menil Collection is a fantastic art gallery free to the public containing world-class art collections.
The Menil Collection is a fantastic art gallery free to the public containing world-class art collections. | Source
Museum of Fine Arts Houston Caroline Weiss Law building.
Museum of Fine Arts Houston Caroline Weiss Law building. | Source
Children's Museum of Houston
Children's Museum of Houston | Source

Waterways

Downtown Houston is only about a 45-minute drive to the Gulf of Mexico coast in Galveston, Texas.

Within 25 miles or so, there are many natural lakes where a person can go boating or fishing. Lake Houston and Clear Lake are two that people like to frequent. Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston are north of Houston.

There are boat tours on some of our bayous. We have four bayous that run through our city as well as many creeks and tributaries. That is why we are also known as the "Bayou City."

Many of the newer subdivisions are built around human-made lakes. Quite a few of our parks also have lakes. In conclusion, there is no shortage of aquatic activities in or near Houston.

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Restaurants in Our Metro Area

Houston's business environment is excellent and therefore spills over into all kinds of other areas. Would you believe that we have some 11,000 restaurants? It is true! One can find just about every type of cuisine here because of the melting pot of humanity that Houston had become since its early days of settlement by the Allen Brothers back in 1836. One could literally choose a different restaurant in which to dine every day and it would take over 30 years to experience them all.

Street signs in parts of our city
Street signs in parts of our city

Languages

When we vote, there are three languages on the ballot: English, Spanish and Vietnamese. People speak some 90+ dialects in Houston, and there are festivals each year celebrating the different cultures. Some street signs in various areas of town have not only English but other languages marking the location as well.

As one might imagine, with all of the different cultures living in the Houston metropolitan area, there are also a significant number of foreign governments doing business here. We have the 3rd largest consular corps in the nation, with over 92 different governments represented.

Rice University
Rice University

Educational Facilities

There are 25 different independent school districts in the Houston metro area, not including other private schools of which there are many. When it comes to higher education, there are more than 60 colleges and universities offering advanced degrees. Vocational and technical schools are numerous.

Cost of Living

Our low cost of living is enticing to companies as well as people moving here.

  • For housing alone, we pay 21% below the national average according to statistical data. Since land costs are lower one gets a much better bargain when it comes to housing than in many places. Judging from many of the mega-mansions springing up in many parts of town, this is no longer a secret!
  • We also pay no state income tax and have right to work laws in place.
  • Utility prices are lower than in many places.
  • Gasoline prices to keep our vehicles running are also lower than many other locales.
  • Unemployment statistics regularly fall below the national level.
  • Outside of NYC (with a far greater population), Houston had the most Fortune 500 companies wanting to do business here. We also have the 2nd most significant number of Fortune 1000 companies only again trailing New York.

Green Spaces and Climate

From large parks to pocket-sized parks, we have more green spaces for our citizens and visitors than any other metro area of comparable size. 366 is the number of Houston metro parks!

Bikers have many miles of uninterrupted spaces in which to ride their bikes on our hike and bike trails, which are continually expanding. There are 128 miles of them in Houston and even more in the surrounding counties.

Houston is a very green city by way of vegetation. Our subtropical climate affords everything from the growing of tropical palm trees, banana, and ginger plants to towering pine trees and even cactus. Certain types of flowers grow in our yards and gardens on a year-round basis. Humid and tropical breezes generally bring an average of almost 50 inches of rain annually.

Summers have sizzling temperatures often in the 90s or even some days topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In late fall, winter, and early spring, the temperatures are moderate and delightful. One can enjoy al fresco dining almost year-round in this climate. Houston is one of the most air-conditioned cities in the United States.

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Additional Facts

  • Houston is the only major U.S. city without zoning codes? It's true! That accounts for attractions like the Beer Can House, among others.
  • There is an extensive air-conditioned tunnel system in downtown Houston. It runs for over seven miles. Ninety-five blocks are connected, and employees of business need not get out in the heat when going from a company to their parking garages. Polished marble floors are evident in places, and there are a variety of lunch spots provided, which are all underground. Tours are available Monday through Friday for varying prices depending upon how many people are going at one time.
  • Statistically, we have one of the youngest populations in the nation. The median age is 33.
  • We have two main airports, George Bush Intercontinental, and William P. Hobby. Also, thirty-one smaller airports are accommodating corporate jets to private airplanes all over our area.
  • Unlike more densely populated places, our two million-plus citizens are spread out from the downtown area with available lands in which to expand in all directions save the Gulf of Mexico. That is about the only limiting natural hindrance to growth. We have quite a bit more elbow room in which to enjoy the good life under the vast open Texas skies.
  • Magazines like Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler have touted Houston as a destination in which to travel. It is hard to keep such good news quiet for long.

With seasonal events included, there are endless activities and attractions that are here to enjoy. Perhaps now you know why my husband and I enjoy living here. One could devote a lifetime to exploring what our expansive Houston metro area has to offer.

Source:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

Comments

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 days ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bruce,

      Since you are a fellow Houstonian, you would realize that it would take a lifetime to get to know all that there is to do and see here. Once we get past this Covid-19 pandemic, it will be fun to get out there and take advantage of more scenery, etc.

    • profile image

      Bruce 

      6 days ago

      Houston never ceases to amaze. Moved here over 50 years ago to go to college and never wanted to leave.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

      Yes, it's great to get information from people who live in an area. They know the ins and outs of the place.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      Since living in Houston the majority of my life, I am happy to be able to tell others many attractive features of our metro area. We have much to celebrate!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

      Glad you taught me.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      Glad to know you learned a bit more about Houston. (Smile)

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

      Thank you for posting. All interesting information. I'll have to add the prediction of Houston overtaking Chicago by 2030 to my predictions article. I'll also add it to one of my web pages.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi manatita,

      You must be very proud of your sister and her medical team at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston. I can fully understand how a person could get lost in that immense institution. You obviously love New York. It has much to offer its citizens. Living here, however, is much easier on a budget. (Smile)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 months ago from london

      I can feel your silent pride in talking about Houston and rightly so. It has so much going for it! My friend is the CEO of a lab teaching everything related to X-rays: ultrasounds, CT, MRI, nuclear and so forth.

      I visited her facility with my sister last February. I saw so many posh professors and students!

      I could not help feeling pride for this simple Grenadian black woman, who had such big dreams and made them real. Another ran an entire nursing home. A posh one too. Why didn't you run one? Chuckle.

      Actually, God uses us in different ways and your contribution to Houston is amazing! Now I also visited MD Anderson. It is so huge that without my sister, I would have been lost. She loves the place and her own medical team. I have suggested a lot of American natural alternatives to her as forms of treatment, but she is not as 'adventurous' as her loving older brother.

      Now, my Dear. Aren't you wrong about New York? smile. I mean, it is the most powerful city, no? Haha. Seriously, I once read a piece from Sri Chinmoy about NY. Only a visionary or patriots like Emerson, Jefferson and a few more, could have come close. It is so lofty, so sublime, so, so beautiful!!!

      'Nuff for today. Keep on doing what you're doing!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi C E Clark,

      When you worked at Welcome Wagon, you would have known more than most people living in western Colorado about what there was to do and see there. As you mentioned, people seldom know about all there is to do, particularly in larger communities the size of Houston. Having lived here most of our lives, we have yet to take advantage of everything...but we do our best!

      I'm glad you could celebrate Mother's Day together. Stay safe!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      2 months ago from North Texas

      This is a fantastic article for people thinking about relocating to Houston and for businesses trying to decide where to relocate or expand. Also great for tourists deciding where to go on vacation as well as what to see and do. And great for Houston citizens who may not be as informed about all that Houston has to offer. I know from working Welcome Wagon years ago in Western Colorado that often times people who live in a particular city don't always keep up with what's going on there, because of all the many things they have to do every day. Posting this on FB & AH.

      Hope this opening up business won't turn out to be too soon. My daughter ordered us a nice meal from Olive Garden with curbside service on this last Sunday and said she was able to see inside their dining room and it was packed inside with customers. Hope people won't be sorry for doing that. Take care, Peggy, and stay well.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Dora,

      My husband and I have now spent the majority of our lives living in Houston. Yes, I can honestly say that we enjoy living here for many reasons.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 months ago from The Caribbean

      You really love, Houston, eh? You do a fantastic job of promoting all the good about it. Thanks for evoking all the pleasant memories in me.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Pamela,

      I am pleased that you are enjoying learning more about Houston and what this metro area has to offer.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      3 months ago from Sunny Florida

      This article gives as a great overview of Houston. There are so man "best in the country" features as it makes this a very desireable place to live. I aappreciate all the good information you provide about Houston.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Chitrangada,

      It would be wonderful if you could visit Houston at some point. I would enjoy meeting you in person.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Linda,

      It is fun sharing some of the attributes of living in or near Houston with others who are unfamiliar with our area.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      3 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Another wonderful article about Houston, and once again I must say, it’s magnificent. You have shared so many interesting details in your articles, that it seems I know a lot about this wonderful city. I just hope, that I am able to visit it some day.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very interesting and informative article, Peggy. I've learned a lot about Houston by reading it. I appreciate the education very much. I think the city and its surroundings would be a lovely place to visit.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      We live in a subdivision outside of the city limits, although our address is still Houston. It is the best of both worlds having access to everything a city has to offer, but also a bit more space.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      It is much less expensive to live in the Houston area as compared to places like New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and many other cities across our nation.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      It was not the very first heart transplant, but one done in the first year of heart transplants that I got to view from that room above the surgical suite. It was amazing to see!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      People who are not from around here are always pleasantly surprised when we show them different areas of our city. Glad you liked what you read about it and would consider adding it to your travel list pf places to visit.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      If you like big cities, Houston is a quality one. Me? I break out in hives in crowds. lol I'm afraid I wouldn't last long there.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      3 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Amazing is the word I'd like to describe Houston as. Despite the numerous facilities and attractions, it is gladdening to know it is cheaper to live in than some other bigger cities of the Unites States. I would love to visit it.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 months ago from USA

      This is really great information. The Chamber of Commerce should be singing your praises! My brother used to live in Houston and I loved visiting him there. He moved to be closer to home, however, and is in a rural armpit of a place now in another state. You’re a big deal getting to watch that first open surgery. Cool beans.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      3 months ago from Massachusetts

      Peggy, it comes as no surprise to me to learn of the many reasons why Houston is such an attractive place to live and visit. It really does seem to have something for everyone. While we have never had the opportunity to visit, we will certainly add it to our list of just places to visit. You are a great spokesperson for the city.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Ruby,

      At least you got to experience the Astrodome firsthand back in the 1970s. It was state of the art for its day and time! I am pleased that you enjoyed reading this.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Mary,

      I am glad that this gave you a brief overview of what the Houston metro area has to offer. You could have a lot of fun here if you have the time to explore.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Liz,

      One of our fellow HubPage writers has said that he did not have the most favorable view of Houston before reading some of my posts. I thought it might be time to give an overview of what our metro area has to offer in case others wish to know more or change their preconceived ideas about our city.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Peggy, you should get a good paycheck from Houston for your informative and interesting hubs. When I worked in Houston in the late 70,s I went to the Astrodome and saw Crystal Gayle perform. ( Loretta Lynn's sister ) My husband Ray loves hockey, he used to play in Canada before he came to the states to go to college. I enjoyed reading about all the many hospitals, etc. the city has to offer.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love to know more about Houston. I had been there 2 years ago to visit friends I have not seen for 30 years. We just enjoyed being together and not going out to the sites. Maybe next time. I have some ideas about what I've missed.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 months ago from UK

      This is a great overview of Houston. It gives a lot of useful information about the city.

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