2017 Visitor's Guide to Houston
Author: KHOU Staff
Published: 3:08 PM CST January 10, 2017
Updated: 10:53 AM CST January 13, 2017
LOCAL 0 Articles

Welcome to the Bayou City


Whether you are visiting for the first time or a returning guest of the Bayou City, Houston is sure to offer you a unique experience in the nation's fourth largest city.

Downtown skyline at night from the west. Photo: Visit Houston

There is no place like Houston, which features a diverse international community, and is the largest city in the Lone Star State.

Visitors will find a great food and dining, world-class arts, pro sports and a diverse culture and history.

Sports enthusiasts can easily attend games for several professional teams including the Houston Texans, Houston Rockets, Houston Astros and Houston Dynamo.

Those interested in the performing arts are sure to enjoy Houston's year-round professional resident companies in ballet, opera, symphony and theater.

The Houston Museum District is the country's fourth largest and visitors can enjoy an entire weekend visiting 18 cultural centers located in close proximity.

Houston also has the world’s largest medical complex with 21 renowned hospitals, 14 support organizations, 10 academic institutions, eight academic and research institutions, seven nursing programs, three public health organizations, three medical schools, two pharmacy schools, and a dental school.

Texas Medical Center Patient & Visitor's Parking by KHOU on Scribd

We recommend you take your time and explore our great community during your visit to the Bayou City.

Great Food & Restaurants


Once you visit Houston, your appetite may never want to leave.

The Bayou City's culinary scene is just as diverse as its population with more than 10,000 restaurants representing cuisine from more than 70 countries and American regions, according to the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Whether you are looking for great barbecue or something exotic, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Houston.

And not to toot our own horn, but Houston restaurants stand above the rest with some 70 receiving consistent recognition.

For more great ideas of where to eat, check out this map below.

MAP: Interactive map of award-winning restaurants in the Houston area

Houston After Hours


There's plenty happening in Houston with a little something for everyone.

Whether you are looking to go dancing or just for a great signature cocktail, there’s sure to be a place among the city’s nightlife just for you.

You may want to check out the central business district in Downtown Houston or the laid back bars in adjacent Midtown.

Perhaps you’ll want to visit the lounges in the gay-friendly neighborhood of Montrose.

Whatever you like, be sure to check out our interactive map before for just some of the establishments you should visit during your stay.

MAP: Nightlife in Houston

MAP: The Houston Live Music Top 20

Expand Your Horizons


The Houston Museum District is comprised of 19 institutions located within a 1.5 mile radius of the Mecom Fountain in Hermann Park.

According to the Houston Museum District Association, the District is dedicated to collaborative efforts that maximize use of the artistic, scientific and educational resources by all citizens of and visitors to Houston.

According to the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, the District is the fourth largest of its kind in the U.S.

PHOTOS: Meet Angel, the new gorilla at the Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo is set in a 55-acre lush tropical landscape, and is home to more than 6,000 exotic animals representing more than 800 species.

Visit the wonders of Africa at The African Forest, the new 6.5 acre, $40 million addition featuring chimps, rhinos, and giraffes.

PHOTOS: Sea lion pup, TJ, to make public debut at Houston Zoo

Here's a layout of the institutions in the Houston Museum District:

The Performing Arts



The Houston Theater District features nine renowned performing arts organizations including:

Alley Theatre

Houston Ballet

Da Camera

Houston Grand Opera

Houston Symphony

Society For The Performing Arts

Theatre Under The Stars

Broadway at the Hobby Center

Ars Lyrica Houston

Along with many smaller performing arts organizations, the nine are featured at four main venues – Jones Hall, Wortham Theater Center, Alley Theatre and Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

Also in the 17-block District you will find the Bayou Place which includes the Sundance Cinema, Revention Music Center and various restaurants.

For more on the Houston Theater District:

MAP: Interactive map of the Theater District in Downtown Houston

Discovery Green and Other Free Attractions



Discovery Green Park is a 12-acre park located in downtown Houston. It serves as the location for over 600 free events throughout the year.

Visitors can enjoy local musicians perform in the amphitheater, shop at the Green Market on Sundays and ice skate on Kinder Lake in the winter.

Visitors will find paths to walk, a jogging trail, dog fountains, a children's playground, small and large dog runs, open lawns, and great restaurants.

For more information on Discovery Green and other free attractions, click here.

Houston is Space City



You can't leave Houston, also known as Space City, without visiting Space Center Houston.

According to their website, Space Center Houston is a living museum where visitors can see astronauts train for missions, touch a real moon rock and tour NASA. It is the largest collection of space artifacts in the Southwest.

In January 2016, Space Houston unveiled its new exhibit which offers a one of a kind experience where visitors can see the inside of a shuttle and what the living quarters are like for NASA astronauts.

The Alley Theatre is a Tony Award-winning indoor theatre in Downtown Houston.Photo:  Visit Houston (Julie Soefer)

It's a 240-ton exhibit with a shuttle replica atop a 747 shuttle carrier aircraft.

"The top of the tail on the shuttle, I think, is eight stories, is 80 feet above the ground, and inside it's just a magnificent exhibit. It's unlike anything you'll see or be able to see anywhere else in the world." said Richard Allen, President and CEO of Space Center Houston.

Visitors are able to explore the shuttle replica Independence and the original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft.

"It's unique in the fact that this is the original 747, it's the real thing, but what really makes this special is the way we have this displayed, and that's with a shuttle on top." said Paul Spana, the exhibit manager.

The 747 is lined with interactive exhibits about how the shuttle carrier aircraft idea came to be and how it worked. One exercise shows visitors how NASA attached the shuttles to the aircrafts prior to transport.

On top of the plane, sits the independence shuttle replica that gives visitors a realistic look at the living quarters of an astronaut.

The Galleria



Houston is also home to The Galleria, Texas' largest shopping center and the fourth largest domain nationally.

According to their website, The Galleria spans 2.4 million square feet of space, houses 400 stores and restaurants, two high-rise hotels, and three office towers.

Along with shopping and fine restaurants, The Galleria features a full-size ice rink for recreational and figure skating, a state of the art children's play area, two swimming pools, a video arcade, three full-service national and international banks, two tailor shops, more than 12 beauty salons, and a post office.

Houston Pro Sports Teams


Houston offers year-round professional sports competition with the Houston Texans, Houston Rockets, Houston Astros and Houston Dynamo.

PHOTOS: Fans at Texans vs. Titans

View overlooking Discovery Green in the Convention District.

Major Sporting Events


Houston has become a got-to sports destination and is set to host Super Bowl LI in 2017 and the 2016 Men's Final Four.

Annually, golf enthusiasts can check out the Shell Houston Open, while college football fans can take in the Texas Bowl and the Texas Kickoff sponsored by Advocare at NRG Stadium.

PHOTOS: Fans at the AdvoCare Texas Bowl

Walk through the Skylab Trainer, the actual trainer that was used to prepare astronauts for America’s first space station at Space Center Houston, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center. Photo: Space Center Houston

Houston's METRO Rail


Rail System Map Plan by JaimeE.Galvan on Scribd

Houston Airports


Houston Hobby Airport

Contact information and flight status

fly2houston.com/hobby; 713-641-4000, 24 hours.


Terminal maps

Current departures

Current arrivals

Real-time checkpoint wait times available at HOU website.


Parking information: 713-641-7770, 24 hours.

Most convenient: Valet, $25/2-24 hours. Garage, all levels, $19/day. See more options.

Least expensive: Ecopark 1, $9.24/day; ecopark 2, $5.54/day. (Tax not included). Walk to terminal. See more options.

Cellphone lot: Located off Airport Boulevard.


Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Contact information and flight status

fly2houston.com/iah; 281-230-3100.


Terminal maps

Current departures

Current arrivals

Depending on your airline and your status with TSA, expedited TSA PreCheck lanes may be available.


Parking information: 281-233-1730.

Most convenient: Terminal parking, $19/day, or valet parking, $25/day. See more options.

Least expensive: Economy parking (ecopark), $7.39/day for covered or $5.54/day for uncovered. (Does not include tax.) Shuttle to terminals. See more options.

Cellphone lot: Located at Will Clayton Road (Highway 59-North entrance to airport). Flight status information available at 281-230-7000. Amenities include portable bathrooms and vending machines. Up to 200 spaces. Second lot on John F. Kennedy Boulevard.