Houston is the largest city in Texas and takes urban sprawl to a new limit. Take a minute to read through the information below and gain an idea of Houston's layout to make planning your visit a bit easier.
Houston is Texas's largest city, the U.S.'s fourth largest, and it grows over the landscape with complete disregard for zoning. It has little in the way of official districts, but has many specific city areas with their own specific style. Home to slick architecture, prestigious theater, and Johnson Space Center, Houston is a little bit of everything mixed freely together.
Houston's downtown is certainly notable for its sheer and daunting size. Houston is one of the largest cities in the United States and its downtown is the seventh largest business district. The skyline is even its own district within a district. Pedestrians can travel the downtown through underground tunnels and skywalks, quite an intricate network of both. For more on downtown, click here.
South Side, Southwest, and the Warehouse District
South of Downtown is the residential South Side. Southwest Houston is also mostly residential, if shoppers might want to check out Meyerland Plaza, a large outdoor shopping mall. The Warehouse District is Houston's residential north, but check out the restaurants and nightlife.
Midtown and Texas Medical Center
Midtown's situated south of Downtown and just recently redeveloped. It's probably best known as the home of Little Saigon, the business center of Houston's large Vietnamese population. And south of Midtown is the Texas Medical Center, largest medical complex in the world. The prestigious and research-science-focused Rice University is near the Medical Center. Somewhat incongruously, the sports-center Reliant Park is also close by.
West of Downtown is Uptown, which, true to its name, is upscale, and the Houston Galleria (largest Texas mall) definitely helps in that respect. Uptown also hosts that famous skyscraper, the Williams Tower, which shows off its height with a beacon that slices through the night sky.
Museum District and Montrose
Sixteen museums rest within this district, which is right next to the Texas Medical Center. Two particularly significant ones are the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Hermann Park and its well-loved Houston Zoo are also within this district. On the northern end of the district is Montrose, a district of vintage shops and eateries and art that spills right onto the street. The Menil Collection of modern and ancient art is here.
The Six "Wards"
The University of Houston-Downtown is in the First Ward, and the Third Ward is host to the notable University of Houston and Texas Southern University. The Fifth and Sixth Ward both have historic significance, particularly the Old Sixth Ward, a neighborhood older than any other in Texas and populated by Victorian homes.
Greenway's largely commercial complex is west of Downtown and east of Uptown. Houston is known for its restaurants and one of its most famous, Tony's, is here, but the Lakewood Church is certainly the most famous Greenway fixture.
This is Houston's bay and the place to fish, boat, troll seafood restaurants, and visit the visitor center of NASA's Johnson Space Center, better known as Space Center Houston.
Other Things to Know
You can access Houston by plane through George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and the smaller William P. Hobby Airport. By car, well, Houston is served by a near-dozen freeways, among them IH-45 South and North, IH-10 East and West, and IH-610.
Once within Houston, you'll probably have to depend on driving. Although its downtown is remarkably pedestrian friendly, the city sprawls. And despite the many freeways, avoiding rush hour should be paramount priority. Public transportation is available by bus or METRORail, the latter of which is cheap and popular and connects many of the districts.