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The H-List 

Starting points for exploring Houston's new downtown scene

Houston isn't known as 'Space City' simply because it's the home base for NASA. Sure that's got a lot to do with it, but fact of the matter is Houston is overflowing with 'Space.' The fourth largest city in the nation, The City of Houston covers 596.11 square miles of extremely flat land 50 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. That's a lot of acreage with an intricate series of freeways tying it all together.

In most cities, you can simply land at the airport, maybe take a shuttle to your hotel and then take a taxi to all of your destinations. That's not generally the case in Houston. At least it wasn't.

For years, staying downtown in Houston meant that after dark you would have to go elsewhere for your entertainment. There was literally nothing to do. A cab ride to the Galleria area or River Oaks would cost you $30 to $50 and possibly 30 minutes of your time.

In the past 10 years, Houston's downtown has seen a magnificent revitalization, with new bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels moving in on every corner. With all this in close proximity to the city's bustling Museum District, artsy Montrose neighborhood and historic Heights, you can easily entertain yourself without the hassle of renting a car and attempting to navigate Houston's confusing landscape.

One of the finest places to stay in downtown Houston is also one of the newest. The recently opened Hilton Americas-Houston is located one block from the Toyota Center (home of the Rockets, Comets and Aeros), two blocks from Minute Maid Park (home of the Houston Astros) and minutes from the Theater and Museum Districts. This 24-story, state-of-the-art convention hotel offers 1,200 guest rooms including 66 beautiful one- and two-bedroom suites.

The Hotel Icon is also a recent addition to Houston's bustling downtown. Designed by Candra Scott and Anderson, it represents a historic reinvention of the landmark Union National Bank Building, and is also within walking distance of all sorts of entertainment. Downstairs you'll enjoy BANK, one of the hottest new restaurants in Houston. A creation of world-renowned Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, you'll talk about your meal and experience long after you leave the city.

The Doubletree Hotel Houston Downtown recently completed a $6 million dollar renovation and is located in the heart of downtown. Their oversized guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows on all exterior walls allow you an expansive view of Houston's downtown skyline and their Sweet Dreams Bed is all the rage. And for the adventure seeker, the no-frills, semi-dangerous Montagu Hotel rents rooms for $26 per night, $29 if you want a TV. There's something for every budget in downtown Houston.

Houston is second only to New York City for number of theater seats, with nearly 8,000. The city boasts resident companies that perform 12 months a year in a wealth of performing arts including ballet, opera, symphony and theater. The Theater District, a 17-block area in the heart of downtown Houston, is home to Houston's eight world-class performing arts organizations, the 130,000 square-foot Bayou Place entertainment complex, restaurants, movies, plazas and parks.

More than two million people visit Houston's Theater District every year to experience the magic and excitement found on the stages of the Wortham Theater Center, Alley Theatre, Jones Hall, Verizon Wireless Theater and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

Just a short cab, bus or new Light Rail ride outside of downtown lies the Museum District, chock full of culture and history. There's something for everyone within a radius of just a few blocks, albeit Texas-sized blocks. The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is the only museum dedicated primarily to preserving the legacy and honor of the African-American soldier in the United States of America. Open since the year 2000, this is one of the many institutions that helps to make the city so unique. The Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum is the repository in the United States for the only intact Byzantine frescoes in the entire western hemisphere. And at The Children's Museum of Houston, you and the little ones can just go have fun.

Houston runs the gamut of arts and culture. From niche historic museums like The Holocaust Museum Houston to massive endeavors like The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and The Houston Museum of Natural Science, it would be impossible to not find something to keep you busy in this beautifully sculpted neighborhood.

And the list goes on and on and on. There's The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, The Houston Center for Photography, The Houston Zoo, The Jung Center of Houston, The Lawndale Art Center, The John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science, The Menil Collection and the wondrous Rothko Chapel.

After all that culture, venture back into downtown and find out why so many are calling Houston 'Fat City.' There are more affordable and exclusive restaurants per capita in Houston than almost any city in the nation. On Main Street, all along the light rail line, the possibilities are endless. Mia Bella Trattoria offers exquisite and affordable Italian fare. Bossa Cuban Bar & Latin Cafe is a chic little Latin bistro where you can drink some of the finest mojitos in town. No trip to Houston would be complete however without eating a bit of Tex Mex fare. El Rey Taqueria, is a great place to hit for affordable snack foods like tacos and nachos and full-on entrees like tortilla soup -- which some say is the best in town. F2 Eatery, Bar and Lounge serves fantastic bar food and is described by many as a sports bar with a touch of artsy class. Try their Bacon Cheeseburger or sumptuous onion rings and you won't be sorry.

The Houston of years past is gone. No longer is this town only known for cowboy bars and flaming chemical factories. Houston is a hidden treasure just waiting to be explored.

For more information ...

Where to Stay

Hilton Americas-Houston
1600 Lamar St.

Houston, TX 77010

(713) 739-8000

Hotel Icon
220 Main St.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 224-ICON

Doubletree Hotel Houston Downtown
400 Dallas St.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 759-0202

Montagu Hotel
804 Fannin St.

Houston, TX 77002
(713) 237-1504

Bayou Place
500 Texas Ave.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 221-8883

The Performing Arts

Wortham Theater Center
500 Texas Ave.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 227-ARTS

Alley Theatre
615 Texas Ave.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 228-9341

Jones Hall
615 Louisiana St.
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 227-3974

Verizon Wireless Theater
520 Texas Ave.
Houston, TX 77002

(713) 230-1600

Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
800 Bagby St.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 315-2400

Museums and More

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
1834 Southmore Blvd.
Houston, TX 77004

(713) 942-8920

Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum
4011 Yupon St.

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 521-3990

Children's Museum of Houston
1500 Binz St.

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 522-1138

The Holocaust Museum Houston
5401 Caroline St.

Houston, TX 77004
(713) 942-8000

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
5216 Montrose Blvd.

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 284-8250

Museum of Fine Arts Houston
1001 Bissonnet and 5601 Main St.
Houston, TX 77265
(713) 639-7300

Houston Museum of Natural Science
One Hermann Circle Drive

Houston, TX 77030

(713) 639-4629

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
4848 Main St.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 529-4848

The Houston Center for Photography
1441 W. Alabama St.

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 529-4755

Houston Zoo
1513 N. MacGregor Dr.

Houston, TX 77030
(713) 533-6500,

Jung Center of Houston
5200 Montrose Blvd.,

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 524-8253

The Lawndale Art Center
4912 Main St.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 528-5858

John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science
1515 Hermann Dr.

Houston, TX 77004

(713) 521-1515

The Menil Collection
1515 Sul Ross St.

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 525-9400

Rothko Chapel
1409 Sul Ross St.

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 524-9839

Where to Fill Up

Mia Bella Trattoria
320 Main St.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 237-0505

Bossa Cuban Bar & Latin Cafe
610 Main St.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 223-2622

El Rey Taqueria
233 Main St.

Houston, TX 77002

(713) 225-1895

F2 Eatery, Bar and Lounge
306 Main St.

610 Main St.

Houston, TX 77002 (713) 229-9999

click to enlarge More than two million people visit Houston's Theater - District every year to experience the magic and - excitement found on the stages of the Wortham Theater - Center and other famed venues. - GREATER HOUSTON CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU
  • Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • More than two million people visit Houston's Theater District every year to experience the magic and excitement found on the stages of the Wortham Theater Center and other famed venues.


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