HOUSTON

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Houston is likely the only city in America who's namesake is rendered in giant statue form, hovering over the freeway leading into town from the north. Houston is the biggest city in Texas with a population over 2 million. If one's focus on Texas is North Texas, with the big city in North Texas being Dallas, one occasionally hears dismissive remarks about Houston.

Bad air, Bad traffic, Bad humidity. These remarks get worse when something happens, like when Houston beats out Dallas on an Olympics bid.

Or, God forbid, in a football game. However, on two Houston visits, these Eyes on Texas found Houston to be a Houston Skyline very pleasant surprise. Houston's freeways were not the hodgepodge of varying quality one finds in the D/FW Metroplex. The Houston skyline is impressive. Houston rush hour traffic is bad, but not all that bad. Houston's downtown is lively and pedestrian friendly. And Houston is only a short distance from Galveston and saltwater. Two attributes which are hundreds of miles from Dallas/Fort Worth.

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HOUSTON RESTAURANTS

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We'll start our tour of Houston at night. At a McDonald's near the Johnson Space Center.

Houston, we've got a problem...the ice cream machine isn't working....

The Astrodome appears to be a nicer looking building than the now deceased Seattle Kingdome.

Like the dead Kingdome of Seattle, the Astrodome was replaced by a new football stadium. However, unlike the Kingdome, the Astrodome was not blown up. Baseball is no longer played in the Astrodome. A new stadium has been built downtown, formerly called Enron Field til that name became associated with losing on a grand scale. Enron Field has been re-monikered into Minute Maid Park.

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You would not guess from this photo that Houston has the worst traffic in the country. Here we are heading towards downtown Houston after seeing the Astrodome.

The aforementioned former Enron Field. The retractable roof appears to be much more massive than the one on Safeco Field in Seattle. Of course, it rains much more in Houston, obviating the need for a much more substantial roof. Which leads one to wonder why there is no retractable roof on the Ballpark in Arlington?

The entity formerly known as Enron Field prior to being reborn as Minute Maid sits amongst an interesting collection of buildings. The building shown here was, or is, a home for wayward girls. It is not known if it has now been converted to a home for wayward accountants.

Here you can see the home for wayward girls with the former Enron Field clearly as its close neighbor.Minute Maid seems like a good name for a home for wayward girls, more so than a ball park...

Houston's Convention Center is a couple blocks from Enron/Minute Maid. It looks very futuristic, like something designed for a Space City.

Downtown Houston has a very interesting mix of old and new buildings. The black box skyscraper you see here, with big holes in its top, seemed particularly interesting.

Don't know if this skyscraper is now the tallest west of the Mississippi, but it appeared to be very very tall.

A mural created an odd scene looking down the canyon of skyscrapers.

Houston's Hard Rock Cafe, in what they call their Arts District. Seems a much more sophisticated name for such a district, unlike Fort Worth's Cultural District.

Had never seen a Have a Nice Day Cafe before. Probably will never see one again.

HOUSTON ATTRACTIONS

ALEK VELODROME-- A 33,334 meter bike track banked 9 to 33 degrees. In Cullen Park at 19008 Saums Rd. ALLEN'S LANDING; OLD MARKET SQUARE-- This is where the Allen Brothers arrived in 1836 to begin their new real estate venture which eventually became known as Houston. Restored buildings, great restaurants and a cool old bar in Houston's oldest commercial building.
ART CAR MUSEUM-- At 140 Heights Blvd. featuring custom decorated cars with funny motifs. Go here for some Eyes on Texas photos of Houston's Art Car Parade.
Call 713.861.5526 Official Website
BAYOU BEND COLLECTION-- This collection has over 4,800 works from colonial times, housed in the Latin Colonial home of the late Miss Ima Hogg, daughter of the first native born governor of Texas, James Hogg. Located at 1 Wescott St.
Call 713.520.2600 Official Website
ENSEMBLE THEATER-- The oldest professional theater in the Southwest devoted to the African-American experience. Located at 3535 Main St. Call 713.520.0055 GEORGE R. BROWN CONVENTION CENTER-- Located downtown the Houston Convention Center has over 850,000 sq. ft. of convention space. Call 713.853.8000 Official Website
HOUSTON ARBORETUM & NATURE CENTER-- A 155 acre nature preserve with over 5 miles of trails meandering through woods, ponds and a meadow with an Interpretive Center with interactive exhibits, aquariums and a tree model. Four miles west of downtown Houston at 4501 Woodway Drive.
Call 713.681.8433
HOUSTON FIRE MUSEUM-- The history of fire fighting from bucket brigades to modern methods. Located in former Houston Fire Dept. Station #7 at Milan and McIlhenny Streets.
HOUSTON TUNNEL SYSTEM-- Houston has the world's largest indoor air-conditioned pedestrian tunnel system. There are 7 miles of tunnels with a variety of shops and more than 100 restaurants LAKE HOUSTON STATE PARK-- This 4,195 acre park is located where Caney Creek joins the San Jacinto River. The park has lodges, campsites, horse trails, swimming, nature study, bird watching, hiking and biking. Call 281.354.6881
MINUTE MAID PARK-- This is where the Astros play baseball. The ballpark is located on the south side of downtown Houston at the corner of Crawford and Texas Streets. For game info call 713.259.8000 NASA/SPACE CENTER HOUSTON-- NASA's official visitor center has live shows and presentation, interactive exhibits, an IMAX theater and more. Call 281.244.2105
THE REEF-- A 20 acre spring-fed lake and park with scuba diving, swimming, fishing, kayaking/canoeing & picnicking.. Located at 4800 Schurmier Rd. Call 713.991.3483 RELIANT PARK-- Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans NFL football team, Reliant Astrodome, formerly known simply as the Astrodome, Reliant Hall, formerly known as Astrohall and Reliant Arena, formerly known as Astroarena, make up the Reliant Park complex of sports and exhibition facilities. Reliant Park is located of Loop 610 South at Kirby Dr. Call 713.799.9544
SAM HOUSTON RACE TRACK-- A class 1 race track with pari-mutuel betting on a live thoroughbred and quarter horse races, plus betting on off-track races televised in from other tracks. Located on Sam Houston Tollway at FM 249. Call 281.807.7223 SHELDON LAKE STATE PARK-- One of the few remaining freshwater wetlands in the Houston area. This 2,800 acre park includes Sheldon Reservoir. A great place for both birders and fishermen. Trails take you to 28 different ponds. Call 281.456.9350
TOYOTA CENTER-- This is the largest flea market on the Gulf Coast. There are over 800 vendors every weekend, year round. Special events like an Indian powwow, barbecue and chili cookoffs, a Cajun festival and swap meets. Plus restaurants. With an on-site RV park.
Located at 7979 N. Eldridge. Call 281.890.5500
TOYOTA CENTER-- This is where Houston's NBA team, the Rockets, play basketball, along with the WNBA's Houston Comets and the Houston Aeros of the AHL.

THE HOUSTON VISITOR INFORMATION CENTER
Stop here first to get all the info you need to know about Houston, maps, brochures, directions.
Open daily at 9 am til 4 pm. 901 Bagby Str. Call 713.227.3100
Houston Visitor's Center Website

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