Map of Houston Texas Area | What is Houston known for?
Visitors to Houston should look forward to great food, pro sports, the Rodeo and visiting NASA – though maybe not the searing summers! Let’s see what makes Houston tick.
Where is Houston Located?
Houston is located in Southeast Texas, 50 miles inland from Galveston Bay, part of the Gulf of Mexico. The city is crisscrossed by three major freeways, I-10 going east west, and I-45 and I-69 (formerly US-59) going north south.
There are two major airports, George Bush International and Houston Hobby.
Houston is named after Samuel Houston, who won a decisive victory over General Santa Anna’s Army at the Battle of San Jacinto – a mere 18 minutes of fighting on April 21, 1836 that won Texas freedom from Mexico.
Houston was founded the year after, on June 5, 1837.
Sam Houston is memorialized all over Texas, and his namesake city stands proudly today, close to the San Jacinto Battleground.
Houston Size and Population
Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation, with a population of 2,325,502. The only un-zoned major US city, Houston sprawls over a 669 square mile area.
Is Houston a Good Place to Live?
Houston is considered to be a good place to live and raise a family for a number of reasons.
Median Income vs. Income Required to Live Comfortably
An analysis of major US cities prepared by gobankrates.com lists median incomes against the amount it costs to live comfortably (using the rule that 50% of income is spent on necessities, 30% on extra spends and 20% is saved).
Houstonians have a median income of $49,399, while the income needed to live comfortably varies between $79,378 (for homeowners) and $87,658 (for renters).
The shortfall of $30,000+ is relatively modest in comparison to the six-figure shortfalls in cities like New York and San Francisco. Also, Texas does not have a state income tax.
A Very Cosmopolitan Population
Houston belies the Texan reputation of being insular. It is home to many communities with global exposure, such as the professionals in the Oilfield Services industry, aeronautics and medicine.
The highly educated and world-traveled population are cosmopolitan and known to offer a welcoming hand to visitors and new neighbors.
Best Places to Live in Houston
The best neighborhoods to live often depend on work commute and school districts, but in general, the following neighborhoods stand out within Houston:
- West University (Average Home Value $2.2 million) – situated around Rice University, the Texas Medical Center and the Museum District, this neighborhood was rated as the best “city” to live in the US by Wall Street 24/7 in 2018 and ’19.
- River Oaks (Average Home Value $2.2 million) – The original area where the rich lived in Houston, this area is also home to entertainment, cultural and shopping venues.
- Tanglewood (Average Home Value $1.6 million) – woodsy enclave just outside the inner loop, with access to everything but the ability to spread out with a hint of country living.
- The Museum District (Average Home Value $1.2 million) – a neighborhood for art and culture lovers, with 19 museums, the Rothko Chapel and venues in Hermann Park.
- Bellaire (Average Home Value $953,490) – close to all inner-city amenities, such as the Galleria, but offers bigger homes at a reasonable price.
- The Heights (Average Home Value $813,899) – historic landmark district that thrives on neighborhoods with antiquity, architecture and culture.
- Memorial (Average Home Value $497,000) – nestled within parks, close to the energy corridor, plus great school districts.
- Spring Branch (Average Home Value $462,000) – a community older than Houston, it can accommodate the quest for large lot size at very reasonable prices.
What is Houston Known For?
Some of Houston’s signature attributes are mentioned below.
World Renowned Universities and Medical Center
Houston boasts many universities and colleges, including the world-renowned Rice University and the well-known University of Houston. The Texas Medical Center has maintained its status as a medical center of excellence through many decades, with dozens of large research institutions and hospitals featured among its ranks.
A Vibrant Cultural, Shopping, Food and Music Scene
Houston has over 10,000 restaurants, plus great bars, micro-breweries and music clubs. Houstonians are known to eat out more often than in any other city, with every world cuisine on offer, along with the world-famous Texas barbecue joints.
The Galleria Mall is a premier shopping destination in midtown. The Museum District has 19 museums in relatively close proximity. The Theater District and Opera, as well as outdoor venues in the revamped downtown, makes for a plethora of activities to partake in.
Three major league teams – the Houston Rockets, Astros and Texans – play downtown, which turns the area into one giant party place on game days.
The Annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which has grown to be the largest such show in the world, draws visitors in tens of thousands over a two plus week period every summer.
Johnson Space Center
NASA’s Johnson Space Center was built in Clear Lake, south of Houston, on land granted by Rice University – shortly after President Kennedy made his famous commitment to win the “moon-race” in a speech at Rice. It contains many informative tours, as well as stunning displays such as a full-scale Saturn V rocket and Lunar Modules.
Galveston Bay Area
The Galveston Beachfront is only an hour out of town. Moody Gardens, with attractions like the Rainforest, Aquarium Pyramids and 4D theaters, is in the area. On the way is the Kemah Boardwalk with seafood restaurants, rides and family entertainment.
Best Times to Visit Houston and How to Get Around
The best times to visit Houston might be over September through March, when the weather is the mildest. Houston does not get snowfall or freeze very often.
The best form of transportation around Houston is by car. Besides the Interstates, the city is crisscrossed with Beltways, US and State Freeways. Street side parking is readily available in most areas.
There are shuttle buses from the airport and public transportation is available (including a train system operated in the midtown and downtown areas since 2015), but cabs are hard to come by and buses do not ply as regularly as some other major cities.