Texas' largest city is Houston. A name that conjures up images of oil wells, cowboy boots and Cadillac convertibles replete with bull-horn hood ornament. Located in the southeast corner of Texas and about 3 hours drive from Dallas, Houston is the Lone Star State's biggest city and is the fourth largest in the US after New York, L.A and Chicago.
Houston is city of surprises that offers visitors a diverse range of experiences from the rich cultural scene of the Theatre and Museum districts to the sports mad fans of the Houston Astros, Rockets and Texans, to the high tech Johnson Space Center as well as offering every imaginable shopping and food experience in the countless malls and commercial districts throughout the city. Houston is a huge sprawling city that has experienced largely unchecked growth in real estate development on the back of the strong oil and natural gas industries. The massive size of the Houston Metropolitan area is best covered by car so as to see all there is on offer. However there is a lot to see in the more compact downtown area which is well serviced by regular public transport.
Incorporated in 1837 Houston was named after General Sam Houston who led the Texas army in the successful Battle of San Jacintoto to win independence from Mexico. The population built steadily due to the railroad and port industries, but it was the discovery of oil in 1901 that really contributed to Houston's massive growth. Today oil still plays a major role in the local economy but the medical and space industries also make up a large sector of Houston's industry.
Influenced by the moist humid air of the Gulf of Mexico and the searing winds from the deserts of Mexico Houston has a humid, subtropical climate. Summer temperatures average in the low to mid 30s degrees C (90 deg F) but the high humidity and usually only light winds make the apparent temperature much higher. Afternoon thunderstorms are quite common in the summer months and bring a welcome respite to the heat.
Winters are mild with daytime temperatures averaging around 18 deg C (64 deg F) and chilly nights around 8 deg C (46 deg F). There is a high amount of rainfall throughout the year averaging 1,300mm (52 inches) and there is rare but occasional snow in winter.
One of Houston's most famous landmarks is the San Jacinto Monument which commemorates those who fought for Texas' independence and was completed in 1939. At 173m (570 feet) it is taller than the Washington Monument. Other highlights of Houston are the more than 56,000 acres of parklands, 156 public golf courses, the revitalized downtown area with countless restaurants and shopping malls, the Houston Astrodome - the fist ballpark to have a completely enclosed roof over the playing field, and the Texas Medical Center and NASA's Johnson Space Center.
For cultural buffs Houston is home to the Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera as well as countless smaller professional and amateur companies that deliver more than 21,000 performances a year.
Houston is large, diverse and surprising city and has vacation options to suit every interest and every budget.
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