Houston, Texas, the largest city in the Southern United States, was founded in 1836, near the banks of Buffalo Bayou. The city is a renowned healthcare and research hub housing the Texas Medical Center and the NASA Johnson Space Center. Houston is also home to a wealth of cultural institutions, including The Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Holocaust Museum Houston, and the Houston Zoo, as well as the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Ballet, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and The Alley Theatre.
Lankford Grocery, which dates back to 1939, is run by Eydie Prio. Kitschy and homey, this casual eatery is known for its enormous portions and amazing hamburgers. Inside you’ll find an old school diner feel and outside bright red picnic tables sprawl adorn the cement lot. Regulars aren’t looking for new and modern. They prefer reliable, affordable, and most of all scrumptious comfort food. Favorites include the Old Fashion Hamburger with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion, and the Grim Burger, topped with mac & cheese, jalapeño, bacon, and a sunny side up fried egg. Lankford Grocery, which serves breakfast and lunch, is open Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 3 pm, and prices range from $5 to $14 for main dishes.
NASA Space Center Tram Tour
The NASA Space Center’s most popular attraction, the tram tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at space exploration. Included in the admission to Space Center Houston, the tour explores the different Johnson Space Center locations, including Rocket Park, which houses one of only three remaining Saturn V rockets, and the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility where astronauts train for missions, and scientists and engineers work on the next generation of space exploration vehicles. Visitors can also see the Christopher C. Kraft Mission Control and enter the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR), used during the Gemini and Apollo missions, as well as the first lunar landing mission.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Established in 1909, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the country's top five most popular museums. It features four different spaces, including the Burke Baker Planetarium, which features science and astronomy shows, and houses the SkySkan DigitalSky starfield projector that simulates stars, planets, comets, and nebulous objects, among other special effects. It is the only planetarium in the US with multiple projector digital image capability, which allows it to display full dome films about space, earth, and life science. The Cockrell Butterfly Center, a butterfly zoo, is located in an impressive glass building filled with tropical plants and butterflies, including the migratory monarch butterflies and their tropical cousins. The Wortham Giant Screen Theatre is a 394-seat theater that shows educational films in 4K digital with advanced 3D technology, and the George Observatory, which is located at Brazos Bend State Park, is an astronomy observatory with three domed telescopes.
Brennan’s of Houston
Brennan’s of Houston, a forty-year institution, which reopened in 2010, is owned by the Brennan family of New Orleans, Louisiana. Using local ingredients, the restaurant offers award-winning Texas Creole cuisine. The interior design is plush and elegant, though the courtyard provides the best seats in the house. Lunch entrées include buttermilk fried wild catfish over jasmine rice, chicken Pontalba with Brabant potatoes and crimini mushrooms, and imperial crab-stuffed flounder. Dinner is even more elaborate with entrées like gulf fish Pontchartrain with jumbo crab, shrimp, and oysters, sugarcane smoked beef rib, and hunter's honey roasted duck. Brennan’s also features brunch and an exquisite wine menu. The restaurant recommends reserving in advance for a table in the courtyard.
Houston can be comfortably visited all year-round though summers tend to be hot and humid. The city features a variety of festivals, including the Houston CaribFest, which celebrates Caribbean/West Indian Cultures, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, one of the largest live entertainment and livestock exhibitions in Texas, and the Texas Renaissance Festival, held in October and November. Houston is also home to several renowned sports teams, including the Houston Astros baseball team, the Houston Texans football team, and the Houston Rockets basketball team.