Alley Theatre, Houston
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Alley Theatre, Houston

© Houston Tourist Board

Houston travel guide

Urbanistas and cowboys create a laid-back Southern vibe in cosmopolitan Houston, the USA’s fourth largest city. Oil wealth and space-race innovation have lent this sprawling Texan giant a certain swagger, fuelling inspirational museums, happening neighbourhoods and a constantly refreshing foodie scene.

You’re spoilt for choice with innovative attractions in the tree-lined Museum District. Among them is the fabulous Houston Museum of Natural Science, where you can go on an eerily realistic prehistoric safari (complete with chomping, chasing and escaping dinosaurs) or encounter rare, endangered and extinct Texan species (albeit the stuffed variety). The Museum of Fine Arts, over a century old, is home to a collection of more than 56,000 works, from ancient Egyptian coffins to curious contemporary Chinese video installations.

This is Space City, so launch yourself out of this world on a behind-the-scenes NASA tour at Space Center Houston. You can check out cutting-edge space technology, touch an actual chunk of lunar rock, and even arrange to have lunch with an astronaut.

Foodies are hard-pressed to keep up with Houston’s hottest new eateries, with restaurants opening up faster than you can polish off your starter. Create your own picnic at the huge farmers’ market on Airline Drive, which lures hungry customers with super-fresh pyramids of Texan-grown produce. If you’d rather stock up on fashion than food, filling an extra suitcase is a cinch thanks to Houston’s hip boutiques and Western outfitters. Handcrafted alligator cowboy boots, anyone?

After dark, you might catch world-class opera or ballet, or bag tickets to see NFL side the Houston Texans in action at the 71,500-seater NRG Stadium.

If you’re looking for your own piece of action, kayak along Buffalo Bayou, the 84km (52-mile) waterway coursing its way through Houston. The surrounding park has been undergoing a massive face-lift, transforming it into a go-to urban green space laced with jogging trails, bike paths, lush wetlands and a gigantic skate park.

Worn out? Grab yourself a beer in one of the legendary pubs, honky tonk bars or slick lounges along Washington Avenue, put your alligator boots up, and chill to live music.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.