Welcome, if you're new to Texas! I'm a proud Texan and 20+ year resident of Houston. I left Austin after college to move here for a job and love it. This city continues to surprise us locals as well as others around the country. It never gets old.
Let Me Tell You About My Houston
Houston receives national notoriety from many publications. It may surprise you that we rank in the top 1 or 2 spots for a variety of city honors:
- America's Fastest-Growing Cities (No. 1) –Forbes, 2015
- Best American City –Business Insider, 2014
- America's Top Cities Overall (No. 2) –Travel & Leisure, 2014
- Top U.S. Destination Cities (No. 1) –U-Haul, 2013
- Most Ethnically Diverse City in the United States – Census
- America's Coolest Cities (No. 1) –Forbes, 2012
Too often, folks think of humidity and oil when they think of Houston, but I think our iconic street mural downtown (created by Gonzo247 in 2013) sums it up best. My Houston is hip, savvy, tasty, funky and inspired.
Over and over, the Tourism Board heard people say they come to Houston for its culture and cuisine and that is why they stay. Neighborhoods reflect these different attributes in their own way. If you are relocating your family to the area for work reasons, it may be a good idea to sublet something short-term and store your belongings while you search for the neighborhood that best fits your personality and needs.
In a tribute to that iconic street mural, here are 6 of the best things about living in Houston:
The Houston art scene is unmatched – it is one of only a few cities in the country that comprises year-round resident companies for major performing arts: opera, ballet, symphony and theater.
Houston's museum district is a concentrated area of 20 museums – ranging from fine arts, photography, health, children's, science, craft, contemporary, Holocaust, to African-American culture. Eleven museums are free every day, while others have free admission hours, typically on Thursdays.
Houston seems to have a love/hate relationship with food. With more than 11,000 restaurants in town (and a claim that Houstonians eat out more than any other city), is it any wonder Houston topped the list of "America's Fattest City" by Men's Health for several years? Food is a big part of Houston and often a destination. We are proud of our cuisine and chefs, of which several have been nominated for James Beard Awards.
As founder of Houston on the Cheap, is this a surprise category? It doesn't have to cost a lot to enjoy this city. Houston is home to a plethora of ways to have fun – for free. Miller Outdoor Theatre and Discovery Green are just two local venues that offer hundreds of free events in Houston each year, from outdoor movies to theater productions, concerts, and festivals. I never realized how much entertainment was free until I started compiling Free Weekend Fun, which typically includes 12–15 free activities in Houston each weekend.
While Austin is known for keeping it weird, I think Houston can be just as quirky. Here are some of my favorite off-beat attractions:
- Houston is home to the world's largest Art Car Parade each spring with 300+ entries. This iconic annual event is a must-see for newbies. Imagine an outhouse or Ronald McDonald's shoe driving down the street. It happens in this parade!
- David Adickes' huge sculptures and creativity keep folks smiling in Houston, from the 30-ft "We Love Houston" sign on I-10 near downtown to the 44 President Heads and Beatles sculptures. The detail is astounding. Back in the day, when you could walk around the President Heads in the open lot near his studio, I purposely noted the tie of each president – from polka dot to stripes, elephants and more! They were all different and probably had a story behind them. These days, they reside behind a locked chain-link fence, but they are still fun to see!
- And best of all, the Beer Can House. The 18-year project of John Milkovisch transformed his home into a quirky art form dubbed the Beer Can House. He flattened beer cans into aluminum siding around the house and property. Hanging beer cans and tops swing like wind chimes on the front porch and ring in the wind. It's estimated 50,000 beer cans adorn this quirky home on Malone off Memorial Drive. The home, now managed by Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, is open Saturdays and Sundays for public tours at $5 each.
The Outdoor Spaces
Despite the city’s urban sprawl, there are tons of outdoor activities in Houston – folks can get outside and find lots of options for green space. Houston has more park space than any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities, according to The Trust for Public Land: 56,000+ acres. Some Houston outdoor spaces I like best include Hermann Park (by the Houston Zoo), Discovery Green downtown, Memorial Park, and Terry Hershey Park outside the loop. Buffalo Bayou Park is currently undergoing an ambitious $58 million transformation – touted to be Houston’s own Central Park – set for completion in mid-2015.
All this to say, We Love Houston!