Houston is the Culture & Culinary Capital of Texas with more than 7,500 restaurants and eating establishments covering over 60 cuisines. Houston offers a myriad of dining options to please even the pickiest of eaters. Authentic Tex-Mex, traditional Texas barbecue, Creole inspired cuisine and Gulf Coast seafood are just a few of the possibilities.
Houston is home to a thriving business economy that has rapidly diversified from its strong energy base. This economic diversification includes growth in high-technology industries, medical research, health care and professional services.
Today, the Houston economy is based on a broad spectrum of industries including:
Houston is home to many businesses including corporate headquarters for almost two dozen of the Fortune 500 companies. The City is friendly to entrepreneurs - new businesses that, like the companies now on the Fortune 500, began small.
In addition, many foreign countries and corporations have established a presence in Houston to access North American markets via the City's excellent distribution facilities.
Houston’s temperate climate sustains tropical vegetation and allows the city’s residents and visitors an enviable outdoor lifestyle. The average yearly temperature is 68 °F with it being at least partly sunny 56% of the year. The normal annual precipitation is less than 50 inches and snow is rare. Houston has had only 15 measurable snowfalls since 1939. So prepare for blue skies and head to one of Houston’s great parks and enjoy the weather!
Houstonians wake up to all the perks of big city life without the heavy price tag. Whether it’s a weekend grocery run or a stop at a local coffee shop – your dollar goes further in Houston.
According to C2ER Cost of Living Index 2013 Annual Average shows that Houston has the third lowest overall cost of living among the nation’s 20 most populous metropolitan areas. The same study also shows that Houston's overall after-taxes living costs are 5.6 percent below the average for all 308 participating urban areas, largely due to affordable housing costs.
Seventeen school districts exist within the city of Houston. The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the seventh-largest school district in the United States. HISD has 112 campuses that serve as magnet or vanguard schools—specializing in such disciplines as health professions, visual and performing arts, and the sciences. There are also many charter schools that are run separately from school districts. In addition, some public school districts also have their own charter schools.
The Houston area encompasses more than 300 private schools, many of which are accredited by Texas Private School Accreditation Commission recognized agencies. The Houston Area Independent Schools offer education from a variety of different religious as well as secular viewpoints. The Houston area Catholic schools are operated by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Colleges and universities
Four separate and distinct state universities are located in Houston. The University of Houston is a nationally recognized Tier One research university, and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. Several private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges, such as The University of St. Thomas, Houston's only Catholic University to Rice University, the nationally recognized research university—are located within the city. Three community college districts exist with campuses in and around Houston. The Houston Community College System serves most of Houston. The northwestern through northeastern parts of the city are served by various campuses of the Lone Star College System, while the southeastern portion of Houston is served by San Jacinto College, and a northeastern portion is served by Lee College.
When you or your family needs care, there is no better place to be than Houston. The Houston metro area has long been known for its first-rate health care system, with many Houston area hospitals consistently ranking among the nation’s top institutions.
The Texas Medical Center is the largest medical complex in the world with 54 world-renowned medical research and academic institutions, including six general hospitals, 11 specialized hospitals, two specialized patient facilities, three medical schools, five schools of nursing, two schools of pharmacy, a dental school and a community college focused on 19 health science fields.
Houston's Theater District is ranked second in the country (behind New York City) in the number of theatre seats in a concentrated downtown area with 12,948 seats for live performances and 1,480 movie seats. Houston is one of only five cities in the United States with permanent professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines: opera (Houston Grand Opera), ballet (Houston Ballet), music (Houston Symphony Orchestra), and theatre (Alley Theatre). The city has visual and performing arts organizations, along with a dose of homegrown folk art such as Art Cars. Houston is widely recognized as an important city for contemporary visual arts. The city is a stop for touring companies from Broadway, concerts, shows, and exhibitions for a variety of interests, ranging from the nation's largest quilting show to auto, boat, and home shows.
Houston's theatre scene is far larger than the Theatre District, with more than 30 professional, regional, and community theatre companies producing full seasons of theatrical productions. Notable theaters include The Ensemble Theatre, which gives voice to the African-American community and Talento Bilingüe de Houston, which spotlights playwrights and actors who express the Latino experience in America. Other significant theatres include Main Street Theater, with its broad spectrum of classical and contemporary classics, and the quirky Theatre Suburbia, which has developed a reputation in the Houston arts community for showcasing local playwrights emphasizing a peculiarly Texas perspective. Current information about these theatre companies, venues and performances is available through the Houston Arts Alliance web site.
Adjacent to the Texas Medical Center is the Museum District, which is home to most of the city's major museums: the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Cullen Sculpture Garden, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Holocaust Museum Houston, the Children's Museum of Houston, Lawndale Art Center, the Houston Zoo, the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science, and The Menil Collection. Approximately 4 million people visit institutions in the Museum District every year
Houstonians enjoy the outdoors through all four seasons. The greater Houston region contains two of the 10 largest urban public parks in the U.S. — Cullen Park and George Bush Park and downtown’s largest park – Discovery Green – features year-round events ranging from movie nights and Zumba classes to a seasonal skating rink.
Memorial Park and Trail is also a popular place to get some fresh air. More than 500 square miles, the City of Houston Bikeway Program is a 345-mile interconnected bikeway network of on-street and off-road paths that includes bike lanes, bike routes, signed-shared lanes and ‘hike and bike’ trails, and other urban multi-use paths.
The Houston sports scene has something for every fan. NFL football with the Houston Texans. NBA basketball with the Houston Rockets. Major League Baseball with the Houston Astros. MLS soccer with the Houston Dynamo. Plus college football, basketball, baseball, softball, track, tennis and volleyball with the University of Houston Cougars and the Rice University Owls of Conference USA and the Texas Southern University Tigers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. And when it comes to high school sports, especially football, no other state does it better than Texas, and no other city offers more games on a given fall weekend than Houston.