Downtown is the central business district of Houston. It is bounded by the I-10, I-45, and I-69 freeways.
Downtown is, like many American cities, strictly a 9AM-5PM operation. Most restaurants close after business hours, but there have been some efforts lately to encourage more activity.
If you visit downtown during the day, don't be surprised to see fewer people on the street than a typical city. Most people use an underground walkway system that connects many buildings and food courts.
Just north of the core of downtown, across the Buffalo Bayou, is a warehouse district that has somewhat recently attracted unique music venues, artists, and Oxheart, a popular upscale restaurant. Houston's biggest brewery, St. Arnold's, lies just a mile from the UH-Downtown rail station, but the journey requires crossing a freeway and walking through a sleepy industrial area.
By carInterstates 10 and 45 link together and form a tight loop around downtown. Many exits are marked as leading to downtown.
By public transitThe METRO Rail light rail has several downtown stops along the red line: Downtown Transit Center, Bell, Main Street Square, Preston, and UH-Downtown. Most of the restaurants and bars are located near Preston and Main Street Square.
By busMegabus, Greyhound and the Mexican bus services all have their stations located near the Downtown Transit Center light rail station.
By trainThe is just to the west of downtown, a mile-long walk from the Preston light rail station that requires crossing some busy streets with minimal pedestrian facilities.
Chase Tower Observatoryaddress: 600 Travis StThe Chase Tower is the tallest building in Texas and the tallest five-sided building in the world. The sky lobby on the 60th floor of the building is the observatory. Since 2016 this observatory has been permanently closed to the public.
Discovery Green ParkDiscovery Green opened April 13, 2008. The downtown Houston park is located across Avenida de las Americas from the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel. Toyota Center, Houston Center and Minute Maid Park are only blocks away.
Downtown AquariumSeen as pretty mundane by locals, but might still appeal to fish fanatics. Situated right on Buffalo Bayou. Not just an aquarium, it has a ferris wheel and other carnival-style rides.
Downtown Tunnel SystemThe majority of Downtown Houston's buildings are connected by an intertwining, complex tunnel system. Scores of lunch restaurants and easy access to building entrances from underground keep Houston's workforce primarily underground during the day. Only open during the weekdays, the tunnels are an interesting spectacle to observe, but try to avoid getting lost. There are a few street level entrances, but it can also be accessed from various buildings.
Market Square ParkSurrounded by some of the city's oldest buildings, the site was once home to City Hall in previous years. In 2010, the block-sized space was transformed into a modern park, with features akin to Discovery Green but on a more compact scale. At the center of the park is local favorite Niko Niko's.
phone: +1 713-228-6737address: 510 Preston StWorld-class opera in the heart of downtown's Theatre District.
address: 615 Louisiana AveConcerts throughout the year including both a classical series and a pops series.
Mercury Baroquephone: +1 713 533-0080address: 510 Preston StBaroque music for the historical purist.
Theatre Under the Starsphone: +1 713 558address: 800 Bagby TUTSBroadway style big theatre productions in one of Houston's newest downtown arts venues.
phone: +1 713 259-8000address: 510 Crawford St..The city's Major League Baseball team, playing at Minute Maid Park, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012. It was also the last season for the Astros in the National League; they moved to the American League in 2013.
phone: +1 713 627-DUNKaddress: 1510 Polk StThe city's NBA (basketball) team plays at the Toyota Center.
phone: +1 713 276-7500address: 1001 Avenida de las Americas, Ste. 200Houston's Major League Soccer team plays in BBVA Stadium. Located in the East End, it is the first major soccer-specific stadium in the US in a downtown area.
phone: +1 713 276-7500address: 1001 Avenida de las Americas, Ste. 200Houston's representative in the National Women's Soccer League. The team is owned and operated by the Dynamo and also plays at BBVA Stadium.
Events & Festivals
Art Car ParadeThe worlds largest and oldest Art Car Parade. The event features over 250 Art Cars, 200,000+ live spectators, and media from all over the world, making Houston ground zero of an international phenomenon. Held in April.
Bayou City Art FestivalBuilt on an 8/10 mile asphalt loop surrounded by lush trees, foliage, and picnic areas, the annual fine art event boasts a stress-free outdoor gallery brimming with 300 artists working in 19 artistic media. Held in October.
FotoFestExhibitions and art installations, film and video programs, lectures and forums.
address: 901 BagbyThe largest celebration for children in the United States. The Houston Children's Festival offers over 350 events packed into a couple of hectic days. Held in April
The Houston International FestivalAnnual international festival featuring juried arts, crafts, food, music, games and events for adults and children. Held in April.
Irma'sphone: +1 713 222-0767address: 22 N. Chenevert St.A Houston institution! Fun, traditional atmosphere with authentic, unwatered down Tex-Mex cuisine.
phone: +1 832 830-8592address: 1302 Nance StNestled in a small, nondescript space in the Warehouse District, culinary couple Justin Yu and pastry chef Karen Mann dish out 4- or 8-course seasonal Texas Gulf Coast tasting menus (including a veg-centric option - "oxheart" is also a type of carrot, cabbage, and tomato, after all) in a restaurant lauded locally and nationally as one of the best around, period. Sit back with a beer or glass of bubbly from the expertly curated beverage list, watch the crack team of chefs go to work, and be prepared to be wowed. By reservation only.
Flying Saucer Draught Emporiumaddress: Main at TexasA staggering variety of beers, some wine, scantily clad staff.
The Saint Arnold BreweryBilled as Texas' oldest microbrewery. Their brews are often sold in local bars. Very popular beers are the Texas Wheat, Oktoberfest (August through October), and Christmas Ale (November through December). Brewery tour every Saturday at 1:00.
Club Quartersaddress: 720 Fannin StThis hotel is private and club-like but it has 24 hour room service and it accommodates your needs, for example there are state of the art televisions.
phone: +1 832 366-1601address: 916 Dallas St
phone: +1 832 366-1000address: 904 Dallas St.In the historic 1921 Humble Oil Building. Offers free shuttle to George R. Brown Convention Center and Minute Maid Park.
phone: +1 832 200-8800address: 1117 Prairie StBoasts a modern minimalist interior and is one of Houston's top boutique luxury hotels.
phone: +1 713 650-1300address: 1300 Lamar StIn 2006 this luxury hotel was ranked as one of the "Top 100 Hotels in the World" according to Institutional Investor and offers great restaurants and amenities to guests. It is also within walking distance to the Houston Center Athletic Club - great for that morning workout before business.
phone: +1 713 224-ICONaddress: 220 Main StThis boutique hotel features award winning dining, extensive meeting facilities, and a luxury day spa.
phone: +1 713 221-0011address: 1100 Texas AveThis downtown boutique hotel offers accommodations for leisure travel and extended stay guests, as well as space for meetings, wedding receptions, conferences, and special events.