First time in Houston

Discussion in 'Other U.S. Destinations' started by Muerz, Oct 22, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Muerz

    Muerz Active Member

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    I'm traveling to Houston in early November. Except for some layovers in IAH, this will be my first time in the city and also in Texas and of course I'm having many questions right now :)

    My questions already start at the arrival in IAH: Some research indicated that there are many toll roads in Texas - do all car rental companies therefore offer a program similar to Toll-pass where I don't have to worry about cashless roads, road congestion at the pay stations etc or is it only Hertz that offers this convenience. Besides: is the charge of this program worth it or don't I need it in Houston?

    As for the hotel, I'm booked at the Marriott North right now. Any input on this property? I know the area is sometimes dubbed Gunspoint but the prices work out very well for me at 70$/day including breakfast buffet for two. Also, I'll only be at the hotel at night for sleeping, therefore I couldn't justify paying more than 4x as much at the JW Marriott next to the Galleria. But the question has to be asked to you experts: Is the area still that bad and at the same time really inconvenient for tourists or is Houston police right when they claim the area is now among the safest in the city?

    As for the vacation itself, I planned to make some shopping and see some of the sights of the area like Galveston, Kemah, why not a day-trip to San Antonio or even Lake Charles in Louisiana. Any sights I forgot that are must sees? Anything I mentioned that isn't really necessary visiting?
    As far as shopping is concerned, Galleria, Katy Mills, Houston Premium Outlets are all well known but what about other malls in the area? Anything interesting or should I plan a day trip to San Marcos?

    One last thing I'm looking for is a place like they always show on those tv shows Diners, Drive Ins and Dives or Man vs. Food, a real dive that serves real good BBQ. I couldn't find information on any good places for BBQ in or near Houston. Only thing I found is a chain called Pappas BBQ. Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  2. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    In my experiences, as long as you rent a car from one of the larger companies, they will all have the automatic toll payment " thingie " so you dont have to bother and your credit card will get debited.

    If you are looking for a clean decent but no frills place to stay thats still kind of close to the Galleria, I suggest you consider the Four Points Southwest... stayed there a couple of times during my last trip and got very good rates. Remember, its a 4 Points so dont expect too much interms of service... but the location is good and you should be able to get rates that are below $100 or close to that.
     
  3. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    On the shopping front.... what I do is go out to San Marcos as often as I can, hard to beat the prices and selections there... else, if you have less time, then Cypress is another option... not as large as San Marcos but also good. I usually end my shopping going back to the Galleria for things I could not find at the Outlets... the Galleria will of course be closer to full retail price, but you will at least get everything you are looking for.
     
  4. Muerz

    Muerz Active Member

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    Thanks for your help. As for the Four Points, I cannot book that property since I need a few more nights to requalify for Marriott Platinum and therefor have to book a Marriott property. I chose the Marriott North since it is really cheap (compare 249+ tax for the West Loop Marriott, 289+tax for the JW and 139+tax for the cheapest Courtyards).

    I'd go to San Marcos in a heartbeat but I'm not sure if I should drive that far for shopping alone :) Is it doable to combine the riverwalk in San Antonio and San Marcos as a daytrip from Houston?
     
  5. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Not a SA expert, so I cant comment...
     
  6. Photonerd71

    Photonerd71 Silver Member

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    Toll roads are easy to avoid. Just use I610 instead of BW8 (Sam Houston toll way). I45 instead of Hardy toll road.

    Don't forget NASA on you tourist plans. Also Moody Gardens (in Galveston) is a nice way to kill a couple hours. There is also a offshore drilling rig and museum on Galveston as well,

    Katy Mills......it's a mall. Nothing special (I live near it)

    Hotels, weekend vs week days make a big diff in prices here. The prices are much higher during the week, we are not a big tourist city, the energy industry rules here and you can usually find some hood deals on weekends. Personally I would get away from the airport area. Try on I10 (Katy freeway) wknd rates are decent, pretty much all the chains have places there. No parking fees, most of the downtown places hit you for parking fees. And if you ate concerned about safety this area is pretty safe.
     
  7. curtis1120

    curtis1120 Silver Member

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    Many of the malls have the same stuff that a mall anywhere in the US would. Houston is a GREAT town and I'd encourage you to get the most out of your visit rather than seeing the highways and insides of malls. Here are some of my favorite Houston places - many are outdoors and you are likely to have gorgeous weather for outdoor activities.

    Discovery Green - a downtwon park that often hosts events (ie art car parade, outdoor yoga, bands etc.) there are resturants here and a littel lake with sailboats ou can rent. Great if you have kids or there is an event or are nearby. Maybe not worth a special trip
    Herman Park - Beatiful are in a great part of Houston. visit the zoo, see a concert at the Miller outdoor theater and visit the natural history museum with its great butterfly pavillion
    Rothko chapel - named a top 10 texas site to see by texas monthly.
    In the neighborhood of the rothko chapel is the Byzantine fresco museum. It won't take long to see either of these sites, but the Byzentine frescos are amazing and brilliantly displayed. The menil collection and cy twombly gallery are in the neighborhood too.
    Rice and Rice villiage - if you must be shopping this is an outdoor area with good food and some independant shops (especially clothing) mixed with standard clothing chains (the gap etc.). Lot 8 is a clothing boutique here owned by a former Project runway contestant. Rice Univeristy has a great campus. If you go here I'd drive through the medical center - just to see the complex. Amazing.

    My favorite places to eat (all very casual and affordable)
    the Hobbit
    Chuey's
    taco Milagro

    depending where you are coming from - Houston seems on an entirely different scale. This is especially true thinking about distances. there are essentially 3 loops now - I610, beltway 8 and "the grand parkway". To maximize time I'd stay within I-610 or you'll be 30 minutes from everywhere.
     
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  8. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I think compared to a lot of other places in Texas, the shopping is a big draw for Houston. I know my in-laws are always raving about the chance to go to their daughter's soccer games in Houston or Dallas because they get to go to stores that don't exist in Amarillo, and even as someone who lived four miles from Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza for several years, I can say that the shopping in Houston, at the Galleria and elsewhere, is pretty good. But I don't disagree that there are sometimes better things to do during any trip.
     
  9. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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  10. manricojr

    manricojr Active Member

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    I have a five hour lay over in IAH before my flight to FRA. Do I have enough time to go sight-seeing in Houston or around IAH rather than spending my time in an airport lounge? Thanks!
     

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