The City of Houston

Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S., and one of the most racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse, with something for everyone. For general information about what’s going on in Houston, see Citysearch. Click here for a look at how the Chronicle of Higher Education recently described the advantages for professors of living in a low-cost-of-living city—and highlighted Rice and Houston.

Cultural Attractions

Houston is one of only six major American cities with resident professional companies in all four performing arts: theater, ballet, opera, and symphony. Adjacent to the Rice campus is Houston’s outstanding museum district, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Menil Collection, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Restaurants, Shopping, Clubs, and Nightlife

Houston has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the world. With over 11,000 to choose from, virtually every cuisine is available. Local favorites include Américas (Pan American), Mai’s (Vietnamese), Chuy’s (TexMex), Mi Luna (tapas), T’afia (eat local-the gourmet way), and House of Pies (diner fare). For more information on Houston restaurants, see here.

The Rice Village hosts over 300 shops (including many locally-owned) and dozens of restaurants, and is just two blocks off campus. Of course, though not for the faint of heart, if you are looking for a shopping experience the Galleria complex in Uptown is the fourth-largest mall in the U.S. with over 375 shops and restaurants and its own ice rink.

Houston also does not lack for music venues, including the Cynthia Wood Mitchell Pavilion, the Verizon Wireless Theater, Warehouse Live, the Meridian, Ovations, the Miller Outdoor Theater, and the Big Easy.

In terms of bars, some of our favorites include Valhalla (run by Rice grad students), RA Sushi, The Lounge at Benjys, Prive Lounge, Lola's (best dive bar, 2 years running), The Flying Saucer, Kelvin Arms, West Alabama Ice House, The Davenport, Marfreless, The Tasting Room, the Ginger Man, Sky Bar, and La Carafe (Houston’s oldest bar).

Recreation

Houston is the home of the Astros (professional baseball), the Texans (professional football), the Comets and Rockets (professional basketball), the Dynamos (professional soccer), and the Aeros (minor league hockey). For tennis fans, there is the Westside Tennis Club and the River Oaks Country Club. Hermann Park and Memorial Park have nice hiking, biking, and running trails. The proximity to the beach at Galveston (about 45 minutes away), NASA, and the Kemah Boardwalk is also nice. A Houston tradition, one should not miss out on the Rodeo each year, as well.

Fun for Kids or Kids at Heart


Houston Children’s Museum
This fantastic museum serves more children than any other children’s museum in the nation. Located close to Rice in the Museum District, it has over 14 active exhibits and a multitude of daily and weekly programs to choose from.

Houston Zoo
The zoo is a lush and sprawling complex located directly across the street from Rice in Hermann Park. In addition to the nearly 4,500 animals and exhibits, there is a special Children’s Zoo perfect for younger children, and a carousel. Also located just outside the zoo is the famous “Zoo Train” that can take you on a ride all around Hermann Park.

Nature Discovery Center

Small, friendly, with lots of hands-on exhibits, this gem in Bellaire is a winner.


Transportation

Houston has two major airports, Houston Hobby (a Southwest Airlines hub and the #1 airport in the country for customer satisfaction) and George Bush Intercontinental (sixth-busiest airport in the world and #3 nationally for number of non-stop destinations, both domestic and international).


Houston also has an extensive bus system and a new light-rail system that serves Rice, the Texas Medical Center, the Museum District, and downtown. For more information, check out Metro’s website.