By Patrick Galvan, Storage.com
Houston is the largest city in Texas with more than 2.19 million residents. In addition, Houston is the largest city in the southern United States, America’s fifth largest metropolitan area, and fourth largest city in the U.S. overall. But its size isn’t the only thing Houston is known for. It’s also a major hub for space exploration, wind and solar technology, and higher education. If you’re moving to Houston or already a proud resident of this Texas city, you’ll love this list of reasons why Houston is a great place to live!
1. SPECTACULAR ARCHITECTURE.
Houston, especially the downtown area, is home to one of the tallest and most visually elaborate man-made skylines in the world! The JPMorgan Chase Tower, Williams Tower, and Bank of America Center are marvels of modern architecture that loom over the Houston horizon. These buildings are impressive not only in their stature, but also in the complexity of their design. For example, the Bank of America Center has several layers forming a great piece of postmodern architecture.
2. THE NATION’S NUMBER ONE EXPORTER.
In 2013, the Department of Commerce reported that Houston had surpassed New York City as the country’s top market for exporting. In the previous year, Houston had exported $110.3 billion worth of merchandise. The city exports vast amounts of petroleum products, chemicals, and oil equipment, which goes out through the Port of Houston, one of the busiest ports in the world!
3. WATER IS EVERYWHERE.
If you like fishing and boating, you’ll be pleased to know that Houston is within close proximity to several bodies of water. There’s Lake Conroe, a natural lake, and three large reservoirs: Lake Houston, Lake Livingston, and Sheldon Lake. All of these lakes are open to the public for boating, fishing, and camping. There’s also San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou, as well as Burnet Bay, Tabbs Bay, and Trinity Bay. And, of course, the Gulf of Mexico isn’t far either.
Learn more about using boat storage in Houston.
4. DISTRICTS OF DOWNTOWN HOUSTON.
Three distinctive districts make up Houston’s downtown area: the Historic District, the Skyline District, and the Theater District. The Historic District is the oldest part of the city, dating back to the 19th century, and features a large number of historic buildings. The Skyline District is where you can see the city’s beautiful architecture and find the headquarters of Fortune 500 companies like Shell, Continental Airlines, and JPMorgan Chase. The Theater District is where Houstonians go for entertainment, as the area is home to the Downtown Aquarium and fine arts centers, such as Alley Theatre and Hobby Center for Performing Arts.
5. THE MUSEUM DISTRICT.
Separate from the other districts of Houston, the Museum District owes its name to the 20+ museums in the area. Popular stops include the Houston Museum of Natural Science and The Museum of Fine Arts, but visitors interested in the arts can find entertainment and education at places like the Holocaust Museum Houston, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and The Jung Center of Houston as well.
6. HOUSTON TUNNEL SYSTEM.
Twenty feet beneath the busy streets of Downtown Houston exists a network of caverns and pathways that make up the Houston Tunnel System. Six miles in length, the tunnel system covers an underground expanse measuring the equivalent of 95 city blocks. Like the above-ground portion of the city, the Houston Tunnel System is filled with restaurants and shopping venues. It also expands on the surface level of the city with elevated skywalks connecting buildings in the downtown area.
7. A STURDY, PROSPEROUS ECONOMY.
Not only was Houston the first major city to recover from the economic downturn of 2008, but it’s also one of the world’s top sites for the energy industry, excelling in the fields of wind and solar technology, as well as oilfield equipment. What’s more, Houston has been ranked by Forbes as the top city for paycheck worth and by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as one of the top cities for job growth. Among Houston’s top employers are Memorial Hermann Health System (19,500), University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (19,290), Exxon Mobil Corporation (13,191), Shell Oil Company (13,000), and National Oilwell Varco (10,000).
8. WORLD’S LARGEST MEDICAL CENTER.
Houston has a large foothold in the health care industry (as seen above), but it’s best known for having the world’s largest medical center. Originally established in 1945, the Texas Medical Center strives for “pioneering patient care, research, education, and prevention” with its 54 facilities, which include hospitals, medical schools, nursing programs, and institutions for research and medical specialization in fields such as dentistry and pharmaceuticals. It’s the most complex medical center in the world, and all of its components are nonprofit, seeking only to provide and enhance medical technology and treatment for the future.
9. GET SCHOOLED.
Top-notch educational venues are abundant in Houston, beginning with University of Houston, which educates close to 40,000 people every semester and offers more than 300 degree programs ranging from optometry and pharmacy to biomedical sciences and engineering. Other local institutes include University of Houston-Clear Lake and University of Houston-Downtown (which are part of the University of Houston system but are considered stand-alone institutions). There’s also Rice University, a private university that’s been recognized as one of the best research universities in the country for space science, nanotechnology, and materials science (for which it was ranked first in the world by the Times Higher Education in 2010).
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10. THE BEST SHOPPING IN THE U.S.
In 2010, Houston was selected by Forbes as the top city for shopping in the country, outranking cities like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Philadelphia. As the best city for shopping, there are numerous shopping centers in Houston, including the Galleria, the largest shopping mall in the state of Texas. This mall has mainstream brands like Gap and Urban Outfitters, department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s, and high-end designers like Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, and Chanel. Other prominent shopping centers include Highland Village Shopping Center, Rice Village shopping district, and Willowbrook Mall.
11. A LEAGUE OF YOUR OWN.
Sports fans, you’ve found your paradise! With the exception of hockey, Houston serves as home to a professional team for all of the nation’s professional leagues. Baseball fans congregate at Minute Maid Park to watch the Houston Astros in their MLB games. For the NBA, Houston has the Houston Rockets based at the local Toyota Center. And the Houston Texans represent the city in the NFL. Did we mention that Houston’s NRG Stadium is currently planned to host Super Bowl LI in 2017?
12. DOWNTOWN AQUARIUM.
Voted one of the best restaurants by locals, Downtown Aquarium functions as a restaurant, amusement park, and exhibit of global marine life. The restaurant offers a variety of meals, including seafood, salads, and desserts. Also, on the second floor, there’s The Dive Lounge bar, an ideal place to relax and unwind. To satisfy the kids, take them to Downtown Aquarium’s many attractions. Between the Diving Bell Ferris Wheel, Aquatic Carousel, Frog Hopper, and other rides, there’s more than enough to keep the kids occupied. Don’t forget about the aquatic exhibits! More than 500,000 gallons have been devoted to displaying marine animals from all around the world, from the swamps of Louisiana to the exotic coral reefs of the sea! Oh, and there are a few rare white tigers to watch, too!
13. THE HOUSTON ZOO.
The Houston Zoo promises to give visitors “a fun, unique, and inspirational experience fostering appreciation, knowledge, and care for the natural world,” and it most definitely fulfills its goal with its beautiful scenery, diverse animals from around the globe, and activities for members of all ages!
14. HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, to which that memorable phrase was directed, is in Houston, as is its visitor center, Space Center Houston. You may not go into space, but you can see equipment, as well as artifacts from space, experience digital screenings of astronomy-related material, and tour various facilities.
15. RESTAURANTS FOR EVERYONE.
When it comes to food, Houston is spoiled for choice. But don’t take our word for it! Alison Cook, food critic for the Houston Chronicle, has compiled a list of the 100 best restaurants in the city. Among those venues are Pondicheri, a “chic” Indian restaurant, and Japanese restaurant MF Sushi. Then there’s Underbelly, beloved for its mouthwatering burgers and scrumptious cornmeal squares. Taking the top spot on Cook’s list is Oxheart, which offers both a garden menu and tasting menu for a unique dining experience.
16. TX FEST.
An average of 10,000 people congregate in Downtown Houston every spring for TX Fest, a gathering dedicated to celebrating “everything that’s great about the Lone Star State.” TX Fest is complete with live musical performances, delectable cuisine, shopping opportunities, and a sampling of local beers, wines, and spirits. When you’re done with the performances, there are plenty of games and activities to partake in, including beer pong with the cups arranged in the shape of Texas!
Did we miss anything on our list? Tell us what you’d add in the comments!