An August 2004 trip
to Houston by ssullivan
Quote: As the nation's fourth largest city spread out over more square miles than Rhodes Island, Houston defines "urban sprawl". However, it IS possible to see much of the city without a car. Join me as we explore the many exciting destinations along Houston's first light rail line.
As the state’s largest city, Houston has truly come to embody the slogan "Everything’s bigger in Texas." Spread out over more square miles than the state of Rhode Island, with over 2,000,000 people in the city itself about and about 4,000,000 in the entire metro area, Houston is the definition of urban sprawl. Just about anyone who lives here will tell you what you’ve undoubtedly heard about our wonderful city is true: you almost have to have a car to survive here. However, while many Texans take pride in their large SUVs and the miles of freeway they rack up on their daily commutes, Houston’s spread-out nature and perceived lack of public transportation options can be a barrier to many tourists, especially those used to traveling to places like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, and Paris where a rental car may be more of a liability than an asset. There is some truth to this, but as a Houston resident who has taken it upon myself to reduce my own driving and find alternative means of transportation, I have found that our city provides weekend tourists almost endless opportunities for experiencing our culture, history, shopping, dining, and more without a car. While visiting Houston without a car may limit some options (attractions such as the Kemah Boardwalk, NASA/Space Center Houston, and Galveston will not be very feasible), there are so many other things to see and do that are within easy access to Metro buses and trains that weekend travelers should still have a very full and fun itinerary. Touring Houston without a car also can make your visit here much more affordable, as Houston has very high rental car tax rates and at many inner-loop destinations convenient free parking is not in ample supply.
In this journal, I have tried to focus just on the major attractions that are located along the new METRORail line. This group of destinations is more than enough to fill a weekend trip to the city and provide a great overview of the many cultural and historic attractions the city has to offer.
The Houston Chronicle (available online at www.chron.com) and Houston Press (online at www.houstonpress.com) are good sources for local news and upcoming events. The Press is a tabloid-style weekly paper available for free at countless locations all over the city. For gay and lesbian travelers, the free weekly tabloid Houston Voice (online at www.houstonvoice.com) is a good resource.
Seeing Houston without a car does take a little creativity and strategic planning. Both airports (Hobby and Intercontinental) are served by express METRO bus service to downtown (see the entry on the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County for details). Additional options to get into the city from the airports include taxicabs, hotel shuttles, and shared shuttle services operated by several companies. Of these choices, METRO’s express service from the airports to downtown is the most affordable, at .50 per adult rider for a one-way ticket during rush hour in certain directions and per adult rider for a one-way ticket during non-rush hours. Some hotels also offer courtesy airport transportation.
This division of Houston’s Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group (who also operate Houston’s upscale Café Annie) offers a menu of fancy sandwiches, salads, burgers, pastas, and grilled and roasted chicken entrees at reasonable prices in a quick service format. Café Express was a pioneer in developing the concept of serving sit-down restaurant-type food on real dishes in a counter-service restaurant, and has become one of Houston’s most popular places to eat. The food is consistently very good, and I have never ordered anything that I did not like. Personal recommendations of mine are the grilled chicken salad with bacon and pecans, turkey burger with Swiss cheese, grilled chicken sandwich with bacon and Swiss cheese, pasta amore, and grilled chicken with a side salad and baked potato. During the winter months an excellent cold-weather option is the turkey chili with cornbread and side salad. If you’re hungry for something sweet, the brownies, dream bars, and cakes are all very good. One unique feature of all Café Express locations is the Oasis Table, located in the center of the restaurant. In addition to a full slate of the usual condiments, an assortment of olives, sun dried tomatoes, croutons, pickles, capers, parmesan cheese, olive oils, Dijon mustards, and more are available to dress up your sandwich, salad, or pasta. Also on the Oasis table are yummy Italian-style thin crunchy breadsticks, which are great to munch on while you wait for your order to be prepared if you’re really hungry. A selection of wine by the glass and beer, as well as an espresso bar, is also available. Unlike other locations, the Museum District Café Express is closed on Mondays and is not open as late for dinner, as the restaurant follows the museum’s operating hours. One advantage of this location is its close proximity to Hermann Park; if the weather is nice consider ordering your meal to go and walking a few blocks (or catching METRORail to the Hermann Park/Rice University Station) and having a picnic in the park by the lake.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 25, 2004
Cafe Express (Art Museum)
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Kaveh Kanes Coffee is a quiet, relaxing coffeehouse located in one of the historic buildings in downtown's entertainment district. This relaxing coffee shop roasts its own coffee daily, and offers a full selection of hot and cold espresso-based drinks, teas, as well as a selection of beers and wines. Cookies, cakes, and pies are also available. One of the best things about Kaveh Kanes is the free wi-fi Internet access (I've even written several igougo journal entries while connected to their wireless network). A number of free wired Internet access connections are also available to use if your computer does not have wi-fi capability. And if you do not have a computer, they have several that you may use free of charge. They also have a nice enclosed patio area at the entrance. Overall, this is a great place to relax and read, hang out with friends, or have coffee with a date after dinner or the theater.
Kaveh Kanes Coffee
912 Prairie Street
Houston, Texas 77002
Restaurant | "Cabo (Downtown)"
I list Cabo in my journal mainly because it has consistently been one of the most popular restaurants in downtown Houston for over four years now and there is frequently a crowd. Why, I am not sure, because as Mexican restaurants go, it is not hard to do much, much better. It’s not that Cabo is horrible, but it’s not that great either. The menu is somewhat limited, with a small selection of fish tacos, fajitas, burritos, and enchiladas. Compared to the number of menu options at the better Mexican places in town, Cabo’s menu is less than half the size of the competition. Food quality does not make up for the limited menu. I have never had a horrible meal at Cabo, but the food has been nothing to rave about. Despite the prices, do not expect exceptionally large portions of food either. Perhaps Cabo’s biggest drawbacks are the lack of chips and salsa (complimentary chips and salsa are a standard Mexican restaurant staple in Texas but here a basket of chips and two very small bowls of salsa will set you back $3.25) and the tiny $5.50 margaritas served in disposable plastic cups. The one place Cabo excels is atmosphere. The restaurant is very funky and stylish inside and out, with a popular balcony on the second floor overlooking Preston. Frequently the bar area downstairs and the upstairs balcony are packed to capacity during happy hours, making the restaurant very noisy and difficult to get in and out of. So, if overpriced mediocre Mexican food and drinks served with a heavy dose of style in a crowded seen and be seen atmosphere is your thing, Cabo is the place in town to go. But if you’re looking for high quality Tex-Mex at a good value, you can do much better than Cabo, especially in Houston.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 25, 2004
Cabo Mix-Mex Grill
419 Travis Street
Houston, Texas 77002
Frank's Pizza serves great hand-tossed pizzas, lasgnas, salads, and sandwiches at very reasonable prices. The restuarant is small and can be crowded during busy periods, but service is generally fast and good. Pizzas are available by the slice or the whole pie. Beer is available. Late weekend hours make this a very popular late night dining spot on Fridays and Saturdays. The owners are opening a new place on Main St. called f2 which will also be open until 3:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 25, 2004
417 Travis Street
Houston, Texas 77002
Located in one of the many restored historic buildings in the downtown entertainment district, Slainte Irish Pub is a great bar and restaurant featuring a menu of Irish favorites, extensive drink menu, and a fun second-floor balcony overlooking Main St. The bar list is very complete, featuring 16 scotches, 8 Irish whiskeys, and 33 beers. Happy Hour is every day from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. And, if you are going to or coming from any sporting event at Minute Maid Park, The Toyota Center, or Reliant Stadium, show your ticket stub on the same day as the event for 75¢ domestic draft beers. The pub also offers pool and darts and a schedule of live music events.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 25, 2004
Slainte Irish Pub
509 Main Street
Houston, Texas 77002
Attraction | "Museum of Fine Arts Houston"
MFAH is the country’s fifth largest art museum. In 2000 the Audrey Jones Beck Building opened, allowing the museum to greatly expand its permanent collection space, as well as provide additional galleries for special exhibitions. The Beck building houses an impressive collection of antiquities, European paintings and sculpture, decorative arts, and photography. A personal favorite of mine is Louis Comfort Tiffany’s A Wooded Landscape in Three Panels, a massive stained glass window depicting a forest scene, dating from around 1905.
The museum’s Law building houses the museum’s 20th- and 21st-century collections, as well as artifacts from Oceania, Asia, Africa, and Indonesia. Many pieces in these collections are extremely rare and hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.
Across the street is the Museum’s Cullen Sculpture Garden. This outdoor exhibit is free of charge and open 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. daily. A variety of interesting outdoor sculptures are included in this secluded space.
MFAH is quite a large collection, and to see all of it requires nearly a full day. However, in a half day you can easily tour the Beck building (I prefer its collection to the Weiss Law's), and the sculpture garden makes for a nice evening or early morning stroll. Cafe Express in the Beck building serves very good sandwiches, pastas, burgers, and grilled and roasted chicken entrees at reasonable prices. A coffee bar, desserts, and beer and wine are also available.
The Museum of Fine Arts
1001 Bissonnet St
Houston, Texas 77005
Attraction | "Holocaust Museum Houston"
Holocaust Museum Houston features a permanent exhibit detailing the history of the Nazis’ persecution of the Jewish, gypsy, and homosexual populations (as well as other groups) of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. While not as grand of scale as the National Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, the Houston museum does an excellent job of explaining the atrocities committed by Hitler’s Nazi government before and during the war. The museum features many local connections, including displays with the family trees and photos of a number of Holocaust survivors that eventually settled in Houston, lists of Houston-area survivors, and a film featuring local survivors recalling their individual experiences. After arriving be sure to inquire about a free, docent-led tour. These tours are frequently conducted by local Holocaust survivors and their family members and are a better alternative to viewing the permanent exhibit alone or with the available (for approximately $5) audio tour. Each docent-led tour is unique, due to the different interests and insights of the volunteer docents, but you will have time after the tour to view the films and come back and spend more time in the permanent exhibit if you desire. The building housing the museum has quite a bit of symbolism in its design; be sure to ask a museum volunteer about it. Also included is an educational library, a special exhibits gallery with rotating and touring exhibits, a garden area, and a small prayer chapel. Like the Menil Collection, this museum is a little off the beaten path, but is well worth your time to visit.
Houston Holocaust Museum
5401 Caroline St
Houston, Texas 77004
+1 713 942 8000
Attraction | "The Houston Museum of Natural Science"
I was probably no older than six when I first visited this museum, and it is still one of my favorites. Over the years the museum has grown dramatically, adding an IMAX theater, new entry hall, and butterfly center. Whatever your interests (dinosaurs, precious gems, seashells, oil and gas production, chemistry, ancient Egypt, butterflies, or space exploration) this museum has a great exhibit for you.
Some personal recommendations for visiting this museum:
Houston Museum of Natural Science
5555 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, Texas 77030
Attraction | "Main St. Square"
While not a major park, kids and adults alike will love the Main St. Square fountains, and there are a number of restaurants and shops nearby, with space for more to eventually be developed along the square itself. The biggest shopping destination downtown, Foley's, is located on the southern block of the plaza. The METRORail Main St. Square platforms are located just north and south of the fountains.
Market Square Historic District
412 Main St
Houston, Texas 77002
+1 713 225 6887
Attraction | "Foley's Downtown"
When the downtown Foley's opened, it was hailed as one of the world's largest department stores, and the largest with air conditioning. The store was so popular that eventually several more floors were added. In its heyday, the downtown Foley's was one of the top shopping destinations in Houston. Times have changed, and this store is no longer the flagship that it once was. While it is still the official "headquarters" store for Foley's, the downtown store has been downsized, but still offers a full selection of brand-name designer fashions for men, women, and children.
Visiting the store is somewhat of a nostalgic experience, as some of the look and feel of a department store from 30-40 years ago still exists. One unique feature is the double-escalators linking the lower floors. When the store opened, employees were stationed at the ends of each bank of escalators to assist passengers with getting on and off of the fast-moving stairways. Even today, the escalators in this store seem to move considerably faster than those in more modern stores.
The downtown Foley's seems to be experiencing somewhat of a renaissance with the opening of METRORail, and is located directly across from one of the Main St. Square METRORail boarding platforms. Parking is also available at reasonable rates in the Foley's garage, located on Travis St. The garage is connected to the store by an underground tunnel, which at the time it was built was the first in Houston (there are now over six miles of tunnels connecting downtown buildings and garages).
Macy's Department Store
1110 Main Street
Houston, Texas 77002
Attraction | "Miller Outdoor Theater"
Since 1923, Miller Theater in Hermann Park has offered Houstonians a place for free outdoor plays, musicals, operas, symphony concerts, and other cultural and artistic events. The current theater shelter was opened in August 1968, at which time some of the Corinthian columns of the previous facility were moved about a block away to create the Mecom-Rockwell Colonade at the park's entrance.
If you are visiting Houston during the summer, be sure to check the theater's schedule. A variety of excellent entertainment options are available each summer at this great cultural institution, and many are produced by Houston's top professional theater and cultural organizations.
Miller Outdoor Theatre
100 Concert Drive
Houston, Texas 77030
+1 713 284 8350
Hermann Park is in the heart of one of Houston's prettiest areas, and thanks to the private, non-profit Friends of Hermann Park organization, has experienced a major revitalization over the last few years. The park is home to several museums, the zoo, Miller Outdoor Theater (see separate journal entry), a miniature train, playgrounds, picnic areas, a golf course, lake, gardens, and more. The best time to enjoy the park's many venues is during the fall and spring, when sunny days with mild temperatures and lower humidity levels prevail. However, the park is very shady and many areas can be quite pleasant during the summer.
6001 Fannin St
Houston, Texas 77030
Attraction | "Main St./Hermann Park Entrance Area"
The largest attractions in this area are the Mecom Fountain, located in the middle of the Main/Montrose traffic circle, and the Sam Houston Statue, located in another traffic circle as Montrose enters the park. Also nearby are the Mecom-Rockwall Colonade and Cancer Survivors Plaza. Both of these beautiful plazas, along with the Mecom Fountain, are popular locations for wedding photographs; on Saturdays during the summer expect to see at least several brides and grooms with their families taking pictures here.
Attraction | "JPMorgan Chase Tower Skylobby"
Getting There: Exit MetroRail's red line at the Main St. Square station. Walk north on Main St. several blocks to Capitol St. Turn west on Capitol and walk to Travis St. The JPMorgan Chase Tower will be on the north side of Capitol, between Travis and Milam Streets. The front entrance to the building faces the intersection of Capitol and Milam.
Hours: Open Monday-Friday during regular business hours. Closed holidays and weekends.
The JPMorgan Chase Tower Sky Lobby is not one fo the city's most famous attractions, but it should be. The 75 floor tower is the tallest building in Houston and until LA's Library Tower was built (it's only 16 feet taller), it was the tallest building in the country west of the Mississippi. Originally the Chase Tower was planned to be 80 floors, but the FAA objected, fearing it was pose a hazard for airplanes approaching Hobby Airport. Even with its scaled-back design, the Chase Tower is an amazing structure, and the tallest five-sided building anywhere in the world.
The free Sky Lobby observation deck provides incredible views of downtown Houston's famous skyline, as well as the Port of Houston to the east; Midtown, Hermann Park, and Texas Medical Center to the south; and Allen Parkway, Buffalo Bayou, Memorial Dr., River Oaks, and the Uptown/Galleria area to the west. The lobby's floor to ceiling windows allow visitors to get full panoramic views of the landscape below. I must say that it's an incredible experience to look down on downtown's skyscrapers from the Sky Lobby. At this height, only the tops of the Wells Fargo and One Shell Plaza towers will be higher than where you're standing. At the bottom of the windows, air conditioning grates on the floor "give" a little when you step up to the window. It’s not unusual for first-time visitors to step on a grate and suddenly grab someone standing next to them in an instinctual reaction to stop their "fall." This happened to me on my first visit, and the feeling is quite unsettling.
The Sky Lobby is accessed by several express elevators that provide nonstop trips from the ground floor to the Sky Lobby on the 60th floor in just 41 seconds. The trip is so fast that the elevators tend to vibrate back and forth in their shaft some and you get a real sense of speed, especially as the elevator takes off from the ground floor on the trip up. Forty seconds after the trip begins, the elevator rapidly decelerates and comes to a smooth stop, and as the doors open the Sky Lobby’s stunning view is revealed.
The Sky Lobby is well worth a visit if you’re downtown on during regular business hours on a weekday. Unfortunately the observation deck is not open to the public on nights and weekends, denying many visitors the opportunity to experience the greatest view in the city, and the opportunity to see the city at night from this vantage point.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 19, 2004
JP Morgan Chase Tower Skylobby
600 Travis St.
Houston, Texas 77002
METRO is the Houston metropolitan area’s provider of public transportation service. Until 2004, METRO was entirely a bus operation. However, on January 1, 2004, METRO opened the first segment of a planned 70+-mile light rail network to be constructed over the next twenty years. Dubbed the "Red Line", the initial section of METRORail serves the Main Street corridor, linking downtown to Midtown, the Museum District, Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center, and finally Reliant Park. METRORail has quickly become the easiest (and arguably the most popular) way to navigate the corridor for both Houston residents and visitors alike. Many of the destinations in this journal are located near METRORail. In addition to light rail service, METRO operates an extensive bus system with a fleet of over 1,500 vehicles covering 130 routes.
How to Ride METRORail
Ticketing and Fares: METRORail Boarding platforms are strategically located near major attractions, and the system is very easy to use. METRORail uses a proof-of-payment system, so do not expect to board the train through turnstiles requiring you to deposit tokens or scan a fare card as you may have experienced in other cities. Instead, tickets are sold at electronic vending machines on each boarding platform. The ticket machines accept cash, coins, and debit cards. Adult one-way tickets are $1 each and are also valid for local bus transfers (see the section below on riding METRO’s buses) for up to three hours after issue. A much better value than the METRORail one-way ticket is the $2 Day Pass, which allows for unlimited light rail and local bus rides in any direction for 24 hours after the pass is issued. After buying a ticket, be sure to keep it in a safe place. METRO police officers do occasionally board trains and check passengers for proof of payment. If you are unable to provide a valid METRORail ticket, METRO pass, or METRO bus transfer, you may be ticketed for theft of services.
Schedule: METRORail service currently begins at 4:24 a.m. on weekdays and 5:27 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Service ends at 12:47 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 2:15 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 12:45 a.m. on Sunday. Please note that the extended service until 2:15 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays is currently a limited-time trial service for the summer of 2004. Depending on ridership, this service may be retained or it may be reduced to the original schedule of Friday and Saturday evening service ending around 1:15 a.m. Be sure to check METRO’s website for a current schedule before using late-night weekend METRORail service.
METRORail frequencies are as follows:
Boarding Platforms: METRORail boarding platforms in downtown, Midtown, Hermann Park, and the Texas Medical Center are all located in the center of the street. In the Museum District and at Reliant Park, platforms are located on one side of the street. At all platforms traffic signals with pedestrian crossing signals are used to assist riders in safely crossing the street to the rail platform. Be sure to observe these signals at all times when walking near the rail line! METRO police will ticket jaywalkers near the rail line without question due to the safety issues created by the at-grade running trains. The trains can be very quiet when approaching, but are equipped with horns, bells, and whistles to alert cars and pedestrians of the train’s presence. All METRORail platforms are equipped with pay phones (with a free link to METRO’s information center), electronic signs announcing approaching trains, security cameras, seating, and maps with nearby attractions. At most platforms, northbound and southbound trains do not share the same platform. Be sure to know the direction you are going and pay attention to the overhead signs to be sure you are waiting at the right platform.
Riding the Light Rail Trains: After you have boarded a METRORail train, listen for the automatic announcement system to announce your stop. Maps are provided throughout all rail cars above the doors. Lighted information signs at the end of each car and in the middle display the next station. An automated announcement system will announce each station in both English and Spanish before you arrive at the station, and again after the train stops at the boarding platform. All METRORail cars are brand new, air conditioned, and very modern, and provide a very fast and comfortable ride.
How to Ride METRO Buses
Fares: METRO local buses cost $1 for a one-way adult fare, or $2 for a Day Pass, good for unlimited local bus and METRORail rides for 24 hours. Transfers between buses and METRORail are free with a valid transfer pass, METRORail ticket, or Day Pass. When boarding a METRO bus, insert the appropriate fare (exact change only) into the electronic fare box. If transferring from METRORail or another bus, or if using a Day Pass, insert the rail ticket, Day Pass, or bus transfer pass into the fare box’s card reader.
Bus Schedules and Route Maps: Do not attempt to ride the METRO bus system without these! Some routes have very simple routes, others tend to zigzag around some. While some routes may have frequencies of every five or six minutes, others may run only once or twice an hour. The good news is that there are only a few bus routes that are of major value to tourists, and the METRO website has maps and schedules for every route in the system easily available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format for download. For all destinations in this journal that you will need a bus to reach, I have tried to provide as comprehensive directions as possible, including bus route numbers and where to get on and off.
Finding Your Stop: This is where you have to pay attention. Some METRO bus operators will call out major cross streets as you approach them, but many do not. In my experience commuting to work on METRO, many of the drivers who do call out stops do not speak very clearly or use the public address system, so understanding what the driver calls out (if he/she calls out anything) may be difficult, especially if you are not familiar with the Houston street grid. However, the majority of bus operators I have found to be very friendly and helpful, and if you let the driver know when you board what your destination is, chances are he or she will make a special effort to make sure that you know when to get off. It also helps to ride with a map of the bus route you are on (available from the METRO website) and a map of the city. Ride near the front of the bus on the right side where you can see upcoming intersections and street signs to assist you in navigating to your destination. I have included only a few destinations in this journal that require METRO bus service, and when appropriate, have tried to be as detailed as possible in giving directions.
Author’s Note: This information was revised on October 20, 2004 to reflect changes in METRO’s service to the airports that is effective October 31, 2004. After October 31, 2004, the 101 Airport Express will no longer serve Intercontinental Airport and will be renamed the 101 Hobby Airport Express. Operation of the 102 Bush IAH Express to Intercontinental Airport will not change. You should consult the METRO website for current route schedules and maps when planning your trip.
Houston is home to Rice University, one of the nation's top liberal arts universities. Despite a relatively small student population, Rice is situated on a sprawling campus, much of which is very scenic. The main entrance off of Main St. is flanked by brick walls and iron gates covered with ivy, beyond which a tree-covered drive leads to the university's main quadrangle, flanked by ornate Spanish-revival buildings. A walking and jogging path encircles the entire campus, providing runners and walkers with a continuously shaded path. This area is definitely with a short stroll to see the gorgeous trees and unique architecture of the Rice campus.
Reliant Park is the new name for the complex housing Houston's famed Astrodome stadium. In addition to the Astrodome, Reliant Park houses the Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL Houston Texans team, Reliant Center, a large exhibition space, and Reliant Arena. In addition to the Houston Texans, Reliant Park is home to a variety of festivals, including the annual International Festival held each April, the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Barnum and Bailey Ringling Brothers Circus, and a slew of other trade shows, concerts, and conventions. Check the Reliant Park website for a schedule and more information. Read Less
One Reliant Park
Houston, Texas 77054
These hotels provide quality accommodations with easy access to the METRORail line.
The Warwick Hotel - Houston
Address: 5701 Main St., Houston, TX, 77005
Getting there: The Warick Hotel is located adjacent to the METRORail Museum District station.
This historic Museum District hotel at the entrance of Hermann Park remains one of Houston's finest places to stay. Luxury vacation packages with deluxe rooms, full breakfast for two, and fitness center access start at $139. A good deal is the Museum Package, offering accommodations, breakfast for two, fitness center access, tickets for two to two of any of the sixteen nearby museums, chocolates, and bike rentals for two for $139 for the first night and $75 for a second night.
Marriott Courtyard Houston Downtown
Marriott Residence Inn Houston Downtown
Address: Courtyard - 916 Dallas St., Houston, TX, 77002; Residence Inn - 904 Dallas St., Houston, TX, 77002
Phone: Courtyard - 832/366-1600; Residence Inn - 832/366-1000
Getting there: Both hotels are in the same building, located at Main St. and Dallas, adjacent to the METRORail Main St. Square station.
These two Marriott properties opened in late 2003 in the historic Humble Building. Courtyard offers 185 business- and family-friendly rooms and six suites. Residence Inn offers 171 suites, with a full breakfast included. Both hotels share some facilities, such as the restaurant and cocktail lounge. Both are good choices for being close to the downtown nightlife.
The Texas Medical Center is one of the world's largest medical center complexes and houses over forty medical institutions, including two medical schools, four schools of nursing, thirteen hospitals, and two specialty institutions. From a distance the Medical Center's skyline rivals that of many major downtown areas, and the center itself is larger than some downtown districts. The Medical Center and its member institutions combined are Houston's largest employer. The area is worth a visit to marvel at its sheer size, but also to enjoy the park-like setting of much of the campus. A variety of restaurants, including Starbucks, Chipotle, and Subway, along with a bank and ATM, are conveniently located to the Dryden/TMC METRORail station on Fannin St. in the Medical Towers building, making this a nice stop for lunch when visiting nearby Hermann Park.
District of Columbia County, District of Columbia