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-   -   Houston for a week - do we need a car? (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/houston-for-a-week-do-we-need-a-car-456406/)

Lauradublin Jul 5th, 2004 06:55 AM

Houston for a week - do we need a car?
 
Hi,

A friend and I are going to Houston for the first week in November. We are staying at the Rennaissance as they have a free shuttle to the George Brown Convention Centre. We plan on visiting the Convention Centre for a max. of 3 days, so are wondering what we should do with our other 4? Shopping is definitely on the agenda, but we are not sure what else we can do in Houston. Are we really going to be at a disadvantage if we don't rent a car?
How readily available are taxi's? Are they very costly?

What sort of weather can we expect in November?

Many thanks, Laura

Statia Jul 5th, 2004 07:18 AM

I could not imagine visiting Houston and not having a car. It is a very spread out city with limited public transport. Taxis are hard to come by and are also very expensive. So, yes, a car really is a must in Houston.

Jayne1973 Jul 5th, 2004 07:34 AM

Yes, rent a car, for sure, and take time out to drive down to Galveston for the day.

jimshep Jul 5th, 2004 07:50 AM

Without a car how will you get away from the place?

youngtom2910 Jul 5th, 2004 08:00 AM

November can be quite nice

a car would be a good idea

if you are a bird watcher there are spots all along the coast---closest would be bolivar penisula, just off galveston by ferry--many people find the hill country interesting--a drive of a few hours northwest--if you are a museum person, there are some pretty good art museums (menil, fine arts, contemporary) in a concentrated area--as well as a museum of natural science

emd Jul 5th, 2004 08:01 AM

What are you interested in besides shopping? For shopping, you can go to the Galleria and surrounding Post Oak Blvd area.
Give us your other interests and we can give you some options. For instance there is the Johnson Space Center, but not sure if that fits in you rinterests. There is a nice museum district not far from downtown that makes for a very nice day (the Museum of Fine Arts, Rothko chapel, Menil Collection). Not sure I would do Galveston for a day in November. Nearby Spring, TX has been recommended on here as having nice pre-Christmas shopping, quaint shops.

emd Jul 5th, 2004 08:02 AM

Weather is variable that time of year. Could be hot and humid (80s w/high humidity) or could be nicer.

Lauradublin Jul 5th, 2004 08:32 AM

Hi again,

We are not really sure what there is to do in Houston. Had hoped that we could get around using public transport, but guess not. Is driving complicated there? I have driven in the US before, but not in major cities. The Space Centre sounds good. So does Spring.

Thanks for all the advice! Laura

roosterlady Jul 5th, 2004 08:41 AM

If you are planning to go to the Space Center and are in the Clear Lake area, definitely go to Kemah. Visit www.kemahboardwalk.com. Other areas for shopping besides the Galleria is Highland Village, Town and Country village and lets not forget West University. I highly recommend Sunday brunch at Mi Luna Spanish restaurant. You ABSOLUTELY need a car in our city. Buy a streetwise map and you'll do pretty good around town.

What you pay for a day in car rental will be the cost of a tax roundtrip ride. Go to hotwire and book your car now.

emd Jul 5th, 2004 08:46 AM

You will definitely need a car to go to Spring and Johnson Space Center. You could get to the Galleria by taxi. You could get to the museum district by taxi. I would not like to drive in Houston if I was from outside the U.S.- the hwy interchanges can be complicated (oops, there is was and that was our exit) and traffic can be a bear, and now there is the new lightrail downtown (which one person who lives in Houston is warning us to be very very careful and aware of if driving). One possibility is to rent a car for just those days when you are going far enough to really need it (like Spring and Johnson Space). You can rent from dpwntown hotel car rental locations). Also, that will save you the $20 or so that hotels charge to park in downtown Houston. Personally I never go there for one day without a car, but I know the city.
Also, if you go to the museum district there are some things of interest around the Herman Park and zoo area, like a nice indoor butterfly habitat where many beautiful ones flit all around and land on you. There is also a good science museum and planetarium in that same area of the zoo where the butterfly exhibit is. All that is walkable from the Museum of Fine Arts on a nice day. There are nice places for lunch in that area around the museums also.
Galleria is the premier shopping (Neiman's, Saks, nice indoor space w/ice skating rink in the middle- an all day shopping experience). We also like to shop in the Village (on the opposit side of Rice Universtiy from the park). It is an eclectic assortment of shops and dining, on about 8 blocks- again, better if the weather is good.

rkkwan Jul 5th, 2004 12:07 PM

First, cancel your hotel reservations.

The only Renaissance Hotel in Houston that I'm aware of is the one at Greenway Plaza. It's not downtown, and it's not Galleria. It's not accessible by the light rail. So it's car, bus, taxi, or nothing. And even if they have a shuttle to George R. Brown, it's still 15-20 minutes away.

I'd suggest you book something in downtown, so that you can get to the convention center easily, and can take the light rail to the Museum District/zoo/Herman Park, etc.

bellairegirl Jul 5th, 2004 12:33 PM

Lauradublin:

Rkkwan is right - the Renaissance Hotel is about a 15-20 minute drive to the Convention Center downtown. Since you're only going to the Convention Center for 3 of your 4 days, this is a fine option. Just be aware that it's a little distance away. That said, the Renaissance is in a pretty central location to get around.

Also, I had family members stay at the Renaissance recently when they were in for a family event and they really enjoyed the hotel. To drive to the Galleria, it's about 5 minutes away by car and I can tell you an easy back way to get there where you can avoid most of the traffic congestion.

As for driving in Houston, I would suggest that except for trips to and from the airport and to and from Space Center Houston or Galveston, drive the streets and not the freeway. It's very easy to access nice shopping/restaurants at Highland Village (5 minutes away) and Rice Village (10 minutes away) by not taking the freeways. Downtown is also easy to get to from the Renaissance (15-20 minutes) by driving north on Edloe, east on Alabama and north on San Jacinto. Two of the major freeways in Houston are under construction (and will be in November) -- Southwest Freeway (U.S. 59) and Loop 610. Because of this, avoiding the freeways makes for a much less stressful driving experience.

As to weather, it's really very changeable in November and anything (almost) is possible. The average high in November is 73 degrees Farenheit, with an average low of 53 degrees. You'll just need to check the weather forecast about a week before.

I personally don't think a trip to Spring is worthwhile given the distance, but that's just me.

While in Houston, make sure you visit some of our wonderful museums -- Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Science Museum, Menil Collection, Bayou Bend, etc. There should also be theater, concerts, symphony, and other events happening. Check out houston.citysearch.com to get ideas for what's going on and restaurant reviews.

Let us know if there's anything else you would like to know. November should be a nice time to visit.

Susan

ilovetulips Jul 5th, 2004 12:42 PM

As everyone else has said- rent a car. Some things that I enjoyed when I lived there include:

1.Check to see what plays or musicals are playing at the Wortham Ceter in the theatre district. Houston has world class ballet and musicals.
2. Check out the Galleria Mall- it it an enormous mall with an indoor ice skating rink, it is a fun place to see.
3. Do go see some of the museums in Houston- Museum of Fine Arts is wonderful and so is the Holocaust Museum there are others- Museum of Natural Sciences in Hermann Park...
4. Try to go to the River Oaks area- really beautiful homes- I know that Bayou Bend has tours. The grounds are beautiful in the spring but they would be nice in the fall too.
5. Check out some restaurants on Westheimer- all kinds of cuisine
6. Never went to the Space Center -but I've heard it is good.
7. Rice Village also has some neat shopping and restaurants.
8. If you have time and like cute home decor drive to Old Town Spring in far North HOuston.

HOuston is big and can be intimidating, but it really is laid out pretty well and you will be able to get around in car fine. Try to avoid rush hour thought 7 am to 9 am and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

emd Jul 5th, 2004 12:48 PM

Oops I'm sorry , I thought the Renaissance was downtown, esp. considering she is going to the convention center.


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