Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States and the fast-growing Houston metropolitan area is the home of 7.1 million diverse residents as of 2020. Its booming economy is driven by the energy sector, as well as the healthcare sector thanks to the Texas Medical Center, the world's largest concentration of medical and research institutions. The ENAR 2022 Spring Meeting site Marriott Marquis Hotel is located in the center of downtown Houston, with urban parks, restaurants, and the Museum District nearby.
There are three "downtowns" in the Houston area: (1) the traditional downtown where city hall, convention center, major sports venues (Toyota Center for the Rockets and Minute Maid Park for the Astros), and Marriott Marquis Hotel are located, (2) the Texas Medical Center, about 5 miles southwest of downtown and home to 54 medicine-related institutions, including the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist Hospital, and Texas Children’s Hospital, as well as Rice University, and (3) the Galleria/Uptown area, home to Texas' largest shopping mall, The Galleria mall, with more than 370 stores, an ice rink and endless food options.
Right across the street from Marriott Marquis Hotel, Discovery Green is a 12-acre urban park with a one-acre lake, children’s playground, interactive water features, amphitheater stage and slope, public art works, open lawns, and two restaurants.
Located between downtown and the Texas Medical Center, the Museum District is home to 19 museums, Houston Zoo, Hermann Park, McGovern Centennial Gardens, a golf course and a 2-mile train track for the Hermann Park Railroad. Some popular museums include The Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Children’s Museum Houston, and The Health Museum.
Of note, The Houston Museum of Natural Science houses the Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, and over a dozen permanent exhibit areas that examine astronomy, space, science, paleontology, energy, chemistry, gems and minerals, seashells, Texas wildlife, and more. In particular, the 4th floor Wiess Energy Hall is the most contemporary, comprehensive and technologically advanced exhibition on the science and technology of energy anywhere in the world. It also features “Energy City,” a 2,500-square-foot 3-D landscape representing Houston, the surrounding Gulf coastal waters and the terrain of southeast and central Texas.
The Museum District is connected to downtown (Central Station Main) by the METRO light rail Red Line.
Just minutes west of Rice University, Rice Village is the closest shopping district to downtown Houston and has been one of Houston's oldest and best-loved shopping destinations since the 1930s. With more than 300 shops in the immediate 16-block area, Rice Village is known for its small shops and boutiques. It is also home to some of the best and most varied places to eat in Houston, featuring Italian, French, Indian, Mediterranean, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants.
Houston Space Center
Worth a day trip. Located 25 miles southeast of downtown Houston, it is a science museum that serves as the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center, which is the home of astronaut training and Mission Control for Apollo missions and the International Space Station. With more than 400 space artifacts including flown spacecraft, the largest collection of moon rocks on public display, the only space shuttle replica mounted on a shuttle carrier aircraft (Boeing 747) and SpaceX Falcon 9 reusable booster exhibit, Space Center Houston offers an array of exciting attractions for people of all ages. The NASA Tram Tour is your chance to go on site at NASA Johnson Space Center and get a behind-the-scenes look at human space exploration. Explore Rocket Park, where one of only three of the remaining actual Saturn V rockets is displayed.
Last but not least, Houston CityPASS (https://www.citypass.com/houston), including admission to 5 of the most popular local attractions, is a smart bargain for visitors.
With 10,000 restaurants representing cuisine from more than 70 countries and American regions, Houston's restaurant scene is as ethnically diverse as its more than 7-million residents. Here are only a few examples that local Houstonians frequent.
Downtown Houston area
Rice Village/Uptown area: