The Historic Rice Hotel Building
Sitting on the location in downtown Houston of the old capital building of the Republic of Texas, the Rice Hotel building, as well as the site location, have quite a bit of history. The site was indeed where the capital building was for the first two years of the newly formed republic, then moving to Austin. William Marsh Rice, founder of Rice University here in town, bought the building in 1883 and built a small hotel on the site. In 1913, the present 17 story structure was built, and it became one the nicest and most popular places for people to stay at, as well as enjoy entertainment. Many famous people stayed at the Rice Hotel, including many Hollywood icons and U.S. presidents. John F. Kennedy stayed at the Rice once on a visit to Houston. Then after years of gradual decline, the hotel shut it's doors in 1976. The building basically sat empty for over 20 years until in 1998 it reopened after a complete renovation as a luxury loft complex. The restoration brought back all of the beautiful architecture of it's past, while keeping the same basic structure it has had now for nearly 100 years. I really like this picture here of the Rice Hotel, as it is from a postcard from the early 1900's, shortly after it opened. If you are around the downtown area, it's worth stopping in and taking a look!
I drove to Houston, but you...
I drove to Houston, but you can fly there and arrive at Houston Intercontinental Airport.
You definitely need a car, as public transportation seemed almost nonexistant, and distances are very far.
Seafood is Good For You (Except When It's Fried)
There are so many great restaurants around here it gets tough to choose.
Denis' is kind of a businessmans' haunt and can be Incredibly busy at lunchtime. The food is pretty good, and in most cases you'll be able to choose the mode of cooking for your food. My preference is blackened. My sole (fish pun intended) quibble is that there is no spinach on the menu, which is pretty minor really. Service is excellent.
For the ambitious trougher, there is an outrageous appetizer consisting of vast mounds of fried crawfish tails, shrimp, crabcakes and other healthy treats. Last time there I had blackened redfish which was outstanding.
Houston Galleria & surrounding area
Houston's Galleria shopping center, which is about 5 miles west of downtown, was such a success that the Galleria in Dallas was modeled after it.
You can find most of the high-end shopping in Houston including Tiffany, Versace, Fendi, Hermes, etc. in the Galleria or surrounding area, in addition to many other popular stores or unique stores.
Esquire magazine and The Wine Spectator have more than once named Houston as the fourth best restaurant city in the nation, just behind New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Many of these are in the Galleria Area. Some notable places in this area include Cafe Annie, Tony's, Americas, Grotto, Nit Noi, and Bombay Brasserie.
Also be sure to check out some of Texas' architectural best -- the Williams Tower (tallest in the country outside of a downtown) and Waterwall, and the unique street signs, arches and lights on and around Post Oak Blvd.
Uptown Park is a new shopping development just north of the Galleria area. This development is more friendly to those who enjoying walking around outside from shop to shop.
An Amazing display
On display is a Mercury Redstone spacecraft-booster combination which propelled the first two American astronauts (Alan Shepard and Virgil "Gus" Grissom) into space in 1961.
The largest rocket there is the Saturn V rocket which was used in the Apollo Program and also was used to propel the Skylab space station into earth orbit in 1973.
Photo is of 'Apollo Saturn V'