You know, I've lived in Houston since 1962. I think I know my way around. I don't often make the downtown to IAH trip, but I have many times for work, and never made it in 30 minutes (perhaps you drive way faster than 75?). I wouldn't recommend that to someone not familiar with the road system, especially if they're on a layover. I've had it take more than 2 hours before because you never know when an accident on I-45 will happen or I-10, for that matter). Yes, you could make it to the Space Center in about 45 minutes (assuming you're lucky, and not during rush hour, morning or evening), but you wouldn't be able to do a full tour, just an abbreviated one, which is no cheaper than a full one. It's doable, but just, IMO.
Unique Suggestions: You have to rent a car. No other option.
Space Center Houston is the visitor's portion of the Johnson Space Center, one of Houston's most famous landmarks. The words "Houston, we have a problem", uttered by Cmdr. Jim Lovell during the fateful Apollo 13 mission, & made famous by Tom Hanks in the movie, have linked Houston & space exploration eternally. When many people come to Houston, naturally the first thing they would like to see is NASA. This is whats so unfortunate about me feeling I have to designate Space Center Houston as a "Tourist Trap"! Growing up a native Houstonian, I take great pride in my city being associated with NASA. But I do not, & would not feel right recommending someone go here, unless you just have to see some of what NASA is offering up for visitors to see here. For starters, Space Center Houston is about 45 minutes southeast of downtown in the Clear Lake/Seabrook area, which is more than a little inconvenient, especially for someone who is here in town & does not have a car. But, if you do make it down to the Space Center, the actual tours they offer are largely geared towards kids, which is not necessarily a bad thing if you are a large family, but bad if you were expecting it to be a full-fledged "history of NASA & space exploration" type tour. The tour offers a tram around the grounds, which is also not a great thing to do here during the summer, with the heat & humidity in full effect. But you do get to see some of the old space modules used in the past, including a Saturn V rocket, as well as Mission Control, which many people feel is worth the visit. I have to admit that seeing this with all of the history that has taken place there can be quite riveting. But unless you are a huge space exploration buff who is dying to see Mission Control & some of the old space modules, finding transport down to it, spending almost $20/person admission & $5 to park a car to see what this place has to offer is just not worth it.
Unique Suggestions: If you are dead-set on visiting the Space Center, I would suggest booking a trip with a tour company here in town, and making a day out of it. Most offer packages which include transport to and from, as well as admission. Houston Tours offers a pretty good one for those willing to dedicate most of the day to it.
Fun Alternatives: If you are interested in learning about some of the history of NASA and space exploration, and would like to stay much closer to the center of town, the Museum of Natural Science has a nice exhibit dedicated to this. And along with being much closer, it is cheaper and there are many other exhibits you can view with a general admission ticket as well. I, along with many other Houstonians, hope that there will be a Space Museum in the near future located in-town that will showcase the history of NASA, and what it means to the city of Houston.
From the moment I arrived at the hotel from IAH, people and staff couldnt be friendly enough. I was...more
This hotel is between downtown and the Galleria area, just off of Hwy 59 and Kirby Drive. Close to...more
Corporate rates are the least expensive. Beautifully decorated rooms in a park like setting. Three...more