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Houston is experiencing a tasteful sprawl with new art venues and inviting green spaces.

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www.nationalgeographic.com

By Mary Beth LaRue and Monica Hortobagyi
Photo by Jim Olive/Greater Houston CVB

Houston, Texas — the calf-roping, carnivorous capital of the 50 states. Not quite. This city of more than 2 million Texans is a cultural melting pot as the home of a vibrant arts scene, thriving ethnic neighborhoods, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Opportunities abound for arts connoisseurs and sports enthusiasts alike: Houston is one of a handful of American cities to house professional theater companies for each of the major arts disciplines, and sports fans can rally behind Houston’s professional teams, the Astros, Rockets, and Texans. But before setting out to explore the neighborhoods—Montrose, Uptown, New Chinatown—of America’s fourth largest city, get a glimpse of what Houston has to offer with Traveler’s suggestions for blogs, podcasts, magazines, and maps


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Space Center Houston

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The first word spoken on the moon was “Houston,” so it’s fitting that the city is home to one of the finest interstellar museums on planet Earth. NASA’s Space Center Houston boasts a multitude of permanent displays and attractions, but the real star of the show is the new Independence Plaza exhibit, a 747 airplane with a full replica of the space shuttle Independence mounted above it. In a world first, guests can explore inside both aircraft, from the flight decks to the astronaut living quarters. For those more curious to see how present-day NASA operates, take a Level 9 Tour, complete with behind-the-scenes access to Mission Control at neighboring Johnson Space Center. Just be sure to book in advance: these tours access areas off-limits to the regular public and are only available for up to 12 guests a day.

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