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Dec 16, 2021

Downtown is the central business district of Houston. It is bounded by the I-10, I-45, and I-69 freeways.

Downtown Houston

. . . Houston/Downtown . . .

Downtown is, like many American cities, strictly a 9AM-5PM operation. Most restaurants close after business hours, but there have been some efforts lately to encourage more activity.

If you visit downtown during the day, don’t be surprised to see fewer people on the street than a typical city. Most people use an underground walkway system that connects many buildings and food courts.

Just north of the core of downtown, across the Buffalo Bayou, is a warehouse district that has somewhat recently attracted unique music venues, artists, and Oxheart, a popular upscale restaurant. Houston’s biggest brewery, St. Arnold’s, lies just a mile from the UH-Downtown rail station, but the journey requires crossing a freeway and walking through a sleepy industrial area.

Interstates 10 and 45 link together and form a tight loop around downtown. Many exits are marked as leading to downtown.

The METRO Rail light rail has several downtown stops along the red line: Downtown Transit Center, Bell, Main Street Square, Preston, and UH-Downtown. Most of the restaurants and bars are located near Preston and Main Street Square.

Megabus, Greyhound and the Mexican bus services all have their stations located near the Downtown Transit Center light rail station.

The 29.76747-95.367571 Houston Amtrak station is just to the west of downtown, a mile-long walk from the Preston light rail station that requires crossing some busy streets with minimal pedestrian facilities.

Map of Houston/Downtown

  • 29.7604-95.363951 Chase Tower Observatory, 600 Travis St. The Chase Tower is the tallest building in Texas and the tallest five-sided building in the world. The sky lobby on the 60th floor of the building is the observatory. Since 2016 this observatory has been permanently closed to the public. 
  • 29.75319-95.359561 Discovery Green Park. Discovery Green opened April 13, 2008. The downtown Houston park is located across Avenida de las Americas from the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel. Toyota Center, Houston Center and Minute Maid Park are only blocks away. 
  • 29.76434-95.367431 Downtown Aquarium. Seen as pretty mundane by locals, but might still appeal to fish fanatics. Situated right on Buffalo Bayou. Not just an aquarium, it has a ferris wheel and other carnival-style rides. $9.25 (adult), rides cost extra. 
  • Downtown Tunnel System. The majority of Downtown Houston’s buildings are connected by an intertwining, complex tunnel system. Scores of lunch restaurants and easy access to building entrances from underground keep Houston’s workforce primarily underground during the day. Only open during the weekdays, the tunnels are an interesting spectacle to observe, but try to avoid getting lost. There are a few street level entrances, but it can also be accessed from various buildings. 
  • 29.76265-95.362281 Market Square Park. Surrounded by some of the city’s oldest buildings, the site was once home to City Hall in previous years. In 2010, the block-sized space was transformed into a modern park, with features akin to Discovery Green but on a more compact scale. At the center of the park is local favorite Niko Niko’s. 

. . . Houston/Downtown . . .

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. . . Houston/Downtown . . .