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48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

England
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48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

Hi,

Me and my wife are in our mid twenties and are stopping at Houston on the last leg of our 2 week break in the US, but as it wasn't our main destination, we only have 48 hours, landing at 6:10pm on Wednesday 25th September and departing 6:20pm on Friday 27th September. Having now gone through the list of attractions I wish I had arrange an extra few days as there is so much to see but maybe next time ;)

I've got a compact SUV (Ford Escape or similar) arranged and I've got a room booked at the Comfort Suites in Webster which should be okay although we can cancel if I find something better but not too fussed about where we stay as we have the car, the only criteria is it's something fairly nice and good value, which the Comfort Suites at Webster fits.

As we don't get in until 6:10pm we probably it'll probably just be dinner then bed on the Wednesday night.

On Thursday I wanted to do the Level 9 tour at Nasa Space Center, but as this is a 4 hour tour starting at 11:45am it probably won't leave room for much else, except exploring the other attractions at Nasa before our tour starts. We have family that live in NW Houston near Cypress so plan to visit them in the evening and go out for dinner with them.

On Friday I was thinking of arranging a late check out, going to Galveston in the morning including going to the oil rig museum. Then head to San Jacinto and check out the battlegrounds, monument and museum for few hours until say 1:30pm. Then pick up the bags at the hotel before going to the airport (George Bush International) for 3pm. My only concern is everything is quite spaced out so would involve a few hours driving on what is already a fairly short day. So perhaps there is a better itinerary for the Friday? Ideally want to do something that is unique to Texas as we're not sure when the next time we're be able to visit will be but we're generally flexible.

Thanks for any thoughts and suggestions you may have.

Simon

Houston, Texas
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1. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

Simon--It's been many years since I visited the San Jacinto Monument, but my recollection is that allowing one hour for that particular visit is more than enough--there just isn't that much there to see, as I recall. You may well be able to fit that in after your Thursday visit to NASA, leaving your Friday free for other activities.

As you may be aware, from Webster to Cypress, particularly at rush hour, could take well in excess of one hour (perhaps 90 minutes) to drive. The areas are at opposite ends of the city. (Of course, you might leave NASA immediately after your tour is over at 3:45 PM, and you'd be at the forefront of the rush hour heading northwest on US 290 toward Cypress, although you're still looking at every bit of 45 minutes plus to get there.)

Without knowing what other interests you have, it's difficult to suggest alternate activities for Friday. From Webster to Galveston is about a 30-minute drive, so possibly you could get an early start on Thursday morning to see what you want there and still get back to NASA by 11:45, leaving Friday completely open. If you check a map, you'll find that all are reasonably close together. It would depend on what time the oil rig museum opens, of course, as to whether this is feasible.

Let us know what other interests you have, and we can offer suggestions for Friday. You might even want to consider changing hotels so you don't have to drive back from Cypress to Webster if you can squeeze all the above activities into Thursday.

Let us hear from you.

Houston, Texas
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2. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

Wed night have dinner at the Kemah boardwalk. On Fri pick up the bags on the way back from Galveston before you go to the San Jac monument. 60-to 90 mts is more than enough to tour the monument. For a few dollars more you can go to the top and take a look at the view from up above. That will save you some driving back and forth. If you have time, the battle ship is right next to the San Jac monument.

England
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3. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

Thank you both for the replies.

I've done a lot more research tonight and thinking changing hotels may not be such a bad move. I did some calculations by Google maps and the original total drive for the 2 days was nearly 6 hours, I've never experienced Houston traffic before but if it's bad then I guess that could add another hour or two to a six hour drive, which for a 2 day stopover doesn't sound particularly relaxing.

So I'm thinking maybe of staying at a hotel near George Bush International as they are reasonable priced. I could stay somewhere more central but I was trying to keep my costs down. Staying North of Houston would reduce transit time on the Wednesday, and also move most the long drives to Thursday (our only full day), as I really would like to visit Nasa still. Continuing the aero theme I noticed the 1940 air terminal museum isn't far from Nasa so perhaps a stop here after before heading towards Cypress to visit family in the evening. Then from Cypress to the airport it's only a 35 mile journey instead of 50 miles.

On the Friday instead of making the way to Galveston I was of going the Downtown area instead. I've been through the trip advisor attractions and found quite a few attractions close together which will allow us to see more and drive less so I feel like that would be a better plan. I was thinking of going to the Water Wall, the beer can house, the art car museum, and maybe the heritage society museum as I'd like to see a little bit of Texas/Houston history. We're fairly flexible and like to do a few quirky things but try and keep things relatively fun. I don't have much interest in visiting places that I could find in most large cities, so I'm not too fussed about the aquarium, zoo or natural history museum for example.

If we start early at approx 9-10am, and then perhaps head back to the hotel around 2 to pick up our bags and drop off the rental car so we've got plenty of time to start a relaxed journey back home as I can be a bit paranoid about traffic, flights, and airports and don't like to leave anything to chance!

Thanks

Simon

Houston, Texas
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4. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

I'm having a little trouble following your plan, but here's what might make sense: Wednesday evening, go ahead and stay in the Webster/Clear Lake area, as you'll be near NASA, and reasonably near Galveston and the San Jacinto battleground (assuming you still want to see the latter two). I'd take the Beltway 8 (a toll road headed east, then south to I-45, then I-45 south to Webster. In this manner, you won't get caught in heavy morning traffic trying to get to those sites (i.e., by staying in the Webster/Clear Lake area. (Yes, Houston traffic is quite heavy, particularly at rush hour.)

On Thursday, pick up your luggage on your way to Cypress, have dinner with the family, and find a hotel somewhere on the north side of town, probably near IAH (George Bush Intercontinental) airport, as you'll have more selection than you will near Cypress.

On Friday, if you wait until about 9:00 AM or a little later to leave your hotel, most of the rush hour traffic into the downtown area will have cleared, and your drive in will be much easier. The Beer Can House is in an area called The Heights, just north of Memorial Drive near Memorial Park. The Water Wall is part of The Galleria area, and should take no more than 15 minutes of your time (I'd see this one first, just to be heading back in the right direction). These two are probably no more than 10-15 minutes apart, depending on traffic. (If you need directions, please advise once you've secured hotel reservations.)

The Art Car Museum is just south of I-10, about 10 minutes from the Beer Can House, and more or less on your route back to IAH, so you'll have plenty of time to get back to the airport, plus time to see and do other things, especially in the areas of The Galleria and The Heights. You might enjoy a little drive down Washington Ave., which is a funky neighborhood (in a good way). There's really not much I can think of to see and do on the north side of town, so pace yourself on your way back to your hotel. I'm sure you'd arrange it anyway, but be sure to request late check-out, as most hotels have noon check-out.

Hope this helps in your planning.

Edited: 7:49 pm, July 10, 2013
Pearland, Texas
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5. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

I think removing Galveston from your itinerary was a good idea. If you go to Galveston you really need to do it justice by taking in a city tour and dining at a sea food restaurant.

Houston, Texas
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6. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

Hi Sim,

I think your idea to move closer to IAH is a good one. I don't think you can leave the Webster area, and in less than 2 hours, get back to IAH, turn in your rental car, get from the rental car center to the airport, check your bags, and make it through security for your flight. There is a 2 hour minimum check in time for International flights, but to be honest, depending on day of the week, and time you check in for your flight, I would suggest closer to 2 1/2, maybe 3 hours to get checked in, etc. Better safe than sorry.

I agree about the San Jac Monument, as well, that won't take you more than 45 minutes to tour that area, and I think you might enjoy NASA or the historic Strand in Galveston, more. You can eat in the Strand area, too. Try The Sunflower Bakery and Cafe; you'll love the period architecture in this area:

http://www.thesunflowerbakeryandcafe.com/

You could also look at some hotels near Kingwood and Humble,TX which is close to IAH, and have good TA reviews, too

Hope your trip is great!

cc,

Cupake

England
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7. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

Again thank you for your replies.

I've changed the hotel to the Wingate By Wyndham at Houston Bush Intercontinental, ended up pretty much the same price, and also booked an extra night as the price wasn't much more, and it means I'm guaranteed a late check out, and the bags can be left safely at the hotel and we can make the most of our last day.

I've also confirmed the Nasa Level 9 tour, and I am already very excited!

Houston, Texas
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8. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

HI Simba,

Sounds like a great plan, and think it will work well for your entire itinerary! Just a note, though it is often 100 degrees here in Houston (so bring your sunscreen!), so pack a light sweater, as we do turn our air conditioners in restaurants, museums, etc down to Arctic level, so you might need a light jacket to ward the chill, and enjoy the event more, when indoors.

Have a great time in H-town!

cc,

Cupcake

Houston, Texas
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9. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

Simon--

Just a thought or two about your hotel. The hotel serves breakfast, but not dinner. If you are going out for dinner, I'd suggest heading east on the Beltway to US 59, then north to the Humble area, where you'll find a number of decent eateries. (If you head west from your hotel, you really won't find much.)

To expand on Cupcake's definition of "Arctic", most air-conditioned places try to keep temperatures around 72 F (22.2 C).

If you need advice on any other sights to see, or advice in general, we're all here to help you.

Have a great trip!

Houston
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10. Re: 48 Hours in Houston Itinerary in September

You've gotten very good advice here. I must say I'm impressed with your very ambitious plan to see as much of Houston as you can on your short stay. I've lived here since I was 8 years old in 1970 and am very proud of my city. I always tell people that, contrary to the famous saying, it's a great place, but I wouldn't want to visit. However, you have opened my eyes to some of the fun things we have here to see and do, and I want to thank you for that.

Back to your ambitious plans...the tour of NASA will be good, but I want to warn you that they've turned NASA into a "Theme Park" that has attractions totally unrelated to space exploration (like Spongebob characters and events that I will never understand), so spend your time there skipping that silly stuff and stick to the history of the NASA we've grown up knowing.

When you go the the San Jacinto battlegrounds, make sure you also go to the Battleship Texas. And I disagree about how much time you need at San Jacinto. That all really depends on how much of a history nut you are. If you are the type who reads every plaque, you will need more than an hour.

Galveston has a rich history of commerce, immigration and, of course, the famous storm of 1900, but don't go there for the ocean or beach. It's better than no beach at all if you're a beach person, but unfortunately, Texas is on the wrong side of the tides as far as the Gulf of Mexico goes, and the water is not very pretty. If you go there, you need time to tour historic homes and see the old architecture, and go to the museum (which I happen to think is wonderful). The next time you come visit your family in Houston, you can plan an overnight for Galveston.

I suggest you print out a map of Houston and mark each place you want to go and THEN make a plan for the order you see those things in before you land here. Some of them are only things to take a quick look at, like the water wall, and then you'll be off again.

Your choice of moving to the Wyndham was smart because it's close to the airport but the Greenspoint area of Houston where you'll be has seen a sharp increase in crime over the years, so stay aware of your surroundings and personal space and DO NOT leave anything in your car. If you do that, you'll be fine.

I noticed you mentioned certain things, like the waterwall, as being downtown. They are not. The art car museum and can house are in neighborhoods close to downtown by Houston standards, but they are certainly not downtown. The waterwall is in the Galleria area.

Downtown Houston has a lot to offer in recent years; restaurants, sporting venues, theater....but since you really don't have any of that on your agenda, you'd be wise to stay away from downtown.

If you have the time for a drive around town, you will get to see the real beauty of our city that isn't visible from the freeways or airport. We have some gorgeous neighborhoods like River Oaks and the Memorial villages, and there are the trendy, eclectic areas like the Heights and Washington Ave. There's the Museum District which is not only where our world class museums are, but it's close to Rice University and our world famous Medical Center near West University.

Be prepared for overwhelming heat and humidty, even in September.. Dress in very light clothing. Short pants are a must, as is a hat. Here in Houston, both shorts and baseball caps are standard uniform on a casual day and are okay at almost every restaurant where the air conditioning will be on full force.

Finally, don't be afraid to smile and say hello to those you pass on the street. We are among the most friendly people in the world, and if you come across someone who isn't nice, they're probably not from Texas. :-)