The City of Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the US. It is not only huge in population, it covers a vast land area. It is a multi-cultural city with large Asian, Arab, and Latin American populations. It is also a cultural city with a world-class symphony, ballet, and opera. Because it is largely un-zoned, development is only limited by the imagination and budget of the developers. Because it was built on the oil industry, it has a city dominated by automobiles and highways. Almost all of the Port of Houston's attractions are within the city's urban core. For complete information on the many things to see and do in the Port of Houston, please visit the city's tourism website.
The Port of Houston has a humid subtropical climate with hot humid summers and hardly any winter. Spring brings dramatic thunderstorms. Summer mornings often average over 90% humidity, falling to around 60% in the afternoon. Except at the coast, wind offers little respite from the heat. Air-conditioning is a must. Snowfall is rare, but rain is common and brings floods to some parts of the city. One of the most ozone-polluted cities in the country, smog is an ongoing problem in the Port of Houston. Temperatures range from an average high of 34 °C (94 °F) in July and August to an average low of 7 °C (45 °F) in January.
Visitors to the Port of Houston will want to visit the Houston Museum District that contains eighteen different institutions, 11 of which are free of charge. The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is a unique and fascinating facility that educates the public about the contributions made by African American soldiers since the Revolutionary War. In 1866, the Congress created six all-black Army units to fight for the Union. After the Civil War, they were reorganized into two infantry regiments that held the first peacetime black professional soldiers. In 1867, Cheyenne warriors named them Wild Buffaloes, which was then adopted as buffalo soldiers, out of respect for their fierce fighting. Soon, the term "Buffalo Soldiers" described all African American soldiers.
The Children's Museum of Houston contains 14 galleries with hands-on fun. Founded in 1980, the museum serves over 750 thousand people a year and focuses on bilingual English-Spanish education for kids to 12 years old in areas such as literacy, science, math, health, engineering, culture, and social studies. In addition to the fun interactive indoor and outdoor exhibits, the museum offers a theater and performances, arts and crafts, a splash area, and an exhibit for infants to two years old. It also has a very popular café. Visitors should go in the early morning and the off-season, as this popular Port of Houston museum is usually very crowded.
The Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum holds two 13th Century frescoes, the only intact frescoes of that type in the Western Hemisphere. The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is dedicated to international, national, and regional art from the last 40 years. The Czech Cultural Center uses events and exhibitions to celebrate the culture of Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, and Silesia. The Port of Houston's Health Museum is a popular place with three-dimensional anatomy and interactive exhibits. The Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the World War II Holocaust. The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is a unique museum dedicated to craft at the highest level: glass, fiber, clay, metal, and wood artwork.
Also part of the Houston Museum District is the Houston Center for Photography that examines the media as artistic expression and as investigative tool, and it includes works by established and newly-emerging artists. The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers an IMAX theater, the Burke Baker Planetarium, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, and many permanent and traveling exhibits. Other museums in the complex include the Museum of Fine Arts, the Rice University Gallery, Rothko Chapel, The Weather Museum, the Jung Center of Houston, the Lawndale Art Center, and the Menil Collection. Finally, the Houston Zoo is home to over 4500 exotic animals from 800 species.
The Port of Houston is also part of the American West, and the American Cowboy Museum, located on the Taylor-Stevenson Ranch, preserves the western heritage of the country's indigenous peoples, Blacks, Hispanics, and women. The museum offers tours, exhibits, and oral historians dressed in native attire who tell stories and lectures describing life in the Old West. The Taylor-Stevenson Ranch is over 150 years old, owned by the same family for seven generations, and it is a real working ranch. It is also the site of the second-oldest oil strike in the State of Texas.
The Port of Houston's Beer Can House is a folk art gallery made of over 50 thousand beer cans. In 1968, John Milkovisch decided that, rather than throw things away, he would use old beer cans as house siding. After completing the house, he went on to create a unique environment with concrete blocks inlaid with colored glass, redwood fence decorated with marbles, curtains made of pull-tabs, and many more quirky and original pieces of art.
Travelers who want to see the Port of Houston can find a list of cruises scheduled to call at the Port of Galveston on the Cruise Compete website.