Houston: the Spirit of Texas
Hello, my name is Katherine and I’ll be your guide on this tour of Houston, where the spirit of old Texas lives side by side with the new. This is a driving tour, presented by Insight Guides, that will take about two and a half hours to complete, not including any time spent touring museums or any buildings.
Feel free to pause whenever and start again at the same spot later. You can follow the route on your phone or simply listen as I guide you from one sight to the next. I’ll be giving you clear directions and the audio will automatically start playing when you get close to the next sight on the tour. Don’t worry if you need to skip a sight as the tour will pick up at the next location. One more thing before we get started – always be aware of your surroundings and be sure to obey all traffic signals.
When Sam Houston cried out “Remember the Alamo,” before the Battle of San Jacinto, he not only stamped his name on the revolution against Mexico that established Texas a sovereign republic, but also on the new capital, Houston, which was to be founded the following year on the swampy, flat grassland at the confluence of White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou.
Although the politicians decamped for Austin just a few years later, Houston grew steadily as a commercial hub thanks to the nearby port in Galveston and the swarm of railroad lines that crisscrossed the region by the end of the 19th century. A cataclysmic hurricane struck Galveston at the start of the 20th century, destroying much of the port. Houston quickly stepped in, establishing a new port upstream with greater protection from the elements and cheaper fees. When oil was struck in nearby Beaumont soon after, Houston drove full throttle into the energy business, creating ever more wealth.
On this tour, you’ll hear stories of art, revolution, fortunes made, battles won, the race to space and next frontier. Through all of it, the spirit of Texas rings loud and clear – especially when the stars at night are big and bright!
Our tour begins at the new Houston Visitors Center, smack bang in the middle of Downtown. If you intend on visiting several museums, you can pick up a CityPass here, which grants you access to 5 museums for $56 at a saving of 48%. From here, we’ll explore the neighborhood then follow Bayou Bend and its surrounding parks out to the west, before turning south and east again to the pedestrian-friendly Museum District. From there, we'll pop in on the campus of Rice University before cruising up to the Greater Third Ward. To reach our last stop, Space Center Houston, we'll have to drive 20 miles toward Galveston, so this is included as an optional stop! I'd fully recommend it though.
Ready to begin? Then let’s get started!
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