Known for its bustling nightlife, Houston, like any other big city, has its safe and not-so-safe areas.
We want you to stay out of harm’s way in “Space City,” whether you’re partying or just leaving the theater with your kids.
So, we did some research to give you a good idea of when and where it’s safer to be in Houston.
The History of Houston, Texas
Land investors founded the city, where Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou meet, in 1836. Named after Sam Houston, former Republic of Texas president, the city served as the capital of Texas for several years in the 1830s. This ended when the state joined the union, but Houston’s importance didn’t change.
The city’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico helped it become a business hub and regional trading center. Over the next hundred years, Houston grew to around 637 square miles and 2.3 million people. The metro area now serves as a cultural hub in the Gulf Coast region.
A significant producer of oil and gas, massive amounts of money pour into the region from around the world. And all of that money means there’s plenty to do.
Houston is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the United States. Food, cultural institutions, museums, theatre, dance, and opera all play essential roles in Houston. Because most of the art institutions exist in the downtown Houston area, tourists love to spend time there.
Sports also play an essential role in the cultural fabric of the city. Home to the Houston Astros (MLB), Rockets (NBA), Texans (NFL), Dynamo (MLS), Dash (WSL), and even the SabreCats (MLRugby), there’s almost always a game on.
When it comes to safety, one indicator is the crime rate. For Houston, it isn’t good. Ranked as the 19th most dangerous city in America, it has the highest crime rate in Texas. But Houston’s criminal activity has steadily decreased over the last ten years, down 11%. This includes violent crime and non-violent crime.
Before you turn the RV around, though, realize that most of the crime in the city is concentrated in a few neighborhoods. And unless you’re looking for some of the less wholesome imports to the city, you’ll probably never see them.
Pro Tip: Don’t know if a visit to Houston is a good idea? These are 5 Reasons to Avoid Houston, Texas.
Is it Safe to Walk Around Downtown Houston?
Downtown Houston is one of the safest places in the city. The concentration of sports and cultural institutions means people are there for a reason. Use common sense when walking through the well-lit downtown area, and you should be fine.
Stay alert around tourist landmarks; pickpockets are an issue in those areas. Keep to well-trafficked areas and avoid dark alleys and sketchy strangers.
Stay Safe in Houston By Avoiding These Neighborhoods
As in any metro area, there are areas to avoid. Usually, they’re historically underserved for one reason or another. But in Houston, one of the most dangerous is just outside the downtown area.
The MacGregor neighborhood is home to two universities and many large, beautiful homes. However, it’s also full of lower-income apartment buildings, and students frequently receive notices about criminal activity in the area.
Other neighborhoods to avoid include Sharpstown, Greenspoint, and Sunnyside. Sharpstown started as a master-planned community in the 1950s but declined over the years. And Greenspoint became a refuge for many residents of New Orleans displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
But Sunnyside is known as the most dangerous neighborhood in Texas. The violent crime rate is so high that 1 in 11 residents will fall victim.
Safe Things to Do in Houston
If you stay in the center of the city, you can access anything you want. Sports, culture, science, and even a space museum all offer a place to escape the Texas heat. There’s always something to do in Houston; you just have to look around. These are some of our favorite things to do in H-town.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science
Over 2 million visitors each year can’t be wrong. The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the most popular in the United States, just behind the American Museum of Natural History and The MET. One of the major draws to the museum is the sheer number of special exhibits they put on.
Some permanent exhibits include the Foucault pendulum, Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife, Weiss Energy Hall, and the Hall of Ancient Egypt.
The HMNS is open seven days a week. Tickets are $25 for adults and $16 for children, and there’s free entry on Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Space Center Houston
Home to one of the most significant sites in space exploration, Space Center Houston shares its history with visitors. It provides educational programming as one of its major draws, offering opportunities around science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
The center also exhibits over 400 permanent and traveling artifacts designed to appeal to every visitor.
Space Center Houston is open every day. Tickets currently range from $25 to $30, with the lower rates available for children and seniors.
As the second most visited zoo in America, the Houston Zoo houses over 600 species of animals. Located in Hermann Park, the zoo averages about 2.1 million visitors annually. With twelve permanent exhibits and membership in several conservation projects, the city supports the zoo’s mission through generous donations.
You won’t want to miss the zoo’s newest exhibit, the African Forest. You can also see the University of Houston’s mascot Shasta in the carnivore exhibit. In addition, the zoo has one of the largest collections of birds in the US, with over 200 species represented.
Houston Zoo is open seven days a week. Ticket reservations are by time slot, so make sure to plan ahead. Pricing is based on a Flex system, so they vary depending on when you want to visit. Check out their website for specifics.
Pro Tip: After visiting Houston, take some time to explore these 5 Cool Places in Texas.
Safest Places to Stay in Houston
We’ve talked a lot about places to avoid in Houston, but what about where to stay? There are a lot of fun spots you’ll enjoy in the area. Here are our favorite places to stay on vacation in Houston.
Staying downtown puts you in the thick of the action. Lots of public parks, museums, architecture, and food await. Downtown Houston has four major parks, including the crown jewel, Discovery Park.
And if you don’t want to drive too much, Houston traffic is a crime on its own; this is the place to be. Market Square provides all the shopping, food, and nightlife you could want after a day in the park.
Northwest of downtown is the major shopping center of the greater Houston area, Galleria-Uptown. Over 300 stores and boutiques fill this area with shoppers every day. The Galleria is one of the most beautiful malls we’ve seen.
It houses several high-end restaurants and cafes and is also home to an ice skating rink. Not far from the shopping centers, you can also enjoy the outdoors by visiting Memorial Park.
If high-end fashion isn’t your scene, The Heights offers a different vibe. Known for more historical architecture, the neighborhood feels like it jumped out of the 19th century. Shopping in this area tends towards small boutiques, hand-made items, and quaint little shops.
But don’t be fooled; the nightlife and food scene are heavy hitters. Open-air music venues, diverse food offerings, and public parks round out this blast from the past.
Staying Safe in Houston Isn’t Difficult
So, is Houston safe? Like many large cities, there are safer areas and areas to avoid. If you take some time to plan your trip to Houston, you’ll feel about as safe as you do anywhere else. You will likely feel at home in the downtown area, where most of the more popular points of interest are.
Houston has many great attractions, food offerings, shopping, and cultural opportunities. Step out of your comfort zone and make a trip to the 713. You won’t regret it!
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