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Houston

If you're a newcomer to Houston, you'll be surprised at its vast international feel. The multicultural diversions range from history museums to boutiques and mouth-watering dining, with such an assortment that you'd need at least a week in town to even make a dent in the supply. If you have kids along on this trip, you'll most likely want to check out Space Center Houston (where you can meet an astronaut!) or see the spectacular fish and beautiful white tigers at the Aquarium in downtown Houston.

If you have even a passing interest in art, Houston will make you breathless with its selection of art museums. To get a good sampling of the city's most popular attractions, invest in a CityPASS. But if you just want to kick back and enjoy a pretty day, head downtown to my personal favorite, Discovery Green, for a walk in the park and a lakeside lunch.

In Texas' younger years, seafaring folks arrived at the frontier via the island of Galveston, and the city's port was one of the nation's busiest. But with the construction of the Houston Ship Channel and the first steamship's passage up the Buffalo Bayou to the city itself in 1837, Houston's relationship with the Gulf of Mexico and international shipping changed dramatically. Now the fourth largest city in the country, Houston's immediate connection with the ocean adds to its global significance.

--written by June Naylor

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