THINK of Texas and you might picture cowboy boots and Stetsons, but the state has much more to offer.
In the south you’ll find buzzy Houston, the US’s fourth largest city, as well as the historic coastal town of Galveston. Plus, with Singapore Airlines now flying direct to Houston from Manchester there’s no excuse for missing out. Houston, we most definitely don’t have a problem!
1. Pretending to be an astronaut
It’s been hard to miss the 50th anniversary celebrations of the moon landings this year, and every wannabe astronaut should take off for the Johnson Space Center, 45 minutes’ drive from Houston’s centre.
It houses a real 111m-long Saturn V rocket and you get to visit the Mission Control room from 1969. Plus, there’s a life-sized replica of a space shuttle, as well as the actual Boeing 747 aircraft that flew the shuttle to its launch destinations.
You could spend the whole day here and still want longer to soak up more amazing space facts. Entry costs £23 (Spacecenter.org).
2. Swimming among skyscrapers
Hotel Alessandra in Downtown Houston is the ideal base. As well as serving delicious breakfasts, it has an outdoor pool on the fifth floor with an amazing view of the city’s skyscrapers. Double rooms cost from £208 (Hotelalessandra-houston.com).
Then explore the city, from its maze of air-conditioned tunnels teaming with shops and cafes, to its fab museum district.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science has a brilliant collection of dinosaur skeletons, entry £19 (Hmns.org), while a short walk away the zoo has everything from bears to toucans. Entry costs £15.50 (Houstonzoo.org), or buy a City Pass, £48 for entry to five attractions (Citypass.com/houston).
3. Seaside vibes
For a different flavour of south Texas, hire a car and head to the historic island town of Galveston. Visit the Bishop’s Palace, entry £11, with its pretty stained glass, and check out the impressive tall ship Elissa in the harbour, entry £9, as well as the pleasure pier (Galveston.com).
Then hit Moody Gardens, Texas’ answer to the Eden Project. You’ll find a massive aquarium, as well as a rainforest pyramid that houses exotic plants and flowers, birds, tiny monkeys and a couple of sloths (although they are tough to spot!).
Entry to the aquarium costs £25 and the rainforest is £20 (Moodygardens.com). Stay at the large but friendly San Luis Resort for great beach views, huge rooms, a fab swimming pool, spa and a choice of 10 restaurants. Double rooms cost from £153 (Sanluisresort.com).
Flights from Manchester to Houston cost from £405 return with Singapore Airlines (Singapore air.com).
Car hire costs from £28 a day (Hertz.co.uk/american-collection).
4. Wine on tap
Sip a cocktail and listen to live music at House of Blues in Downtown Houston (Houseofblues.com), before checking out cool Bravery Chef Hall, which as well as a food market serving sushi and pizza, also has wine on tap, from £7 (Braverychefhall.com).
In Galveston, soak up the late-evening sunshine at the Rooftop Bar at Tremont House (Thetremonthouse.com), order a glass of cabernet for £3.85 during happy hour at Hearsay (Hearsayonthestrand.com), or grab a beer and watch baseball at Stuttgarden (Stuttgardentavern.com).
5. Tex-mex dinners
South Texas has a vast array of cuisines, but going Mexican is almost the law. Go upmarket but cool at Xochi in Houston for braised beef cheeks served with home-made tortillas and spicy mole (a Mexican sauce made with chillies), £12 (Xochihouston.com).
For a classic Italian American experience, hit Riondos in Galveston for huge bowls of Gulf shrimp spaghetti carbonara, £21 (Riondos.com).
And coastal locals after the best nosh flock to Rudy & Paco for calamari, £16, followed by baked red snapper with lemon garlic butter, £29 (Rudyandpaco.com).
6. Savvy shopping
Galveston’s main street, the Strand, is full of quirky gift shops and boutiques.
And don’t miss La King’s sweet shop set in a 150-year-old building, where you can watch taffy being made and tuck into a sundae in the old-school ice-cream parlour (Lakings confectionery.com).
Around half an hour’s drive from the city centre is Houston Premium Outlets, an outlet village boasting 145 stores, including Vans and J.Crew, and prices up to 65% off – claim the tax back at customer services (Uk.simon.travel).
7. Ranch dressing
You can’t go all the way to Texas and not stay on a ranch – and they don’t come better than Blisswood Bed & Breakfast in Cat Spring, an hour west of Houston.
This 500-acre working ranch has 14 glamping tents, cabins and houses that sleep between two and 10 people. The cute Mystic Woods cabin has rocking chairs on the porch, a comfy double bed, Jacuzzi bath and outdoor hot tub.
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Hire a golf buggy and drive around the site to feed buffalo, deer, and lemurs with customer manager (and all-round legend!) Skeeter, or try horse-riding, archery or trap shooting. Owner Carol also runs a restaurant a few minutes’ drive away, where you can enjoy rib-eye steak, £20.50.
Win a trip to Houston, Texas, courtesy of Singapore Airlines!
If you’ve loved what you’ve read and fancy a trip to Houston, Texas, then enter our competition to win the holiday of a lifetime.
We’re giving away an amazing holiday so you can experience Houston yourself. The prize includes return Premium Economy flights with Singapore Airlines from Manchester to Houston, plus three nights at Hotel Alessandra in Downtown Houston.
To enter, click here and fill in the form by 11.59pm December 14.
For full terms and conditions click here.
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