Getting Around H-town: Car free and Carefree

From traffic jams to costly parking spots, driving in Houston can often spoil fun outings and weekend plans. In a city that ranks as the sixth most stressful place in the country to drive, traveling to catch the latest exhibit at your favorite museum or dining downtown is often a hassle. 

 

Navigating the city, however, doesn’t always have to be paired with taking your car. Some of the most simple and underrated commute solutions include hopping on the METRORail, renting out a bike from Houston’s Bcycle program, and walking. 

 

Spanning nearly 23 miles, Houston’s light rail system will drop you off within a 10-minute walk or bike ride away from the city’s best cultural attractions and eateries, with the added bonus of skipping out on parking fees. 

 

There are several hot spots in Houston that are perfect for catching the rail, biking and walking. 

 

Hot Spot: Museum District 

Perfect for adventurers and explorers, the Museum District offers a variety of walkable and bikeable activities.

 

The Museum District rail station will put you less than a 10-minute walk away from Houston’s museum attractions, including The Health Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, The Museum of Science, The Children’s Museum, The Contemporary Arts Museum, The Asia Society Texas Center, The Czech Center Museum and the Museum of African American Culture. 

 

Exiting at the Hermann Park/Rice U station is a 12-minute walk away from the Houston Zoo, or an even closer distance away from Hermann Park, which is full of shaded walking paths and hideaways for a jog, peaceful stroll or group picnic.  

 

The Museum District has multiple access points to pick up a BCycle bike, and a diverse collection of shops and restaurants in Rice Village or Montrose are only a 10-minute bike ride away. 

 

Hot Spot: Downtown

From the Theater District to Discovery Green, Downtown Houston has a wide range of eateries and fun-filled weekend activities. 

 

Getting off at downtown rail stops on the red line, such as Preston and Main Street Square, will put you in walking distance of Latin American tapas, Italian cuisine, Greek food, Tex-Mex, seafood and some of Houston’s most beloved steakhouses.

 

There are also several green spaces downtown, which can easily be accessed with a short walk, bike ride, or rail trip. Discovery Green is a two-minute walk away from the Convention District stop, while Market Square Park is a four-minute walk away from the Preston stop. Both urban parks offer free events, from yoga classes to musical performances. 

 

Whether you’re trying to catch the Houston Rockets in action, go to a concert or head to a conference, the rail takes you near the Toyota Center and the George R. Brown Convention Center. Plus, you won’t have to hassle with navigating crowded parking lots or searching for a parking spot. 

 

Houston is one of the few cities in the country to offer permanent professional resident companies in opera, ballet, music,and theater, all of which can be easily accessed from the light rail. From the Theater District stop, the Alley Theater, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Jones Hall for the Performing Arts and Theater Under the Stars are a five-minute walk away or less. 

 

Hot Spot: EaDo

East Downtown is a vibrant neighborhood teeming with diverse restaurant options and artwork. Exiting off the green and purple lines on the rail is a great way to discover some of the best up-and-coming and well-established restaurants in the city. EaDo is also the birthplace of Houston’s original Chinatown (before it moved to the southwest side of the city), so there are plenty of authentic Asian cuisine options. There is also no shortage of murals in the area, which can easily be accessed by biking or walking.  

 

If you’re looking to cheer on the Astros at Minute Maid or the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium, catching the game is exponentially more convenient if you take the rail, exit at the Convention District stop, and walk a few blocks to watch your favorite Houston sports teams. 

 

To catch a ride on the rail, simply pay $1.25 fare for each ride, purchase a $3 unlimited day pass or invest in a reloadable and reusable METRO Q Card. Paying a one-time fare can be done at each rail station, while METRO cards and passes can be purchased and reloaded online. You can find your closest light rail stop, and plan your trip at www.ridemetro.org/.

 

To hop on a bike, Houston’s Bcycle network has 60 stations across the city and more than 400 rental bicycles available for a low fare. Head to www.houuston.bcycle.com for a full listing of all the stations. The iOS and Android-friendly BCycle app allows users to plan and route their trips as well as easily pay their fare. 

 

To learn more about transforming your commute, whether planning weekend outings or mid-week festivities, visit www.findasmarterwaytowork.org/. 

 

As with any excursion, make sure you stay hydrated, sun-screened and prepared to spend more time enjoying yourself instead of stuck in traffic.

 

Happy traveling! 

 
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