Travel editors with three major publications have included Houston in their roundups of "must visit" global destinations in 2015.
In recent days, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and the Boston Globe have all cited Houston as a hot spot for travelers in the year ahead. The accolades come at a time when the Bayou City is experiencing tremendous growth on the culinary, retail and art fronts. More than $1.5 billion is being invested in the area around the George R. Brown Convention Center alone, including a new Marriott Marquis Hotel, the 70,000-square-foot Nau Center for Cultural Heritage and improvements to the convention center itself.
Travel + Leisure's list of 50 Places to Travel in 2015 focuses on Houston for its restaurant scene, which is receiving international attention these days. The magazine highlights unique concepts such as Oxheart and Underbelly, and others set to debut in 2015 including Foreign Correspondents and Southern Goods. "Houston is one of America's fastest-growing cities, and downtown's resurgence is sure to gain more steam too," the editors say.
Conde Nast Traveler includes Houston on its list of Top 15 Places to Go in 2015. This fall, the magazine posed the question of whether Houston was the country's new "it" city. Citing the abundance of "hip places to eat, stay and play" the editors now suggest the question is answered. "If Austin is the hipster-cool college party of Texas," they write, "Houston is the adult dinner party where we prefer to be wined and dined"
In coming up with its six places to go in the year ahead, the Boston Globe cites Houston as the only domestic destination among others such as Cartagena, Columbia; Budapest, Hungary and the country of Nicaragua. "The fourth-largest city in the nation is the South's most stylish destination, with glitzy mega malls, premium outlet centers, and hundreds of up-to-the-moment fashion boutiques," the Globe reports. "The $1.5 billion downtown redevelopment, in anticipation of hosting Super Bowl 2017, has already brought in a slew of new restaurants and bars. The influx adds to an already dynamic, nationally recognized culinary scene showcasing the city's rich, cultural diversity."
The coming year holds more promising things on the horizon. Major projects include:
Buffalo Bayou Park Renovation
The $58 million effort to redesign Buffalo Bayou Park is slated for completion in spring 2015. New trails, gardens, recreation opportunities and a visitors center are part of the effort.
Gorillas of the African Forest
The Houston Zoo will debut its new $29 million Gorillas of the African Forest habitat in early summer. The multi-acre habitat will be one of the largest and most complex in the world.
Hobby International Expansion
A new $156 million international terminal is set to come online in late 2015 at Hobby Airport. The terminal will serve as Southwest Airlines international hub to Latin America.
Alley Theatre Renovation
Downtown's Alley Theatre is undergoing a $46 million renovation, its biggest ever. The theater is getting a complete makeover of the lobby and common areas as well as state-of-the-art production capabilities and an expanded backstage area. It's set to debut in time for the fall season.
A $25 million complex just south of Downtown will house the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston. This multidiscipline facility will become home to a number of independent performing arts organizations in the city, allowing them to pool their resources under one roof. It's slated to open in fall 2015.
Sunset Coffee Building
A decades-old building on Buffalo Bayou at Allen's Landing is being transformed into a recreational center for kayakers, cyclists and others looking to enjoy the waterfront. Houston First is directing the $5 million project, slated for completion in May.
Click here for more on these items and additional things happening in Houston. And click here for additional recent news coverage of the destination.