Houston, already a top 2011 value destination selected by Budget Travel and Hotwire.com, has been named one of summer's top 5 bargain destinations by SmarterTravel.com. Focusing on destinations—New York City, Fort Myers, Costa Rica and Reno round out the top five—that "deliver bargain appeal and plenty of fun," SmarterTravel cites Houston's good value on hotels, restaurant and attractions.

Houston Value

  • Per Hotels.com's Hotel Price Index, the average price per room per night in Houston in 2010 was $106.94, compared with Austin ($116.76), Chicago ($133.93), Washington DC ($140.43), New Orleans ($132.27), NYC ($194.14), Los Angeles ($116.76) and San Francisco ($125.81). U.S. average is $114.
  • According to a 2010 survey by Zagat, the average meal in Houston costs $32.53. Average in Dallas is $35.03, Chicago $35.17, Washington DC $35.13., NYC $41.81, Los Angeles $34.95, Miami $39.86. U.S. national average is $35.10. There are 8,000 restaurants in Houston with culinary choices representing more than 35 countries and American regions. Houstonians dine out more than residents in any other city, 4.0 times a week compared with national average of 3.2.
  • A Houston CityPASS (which includes access to the Houston Zoo, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Space Center Houston and more) is less expensive than CityPASSes in all other cities ($39 in Houston vs. $79 in New York, $69 in Chicago, $59 in Philadelphia and $74 in Atlanta).
  • With the United/Continental merger, Houston is now the largest hub for the world's largest airline. The Houston Airport System services 113 U.S. and 67 international destinations.

Houston For Free

  • Ten museums in the Museum District-including the globally renowned Menil Collection-are free all the time. An additional seven museums - including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Children's Museum of Houston- have dedicated free times each week.
  • Miller Outdoor Theatre might be one of the best reasons to visit (and live in!) Houston. Open from March through November, the venue hosts a range of performances including classical music, ballet, dance, film, Shakespeare and more.
  • Downtown's new 12-acre Discovery Green park has something going on all the time. In the spring and fall, spend happy hour listening to local musicians perform in the amphitheater and pick up fresh produce at the Green Market on Sundays.
  • Dubbed the Garage Mahal, the Art Car Museum is unlike anything you've ever imagined. It's the only place you'll find the antennae and wing-cloaked Roachster or the Honda motorcycle that has been transformed into a shiny red rolling stiletto art car. 
  • The Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is the creme de la creme of the grinding and boarding world. The $2.2 million, state-of-the-art facility-thought to contain the largest cradle in the world-is located close to downtown, near Eleanor Tinsley Park. 
  • Tucked on the west side of Memorial park is the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, a 155-acre nature sanctuary that educates visitors on how to protect native plants and animals in the city. Walk the center's five miles of trails and visit the sanctuary's interactive exhibits free of charge. 
  • Set sail on a free, 90-minute boat tour of the Port of Houston. While on board the 90-passenger boat, you'll learn about the history of the seaport and be able to watch ocean freighters and barges navigate the 50-mile channel. The tour is free, but reservations are required. 
  • Situated inside downtown's Sam Houston Park, the Heritage Society Museum is the city's only interactive, outdoor museum. The site features structures dating back to the 1820s, including a 4th-ward cottage and a Greek revival house build for Rice University founder William Marsh Rice. The museum itself is free, but guided tours are $10. 
  • Set in Houston's Third Ward, Project Row Houses is a nonprofit art initiative aimed at creating a positive place for local artists to work. Some of the shotgun-style houses are dedicated to art and photography, while others are devoted to the literary and performing arts.

Summer Sweepstakes
Houston CityPASS is counting down the days to a major milestone--the sale of the 100,000th Houston CityPASS. To celebrate this landmark event, CityPASS, the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Houston attractions have put together a celebratory sweepstakes package that includes not one, but two very cool prizes: 1) a Houston VIP vacation experience and 2) two CityPASS ticket booklets to the winner's CityPASS destination of choice, plus $500 in spending money.
Even though the 100,000th Houston CityPASS will be sold sometime in May, travelers have nearly four full months (May 9-Sept. 5, 2011) to enter the sweepstakes. Enter simply by posting a Houston CityPASS review on VisitHouston.com. Once the sweepstakes closes, one randomly selected-and very lucky-traveler will be chosen from among the entries.

More than 70 special offers--from ticket deals and hotel packages to restaurant perks and transportation promos--are live on www.VisitHoustonTexas.com.