As the fourth-largest city in the United States, Houston, Texas is a metropolis with a Texas accent. It is diverse and urban, with no shortage of entertainment, culture, arts, shopping, sports, dining and nightlife. Besides being a hub for space exploration, it boasts theaters, many museums and galleries, and several professional sports teams.

Among other things, visitors to Houston can learn about the U.S. space program at Space Center Houston; shop ‘til they drop on weekends at Traders Village; ride the Wildlife Carousel at the Houston Zoo; take a shark tunnel tour at the Downtown Aquarium; and see a collection of restored aircraft and photo archives at the Lone Star Flight Museum. In addition, Houston offers year-round recreation, with beaches, lakes, golf courses, swimming pools and tennis courts.

Houston’s Museum District boasts 18 museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Children’s Museum of Houston and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Visitors to this district can view one of only two Rembrandt paintings in Texas, one of the most renowned surrealist collections in the country, a top collection of gems and minerals, and a 7,400-square-foot model of the human body.

Performing arts also is popular in Houston. The city’s Theater District is home to the Houston Ballet, the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony, Alley Theatre and Theatre Under the Stars (musicals).

Sports fans can see professional teams play baseball, (Houston Astros), basketball (Houston Rockets), football (Houston Texans) and soccer (Houston Dynamo). And those who want to have a true Western sports experience can go to the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March. When the sun goes down, Houston heats up. More than 50 restaurants and bars have opened in the past several years in downtown Houston. Midtown, Rice Village (near Rice University) and Washington Avenue (just west of downtown) also are popular night spots.

With more than 8,000 restaurants, Houston offers everything from fine dining to hole-in-the-wall Tex-Mex and Gulf Coast Creole food.

Houston’s climate is subtropical, with average annual precipitation of 54 inches. Summer daytime temperatures can reach the mid 90s with up to 90 percent humidity. Spring is milder, with daytime temperatures reaching the low 80s and spectacular thunder and lightning shows. And visitors who like cooler temperatures should visit during winter, when the daytime temperatures hover in the 60s.

Houston offers three airports — George Bush Intercontinental, Hobby and Ellington — that together link the region to more than 175 destinations. Around town, the 7.5-mile MetroRail stops at the Museum District, Texas Medical Center and Reliant Park. Interstate 10 and I-45 run through Houston.