Downtown Houston, as expected, is situated right in the center of the city and is surrounded by Highway 59 (“Southwest Freeway”) on the east, I-45 on the south and west, and I-10 on the north.
As with most city centers, one-way streets abound, but finding your way is pretty easy. Plus, Downtown Houston offers approximately 100,000 parking spaces, so you’re never far from your destination in the 1.8-square-mile area.
In 2004, the 16-stop, 7.5-mile METRORail light rail opened, running from the Fannin South Park & Ride to the University of Houston – Downtown, with several convenient stops in Downtown. The average weekly ridership is more than 38,000. In 2013, the rail added nine more stops to the north, with plans to continue expanding in other directions, including three additional downtown stops with access to the Theater District. The METRORail, combined with a robust bus system, gives Downtown Houston commuters and visitors a reliable, affordable way to reach all the city has to offer.
Downtown has some other convenient options for getting around, as well. The 6-mile tunnel system provides an oasis during the hot summer months and a faster route than walking amid city traffic. Created to connect two downtown movie theaters, “the tunnels” are currently a popular place for professionals to spend the lunch hour, get their hair done or visit a doctor. You can also hop on a Houston B-cycle, a bike-sharing venture, to get from Point A to Point B. You can also ride for free on Greenlink, which connects major office buildings, the convention center, hotels, restaurants and more in the downtown area.
The Scoop on the Neighbors
When you think of “downtown,” you probably think “established.” And Houston’s certainly is that, but with even more room to grow. A recent $4 billion, decade-long push from developers produced the likes of Discovery Green Park, GreenStreet, and sports venues Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center. Energy companies, banks, law offices, and transportation and logistics companies call Downtown home, along with 12 Fortune 500 company headquarters.
Dining and nightlife make up the biggest portion of retail space Downtown. The Shops at Houston Center, Phoenicia Specialty Foods, the tunnels, and GreenStreet see a lot of hustle and bustle from professionals during the week, while the House of Blues, the Toyota Center, Lucky Strike, and Market Square Park are nighttime and weekend destinations. There is a great opportunity for retail shopping Downtown to accommodate the growing number of people who live and work there.