Houston makes 'Budget Travel' list

Months in the making, Budget Travel's annual list of the hottest budget destinations focuses on destinations that are "as fun as they are affordable."

The magazine's editors chose Houston as one of only two U.S. destinations on the list — the other is the Gulf Coast — citing the city's extraordinary value, particularly in its hotels, restaurants and attractions. 

From Budget Travel:   

"Why in 2011: Houston is home to Texas's biggest shopping mall at 2.2 million square feet; 56,000 acres of green space across the state; and the third most Fortune 500 companies in the country, but when it comes to prices, the U.S.'s fourth-largest city is all about scaling down. 

"Hotel rates have dropped 5 percent since 2009 and four-star rooms are going for $96 according to a recent Hotwire report. And while the city has 8,000 restaurants and a growing culinary scene—local restaurateurs Bryan Caswell and Monica Pope both snagged Best Chef nominations from the James Beard Foundation—good grub doesn't require a splurge. The typical meal in Houston runs $32.50, more than $2.50 cheaper than the national average. 

"Plus, the city is flexing its cultural muscle (the Houston Zoo just unveiled its African Forest exhibit), and encouraging tourists to explore to their heart's content with the Houston CityPASS, which offers access to any combination of six attractions — Space Center Houston, Houston Aquarium and Museum of Fine Arts included — for $39 (a bargain when you consider that a similar pass goes for anywhere from $64 in San Francisco to $79 in New York)."

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