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Lots to see, much to do

What do you like to do? Go to the ballet? Catch a baseball game? Go shopping? Houston has a broad landscape of things to do, with diverse offerings to fulfill nearly any passion.

The sports hound has a field of professional sports teams to follow: the Houston Astros, the Houston Rockets, the fierce Houston Texans and Houston Dynamo, our professional soccer team that won back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007.

More than 200 institutions are devoted to the arts, science and history in Houston, with a variety of museums and performing arts organizations. Space Center Houston draws national and international visitors, while the Museum of Fine Arts, The Menil Collection, the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Children's Museum of Houston and the Houston Museum of Natural Science are all world-class.

Houston is one of few U.S. cities that offer year-round resident companies in all major performing arts, with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Ballet and the highly regarded Alley Theatre.

Houston also draws top talent and is on the tour circuit for most major bands, comedians and other performers. Just some of the city's key performing arts facilities include the Verizon Wireless Theater at Bayou Place, the Wortham Theater Center, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, just minutes from Woodforest.

When it comes to dining, the hardest thing will be deciding where to eat, as the 10-county Houston area has more than 7,200 restaurants with a broad range of culinary choices. Want to try Belgian fare or perhaps have a taste of the Caribbean? You'll find that and much more in Houston.

And, of course, there are many venues and activities devoted to the family, from Six Flags SplashTown to the Houston Zoo and the Kemah Boardwalk. The Downtown Aquarium has an exotic collection of sea life or the young and young-at-heart can explore Galveston's Moody Gardens and its Rainforest, Discovery and Aquarium pyramids or play at the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier.

Also popular are Houston's annual events, with a highlight being the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a three-week extravaganza that includes concerts by famed performers, exhibitors, a large midway, and - of course - all the bronco-riding and bull-busting action. The Azalea Trail is a colorful weekend when Houstonians appreciate the blazes of color blooming in some of the area's best gardens and the Bayou City Art Festival celebrates a variety of artistic media from hundreds of national artists. Other save-the-date events include the fun and funky Art Car Parade, the Houston Shakespeare Festival that attracts hundreds of thousands to its free month-long performances, the renowned Texas Renaissance Festival in nearby Plantersville and the Festival of Lights with more than 1 million lights, holiday shopping, pictures with Santa and an outdoor ice rink.

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