Houston is a major-league sports town where fans can cheer for a variety of professional, semi-pro, and collegiate teams year-round. Get into the action with the World Series-winning Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park or score a touchdown with the Texans at NRG Stadium, the world’s first retractable-roof NFL stadium. Grab court-side seats to see the two-time world-champion Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. BBVA Compass Stadium, home of the Dynamos and the Dash, hosts numerous soccer matches throughout the year. Other annual professional sporting events include the Shell Houston Open and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo—the world’s largest.
Houston sports don’t stop at pro. The region’s collegiate teams—Rice University, University of Houston, Texas Southern University, Houston Baptist University, and Prairie View A&M—round out the options, competing in most major sports. Rice won the baseball College World Series in 2003 and the Conference USA baseball Championship in 2006. University of Houston was the Conference USA football champion in 2006.
Staying in shape just seems to be easier in Houston. Being a southern city, Houston enjoys mild winters that allow for outdoor activities year-round. To that end, there are hundreds of miles of hike-and-bike trails, and neighborhoods provide picturesque environments for early morning or evening walks, runs, or rides. Fitness centers abound, from exclusive private clubs like the Houstonian, and the Houston Racquet Club and nationally franchised centers like 24 Hour Fitness and Lifetime Fitness to local YMCAs and independent fitness facilities. Many of these facilities offer a wide range of options for fitness and exercise, including yoga, pilates, racquetball, karate, jazzercise, spinning, swimming, basketball, weight training, and more.
Two of the most popular jogging trails make their way around the outer perimeters of Memorial Park and Rice University. The Seymour Lieberman Exercise Trail at Memorial Park is a 2.93-mile crushed granite and packed-earth, lighted jogging trail with restrooms and water fountains along the way. The trail around Rice University is also approximately three miles in length and follows a picturesque, oak-tree-shaded path within the vibrant area in which the campus lies—adjacent to West University neighborhoods, the Texas Medical Center, and Hermann Park. The trail is not lighted and there are no restrooms or water fountains.
It can be easy to forget that Houston is only an hour by car from Galveston Island, and around five hours from any other Texas beach. Along the Gulf of Mexico runs 624 miles of Texas shoreline, perfect for swimming, jogging, beach volleyball, surfing, and diving. Houston is also flourishing with public swimming pools, including Colonial Park, Dezavala, Love, Independence Heights, and Memorial.
For those who enjoy dancing to keep fit, Houston dance studios and workshops offer styles from salsa to ballroom, hip-hop to country western. Some, like the Beginners Only Social Ballroom on Westheimer Road, teach casual and social dancing with a partner. Others, like Dance Passion Dance Studio near Richmond Avenue, offer vigorous solo and partner lessons.
If tennis is your game, you’ll find three major tennis centers and more than 200 neighborhood courts. The city’s three main tennis centers are Homer Ford in MacGregor Park, Memorial, and Lee LeClear in southwest Houston. There is also an abundance of private and public golf courses and country clubs throughout Houston that maintain excellent greens and amenities. For a list of local courses, see p. 82.
Other private fitness and exercise facilities exist as resident amenities in many apartment complexes, high-rise condominiums, gated communities, and private neighborhoods. Ask your realtor for specific details in the areas of the city you may be interested in.