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Kristin Anderson’s Guide to Houston: From the American cowboy to spaceflight, Houston has it all!

Welcome to Texas, y’all! Here are some sites and suggestions to check out, in no particular order, while in the Houston area before, after, and during the NCRA Conference & Expo. Let’s have some safe fun in the Lone Star State!

Here are my top 10 picks of what to add to your agenda to make sure that your time is well spent.

  • Space Center Houston is about a 30-minute car ride from the hotel. Encompassing the Johnson Space Center, Space Center Houston is the home of NASA Mission Control. The public is invited to view more than 400 artifacts related to the American spaceflight experience and get a glimpse behind the scenes of the International Space Station’s mission control and astronaut training. The Space Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, so if you are a Smithsonian member, bring your card.
  • Take in a little music with the Houston Symphony, which will be performing Star Wars: A New Hope in concert the weekend of the Conference. Or you can catch the revival of the Tony Award-winning musical 1776 performed at The Hobby Center, which is scheduled the weekend before if you plan to come early and take in some culture.
  • Have an underground meal in The Conservatory, a cool oasis boasting a wide selection of food choices. While there, you can explore Houston beneath the streets through the city’s historical and unique underground tunnel ways.
  • Visit the Downtown Aquarium, less than a mile from the hotel. It is one of the neatest things to check out in downtown Houston for the young and young-at-heart, as it features a sunken temple, a stingray reef, and a Texas bayou.
  • Visit the Houston Zoo! At seven miles from the hotel, it is a quick 15-minute car ride. The Houston Zoo has more than 6,000 permanent resident animals and serves around two million visitors per year, according to And if you do not get enough walking in at the zoo, the 445-acre Hermann Park is right next to it and offers many activities to participate in as it welcomes over six million visitors each year.
  • One of my favorite hotspots in Houston is The Rustic. I love the open atmosphere at this unique venue with two locations in Houston — uptown and downtown. I favor The Rustic Downtown. It has kept its focus simple over the years: The kitchen, a backyard atmosphere, drinks, and live music. This venue o­ffers homestyle eats with farm-to-table ingredients while you enjoy a beverage and catch a performance by local and national artists under the stars.
  • Buffalo Bayou Park is another great place to explore that is close to the hotel — only two miles. Houston’s landscapes are unique to this park and beautifully complement the breathtaking views of the city’s skyline. You can get in some Houston sightseeing while taking a kayak tour. Or visit the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway Drive. It is about 6 miles from the hotel and a 15-minute car ride. Check out this website for all the fascinating trails to venture down.
  • If the Old West fascinates you, check out the American Cowboy Museum, only 10 miles from the hotel and a 15-minute car ride. The museum’s mission is to preserve the western heritage of Native Americans, Blacks, Hispanics, and women. The museum is located at the Taylor-Stevenson Ranch and has tours, exhibits, and oral historians who can provide stories and lectures while dressed in native attire and hands-on activities.
  • If shopping is your thing, make some time to visit The Galleria, which is a 15-minute car ride from the hotel. Filled with premium brands, boutiques, and unique clothing shops that you could spend hours in discovering your new wardrobe, The Galleria is the largest mall in Texas.
  • The Palm Houston, another short 15-minute car ride from the hotel, is sophisticated and has been welcoming generations of guests, all of whom are treated like family … including our NCRA steno family. Please join us for my President’s Party on Friday, July 28, from 5:30 – 9 p.m. The party will be hosted by past NCRA Presidents Max Curry, RPR, CRI, and Christine Phipps, RPR, and is not an official part of the NCRA Conference schedule, but all of the funds raised from the party will go toward increasing search engine optimization for the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program. We are looking to increase exposure and expand the marketing of court reporting and captioning as professions. Be a part of the solution and join us for the party! Purchase tickets here or text the keyword kristintickets to 41444. Tickets are $35 each.

Looking forward to seeing everyone soon!

Safe travels, y’all!

Kristin M. Anderson, RPR, is NCRA’s President-Elect and will be installed as NCRA President at the NCRA Conference & Expo. She can be reached at