Each year TripAdvisor.com ranks American and world cities based "on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor travelers. Award winners were determined based on the popularity of destinations, taking into account travelers' favorites and most highly rated places."
Last year, Houston came in 18th on the list of top American cities. This year we've slipped to number 25, behind a bevy of more traditional tourist towns such as New York, San Antonio, and New Orleans and a few Hawaiian destinations.
Here's the opener of the accompanying blurb for this year's Houston entry.
"This sprawling city hums with the energy and independent spirit that turned it from swampland into the fourth-largest city in the U.S. Everything is big, from the towering skyscrapers to the city's prominence in aerospace, oil, shipping and finance. Even the architecture makes big, bold statements, like the medical center towers that resemble two giant syringes."
The blurb goes on to tout our museums, arts, multiculturalism, Space Center Houston, and then, puzzlingly, it suggests that visitors escape the scorching summer heat either in an indoor attraction, or "particularly in the pedestrian-friendly 6.5-mile underground city."
The tunnels? Really? That's the best we can do?
The prospect of chomping on Ninfa's Express or Whataburger while watching people get haircuts and shoeshines in what amounts to a sterile, depressingly-lit underground airport terminal (with no planes) does not strike us something that would wow a seasoned traveler, but to each his own.
TripAdvisor readers (as opposed to writers) have a better sense of what's great about Houston: our museums, which comprise eight of the eleven top-rated local attractions.