Highway to Home

April 1, 2008 by  
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Big city life, small town charm

Suburban residents no longer have to go inside the Loop or Beltway for great entertainment. Developers have brought the venues to them. Big city life and small town charm are just right down the freeway.

Sometimes, busy city life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Attractions and services are great; traffic, crowds and elevated crime levels are not. Suburbs remain attractive places to live and raise families for millions of Houstonians. High-end restaurant and entertainment venues help provide residents with virtually everything they need. “What I like about [the suburbs] is the community,” says Kellie Bass, an eastside resident. “Here, everybody is really down-to-earth. I have no problem with walking into a store, standing in line and talking to the person in front of or behind me; everybody is just that friendly.”

I-45 North (North Freeway) Houston’s north side has experienced explosive growth for decades. It has expanded beyond The Woodlands, Klein, and Spring to turn sleepy towns like Conroe and Magnolia into booming suburban communities. Anchored by feature attractions in The Woodlands, residents enjoy malls filled with national retailers, a river walk shopping and dining district, restaurants, luxurious waterfront hotels and the Cynthia Woods-Mitchell Pavilion, one of the nation’s top concert venues. Another popular shopping district, Old Town Spring, offers quaint shops, antiquing and dining.

U.S. 59 North (Eastex Freeway) Close to one of the nation’s top airports, towns like Kingwood and Humble are filled with families who depend on the airport for work or travel. Restaurants and shopping are near, along with a wide selection of golf courses including Redstone, home to the Shell Houston Open. U. S. 59 North is one of Houston’s bigger, less congested freeways for those who need to drive into town.

I-10 East/S.H. 225 (East Freeway/ La Porte Freeway? Some call the east side Houston’s Second Skyline. However, the Houston Ship Channel’s home is more than just power plants and smoke stacks. The area is also laden with historical places. Deer Park is known as the Birthplace of Texas; the Battle of San Jacinto was fought in an area near present-day La Porte. Today, the San Jacinto Monument, the world’s tallest free-standing obelisk, marks the swampy area where Texas won its independence. Also on display is the U.S.S. Texas, a survivor of both World Wars. The industrial corridor is the economic lifeblood of the community. The plants provide jobs while donating money to schools and projects including nature centers, after-school programs and community outreach. Baytown, one of the area’s most populous towns, continues to grow while embracing small-town life.

I-45 South (Gulf Freeway) The Clear Lake area and regions around the Gulf Freeway are beneficiaries of NASA. Thanks to the high-paying jobs in the region, it has always been ahead of the pack when it comes to luxurious homes and family friendly experiences. Residents are close to Galveston Bay, local marinas and bay-side towns such as Bacliff, Seabrook and Kemah. The Kemah Boardwalk has beautiful waterfront views and many entertainment venues. This area is also home to nature preserves, including the Armand Bayou Nature Center where visitors can go on birding walks or ride pontoon boats on the bayou. Friendswood is a growing suburb in the area. As developers “go to where the people are,” shopping and restaurants are right around the corner from virtually any location.

Hwy. 288 South (South Freeway) The community of Pearland has experienced significant population and economic booms. Residents wanting to get away from Harris County taxes hit the jackpot here. This area offers residents beautiful scenery, good neighbors and quiet living. With top communities like Shadow Creek Ranch and Silver Lake more families are calling it home. The quiet towns of Manvel and Alvin are slowly growing while keeping their small town charm. Freeway expansion has made the 12 mile commute from Hwy. 288 South at Broadway to the Texas Medical Center even easier.

U.S. 59 South (Southwest Freeway) Driving down the Southwest Freeway, it is easy to see this region is still growing. Sprawling estates near top dining and entertainment venues make for ideal suburban life. With boutique shopping and a trendy mall, the region has become a favorite home for dozens of professional athletes. “There are so many reasons that make this a great area to live,” says Sugar Land Mayor Dave Wallace. “It is one of the most benevolent communities I’ve ever lived in. From fund-raising contributions to just helping each other out, Sugar Land is a very close-knit community.” Sugar Land Town Square presents Movies under the Moon on Friday nights, concerts or Sugar Land Superstar, the community’s version of “American Idol,” on weekends.

I-10 West (Katy Freeway) The Houston area stretches far to the west, and includes booming Katy and quiet, rustic towns like Sealy. High school football’s supremacy is only surpassed by the area’s deep love of community. Not only do the areas west of Houston foster a sense of togetherness, they possess progressive thinking. A group called Greater West Houston has developed plans and visions through the year 2050, when GWH projects 1 million new residents and 500,000 new jobs. Goals include being the best place to live, work, play and raise a family in the Greater Houston area. Attractions include Katy Mills Mall, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center and the Bear Creek War Monument.

U.S. 290 (Northwest Freeway) The northwest area’s convenient location is centered amid downtown, Bush Intercontinental Airport and the energy corridor. The Texas Hill Country can be easily accessed from here. Cypress, Jersey Village and Waller boast new developments, fantastic school districts (Cy-Fair ISD is one of the best in the state) and a perpetual sense of community. “I’ve talked with a lot of people whose children are moving back with their families,” Courtney Rutherford, a life long Jersey Village resident says. “My kids are going to school with my friend’s kids, and that’s just a really good community.” There are many entertainment options, including tours of the St. Arnold’s Brewery, malls and other attractions.

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