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Cheap Thrills

National magazine dubs Houston one of most affordable travel destinations in America

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Miller Outdoor Theater crowd venue at night
Houston scored in the top 10 for its classical music, which can be heard for free at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. Photo by © Leroy Gibbins/Greater Houston Visitors and Convention Bureau

Houston may be hot, but its attractions pack a lot of bang in a buck — and it looks like travelers are taking notice. Travel + Leisure readers ranked the Bayou City at No. 7 on the list of Best U.S. Cities for Affordable Getaways.

The travel magazine recommends dining out on "the city's old-school Tex-Mex — like Ninfa's on Navigation" and enjoying the values at La Maison, a new "urban bed and breakfast" in Midtown that offers luxurious rooms starting at $159 a night.

Visitors and locals alike can appreciate cheap deals at gourmet restaurants (find CultureMap round-ups here and here), complimentary white wine at art gallery openings and free programming — think classical music, Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera performances — at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Kansas City took the top spot on the list, earning recognition for cheap hotel prices, "fun factory-style tours" of Hallmark and Boulevard Brewing Company and budget-friendly (read: burnt) barbecue. San Antonio ranked No. 3 for its free historic attractions (Remember the Alamo!) and for the affordable option to B-Cycle along the Riverwalk for just $10 per day. 

At No. 9, Austin was recognized for wallet-friendly food truck fare and cheap outdoor thrills (admission to Barton Springs is just $3, but the unmentioned Barton Creek Greenbelt is free). Dallas/Fort Worth took No. 16, with a nod to the (recently admission-free) Dallas Museum of Art and $9 minor league baseball games with downtown Fort Worth views. 

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