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Houston, Texas

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Rodeo cowboys and international travelers alike find fun in the Bayou City

On its 2013 list of places to visit in the world, The New York Times ranked Houston, Texas, number seven. Take the newspaper's advice and explore one of the most underrated cities in the country.

Plan your trip around the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

This annual event serves as the largest of its kind, and the livestock show and rodeo runs Feb. 25 through March 17 this year. Plan on spending more than a few days at Reliant Park, 8400 Kirby Drive, and even then you won't have time to take in all of the sights, sounds and activities. You can create a schedule based on a particular livestock showing or musical performer, of which this year the stars include country singers Toby Keith, Alan Jackson and George Straight, as well as Pitbull, Mary J. Blige and Bruno Mars. Visit rodeohouston.com for more information.

Stay at Hotel ZaZa

Just 10 minutes from Reliant Park sits Hotel ZaZa, which was the Warwick Hotel from 1926 until its 2007 renovation and renaming. In addition to being close enough for comfort to the HLSR festivities at 5701 Main St., it offers easy access to the city's many museums and parks. Opt for one of the hotel's Magnificent Seven Suites, such as the Rock Star, which spans 2,160 square feet and features mirrored walls and rock star prints, a large dining room table and gourmet kitchen. The room has two bedrooms, two and a half baths, a study, fireplace and the most amazing view in the hotel. Visit hotelzaza.com for more information.

Eat at Hugo's

Chef Hugo Ortega, who also has Backstreet Café in town, was a finalist for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards and recently published his first cookbook, Street Food of Mexico. He describes his authentic Mexican cuisine as "full of light, fresh tastes; deep, complex flavors; and earthy notes, all combined to create a cuisine like no other." Critics agree. Bon Appetit named his Montrose-area restaurant a "Top Table," and Gourmet ranked it as one of the "Restaurants We Love." Diners rave about his Costillas de Res con Torta de Mole, braised short ribs served with savory mole poblano cornbread and sautéed greens. If you're in town on a Saturday or Sunday, don't miss brunch at the restaurant, located at 1600 Westheimer Road. Visit hugosrestaurant.com for more information.

Shop at The Galleria

A trip to Houston doesn't seem complete without a day spent at The Galleria, 5085 Westheimer Road. The 2.4-million-square-foot mall, which also has two hotels on-site and three office towers, features anchor stores Neiman Marcus, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, as well as high-end favorites, including Tiffany & Co., Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Chanel, Prada, Miu Miu and Cartier. Visit simon.com for more information.

March proves the perfect time to visit Houston, Texas, before the brutal humidity arrives for the summer.

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