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Getting Around Houston in a Rental Car

Houston Driving Tips

Houston is one of the most visited places in the United States because of its diverse culture, thriving arts scene, impressive architecture, thrilling sporting events, and unrivalled food scene. No wonder Best Cities included Houston in their top ten list of best cities in the USA, and called it the American city of the future.

Since Houston is a huge city, it is highly recommended to rent a car so you can easily explore the area at your own pace. Start comparing rental cars at VroomVroomVroom now so you can find the perfect vehicle for your next trip. Aside from providing you a hassle-free booking experience, we have also shared some driving tips below to guide you on your vacation.

Where to drive your rental car in Houston

  • Downtown: Houston's largest business district is not only home to Fortune 500 companies, it is also a major destination for entertainment and sporting events. The Theater District features several performing arts venues and the 130,00 square foot entertainment complex Bayou Place. Sports fanatics can catch the Houston Rockets and Houston Astros at the Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park.
  • Uptown: Also known as The Galleria Area, this place is the center of high-fashion retail in the city. You can find the largest shopping mall in Texas here called The Galleria. This massive mall houses many upscale shops as well as world-class restaurants and an indoor ice skating rink. Another popular landmark in this area is the 901-feet Williams Tower.
  • Houston Museum District: This is the ideal place for all art lovers because there are 19 museums to check out. You can get in for free in most of these museums while others offer museum free days. There are four walkable zones in the area so you can just park your car adjacent to the McGovern Centennial Gardens or across from the Law Building at MFAH for free.
  • Webster: Coming from Houston, it will only take around 30 minutes to reach this city. Get ready for an out-of-this-world experience when you visit the Space Center Houston. After getting a behind-the-scenes peek in NASA, you can enjoy the other attractions and numerous dining options nearby.

Driving tips in Houston

  • Make sure to wear safety belts since all passengers are required to wear one by law, especially those who are under 17 years old.
  • It is important to know the speed limit because the authorities sometimes change the speed limit. The speed limit within the city is set to 30 mph, but the speed on motorways is set to 70 mph. 
  • Don't drink and drive because the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Texas is 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and above. Drivers below 21, on the other hand, will be forced to pay around $500 if caught having any trace of alcohol in his/her blood.
  • If you are used to driving to the left, then make sure to remember to give right-of-way to vehicles coming from the right in all intersections. Stay in the middle or left part of the road (for two lanes) if you are heading straight.

Parking in Houston

Since most of the attractions in Houston are located downtown, you can expect parking rates to be quite expensive even reaching up to $40 for the first two hours. That's why it is advisable to look for parking that is a bit farther from your destination. You can see the available parking lots and rates here. If you want to enjoy free parking, go out after 6pm or on Sundays when most parking garages are open for free.

Toll roads in Houston

There are currently 11 toll roads in Houston and the most expensive is Ford Bend Parkway which costs around 53.3 cents. Most rental car companies have their own Toll Pass Program, which allows you to drive through electronic toll lanes and payment gets charged on your credit card. Here's a map of the toll roads in Houston to guide you on your next trip.

Driving distances

With a car rental, you can easily explore amazing places outside the city! We have listed down some recommended day trips from Houston.

  • Houston to Galveston: 1 hour (50.9 miles)
  • Houston to Port Arthur: 1 hour and 30 minutes (89.6 miles)
  • Houston to Austin: 2 hours and 30 minutes (165.3 miles)


Make sure to get a full tank of gas when you return your rental car to avoid paying fuel charges. Always keep your receipt for verification purposes. Here's a list of gas stations in Houston that are open 24 hours.

  • Exxon: 5702 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057
  • Raceway: 6737 W Tidwell Rd, Houston, TX 77092
  • Shell: 1632 S Voss Rd, Houston, TX 77057

There are some rules that you need to follow to make your driving experience in Houston pleasant such as wearing safety belt all the time, avoiding driving after drinking alcohol, and maintaining your speed. Parking is also quite expensive in some areas especially in downtown Houston so try to look for a cheaper parking outside the busy area.

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