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Deep in the heart of Downtown, a curious soul may find the entrance to a seven-mile underground tunnel system, covering 95 city blocks. These tunnels aren’t a complete secret. Hundreds of Houstonians pass through them every day during the work week, but for many who don’t work in downtown, the tunnels are a total mystery. Just what is hidden just 20 feet below us in the downtown Houston tunnels?
What is it?
The Houston Tunnel System is a network of air-conditioned pedestrian walkways that link dozens of office towers to a variety of convenient locations all over the city.
The tunnels were originally built in the 1930s and expanded in the 50s and 60s. They provide a quick way for the workers of Downtown Houston to get to work without having to step foot in the hot, Texas sun. Additionally, they can use the Houston tunnels during their lunch break to visit the doctor, go to the bank, get a haircut, mail a package, get in some shopping, and most importantly, grab a bite to eat.
However, the Downtown Houston tunnels are also open to the public and make for a great mini adventure if you are looking to explore downtown without getting drenched in sweat. And there’s a ton of stuff to do down there below the city streets.
What can I find there?
The Houston underground tunnels feature dozens of places to check out and eat. From big time chains like Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s to local favorites like Beck’s Prime, Rustika Cafe and Bakery, Treebeards, and Post Oak Grill, to quaint cultural eats like Cafe Basil (Vietnamese cuisine) and 5411 Empanadas (Latin American cuisines). You can find a complete list of the top-rated restaurants in the Houston tunnels on Yelp. If you really want to taste the best of the Downtown Tunnels,take a guided food tour through some of the restaurants in the tunnels and surrounding area.
In addition, the downtown tunnels are home to small specialty shops, gift stores, newsstands, flower shops, drug stores, copy centers, and dry cleaners.
If you’re really curious about learning all about the fascinating history and secrets of the tunnels, there are small group tours available where a local guide will walk you through the tunnels and tell you everything you could ever want to know about them.
Houstonians also have access to AMC Houston 8, Revention Center, the Shops at Houston Center, and performance halls in the Theater District.
How do I get there?
For street access, you can find entrances at Wells Fargo Plaza and the McKinney garage on Main Street.
Additionally, many downtown buildings have street-level stairs, escalators, and elevators that connect to the tunnels. Many of these buildings are open to the general public during normal operating hours with few restrictions.
The tunnels are open Monday through Friday from 6:00 am to 6:30 pm.
You can find access points and pathways on this Houston tunnel map.
Remember, you can always take a guided tour of the tunnels where you’ll learn all about one of the city’s best kept secrets!
What intrigues you about the tunnels? Will you be making a visit soon? Let us know in the comments below!