While she's been working the skies between New Zealand and the USA, Jess has developed a real passion for Houston. Here are some of her ideas for a terrific time in Texas.
Flights to Houston
A Houston holiday is larger than life and more soulful than a Willie Nelson ballad. It goes straight for your tastebuds, with BBQ food that knocks your socks off. It gives your mind something to chew on at Discovery Green and Space Center. And it lets you relax and unwind in twinkly night-time beer gardens, where the soundtrack is as chilled as the pilsner.
Houston’s also handy to some of the south’s other big drawcards, like San Antonio, Austin and New Orleans. You can even use Houston as the launch pad for a road trip that goes all the way to Chicago.
Load up with Texan BBQ!
"The only thing better than the aroma of beef brisket slow-cooking in a smoker oven is sitting down to eat it. Houston is famous for its barbecue joints and Goode Co. is one of the best examples in the city - simply line up with your tray and serve yourself some Southern goodness."
See what you can find at Discovery Green
"Discovery Green is a park with a difference. The whole idea with this huge central-city green space is to provide visitors with a glimpse of the cultural and creative things that make life in Houston unique and fun. Everything's free!"
Find a cool garden bar
"Houston's warm climate has hatched a great selection of outdoor bars. There are plenty to choose from, but my favourite is the Axelrad beer garden. It has hammocks and live music, and at night the place lights up with LEDs - like a bar in an urban fairytale."
Catch an unforgettable sunset
"Called 'Twilight Epiphany Skyspace', this phenomenal piece of art uses light, space and the sky to wow audiences seated beneath it. It's installed at Rice University in the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion and the best time to watch is at dusk. Sometimes there's music with it."
Visit when the Carnival's in town
"Houston's Carnival season starts around the end of February and runs for three weeks. There's music, livestock and all kinds of western-style events, including a BBQ contest. A massive ferris wheel called La Grande XL pops up as part of the fun."
Find the perfect place to stay
Where to go and what to see in Houston
While it looks glittery and contemporary, Houston is a city that's steeped in history. The state of Texas has changed hands a number of times in its past and during the American Civil War it featured on both sides of the argument. History buffs will find fascinating war memorials, the most impressive of which is undoubtedly the San Jacinto Battle Monument and Museum.
As far as entertainment's concerned, there's everything from balloon rides, kayak trips and bike trails to exploring the famous Houston Space Centre, plus some relaxed options if you prefer taking things a little slower. Get out to the beach or discover some of the huge city parks, then duck inside one of many local galleries to cool off and take in the stunning artworks.
Wherever you go in Houston, an exceptional food experience is just a tummy rumble away. While famous for its Tex-Mex flavours, this city has been expanding its culinary repertoire in recent years. You can chow down on a bao, dip into Deep South cuisine or follow your nose to an authentic barbecue restaurant where meltingly tender smokehouse meats take 24 hours to cook. Wherever your appetite leads you, you'll find that Houston's food has a lot of soul.
Keep exploring Houston
Best time to go
The most popular times to visit Houston are late winter/early spring (February through to May) and late autumn/early winter (October-November).
How much will it cost?
Not including air travel and hotels, you should allow about USD $150 to $200 a day per person for food and entertainment.
Houston is in the Zika virus zone, so take or buy mosquito repellent.
Auckland (AKL) to Houston (IAH)
Wellington (WLG) to Houston (IAH)
Christchurch (CHC) to Houston (IAH)
Queenstown (ZQN) to Houston (IAH)
*Flight times are based on the fastest route available.
**Indirect flights may also be available for this route.