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Best Tourist Attraction Houston 2009 - The Refineries at Night

Readers' Choice: NASA

In showing off our fair city, too many people take visitors to things that can be found anywhere. Every city bigger than Austin has an arts district with pretensions to "world-classiness"; every metropolis has its Galleria equivalent, River Oaks-type district and downtown full of skyscrapers. What Houston has that few cities on Earth outside of the Persian Gulf can match is monstrous, flame- and smoke-belching petrochemical refineries. As any old-time Houstonian can tell you, they are best viewed at night, when the flames from the crackers cast their hellish orange glow on all their surroundings and the miles of tubes, pipes, valves and structures show off a galaxy of sparkling safety lights. So pile Uncle Chuck and Aunt Ruth in the family Tahoe, take 'em out the La Porte Freeway and show 'em what this city is really all about. (We like to add music to the mix — we go for the Scorsese effect, and play Mozart or Beethoven for that jarring juxtaposition of heavenly sounds and hellish visuals.)

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