This opinion is coming from two 34 year old females, who go to a new stadium every year. :)
A friend and I went there this year for the first time. Let's just say we won't be back! Houston is a crappy city, bums everywhere, and terrible service. Downtown is DEAD, even on weekend days AND nights. Not a good place for two blonde girls to walk around. But we did anyways.
First, both airports are no where near the stadium. So you have to take a $50 taxi or Super Shuttle to get to your hotel.
We stayed on the outskirts by the Medical Center (only about 15-20 min away via taxi to the Stadium) to save money, which was fine (and only like $80/night) but had to take a shuttle, taxi, or bus to get anywhere. Taxis rip you off there. The Light rail system is great! Only $1.25 one way. It goes in a straight line, so you can't even get lost. So, stay somewhere within a block of the light rail, but no more than a block because at night it's scary to walk around! We had our hotel shuttle drive us to the light rail and then we took the light rail and got off a few blocks from the Stadium. But after a night game, walking back to the light rail is scary.
We ate at a GREAT Italian restaurant called Birraporetti's in downtown before the game. It's right by the Aquarium. I definitely recommend it. It's inexpensive, nice inside, and only about a 10 minute walk to the game (and a few blocks away from the light rail.)
The Home Plate Bar & Grill across the street from the stadium is pretty much the only one to go to. It wasn't the nicest (they serve your beer in a small plastic cup like you're at a frat party) but it was good enough to kill some time before the game.
The Galleria area is nice. It's a nice suburban area with a big, clean mall. It even has an ice rink in the middle of the mall. It's not near the light rail though. So you might have to take a bus to get there.
There is a cool little strip of bars on Westheimer St. (about a $12 cab ride, 10 mins from the stadium.)We were going to take a bus but it was too scary outside. Definitely go to Boondocks. It's chill and has nice little patio.
Minute Maid Park itself is perfectly fine. It's clean, has nice fans. If feels like your in CA weather inside that dome. Our Friday night game had $1 hotdogs! We got our ticket for the first game at the box office, because let's face it, it's Houston and there are a million seats for sale. For the other 2 games we got our tickets the night before on Stubhub.com. We sat behind the visitor's dugout (our team- Angels!) for about $30-45 a seat. So, definitely spend the extra $20 and sit there as opposed to up at the top! Be sure you go to the BBQ place on the field level between home and first base and get the loaded Baked Potato. You have to get something bbq in Texas! The little train in the outfield is very lame. When an Astro hits a homerun, it moves like 5 feet at 2 miles an hour and stops. And it's behind sponsor signs (which I heard are new) so you barely even see it happen. The Friday night fireworks are pretty amazing. They open up that dome in 12 mintes and then the whole fireworks show feels like a finale. Some fan there told me it was the 4th best show worldwide and the 2nd in the US!
So, to sum things up: If you're going to go to Texas, go to Arlington! And then pay the $50 cab ride to go to the bars in Fort Worth on the weekend night.
Good luck in your travels!
This being my home ballpark I have to agree with pretty much everything but I have a few recommendations. 1st thing when coming to Houston rent a car your going to need it. You can stay downtown or use light rail but between the downtown hotels/ light rail and Minute Maid are couple of places were the bums congregate. 2nd Bunch of nice Hotels in Downtown if you want to save some money that rental car can get you to cheaper but still nice alternatives in Galleria area and its easier to avoid the bums. Nightlife you are going to need that car again its kind of spread out. Food Goode Company BBQ on Kirby, el tiempo for fajitas. I also would make the same recommendation for Rangers everything is very spread out.
I agree both Stadiums in Texas were spread out, but no different than any other big city. We always get a rental car when flying somewhere, its just nice not having to depend on Public transportation. We learned the hard way in Cali that just because a bus will take you to the stadium they may not have one to pick you up and that means walking 2.5 miles with 2 little kids at dark. (Not fun or safe feeling.) While in Houston we stayed at the Holiday Inn Houston Downtown hotel. It was very very nice. About 3/4 mile walk from the stadium, which we didn't mind. Had a nice pool and hot tub which we had to ourselves and complimentary Lemonade, milk, and cookies in the afternoon which the kids loved. In traveling to any new city, its always best to check and double check how your going to navigate the city and to the spots you want to visit. Usually hotel staff are very nice over the phone and helpful in figuring out if public transportation will be easy or if renting a car would be better. Hope you better travels this year! Where do you plan on going this year Julie?