Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States. Of course, a city of this size offers a little bit of everything—professional sports, art, dining, shopping, clubs, theater, and more. Naturally, someone visiting Houston might need some direction from a person in the know (hey, I was born and raised there). Here's my take on fun things to do in H-town.
If there is one person who embodies Texas style, it is Lynn Wyatt. Tall and forever blond, glamorous without being pretentious, simultaneously sweet and shrewd, with arguably the most famous whiskey laugh in the world, she rose from a comfortable Houston childhood—her family started the Sakowitz specialty store chain—to become a global symbol of Texan hospitality and grace. In 1963 she married Oscar Wyatt, the infamous founder of Coastal Oil and Gas.
It was Saturday night in Dallas, and beneath the towering crystal chandeliers at the W hotel bar in Victory Park, personal concierge Gary Jackson was working three smartphones and two groups of clients on opposite sides of the city. Forty-four-year-old Jackson—known around town simply by his surname—gets you past the velvet rope.
Elvira Butz, a septuagenarian adventurer who has dived to the Titanic aboard a Russian submersible, trekked solo through the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, and searched for meteorites in Antarctica, spent the final minutes of December 21, 2012, the day the Mayans supposedly predicted the world would end, dancing to “Gangnam Style” at the base of a 30-foot replica of a Mayan pyramid built on the shore of Lake Austin.
One afternoon in early September, I pulled up to the gates of a nine-acre estate in North Dallas. I waited for them to open, then drove down a long, curving lane to a 15,254-square-foot mansion that looked like a country home for England’s royal family. I rang the doorbell, and a voice over the intercom said, “Please, come in.” But when I opened the door, there was no one to greet me.
Every once in a while, there are moments in Houston that provide a vivid glimpse of the city that was, that aggressively entrepreneurial, insanely individualistic and relentlessly optimistic place of legend. Such a moment was visible the night of September 18th, when the Texas Heart Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary by honoring its founder, Denton A. Cooley, whose name is almost always accompanied by the modifiers “world famous heart surgeon.”
It’s hard to imagine a criminal court with a more stunning view than the chambers of the Honorable Jeffrey Colbath. Each day as I stepped off the elevator and onto the eleventh floor of the Palm Beach County courthouse this March, I couldn’t stop myself from staring out the floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun’s rays knifed through the clouds over the Atlantic, casting shafts of light on the Belvedere towers at the Breakers. Millions of dollars’ worth of mega-yachts packed the Intracoastal Waterway.
Take exit 430A from Interstate 35 in Dallas, then drive north on Oak Lawn Avenue, and you will eventually come to the Ashley Priddy Memorial Fountain, a burbling, five-tiered, stone-and-tile sentry that signals your arrival in Highland Park. As you cross Armstrong Parkway—named for John S. Armstrong, the meatpacking titan who purchased Highland Park’s original 420 acres in 1907—Oak Lawn becomes Preston Road. You’ll notice that the street signs are now blue.
There is a lot going on in the world of Texas women these days: a stamp commemorating Oveta Culp Hobby, former head of the Women’s Army Corps, not to mention one-woman shows in the offing celebrating both legendary journalist Molly Ivins and former Texas Governor Ann Richards.