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.
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There’s enough to do in San Francisco that some people actually spend a lifetime there. If you only have a weekend, though, you have to be particular. You could try visiting the city’s literary sites, except so many writers have lived in San Francisco that even a literary tour must be limited. I suggest a closer focus: the bound worlds of the beat generation and Dashiell Hammett, the great detective writer.
LAS VEGAS HAS ALWAYS HAD THE REPUTATION of being a town where money could buy you anything—except a great meal. This was the last place in America to let go of the belief that the essential component of a gourmet dinner was a huge steak. Quantity rather than quality has long been the hallmark of Vegas dining.
TEXANS ARE BIG ON SMALL TOWNS. THREE FOURTHS of us live in noisy, congested cities; no wonder we grow wistful at the thought of peaceable streets and picturesque Squares. Thus, when Texas Monthly set out to assemble this special issue, we didn’t have to debate the why of small-town appeal.
THE TOWER WITH THE BLINKING RED LIGHTS on the edge of a small town has the distinction of being the tallest man-made object for miles around—taller than the water tank, the courthouse, and the grain elevator.
IT’S OFTEN SAID THAT GRAVESTONES TELL more about how people lived than how they died. Likewise, the small-town cemeteries of Texas reveal much about their communities. The impressive headstones in the St. Paul Lutheran, Holy Cross Catholic, and City cemeteries of Yorktown, for instance, recall a time when farming provided a good living.
MOST SMALL-TOWN AMENITIES—GREAT food, great shopping, and so on—are the kind that, until recently, could only be found in cities. Indeed, they’re the very features that drew generations of Texans out of small towns and into the metropolis, first to visit and then to live. But a vibrant town square is different: It can exist only in a small town, a place sufficiently compact to have a single focus.
A SMALL TOWN WITHOUT A CHARACTER OR TWO is like a water tower without graffiti or a buzzardless blue sky. Male or female, rich or poor, curmudgeonly or kind, small-town characters are the folks that everybody around knows by face, name, and reputation.
STEP INSIDE A SMALL-TOWN LIVE-MUSIC club in Texas and you’ll hear the sounds of the people who live there: country, blues, cajun, conjunto, polka, folk, maybe even rock and roll. The music is often played only on weekends or sometimes once a week, if that. The musicians aren’t always the best.
I AM ALONE IN THE OLD HOTEL, THE ONLY GUEST. The innkeepers are out for dinner. My room has no phone, no television, and no radio.