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Three Perfect Days: Houston

The largest city in the Lone Star State imbues its flourishing fine-arts institutions, adventurous restaurants, lush parks and friendly bars and cafés with the same independent Texas spirit that first put it on the map

Author Adam K. Raymond Photography Jill Hunter

Alex Harrah’s "Cigs Kill" at the Art Car Museum

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TEN DAYS INTO THE 20th CENTURY, a drilling derrick just outside Houston struck oil at a depth of 1,000 feet, spewing Texas tea high into the air and almost instantly transforming the city, the state and ultimately the country. Over the next 100 years, Houston would grow into a global hub of business and energy while earning a reputation as a metropolis full of boisterous oilmen and their spectacularly coiffed wives. To this day, some see the city only as a home to men in 10-gallon hats and $10,000 suits (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but those who’ve watched closely know it’s morphed into something much, much more.

Today’s Houston is culturally diverse, surprisingly green and one of the country’s most vigorous supporters of the arts. As any local will tell you, the fourth largest U.S. city has enough innovative menus to rival the three that rank ahead of it. And still, vestiges of the early days remain. Houston is a seamless melding of spurs and sophistication — and after experiencing both, you’ll realize you haven’t truly messed with Texas until you’ve made your mark on Houston.

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