Houston is so much more than the casual visitor may notice. When you ride in from either airport, you are barraged with freeway construction, tacky billboards, and the effects of lax zoning laws and urban sprawl. And many people, mistakenly, think that’s all Houston has to offer. You have to look more closely to see the vibrant, cosmopolitan heart of the most cultured (and countercultured and multicultured) city in Texas.  A town with an intellectual life and artistic intensity as strong as its working class ethic. Houston has more museums, theatre companies, visual artists, bands, and folk art practitioners than any other place in the state, and the multicultural breadth of its arts scene rivals NY or LA. It also has beautiful parks and green space, and an impressive range of amazing and historic architecture. I have lived for years in Dallas and Austin as well, and I love each of those towns for what they are, but in my experience they really don’t compare to Houston on a cultural level. There is so much to see and do and experience in Houston that one can never really take it all in. That, combined with southern friendliness and an amazing international flavor, makes it a world-class city. And if you fail to look beyond the traffic and sprawl, you might totally miss what the city is about. My advice to anyone visiting for the first time is to visit the Montrose, Museum District, Rice University, and Downtown entertainment areas, ask the locals where they eat, shop and hang out, and pick up a copy of the Houston Press. You will quickly find there’s a lot more to the Bayou City than the significant lack of hype would suggest.