Houston Dubbed Cultural Capital of the South

There’s rather a misconception about Texas among people who haven’t been here. A lot of people imagine Texas as the Wild West, full of BBQ joints, rodeos, oil derricks, and tractors as far as the eye can see. Of course, you can certainly find all of those things in certain places, and it’s true we love the rodeo for the month a year that everybody breaks out their cowboy boots and heads for Reliant Center. But there’s a lot more to Houston than that, and locals have known that for years. It looks like the rest of the country is starting to figure it out!

Worth Magazine recently dubbed Houston “the cultural capital of the South,” and for lots of good reasons. World-class museums, a diverse citizen population, top-notch foodie scene, and performing arts options galore make Houston a worthy recipient of the title.

Houston is home to 2.3 million people, hailing from countries and cultures all over the world. Each group brings a little piece of their home when they settle here, meaning you can go on a culinary tour of the planet without leaving the Beltway. This year, 11 Houston chefs were among the semi-finalists for the coveted James Beard Award, and more than a few big-name Houston chefs have taken the top honor in past years.

Fan of the opera, ballet, or symphony? We’ve got a world-class performance company in residence. You can also catch stage plays, touring Broadway shows, interactive performance art, and whatever else strikes your fancy, culturally. Did you know Houston has a Poet Laureate program? Yep. Sawyer Yards is home to 300 artists working in all kinds of media, and the former railway yard is now one of the largest artistic communities in the nation.

In recent years, Houston’s art and culture scene has been on the receiving end of massive investment that has helped get the city where it is today. The Museum of Fine Arts is currently in the midst of a 14-acre expansion to the tune of $450 million. After Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera were temporarily displaced due to flooding, and major renovations were made to the Wortham Center and Hobby Center before they could go home again. The Menil Collection has grown tremendously over the last decade, adding a drawing institute, sculpture garden, and one for the best mid-century art collections in the country. (Did we mention the Menil Collection is, as always, free to the public? Because it is.) It’s taken nearly 15 years and millions upon millions of dollars to build Sawyer Yards from a railway yard full of decaying warehouses to a bustling, 55-acre hub for the artistic community.

Maybe you’re a lifelong Houstonian happy to see the city getting its due recognition as a rising cultural center, or maybe you’re a brand-new corporate transfer excited to learn that your new home isn’t all cowboys, calf-ropings, and country music after all. Wherever you might fall along that spectrum, we hope you’ll take advantage of the numerous cultural opportunities the city has to offer, and maybe find something new to enjoy that wasn’t already on your radar.