The Texas Socialite's Guide to Houston

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 1/23/2017, 8:37 a.m.
It would be impossible to settle on just one description of Texas' legendary Lynn Wyatt: Millionaire philanthropist, world-traveling socialite, octogenarian ...
Houston/VisitHoustonTexas.com

By Chris Moody

CNN Senior Digital Correspondent

HOUSTON (CNN) -- It would be impossible to settle on just one description of Texas' legendary Lynn Wyatt: Millionaire philanthropist, world-traveling socialite, octogenarian Tae Kwon Do black belt, fashion icon, confidante of the superfamous, cultural ambassador, proud Texan.

Now, with Super Bowl LI coming to Houston, she's playing a familiar starring role: Host and tour guide of the city she loves.

"At the innocent age of 9 years old, I knew that Texas was special. And I might add, I still do," the Houston native said of her home state.

"Texas has an openness about it, not just physically, but mentally, as well, and a Texas girl thinks that we can do anything. Anything that we set our mind to, we can do," Wyatt said.

Houston's image has been on the upswing in recent years, with a massive population boom prompting outsiders to notice and celebrate its cultural range.

Greater Houston is the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the country, with communities that hail from dozens of countries around the world, according to a study by Rice University, which is based in the city.

It's nothing new, Wyatt said. "We've been diversified for years. Nobody gets upset. We all are very welcoming to people who come into the city," she said.

To any naysayers, Wyatt is quick to point out that her native city is far more than steak, sprawl and oil.

"I don't know what one is expecting, but if you do have a low expectation, once you get here, you're going to change your mind," Wyatt promised.

The prominent Texan sat down with CNN Travel to offer the best that her city has to offer in food, art and more.

Arts and entertainment

"The soul of any city is its culture," Wyatt said. And Houston's got plenty of soul.

Home to 65,000 artworks, the massive Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is in the midst of a $450 million expansion that includes two new buildings.

The museum has adjusted hours during Super Bowl week, and admission is free during that period.

The performing arts are also thriving.

"People come from all over the world just to see the Houston Grand Opera when they do 'The Ring.' We have a first class ballet that has won awards and an Alley Theatre that is incredible," Wyatt said.

"People will have seen the same thing in New York and they say, 'I think it's better in Houston.' I'm very proud of that."

For live music and dancing, Wyatt likes the new White Oak Music Hall, which opened in 2016.

The "indoor, outdoor, on the bayou" venue is "locally owned, locally designed, locally developed and locally promoted. They have music every night, and they have dancing every night. It is F-U-N, fun," she said.

Moving in a very different way, the city's striking Rothko Chapel is an only-in-Houston experience.

Commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in 1964, the interfaith sanctuary doubles as a work of modern art. Fourteen paintings by Mark Rothko hang in the spare, octagonal room.