What does it mean to be an “insider,” exactly? Does it mean getting invited to fancy $500-a-plate dinners at River Oaks oil estates? Having Mayor Sylvester Turner’s personal cell phone on speed dial? Well, sure, that’s being an insider in one sense, but there’s so much more to it than who you know. In Houston, it’s also what you know.

Being an insider means intimately and innately understanding when to wave in traffic and why that winding body of water is called a bayou, not a creek or a river. It means having a back pocket full of talking points the next time someone brings up the Astrodome and knowing how to entertain yourself—and your friends, family or visitors—for free.

It also means taking the time to learn those secrets Houston likes to keep to itself: where to find the hidden entrance to that one bar, the fastest DPS office, the quickest place to park at the Galleria, the best swimming hole no one’s ever heard of, the off-menu items even the foodies don’t know. It means pointing out oft-overlooked pockets of the city as you hurtle onto the entrance ramp to Spur 527, cruise down Wayside Drive, or head up the steps to Sundance Cinemas at Bayou Place.

Being an insider means that you don’t just live in this city—you are part of this city, a city you know as well as your own reflection. And if you don’t feel that well acquainted with Houston yet, well, we’re about to bring you up to speed

In This Feature:

How to Houston: An Etiquette Guide

Lessons from a native on when to wave in traffic and why we smile at strangers

10/24/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt

What’s a Bayou Anyway?

And how do you pronounce it?

10/24/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt

Courtland Place: Going Behind the Gates

How one Montrose neighborhood conserved its century-old charms

10/24/2016 By Jeanne Lyons Davis

Houston Life Hacks: 5 Famous Locals Share Their Tips

On where to park downtown, how to fight the sun, and why to ride your bike

10/24/2016 By Sarah Rufca Nielsen

In Houston, History Hides in Plain Sight

The city’s most important movers and shakers aren’t always where you’d expect to find them.

10/24/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt and Adam Doster

The 10 Best Ways to Entertain Yourself for Free Around Town

A real insider knows that fun doesn't come with a price tag—especially in a city like Houston.

10/24/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt

The Best DPS in Houston

Yes, a best DPS office does exist—and it’s pretty amazing.

10/24/2016 By Adam Doster

Off-Limits: Exploring Houston's Abandoned Places

Houston’s own Flickr-famous Secret Squirrel on sneaking into—and photographing—the city’s most iconic empty buildings

10/24/2016 By Roxanna Asgarian

Talking Houston: A Cheat Sheet

How to conduct a conversation on some of the city’s most popular topics, including what on earth is going on with the Astrodome.

10/24/2016 By Jeff Balke

Behind the Scenes at Three of Houston’s Most Private Clubs

A glimpse of what the initiated aren’t missing out on at the Petroleum Club, the Briar Club and the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa.

10/24/2016 By Marianella Orlando

A Houston Sports Fan’s Lament

To be a Bayou City supporter is to be perpetually disappointed—and perpetually hopeful.

10/26/2016 By Jeff Balke

At the Blue Lagoon, Where the Water’s Warm

Houston’s best swimming hole is, okay, technically in Huntsville.

10/24/2016 Photography by Roxanna Asgarian

No Zoning? No Problem!

Our four favorite examples of what happens when you take a no-holds-barred approach to development

10/24/2016 By Alice Levitt

Where’s Your Sign?

How to find four of Houston’s most hidden bars

10/24/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt

Island Time: The Ideal Galveston Itinerary

Everyone has their secret island haunts; we’re sharing ours.

10/24/2016 By Marianella Orlando

Houston’s Most Delicious Off-Menu Dishes

You’ll need to ask for these four favorites, including the chicken-fried lobster tail of your dreams.

10/24/2016 By Alice Levitt

How to Hook a Whale

A tongue-firmly-in-cheek guide to landing a billionaire in the Bayou City.

10/24/2016 By Sarah Rufca Nielsen