Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
The former estate of Miss Ima Hogg (yes, that was her real name and nobody ever had the nerve to question her about why she never changed it) is a museum of American decorative arts from 1620 to 1870. The daughter of a former Texas governor and a generous philanthropist, Miss Ima began collecting objects for her home in 1920 and by the time she donated her mansion to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in the late 1950s, she had created one of the finest assemblies of Americana in the country. The spectacular gardens are one of the top attractions and were conceived as living areas to be used for entertaining in the days before air conditioning, when the shade of an old oak tree was often cooler than the parlor. If you go when the azaleas are in bloom, you'll be stunned by the acres of colorful blossoms. This sublime spot, tucked away in River Oaks, navigates you back to the past when Houston was relatively young and the elite here were not about to be outdone by East Coast blue bloods when it came to taste and style.