See River Oaksin Life, River Oaks, See
Not just a stop on the Christmas lights circuit, the River Oaks neighborhood is worth a drive anytime. Architectural historian Stephen Fox lists nearly 60 homes and buildings of architectural importance in the latest edition of the AIA Architecture Guide.
One area home open to the public is Rienzi (1406 Kirby Drive), which was left to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) by philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, along with their impressive collection of 18th century European art. You can stroll the grounds without appointment and docent tours of the house are offered weekly.
The MFAH also maintains Ima Hogg’s Latin Colonial home, now the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens (6003 Memorial Drive). The grounds give backyard oasis a whole new meaning while the comprehensive collection of American decorative art and paintings are a tactile history lesson.
It’s a little tricky to access, but a must for any history buff is a trip to College Memorial Park (3600 W Dallas St.), one of Houston’s three remaining African-American cemeteries. Get your art fix at the Houston Arts Alliance exhibition space (3201 Allen Parkway), which has six to 10 free yearly exhibitions to promote local and regional artists.
Lastly, you probably won’t be able to hitch a ride to the ball at River Oaks Park (3600 Locke Lane), aka Pumpkin Park, but it does feature its own work of art: an iron replica of Cinderella’s carriage.