Bayou Bend is open year-round with programs and events for adults and families with children. In addition to the highlights below, Bayou Bend offers an Election Celebration every four years and many other activities. For more information, contact Joey Milillo, programs manager, at or 713.639.7759.

Are you interested in the docent program? Bayou Bend docents are nationally recognized volunteers who provide outstanding tours and education to visitors.

Discovering the World of Alexander Hamilton

Cell-Phone Audio Tour 

U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton is enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks in large part to the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Written by MacArthur “genius grant” recipient Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton quickly became one of American theater’s most celebrated achievements, critically and commercially.

With tickets to the New York production sold out for the foreseeable future, and the national tour not arriving in Houston until the 2017–18 season, Bayou Bend aims to satisfy the local appetite for all things Hamilton by offering a self-guided cell-phone audio tour. The tour places the spotlight on objects in the Bayou Bend Collection that directly reference Hamilton's life as well as many of the people, places, and events depicted in the musical.

During August, this cell-phone audio tour is available during the same times that Bayou Bend offers self-guided house tours: Tuesday–Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Beginning in September, you may access the audio tour on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Last admission to the house is 4 p.m. No reservations needed.

Author’s Talk & Book Signing “The Material Culture of German Texans”

Sunday, September 11, 2016, 3:15 p.m.
Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor Center

Presented by author Ken Hafertepe, professor and chair of museum studies,Baylor University

In his new book, The Material Culture of German Texans, Ken Hafertepe explores how 19th-century German Texans’ material culture was influenced by their European roots, how it was adapted to everyday life in Texas, and how it changed over time in different communities. The talk begins at 3:15 p.m., and a book signing follows at 4 p.m. Drop in! This event is free. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Info & Details

Detective Days

There’s mystery afoot at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens for sleuths ages 6 and older. Detective Days are self-guided activity sheets that provide a focused activity, challenging a child's observational skills and critical thinking.

Detective Days are available during self-guided tour hours for both the house and the gardens.

Detective Days at Bayou Bend are generously supported by Denise Monteleone.

David B. Warren Symposium

To honor Bayou Bend’s founding director emeritus and his passion for American material culture, the MFAH established the David B. Warren Symposium, presented biennially since 2007. Each symposium develops a different aspect of the overall theme of American material culture and the Texas experience.

More Information

Family Days

Offered free of charge on selected Sunday afternoons*, Bayou Bend Family Days feature music, games, crafts, and a host of other activities that are fun for both children and adults. Families with young children are invited to take guided tours, led by volunteers from the Houston Junior Woman's Club, of selected rooms of the house. Plus, guests may register for great giveaways from the MFAH and Houston Public Radio. *Family Days usually take place on the third Sunday of the month, but check the calendar for specific days.

Bayou Bend Family Days are presented by:

Programs for Scouts

Bayou Bend offers special focused programs for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts throughout the year.

Girl Scout Event for Juniors
Energy Efficient Buildings
Saturday, October 8, 2016, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Colonial-Era Education Programs receive generous support from Susanne M. and Melbern G. Glasscock.

Educator Workshop

Bayou Bend and George Washington's Mount Vernon

Saturday, September 24, 2016
9 a.m.
3:30 p.m.

How do we learn about the past through objects, from famous Americans like George Washington to the practices of everyday life? Explore this perspective on American history with Amanda Isaac, associate curator at George Washington's Mount Vernon; Lily Carhart, archaeological field and lab technician at George Washington's Mount Vernon; and staff members from the education departments at Mount Vernon and Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens.

Preview a new Bayou Bend program for students designed to promote historical thinking with objects, and enjoy a tour of the historic house. Return to your classroom with new history and curriculum resources to share with your students. CPE certificates and lunch provided. Free parking available.

This workshop is full, but a waiting list is available. Admission is free. More Information & Waiting List

Book Club

Rienzi and Bayou Bend host a history book discussion series about life in America and Europe in the 1700s and 1800s. Meeting alternately at Rienzi and Bayou Bend, this book club offers free discussions on a regular basis.

► Additional Information / Calendar of Events

School and Group Tours

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens offers a wide variety of group tours for adults and students.

► More Information

The Bayou Bend School Tour Program is generously underwritten by The Crain Foundation.


Children's literature comes to life with ExploraStory! Bring your group of up to 24 kids (ages 3 to 5) to read a classic children’s book and participate in hands-on crafts and activities with Bayou Bend's experienced early-childhood educators in modern classrooms. Then investigate nature with a self-guided activity.

For the best selection of dates, reserve your visit a month in advance. More Information

Speakers Bureau

The Bayou Bend Speakers Bureau, staffed by Bayou Bend docents, offers informative talks and lectures, illustrated with slides, for groups and organizations interested in learning more about antiques, gardens, history, holiday decorating, or the lifestyles of Americans in the past.

More than 60 topics are available. Presentations to educational institutions (teacher groups, colleges, etc.) are free of charge. Other groups pay an honorarium of $75 that is used to support the educational activities of Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Please e-mail for more information.


Carol and Les Ballard Lecture Series

Twice a year, renowned scholars speak about interesting aspects of American decorative and fine arts. Each lecture takes place in Brown Auditorium Theater at the MFAH. Admission is free.

"Storied Quilts: Four Centuries of Quilt History"
Saturday, November 5, 2016
1:30 p.m.

Presented by Linda Baumgarten
Curator of Textiles & Costumes, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Azalea Trail

March 2017

Bayou Bend participates in the annual Azalea Trail, presented in March by River Oaks Garden Club. Azalea Trail showcases the colorful azaleas at Bayou Bend, Rienzi, private homes, and the garden club's Forum of Civics.

At Bayou Bend, guests enjoy the splendor of spring among the woodland gardens and glimpse the collection of American decorative arts in the main hall of the house. For more details, contact River Oaks Garden Club. Tickets are also available at Bayou Bend beginning in February. Azalea Trail admission is the only way to view Bayou Bend during this weekend. Proceeds support local organizations including Bayou Bend and Rienzi.

Christmas Village at Bayou Bend

December 10, 2016–January 1, 2017

Celebrate the season at Bayou Bend with dazzling Christmas lights, holiday activities, and much more throughout the house and gardens.

More details to come! Tickets go on sale October 4.

Spring Break

Monday–Friday, March 13-17, 2017

During Spring Break, Bayou Bend presents a range of special programming for families. Enjoy child-friendly activities throughout the gardens, in the mansion, and at the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center.

Spring Break at Bayou Bend is generously underwritten by William J. Hill.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

On Mother's Day and Father's Day weekends, visit Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens for admission specials, refreshments, and gifts from The Shop at Bayou Bend.

Mother’s Day/Father’s Day Weekend at Bayou Bend is generously supported by Polly and Murry Bowden and Nancy and James Gordon.

4th of July Celebration


On Independence Day, Bayou Bend is open for an afternoon of music, art activities, and historical demonstrations that celebrate American freedom. Admission is free.

The 4th of July Celebration at Bayou Bend is presented by:

Summer History Camp

A Kid’s Life in Colonial America

Bayou Bend's collection of early Americana serves as the jumping-off point for exploring activities children participated in 250 years ago. During Summer History Camp, 21st-century kids become blacksmiths, mold candles, write with quill pens, wear 18th-century clothes, and play colonial games. The camp’s thoughtful curriculum creates an engaging atmosphere for understanding the past through multiple perspectives, and challenges campers to form opinions based on asking questions and discovery through active participation.

Designed for children entering or exiting 5th grade during the summer they attend, History Camp is a five-day program: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The week culminates in a special presentation for family and friends on Friday afternoon.

Questions? Contact Joey Milillo at or 713.639.7759. 

Bayou Bend Summer History Camp receives generous funding from Houston Junior Woman’s Club.

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