Sam Houston Park
Sam Houston is downtown Houston’s park. It’s close to the buildings that shape the city’s beloved skyline, but distant enough so it feels like you’ve arrived somewhere else. Part of this effect is due to its wonderfully restored buildings, which make the park feel like an architectural encyclopedia of Houston. There’s the Kellum-Noble House, which is the city’s oldest surviving edification, and the site for Houston’s first zoo. The Old Place is a recreation of the cabins that Texas’ initial settlers would have lived in, while St. John’s Church shows the city’s German and Swiss influences. Photography and history buffs will appreciate the park’s tranquility and educational opportunities.
Address & telephone number: 1100 Bagby Street, Houston, TX +1 713 655 1912
Buffalo Bayou Park
Into bats? Come check out Houston’s largest bat colony at Buffalo Bayou, a park known for its interesting and diverse wildlife. Groups meet at the riverbanks near Waugh Bridge at sunset to witness impressive flights of more than 200,000 bats, or you can choose to take a boat that goes right under the bridge. The park also features a skate park, many bridges, fountains, and biking and jogging trails that run alongside the bayou for miles. This extension, coupled with the sloping terrain of the park, provide some of the most beautiful views of the downtown Houston skyline. Watch out for interesting art pieces that show up around the grounds.
Address & telephone number: 1800-3600 Allen Parkway/Memorial Drive, Houston, TX +1 832 395 7000
If you’ve ever come across a multitude of runners while driving through Houston, then you’ve probably driven past Memorial Park. Put this park on your weekend activity list if you’re into running, but know that’s not the only activity this park offers. There are amenities for pretty much every sport: croquet, golf, swimming, sand volleyball, flag football, mountain biking, and even costumed medieval fighting teams meet here. Picnic tables are available for rent all year long. The park is currently attempting to catalogue and conserve the area’s ecological diversity, an effort that you can take part in by downloading the iNaturalist app and watching out for fun critters.
Address and telephone number: 6501 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX +1 713 863 8403
Mason Park is a great community park with many useful amenities. Baseball and football fields, six tennis courts, a swimming pool and a disc golf course make this park a favorite for active Houstonians, while those who are out for a stroll will enjoy the views of Brays Bayou, which runs straight through the park. The bayou is also the site of a flood control project composed of wetlands and ponds devised to hold back storm water and prevent property damage to the surrounding areas. A community center offers after-school activity programs, a gym, classes and meeting space for events.
Address & telephone number: 541 South 75th Street, Houston, TX +1 713 928 7055
This park has what is possibly the most recognized statue in the city – the Sam Houston monument. Hermann Park has a wealth of attractions spread over 400 acres of land, so there’s something for everyone. There are many gardens that make up the McGovern Centennial Gardens, eight acres of custom-made gardens in different styles. The Japanese Gardens are a local favorite for relaxing afternoons, while the Arid Garden offers an interesting look into desert flora. The park has a historic railroad, which you can ride all day for $7. Paddleboat and bike rentals are available as well. Watch out for interesting animals like nutrias swimming in McGovern Lake and blue jays singing in the trees.
Address & telephone number: 6201 Hermann Park Drive, 713 524 5876