Of all the things that make living in Houston so enjoyable high on the list are the city and county parks. Whether you’d like to relax beside a tranquil lake, jog amid an urban forest of tall pines, kayak down a freshwater bayou with glistening skyscrapers as a backdrop, or take the family for a picnic and listen to live music, you can do it all in Houston-practically year round.
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (houstontx.gov/parks) oversees 366 parks and more than 200 green spaces, along more than 124 miles of hike-and-bike trails. The Harris County Park System website (hctx.net/parks) provides detailed information and maps of parks as varied as the Armand Bayou Nature Center, Bear Creek Pioneers Park George Bush Park, and Terry Hershey Park.
Major city parks include the 44-acre Hermann Park nestled between the Museum District, the Texas Medical Center, and Rice University. Hermann Park is the home of a Sam Houston statue, the Houston Zoo, the Houston Outdoor Theater, a miniature train, the Houston Garden Center, an 18-hole golf course, and more.
Memorial Park, encompassing nearly 1,500 acres, is about four miles west of downtown. It features a three-mile tree-lined jogging trail, 18-hole golf course, driving range, an 18-court tennis center, fitness center, 33-meter swimming pool, playing fields, and picnic areas. The park area includes the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, a 155-acre preserve with more than five miles of quiet, self-guided trails.
A 12-acre park in downtown Houston, Discovery Green opened to the public in 2008. With its proximity to the George R. Brown Convention Center, Minute Maid Park, and Toyota Center, Discovery Green is in an ideal location.
Prominent features include a children’s playground, interactive water features, an amphitheater stage and slope, dog runs for large and small breeds, artwork, the HPL Express (a multipurpose Houston Public Library facility), open lawns, and great restaurants-the Grove and the Lake House-operated by Schillder Del Grande Restaurant Group. In addition to surface lot and park perimeter parking, the Convention District Garage, operated by the City of Houston, lies beneath the park.
Discovery Green is more than a beautiful green space; it is an experience waiting to be enjoyed. The park comes to life with active programming during its spring/summer and fall/winter seasons. Regularly scheduled music, dance, and theater performances, as well as films, exercise classes, children’s events, and an urban market, constitute the backbone of park programming. Park spaces also may be reserved for private and public events. Discovery Green is open daily from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. For more information and a list of events, visit discoverygreen.com.