A guide to Houston’s parks
Houston is one of the greener cities in America, which means you can find a fine park at almost any outpost in the metro area. If you’re searching for a new, or familiar, green space this list can you get among the trees and grass.
7 Acre Wood: Old-fashioned amusement park with a petting zoo, mini golf course, western play town, playground, sandbox, rope slides and more. 4401 N. Frazier, Conroe, 936-890-2326; 7acrewood.org. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. Cost: $6. N
Boomers: Attractions include miniature golf, go-carts, rock walls, bumper boats, batting cages and a game room. 17190 Texas 249, 281-894-9791; boomersparks.com/houston. Hours vary. Unlimited four-hour passes start at $44.99. NW
Downtown Aquarium: Visitors can ride the Ferris wheel, explore exhibits featuring alligators, fish, sharks, snakes and white tigers, as well as dine at the on-site restaurant surrounded by a 150,000-gallon aquarium. 410 Bagby, 713-223-3474; aquariumrestaurants.com. Hours: Exhibits open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu.; 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. Aquarium tickets start at $8.99; ride tickets begin at $3.99; all-day passes from $19.99. Inner Loop
FunPlex Amusement Park: Indoor entertainment center offers bowling, skating, go-carting, arcade games and the Playport - a two-story play center where kids can jump, climb and slide. 13700 Beechnut, 281-530-7777; houstonfunplex.com. Hours: 4-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat., noon-9 p.m. Sun. Entry is free; rides and attractions can be accessed through FunPlex FunCard. W
Houston Zoo: From chimpanzees and gorillas to elephants and lions, the zoo gives visitors the chance to discover countless animals from around the world. Check website for feeding times. 6200 Hermann Park, 713-533-6500; houstonzoo.org. Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Membership passes start at $69; zoo members free; children 1 and younger free; $14 children 2-11; $18 adults; $11.50 seniors. Inner Loop
iFly Houston Indoor Skydiving: iFly facilities create the sensation of a free-fall, sans plane or parachute - a vertical wind tunnel produces 60 seconds of wall-to-wall air so participants simply float. It’s the skydiving rush without the risk, and it’s safe for anyone over age 3 who doesn’t have a back, shoulder or neck injury. Although the “flight” is short, first-timers undergo training, so plan to be there for about an hour. 9540 I-10, 281-942-4359, and 26860 N. I-45, 281-942-4359; iflyworld.com. Cost: Prices start at $69.95; reservations recommended. Inner Loop
Jumping World Houston: Indoor trampoline park with a foam pit, dodge ball and basketball courts, and a video arcade. 14147 Northwest Freeway U.S. 290, 713-996-7811; jumpingworldusa.com. Hours and prices vary per day of the week. NW
Old MacDonald’s Farm: A 15-acre outdoor park with 12 petting-zoo barns, train rides, several playgrounds, a sand mountain, pony rides, swimming pool and other activities. 3203 FM 1960 E., Humble, 281-446-4001; oldmacdonaldshumble.com. Hours: Open at 10 a.m. daily February-November; at 10 a.m. weekends January through February. Closing times vary. Cost: $10 per person. NE
Typhoon Texas Waterpark: Park features multiple slides and attractions, including a large wave pool, lazy river, a Texas-themed group tube ride and racing slides. Food concessions and plenty of seating available. 555 Katy Fort Bend Road, Katy, 832-426-7071; typhoontexas.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily during summer. 2017 season pass $99.99, day passes start at $32.99. W
Wet ‘N’ Wild SplashTown: Waterpark has a range of thrill rides, kid-friendly zones, a lazy river, daily entertainment and special events during the summer. 21300 I-45 N., 281-355-3300; wetnwildsplashtown.com. Hours vary. Cost: $32.99-$44.99. Season pass $69.99; parking $10. N
Zuma Fun Center: South Houston complex offers miniature golf, go-carts, bumper boats, video arcades and batting cages. 6767 U.S. 59 S., 713-981-7888; zumafuncenters.com. Hours vary per attraction; unlimited-ride wristbands start at $22.99. SW
Alexander Deussen Park: 309-acre park on Lake Houston features a covered playground and picnic areas. 12303 Sonnier, 281-454-4108.
Arthur Storey Park: Wooded green space has a playground, picnic pavilions, observation ponds and trails. 7400 W. Sam Houston Parkway S., 281-496-2177.
Centennial Park: Features a multipurpose field, splash-pad area and fitness stations. 3219 McLean, Pearland, 281-412-8900; pearlandtx.gov. Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Cullen Park: 10,500-acre park with playgrounds, splash pad, picnic facilities, the Alkek Velodrome and trails. 19008 Saums in West Houston, 832-395-7000.
Discovery Green: The John P. McGovern Playground at this 11-acre downtown park is carved into a tree-shaded hill that shields youngsters (age 12 and younger only) from area streets. 1500 McKinney, 713-400-7336; discoverygreen.com.
Donovan Park: Heights park has wooden structures on which children can climb and play, including a large castle, a smaller castle and a train. 700 Heights, 713-861-4002.
EVELYN’S PARK: Five-acre park with a 10-foot slide, natural playground and Ivy & James Cafe. No dogs. 4400 Bellaire Blvd, Bellaire. evelynspark.org
Buffalo Bayou Park: With the downtown skyline as a backdrop, the new Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area and Picnic Pavilion here features a boulder rock scramble, rolling lawn, stream and waterfall, climbing logs and stones, and a 33-foot slide. 500 Allen Parkway; buffalobayou.org.
Hermann Park: Kid-friendly amenities such as the Hermann Park Railroad and the handicap-accessible Buddy Carruth Playground for All Children add to the allure of the 445-acre, urban park. There’s also a water playground, and the Houston Zoo is a stone’s throw away. 6001 Fannin, 713-524-5876; hermannpark.org.
Levy Park: Recently reinvented to the tune of $15 million, the 6-acre Upper Kirby green space features a massive playground, splash pad, rotating food trucks, dog park for small dogs, lawn games, oversize Tonka Toy-inspired foam blocks that kids can use to build structures, plenty of shaded areas, board games and magazines on loan, parkwide WiFi, a free crafts area, community garden and clean family restrooms. 3801 Eastside, 713-522-7275; levyparkhouston.org. Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Matzke Park: 19.4 acres featuring a wheelchair-accessible, multifaceted play structure, two picnic pavilions, gazebo, cricket field and a butterfly and sensory garden. 13110 Jones, 281-890-3538.
McClendon Park: Encompassing 22.8 acres, park offers playgrounds, splash pad, rock-climbing wall, sand-volleyball court, butterfly garden and nature trail. 3770 Summit Valley in West Houston, 281-496-2177.
Memorial Park: Range of amenities here include picnic areas, the Vale-Asche Foundation Playground; the sensory-rich Playground Without Limits; running and walking trails; and a pool. Inside Loop 610 at Woodway, 832-395-7000; memorialparkconservancy.org.
Northshore Park: The Woodlands-area park has play equipment for younger and older children, belt and buckle swings, barbecue pits, picnic tables, volleyball courts, pavilions and bathrooms. 2505 Lake Woodlands Drive.
Terry Hershey Park: The park runs parallel to a stretch of Buffalo Bayou and offers playgrounds, exercise stations and picnic areas. 15200 Memorial, 281-496-2177; terryhersheypark.org.
Wilson Wonderground: The Spark Park is home to a traditional play structure, a “palace,” pergola, picnic tables, sand areas and climbing logs. 2100 Yupon.
Armand Bayou Nature Center: 2,500-acre urban preserve features a boardwalk that winds through forest and marshes, live animal displays, educational signs, bison and prairie platforms, butterfly gardens and an 1800s farm site. The Armand Bayou Paddling Trail follows the bayou from near its confluence with Clear Lake, upstream through the nature center to Horsepen Bayou. 8500 Bay Area, Pasadena, 281-474-2551; abnc.org. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. SE
Baytown Nature Center: Fishing piers, birding trails, wildlife blinds, butterfly gardens, bicycle paths and playgrounds. 6213 Bayway, Baytown, 281-424-9198; baytownnaturecenter.org. Hours: Gates open 30 minutes before sunrise; close 30 minutes after sunset. E
BUFFALO BAYOU: Bayou City Adventures offers two-hour kayak rentals and guided tours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; by reservation during the week. $30 for single kayak; $40 for tandem. Lost Lake, 3422 Allen Parkway, 713-538-7433 or bayoucityadventures.com. INNER LOOP
Cockrell Butterfly Center and Rainforest Conservatory: While most visitors come to Houston Museum of Natural Science’s butterfly center for the butterflies, there is also a simulated tropical rainforest that is filled with exotic plants to explore. 5555 Hermann Park, 713-639-4629; hmns.org. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sun. Cost: adults $9, children $8. Inner Loop
Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary: 17.5-acre wooded sanctuary featuring a restored log cabin, which houses a variety of education programs. 440 Wilchester, 713-932-1639; houstonaudubon.org. Open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily during summer season. W
Nature Discovery Center: In the 4-acre Russ Pitman Park, center has discovery rooms complete with hands-on, interactive exhibits, live animals, books and crafts. 7112 Newcastle, 713-667-6550; naturediscoverycenter.org. Park open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. daily; discovery rooms open noon-5:30 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Inner Loop
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center: Visitors can wander the many trails through the 155-acre nonprofit urban sanctuary that anchors Memorial Park; it also offers a variety of classes and events celebrating the great outdoors, including nature-inspired art classes, bug’s night out and programs for families and kids. 4501 Woodway, 713-681-8433; houstonarboretum.org. Grounds, trails open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; nature shop, discovery room open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Inner Loop
Huntsville State Park: Features camping, hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, paddling and geocaching, as well as 21 miles of trails and a nature center. 565 Park Road 40 W., Huntsville, 936-295-5644; tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/huntsville. Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Cost: $5, children 12 and younger free. N
Kleb Woods Nature Preserve: 133 acres of wetlands, gardens and trails to explore all types of wildlife. 20303 Draper, Tomball, 281-357-5324; www.pct3.com/parks/kleb-park. Open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. NW
Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center: 300-acre park includes miles of trails, boardwalks and more. Call nature center to arrange guided tours. 20634 Kenswick, Humble, 281-446-8588; hcp4.net/Community/Parks/Jones. Hours: 8 a.m.-dusk daily. NE
Lake Houston Wilderness Park: Encompasses 4,786 acres of wooded land; amenities include cabins and campsites, 20 miles of hike-and-bike trails and 13 miles of equestrian trails. The nature center has displays of wetland and forest habitats, wildlife. Educational programs range from guided hikes to owl pellet dissection. 25840 FM 1485, New Caney, 281-399-8464; houstontx.gov/parks/parksites/lakehoustonpark.html. Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.-Thu., 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. NE
Lynn R. Lowrey Arboretum of Rice University: Home to native trees and plants of the Gulf Coast and northern Mexico. 6100 Main, 713-348-5736; arboretum.rice.edu. Open dawn till dusk. Inner Loop
Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens: 300 acres of native and cultivated plants - the largest collection in the region - as well as natural wildlife, butterflies, birds and special seasonal events. 22306 Aldine Westfield, Humble, 281-443-8731; themercersociety.org. Hours: 8 a.m.-dusk daily. NE
Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center: Known for its fishing and wildlife observation, but the learning center also offers nature studies, wildscape demonstrations, guided tours and educational programs. 14140 Garrett, 281-456-2800; tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/sheldon-lake. Park open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Lakes and levees open daily at dawn. NE
Spring Creek Greenway Nature Center: The 11,000-square-foot complex includes a nature center, community center, pavilion and nature trails. 1300 Riley Fuzzel, Spring, 281-364-4225; springcreekgreenway.org. Nature center open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; trails, pavilion, parking open 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat. N