As the days start to get longer and the weather is starting to warm up, it is becoming park weather. In Houston, we have some pretty fabulous parks. There is Discovery Green, Hermann Park, Buffalo Bayou and Memorial Park. But, what about those Houston Parks that are off the beaten path you might not know about or don’t think about? We have come up with a list of off the beaten path Houston parks that are worth a visit in the city and the surrounding area.
Houston Parks Off The Beaten Path
The Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens needs to be first on your list of Houston Parks off the beaten path parks to visit. Located in Humble on 325 acres of land, The Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is divided by Aldine Westfield Road. The east side has the botanic gardens with over 20-acres of beautifully maintained gardens, an extensive walking trail system, a Remembrance Walk for memorials and honorariums, ponds, a visitors’ center, courtyard plaza, and more. The west side features two playgrounds, a picnic area with 58 picnic tables, two barbecue pavilions, hickory bog, boardwalk, cypress swamp, maple collection and several miles of walking trails. While you are there, you can enjoy lunch at the Garden Cafe and if you go on the right day, you can even buy some plants to take home and plant your own fabulous garden.
To enjoy this Houston Park that is off the beaten path park, take a drive to Sugar Land, where you will find Oyster Creek Park and Trail. Accessible from Lexington Blvd., Dulles Ave., and Hwy 6, this three mile trail gives you plenty to look at with a water feature with rock lined falls and a pond. There are also picnic tables and grills and a covered ampitheatre that holds outdoor concerts and events and restroom facilities.
The Lake Houston Wilderness Park Nature Center is a not only a Houston Park that is off the beaten path, but a fun educational place for young and old alike. Unlike other Houston Parks, you can camp out overnight here or just enjoy a day trip to New Caney where you can hike and bike on 12 miles of trails, kayak on tree-lined creeks, and horseback ride on 8 miles of equestrian trails. Oh, and you can bring your own horse if you happen to have one! This park is heavily forested, so expect to see plenty of wildlife, wetlands and a beautiful mural depicting the life cycle of butterflies, which was created through a collaboration between the Artist Boat, M.D. Anderson YMCA, and H.P.A.R.D and funded by a United Way Kids Way grant.
Not all the Houston Parks are outside the city, take a short drive to the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center and you will feel like you are outside of the city without having to leave Memorial Park. The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is 155-acres of over 5 miles of walking trails where you will see the forest, ponds, wetlands and meadow habitats. Inside the building, there is a Discovery Room, that offers hands-on interactive exhibits, microscopes, touch screens and more for learning about the habitats and plant and wildlife found at the Center. This is a great place for education and fun.
Brazos Bend State Park might not be a day trip, considering it is 40 miles from Houston, but it is a park that is off the beaten path that is worth the trip to visit. While on a hike, or looking at the wetlands, you might see an alligator or a bear, but if you are at one with nature, and don’t disturb them, they shouldn’t disturb you. As you venture into the live Oak forest, you might see some deer, so be sure to bring a camera on your hikes, and watch out for snakes and other crawlies on the ground. If you come across a Bison, gaze at the beauty, because where else can you find something like this so close to the city? The fishing is plentiful and you don’t need a license to fish inside of Brazos Bend State Park. Bring the bug spray, a water bottle and get ready to have some fun at this park.
Have you had a chance to hit Bane Park located southeast of Jersey Village? This Houston Park that is off the beaten path is loaded with barbecue grills, picnic pavilions, picnic tables, two lighted ball fields, a five-acre wheelchair-accessible fishing lake, gazebo, horseshoe pits, paved walking trail, playground, rock climbing wall, sand volleyball court, splash pad, and rest room facilities. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and also contains bluegill, channel catfish, and large mouth bass for some catch and release fishing with your family and friends.
Northwest of Houston in Spring Cypress, there is a park that is off the beaten path called Little Cypress Creek Preserve. This is a 58-acre park site that has hiking trails, equestrian trails and 10 man-made fish ponds for fishing. Bring your binoculars because there are lots of birds to watch!
This Houston Park that is off the beaten path is actually in Spring, Texas. Pundt Park has everything on the 380-acres it covers. Whether you want to bring you dog to go to their dog park, take out a canoe at the primitive canoe launch, take your kids to the playground, have a picnic at the picnic loop with ten tables and two pavilions, ride your bikes and park them safely while you explore, rest rooms, explore either the equestrian or multi-use trails, or fish in one of the two lakes, you certainly won’t be bored at Pundt Park.
For those that are sports minded, this Houston Park located in Humble has it all and really caters to those with special needs. Lindsay/Lyons Park and Sports Complex is where all the teams meet up for their club sports practices and games, but this 136-acre park has more than just 10 lighted baseball fields and four lighted softball fields, two lighted football fields, 18 unlighted soccer fields, and two lighted soccer fields. Lindsay/Lyons Park and Sports Complex includes a barbecue pavilion, two playgrounds (including one all-inclusive playground and rest room facility for children of all physical abilities), picnic tables, barbecue grills, rest room facilities, and a concession stand with a pavilion. But, that’s not all! There is also a paved walking trail around the playground, three 30-seat picnic pavilions, a sensory garden for sight-impaired children, and a donor pavers garden.
Armand Bayou Nature Center is our last Houston Park that is off the beaten path and is a must visit, even though it is in Clear Lake! Surrounding Armand Bayou when you visit this piece of nature, you can bird-watch, hike on the Nature Center’s trails or view the live animal displays of snakes, alligators, turtles, hawks and bison. Take a pontoon tour or a guided canoe tour of the bayou to see if from a different perspective and be sure to visit the Center’s Martyn Farm, to see what it was like to live on a farm in Texas back in the 1800’s. This will surely be a family experience you won’t forget and want to come back and visit again and again!
What are some of your favorite Houston Parks that are off the beaten path? Tell us in the comments below!