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Houston Parks & Outdoors

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 oversees 366 parks and more than 200 green spaces, along more than 125 miles of hike-and-bike trails. The Harris County Park System website 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. According to the Trust for Public Land, Houston was ranked first in the nation for total green space among cities of comparable density and fourth in the nation for total land devoted to parks. The watersheds that drain Harris County contain more than 800 miles of natural streams and 3,000 miles of human-made waterways.

Major Downtown Area Parks

Downtown Houston is home to a number of parks and green spaces, some only a square-block, others spanning dozens of acres immediately outside of the business district. These green spaces offer a refuge from the bustling activity surrounding the skyscrapers. 

Allen's Landing

Referred to as “Houston’s Plymouth Rock,” is where August Chapman and John Kirby Allen stepped ashore in 1836 to found Houston. 1005 Commerce St. 

Discovery Green

Discovery Green, a 12-acre park adjoining the George R. Brown Convention Center, opened in ’08. The park is currently undergoing a $12 million renovation. 1500 McKinney St. Visit website

Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park is a 160-acre greenspace that lies just west of downtown Houston. The park includes beautiful gardens and native landscaping; hike and bike trails; paddle craft and bike rentals; the Johnny Steele dog park; public art; a creative nature play area; two visitor centers; and gathering places for visitors to picnic, relax and enjoy outdoor activities. Buffalo Bayou Partnership maintains and operates the park. 1800 Allen Pkwy. Visit website

Hermann Square

Serving as the courtyard of City Hall, Hermann Square occupies a city block, and is dominated by a reflecting pool. It is the site of numerous city-sponsored festivals and events throughout the year. 900 Bagby St. 

Market Square Park

Market Square Park, a one square block donated to the city in 1854 by Augustus Allen, was Houston’s original town center. The park now provides live entertainment, shady walkways and a dog park. There is also a food and beverage kiosk. 301 Milam St. Visit website

Sam Houston Park

Sam Houston Park, the city’s first park and a short distance from City Hall, was acquired in 1899. The park’s 19.7 acres contain 10 restored historic buildings. 1000 Bagby St. Visit website

Tranquility Park

Tranquility Park, located between Walker and Rusk Streets, was dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the first lunar landing to honor Apollo 11 and includes cylindrical water fountains. 400 Rusk St. 

Above: Discovery Green on the eastern edge of downtown. Right: Market Square Park on the north side of downtown.
Above: Discovery Green on the eastern edge of downtown. Right: Market Square Park on the north side of downtown.

Major City of Houston Parks

Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) oversees 380 developed municipal parks and more than 167 green spaces, which together encompass approximately 39,501 acres.

Hermann Park

Hermann Park, a 717-acre park located eight miles from downtown is currently renovating a 24-acre section to have rolling hills with pavilions, a new play area and native landscaping. Referred to as the ‘Commons,’ this project is the first of the park’s 20-year master plan for improvements. Hermann currently features a lake, wetlands area, a Japanese Garden, the Centennial Gardens, Miller Outdoor Theatre and the Houston Zoo as well as a number of trails and picnic spots. 6001 Fannin St. Visit website

Cullen Park

At nearly 9,300 acres, Cullen Park features a ball field complex, multiple picnic areas, hike and bike trails, an archery range and a water playground. 19008 Saums. 

Memorial Park

Tucked on the west side of the Houston's Inner Loop, Memorial Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. At over 1,400 acres the park features trails for walking and running, picnic areas, playgrounds, volleyball and tennis courts, multiple ball fields and a major golf course among other amenities. 6501 Memorial Dr. Visit website

Lake Houston Wilderness Park

Lake Houston Wilderness Park encompasses 4,786 acres of wooded parkland, approximately 30 minutes north of downtown Houston off of Highway 59 near the town of New Caney. Cabins and walk-in campsites are available for rental; activities include hiking and biking on 20 miles of hike and bike trails, kayaking on tree-lined creeks, and horseback riding on 13 miles of equestrian trails. 25840 FM 1485, New Caney. Visit website

Keith-Wiess Park

The 500-acre Keith-Wiess Park includes baseball and soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts, and picnic shelters all in a wooded setting with several detention ponds designed to ease flooding in the area. 12300 Aldine Westfield Rd. Visit website

Levy Park

Levy Park, a six-acre park in the Upper Kirby neighborhood, won the 2018 Urban Open Space award, an international recognition from the Urban Land Institute, for the park’s architecture and amenities. The park features a giant playscape, restaurant, a dog park, community garden and nearly daily programming. 3801 Eastside St. Visit website

Above: Hermann Park. Right: Levy Park, courtesy of Levy Park.
Above: Hermann Park. Right: Levy Park, courtesy of Levy Park.

Major Harris County Parks

Harris County covers more than 1,700 square miles and is the third most populous county in the nation. Across the county you'll find numerous parks and large green spaces for recreational use. 

George Bush Park

Honoring the 41st president of the United States George H.W. Bush, 7,800-acre park bearing his name includes soccer fields, playgrounds, trails, a shooting range and picnic pavilions. 16756 Westheimer Pkwy

Armand Bayou Nature Center

Spanning more than 2,500 acres, Armand Bayou Nature Center features a number of habitats, from forests to natural wetlands and prairies. The center includes miles of trails and an authentic 1800's farm site. 8500 Bay Area Blvd., PasadenaVisit website

Bear Creek Pioneers Park

Bear Creek Pioneers Park is a 2,100-acre park featuring walking trails, tennis courts, ball fields, an equestrian trail and even a small zoo.  acres in size and has paved roads and parking for visitors. 3535 War Memorial Dr. 

Congressman Bill Archer Park

The main attraction at Congressman Bill Archer Park is the 17-acre dog park that accommodates dogs of all sizes. The park also has trails and a skate park. 3201 Hwy 6

Tom Bass Regional Park

Tom Bass Regional Park covers roughly 115 acres and features a jogging trail, 23-acre lake and fishing pier. 15108 Cullen Blvd. 

Terry Hershey Park

Named for famed Houston conservationist Terry Hershey who worked to save Buffalo Bayou, Terry Hershey Park contains a network of trails for runners and cyclists. 15200 Memorial Dr. 

Challenger Seven Memorial Park

Created in honor of the astronauts who lost their lives in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, Challenger Seven Memorial Park contains natural trails, a bird sanctuary, a boardwalk over natural wetlands and a memorial site. 2301 W Nasa Blvd, Webster. 

Above: Terry Hershey Park (Tom Fox, courtesy SWA Group). Left: Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Above: Terry Hershey Park (Tom Fox, courtesy SWA Group). Left: Armand Bayou Nature Center.

Houston Area State Parks and National Forests

Several state parks and forests dot the Houston region. Some offer immersive swamp experiences while others feature nature trails through the rolling hills north of the city. 

Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park (5,000 acres) has coastal prairies, woodlands and wetlands. The park is located approximately 45 miles southwest of downtown Houston in Fort Bend County. 21901 FM 762 Rd, Needville. Visit website

Galveston Island State Park

Galveston Island State Park (2,013 acres) is a mosaic of coastal habitats and located southeast of Houston in Galveston County. 14901 FM3005, Galveston. Visit website

Sam Houston National Forest

The Sam Houston National Forest is located 50 miles north of Houston. The forest covers 163,037 acres across Huntsville, Conroe, Cleveland and Richards, Texas with land in three different counties. Popular activities in Sam Houston include camping, hiking, boating, fishing and hunting in designated areas. New Waverly. Visit website

San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Park

San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Park (1,200 acres) has a 600-foot tall monument and is located 22 miles east of downtown Houston in Harris County. 3523 Independence Parkway South
La Porte
. Visit website

Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center

Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center (2,800 acres) is filled with wetlands, lakes and ponds. The park is located 22 miles northeast of downtown Houston in Harris County. 14140 Garrett RdVisit website

Stephen F. Austin State Park

Stephen F. Austin State Park (473 acres) has acres of wetland and hardwood forests located 51 miles east of downtown Houston in Austin County. Park Rd. 38, San FelipeVisit website

Above: Brazos Bend State Park. Right: Galveston Island State Park.
Above: Brazos Bend State Park. Right: Galveston Island State Park.

Get the Relocation Guide

Want to learn more? Download or receive a copy of the Relocation Guide in the mail for more information on Houston!

Sports & Recreation

With four major league sports teams, an abundance of bike and jogging trails and some of largest urban parks in the nation, Houston is a great place to experience the outdoors.

Arts & Culture

Houston is one of only a handful of cities in the country with resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines including opera, drama, musical theater, symphony and ballet. There are also 19 different arts and cultural institutions that make up the walkable Museum District.

Neighborhoods & Communities

Houston offers a wide variety of neighborhoods to suit the taste and budget of residents. Find your perfect neighborhood.