Houston may be highly urbanized, but it’s also focused on developing its park system. Besides the many urban parks and greenspaces that have sprung up within the city, Houston is also surrounded by natural trails and parks in its many suburbs. If you’re ready to head outside, consider visiting one of these outdoor destinations around Houston. 

Museum District

Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo is home to lions, elephants, exotic birds, and plenty of other wild animals. Located in the Museum District, the zoo features 6,000 animals across exhibits that span the globe, from the depths of the ocean to the African savanna. The zoo can easily be reached by driving down Highway 288 to Hermann Drive. 

Of all the parks in Houston, Hermann Park is among the most notable, with a history dating back a century and some of the city’s most popular sites. The park is home to a large golf course, the Houston Zoo, a Japanese garden, McGovern Lake, and Miller Outdoor Theatre. The park combines live entertainment, natural wonders, and the simple pleasure of the outdoors. It’s also adjacent to some of Houston’s most notable museums, such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Washington Corridor / Memorial Park

Photo courtesy of Memorial Park

If there’s one place that just about any outdoor lover in Houston can enjoy, it’s Memorial Park. Located on the west end of the Washington Corridor, Memorial Park features extensive trails for running and jogging. There’s also a large golf course at the heart of the park, plus an arboretum where guests can learn more about the local wildlife and vegetation. Reaching the park is easy since it sits at the corner of Loop 610 and Interstate 10. Exiting off the highway, guests can drive right into the park along Memorial Drive. 


Photo courtesy of Bear Creek Pioneers Park

The Memorial neighborhood in western Houston contains Bear Creek Pioneers Park, which has existed for nearly a century and covers over 2,000 acres of ground. It’s perfect for sports lovers, with its softball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, and playgrounds, but anyone hoping for a simple day in the sun will find what they’re looking for here. There are hundreds of picnic tables and grills across the park as well as numerous picnic pavilions. Residents can find it by driving right off of Interstate 10 and exiting on North Eldridge Parkway. 


Dwight D. Eisenhower Park

Northeast of Houston is the Crosby community, which is just a short drive away from Lake Houston. Residents can reach its shores by visiting the nearby Dwight D. Eisenhower Park, which features long walking trails that stretch along the lake and the nearby San Jacinto River. Visitors can spend a day on the lake’s shores, eating at one of the many picnic areas or casting their fishing lines into the water. There are also playgrounds for families hoping to get their children some exercise.


Texas nature trail

Located just north of Channelview, the Rio Villa Nature Trail covers over 200 acres of woodlands and features a mile-long nature trail. Park guests can stroll along the banks of the San Jacinto River. On the south side of the park, there’s an observation pier from which guests can watch the river, as well as a canoe launch where visitors can head out onto the waters. Reaching the trail can be done relatively easily by traveling north along Highway 8 and then east along Wallisville Road.

Rice Military

Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Park is located in the heart of the city. Found in the Rice Military area, this 160-acre park follows the Buffalo Bayou that winds through its center. Guests can find plenty to do in the park. Bike rentals allow for a day of cycling, while the local skatepark gives Houston’s skaters a place to spend the day. A unique attraction of the park is the Cistern, Houston’s first underground drinking water reservoir that currently doubles as an art installation and a historic touring site.