Houstonians suffer through scorching heat waves, stifling humidity and blood-lusting mosquitoes. The Bayou City has much to offer outdoors, despite Mother Nature’s wrath. Step out, put the convertible’s top down and catch some rays. Sunshine and good times are just right outside the door.
Houston has more than 56,400 acres of total park space, not counting suburban parks and golf courses – 27.2 acres per 1,000 residents. Classic venues like Hermann and Memorial parks and newly opened Discovery Green offer many activities. Hermann Park features the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theater and acres of lush grass where you can people watch, picnic or just relax. Memorial Park has the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. Stroll through five miles of tree-lined trails without ever leaving the heart of Houston. Approximately 155 acres on the west side of Memorial Park are dedicated to this green treasure.
Houston also boasts several dog or “Bark Parks,” complete with walking trails, benches, trees, doggie showers, ponds, fountains and small and large dog areas with corresponding fire hydrants. “We don’t have a big yard [at home], so having the parks make it easy for us to let the dogs out. They can be free and just be a dog,” says Houstonian Jennifer Self.
FORE! Houston is also a golfer’s paradise. In Golf Digest’s 2006 listing of America’s Greatest Golf Hometowns, the Spring-Conroe area ranked second and Houston ranked third. More than 160 public and private courses dot the area’s landscape. Among these courses is Redstone Golf Club, where the PGA’s Shell Houston Open is played. Duffers and scratch golfers can find challenging courses, practice greens, chipping areas and driving ranges.
The night time is the right time
Houston’s hot days turn into warm nights as gulf breezes keep temperatures from falling too far. For a unique experience, visit Buffalo Bayou Park near the Waugh Street Bridge. Every evening at sunset, more than 250,000 Mexican Free-tailed bats emerge from under the bridge. Watch from the bayou’s gentle slopes and await nature’s spectacular scene. Afterward, visit a restaurant or bar offering patio dining. Enjoy a light meal and ice-cold beverage with a gorgeous skyline or waterfront view.
Home is where the heart is
Houstonians don’t have to go further than their backyard for an outdoor escape. The yard doesn’t have to be big or fancy. Amenities like swimming pools, outdoor kitchens, patios and deck areas can create a backyard paradise. “We don’t have a big backyard, but we get a lot of use out of it,” says Heights resident Tim Nichols. “We built our own little outdoor kitchen and use it almost every night. It’s a great place to relax, have a few friends over and have fun.” Nichols’ wife Theresa enjoys working in the yard. “It’s therapy for me. When I am in the yard, I don’t have to think of anything else,” she says.
Houstonians and visitors constantly express their disgust with heat, humidity and pests. However, being outdoors doesn’t have to be a bad thing, Self says. “It’s what you make of it. You can always buy repellant or something cute and light to wear outside. [We] can’t do anything about the weather, but as long as we are here, we may as well enjoy it.”