The Best Parks In and Around Houston

After our big freeze, we’re ready to get out an enjoy springtime in Houston! Let’s explore the great parks dotting our city, from inside the loop to our surrounding suburbs. Many Houston parks and playgrounds have opened back up, although they are still encouraging social distancing when possible. Call ahead or check their website and social media pages for updates on amenities that may be affected by Covid-safety procedures. Then pack up the kids, load the car, and head out for a little adventure while enjoying our great Houston springtime weather! Here are some of our favorite Houston parks from all areas of town.

The Best Houston Parks List…

Bellaire:: Russ Pitman Park hosts a fun play structure and a nature play area complete with materials like bamboo, sticks, rocks and other natural objects to encourage creative and free play. The park is also home to the Nature Discovery Center with its four natural habitat zones spread out over the park and connected through a kid-friendly walking path. The Nature Discovery Center offers children’s programming and other amenities in their welcome center. Some of their programming has been curtailed but outdoor activities still remain.

Deer Park :: Dow Park is a 40-acre park with a swimming pool, pavilion, one-mile track, tennis courts, splash pad, skate park, and brand new playground equipment. There is plenty of space for the kids to run around, and the play structure is not only accessible for young toddlers, but still interesting enough for older elementary age kids. Visitors love the shady spots, the rubber surface of the playground, and the rollers on the slides!

Bayou Bend Park is a smaller, 8-acre park boasting a .26 mile walking trail and a 9-hole Disc Golf Course. If you’re not familiar with disc golf, it’s a game played with discs (like frisbees) that players throw at a target, using similar rules as in golf. There’s also a playground structure, picnic tables, and basketball court.

Downtown :: Discovery Green has it all! Revamped over the years, this city park has fun for kids of all ages. In-person activities had been suspended for most of last year but events are slowly being introduced back into their typically robust schedule. The roller rink is now open! Tickets are on sale for various time slots between March 5- April 11. A full scale rebuild of the playground is still in the works so the playground structure is unfortunately off-limits. Make sure to check for updates on their FAQ page before you head out. 

Nature Play Area at Buffalo Bayou Park is typically a crowd favorite with nature-inspired play area which features a stream and waterfall, climbing logs and stones, and a 33 foot slide. However, the play area is closed due to Covid but may change in the near future. Check their website for updates. However, you can still bring bikes and ride the trails along the bayou.   

Heights :: Donovan Park in the Heights has become a defining feature of the neighborhood. With its fun wooden play structures built by the local residents, this extra-large playground has enough variety to keep children occupied for a while. It even features a wooden train they can climb aboard. The park has a section for younger children, a challenging side for older kids, and a hill that is perfect for rolling down!

Houston Parks Donovan in the HeightsKaty :: Katy City Park,  also known as the “Train Park,” is touted on their website as the “state’s largest innovative playground for multiple-impaired and profoundly deaf children.” It has a 13,000 square foot playground, custom designed to feature the old Katy railroad.

Houston Parks Katy City ParkWillowfork Park, located north of Cinco Ranch High School, lies on 32 acres of land that has been repurposed for recreational activities. There are multipurpose lawns, paved trails, boardwalks, a lake, and 15 species of trees that you can try to identify using their map of marked trees. If you haven’t tried disc golf before, you can find it here as well! There’s also a playground, picnic tables, and grills for a fun day out with the family.

Mary Jo Peckham Park is 32-acre park with fishing, wildlife, and various picnic areas. There is a mile of trail with paths wide enough for biking, blading, or walking. The six-hole disc golf course is a fun attraction on the west side of the park. On the east side, enjoy great playgrounds, a miniature golf course, putting green, and a community center with a swimming pool. Call ahead to check on the community center hours. 

Houston Parks Mary Jo Peckham

Exploration Park has an interesting play area with a large slide tower in the middle of the park, many different swing features, a musical bridge and a sensory garden. There are also different levels of rocks to walk on, a hill slide and an interactive wall that demonstrates the water cycle. A covered pavilion makes it perfect for enjoying lunch or a snack there as well. Restrooms were finally added to the park in 2020!

Kingwood :: River Grove Park is located at the south end of Woodland Hills Drive and features 74-acres of park space. This is where you can walk along a boardwalk extending over the San Jacinto River! Enjoy the covered picnic areas, open space for families, and four different playground zones for all ages. There is access to boat ramps, a shaded fishing dock, exercise stations, an 18-hole disc golf course, and restrooms too.

League City :: Hometown Heroes Park is a great place to stop if you’re in the League City area. It has a playground, fields of various sizes for all kinds of outdoor sports, soccer goals, and big open spaces. The Parks and Recreation building on site offers indoor basketball and a pool.

Medical Center :: Hermann Park is an oasis in the middle of the medical center and a great place to bring visitors to Houston. Whether you want to feed the ducks, use paddle boats, or roll down the hill outside Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park is fun place to explore. A visit to the lovely Japanese Garden inside Hermann Park will inspire a Zen mood. Bring a picnic along, and make time to ride the Hermann Park train! While you are there, check out Centennial Gardens nearby too. There is even a traditional Chinese pagoda and a modern waterfall feature there. Parking can be a bit tricky in this area on the weekends, so plan ahead.

The new PNC ImagiNature Playground has just opened at Hermann Park as well! The play outdoor space features a swing area, stone bridge, stump thrones and boulder ring for children to climb, play and explore! The perfect new playground for an outdoor adventure!

Memorial :: Hedwig Park is right by Spring Branch Public Library and is a great little neighborhood park nestled in the heart of the Spring Branch area. With plenty of shaded trees and open space, it’s a comfortable place to play, even in the heat of summer. There are two playgrounds providing a fenced-in area for toddlers and options for older siblings too. Parking can be challenging, so visitors sometimes end up parking at the library.

Nature Playscape is a definite MUST SEE! The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center‘s brand-new, fenced play area, is perfect for a fun day of exploring. Nestled into the adventurous trail system, the area features a lumber yard, a balancing bridge and a toddler territory. You might even see wildlife like birds, bees, lizards and snakes while you play! 

Northwest :: Zube Park is a favorite among families in Cypress. With a large playground, splashpad, covered pavilion, grills, and restrooms, this park checks all the boxes for a day of fun. There are large sports field and a disc golf course. Fans of the park also rave about the Zube Park train rides provided by the Houston Area Live Steamers. Check out the 2021 schedule here and catch a ride on these large scale model trains. 

Goforth Park is another great stop in Northwest Houston. It’s a large park with a fully enclosed dog park on one side of Horsepen Creek and a large playground on the other side. There are lots of picnic tables {some are covered} and large open areas to play tag, a classic game for the young and the young at heart. There is also a nice trail around the creek where you can go fishing, ride bikes or walk.

Oak Forest :: Candlelight Park is a cute, neighborhood park frequented by locals and their kids. They don’t have an impressive play structure, but it does the trick. The best part is that the park is surrounded by nine acres of green space that is perfect for flying kites or kicking soccer balls. Great walking paths and a basketball court rounds out their amenities.

Pearland :: Centennial Park has a huge splash pad, disc golf course, playground, picnic tables, a large field for free play, fitness stations, and an exercise trail. The park is well-kept and features a toddler area just for your littles, as well as a big-kid playground for the older ones. Splash pads typically open on April 1, but check before visiting.

Spring :: The 380-acre Pundt Park in Spring is a favorite for its beach access to Spring Creek. Kids can bring their sand toys and play along the water for hours. Visitors can enjoy hiking the shady trails, fishing in the pond, and playing on the playground structures. There are accessible bathrooms, a dog park nearby and picnic tables as well. Surrounded by quiet woods, it’s known to feel like an escape from city life!

Sugar Land :: Sugar Land Memorial Park spreads out over 150 acres along the Brazos River. In addition to the playground and climbing ropes, there is a dog park, bike trails, and fishing {must have fishing license}. There are 2.5 miles of walking and biking trails to enjoy as well as lots of open space for sports activities. Before you leave make sure you check out the inspirational Veterans Memorial monument, which allows visitors to walk within an obelisk to experience rays of sunlight coming through a vertical opening.

Oyster Creek Park, with its iconic rock-lined and water feature, is easily Sugarland’s most scenic area. Encompassing over 111 acres and featuring a 3-mile hike & bike trail, this park beckons visitors to spend a day at play. After a nice biking session, enjoy the picnic tables with grills and open spaces to relax or play sports. The pond with turtles will delight the kids while the art pieces scattered throughout the park will keep visitors entertained.

The Woodlands :: North Shore Park is an absolute gem in The Woodlands! Many families like to feed the ducks that are hanging around the lake. Kayakers also bring their kayaks to enjoy on the water. There is playground equipment for older and younger kids, including rope bridges and rock walls, plus lots of green space for family activities. Tables, benches, and grills give families the opportunity to prepare and enjoy a meal outdoors.

Houston Parks North Shore ParkTamarac Park, close to the Woodlands Mall, has a bit of everything for everyone. Kids will have fun playing on the multiple playgrounds and visiting the pond with ducks and turtles. There are trails with shade, a dog park, and picnic tables. Sports enthusiasts will appreciate that there are tennis courts, basketball courts, and even a skate park!

Shenandoah Park, also located in the Woodlands, features a splash pad, two large play areas, full basketball court, soccer goals, baseball field, and tennis courts. There’s a pavilion available with bathrooms nearby. Families can use the BBQ pits, picnic areas, and enjoy the lovely walking trails.

Timbergrove :: Jaycee Park is a neighborhood park that is one of the best-kept secrets inside the loop. A small splash pad, great playground equipment, and plenty of street parking make it a fun and easy stop for moms with little ones in tow. This park is perfect for toddlers!

Upper Kirby :: Levy Park is one of the newest parks inside the loop in Houston. This unique park is a regular destination for families in this area of town. There is a modern climbing wall, musical steps, observation deck, community garden, and a large lawn perfect for running around. It can get crowded so for Covid-safety reasons, the children’s park and dog park are still closed right now. The park is known for hosting lots of family events, which are still happening. Outdoor activities like Family Movie Nights, Table Tennis Tournaments, Children’s Bingo, and performances are taking place this month! Check out the events calendar, because there is always something going on.

West University Place :: Colonial Park, a favorite local neighborhood park, has just finished renovations to its playground area. The new Youth Fitness Challenge Course lets kids race against the clock while completing different stations along the course, inspiring children to dream of becoming an American Ninja Warrior. There’s an improved toddler sand area with a sail boat, a playhouse, and sand diggers for the little ones. The playground structures have also been spruced up with new slides and climbers. Known for its paved walking/jogging track (7 laps = 1 mile), the track is popular with kids on scooters and adults trying to get their steps in.

The Best Parks In and Around Houston

And one more thing you should know about our city’s parks…

The City of Houston has launched a campaign called Playgrounds Without Limits, which are accessible for all children, regardless of their disabilities. These playgrounds feature ramps and transfer systems, sensory activities, and braille and sign panels. Find a park near you on the list of Playgrounds Without Limits in Houston too!

Be sure and let us know in the comments below if we missed your favorite local park. We’d love to keep growing this list of the best Houston parks with your suggestions also!


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