Skip the Stores and #OptOutside this Black Friday:: A Houston Area Guide

There are alternatives to shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Houston Moms Blog is sharing a guide for Houston families wanting to #OptOutside this Black Friday.
“Nature‘s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold. Her early leafs a flower but only so an hour.” If I learned anything from listening to countless hours of “Baby Einstein” it was that Robert Frost could write one heck of a poem! But also, on a deeper level, that time passes too quickly. And one thing that money cannot buy you on Black Friday is more time with your loved ones. {OK, maybe that got too deep}
Skip the Stores and #OptOutside this Black Friday
That is why in 2015 REI introduced it’s “Opt Outside” campaign. This is a movement to get people to spend time in nature with their friends and family on Black Friday, rather than in retail stores. Over the past few years it has gained quite the momentum! Millions of people and more than 700 organizations, outdoor companies and nonprofits are choosing to spend the day after Thanksgiving outdoors instead of at the check out.
If the idea of connecting with nature and loved ones appeals to you, please enjoy this handy list of some of my favorite spots to enjoy the outdoors and #OptOutside this Black Friday.

Memorial Park

This 1,500 acre urban park boasts multiple trail options ranging from 1 mile to 6.5 miles. All skill levels are welcome for hiking & biking. The park also has plenty of playgrounds and picnic areas!


Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

This beautiful 155 acre non profit urban nature sanctuary has 5 miles of easy all access trails. The arboretum also includes a nature center and a playground for the little ones.

Terry Hershey Park Along the Buffalo Bayou

Skip the Stores and #OptOutside this Black Friday
Named after the conservationist that campaigned to clean up the banks of Buffalo Bayou, this 6 mile stretch offers city hiking, biking & kayaking.
There is also a play area, a skate park, dog park, Buffalo Bayou Cistern, and the nearby Waugh Bridge bat colony. There is definitely a lot to explore without leaving the city!

Galveston Island State Park

Galveston offers more than just a beach as options to #OptOutside.  The State Park has a number of trails that wind through the bayside salt marsh and prairie. Visitors can check out the East End Lagoon or the Galveston Seawall where they can swim, fish, picnic, bird watch, hike, bike, paddle, camp, geocache, study nature or just relax and enjoy the variety of wildlife or visit the nature center.  


Brazos Bend State Park

Skip the Stores and #OptOutside this Black Friday
Just 45 miles from downtown Houston and you can walk along the banks of a major alligator habitat. Visitors can also hike and bike, fish, picnic, geocache, ride your horse, and stay over­night. You can also reserve one of the picnic pavilions for a group gathering!  This park offers plenty of space for hiking and biking.  Just be sure to stay on the path! 

Huntsville State Park

Hunstville is about an hour from Houston, but it feels like another world. It offers camping, 21 miles of hike & bike trails.  You can picnic, fish, swim, paddle, geocache and study nature. The kids will love the playgrounds and nature center!

Stephen F. Austin Park 

Also about an hour from Downtown Houston, This historic landmark is where Stephen F Austin brought the first families to colonize Texas! 

Now you can explore the trails, bring a picnic, look for a geocache or wild­life, or set up camp.

{The following locations are further outside of Houston but definitely worth the drive!}

Enchanted Rock

This location is a bit of a drive, but if you happen to be headed to Austin, you should make a detour!  Enchanted Rock is an easy hike with great views.
Visitors can hike The massive pink granite dome rising above Central Texas.  This location is great for stargazing, picnicking, study nature & rock climbing.  There is little to no shade, so bring water.

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch and Natural Bridge Caverns

Skip the Stores and #OptOutside this Black Friday:: A Houston Area Guide

Skip the Stores and #OptOutside this Black Friday:: A Houston Area Guide

The caverns are an underground adventure!  Visitors can take a guided tour through amazing underground chambers of this hidden world. While you’re there the kids will LOVE Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch!

The Wildlife Ranch offers a drive thru safari park and a walkabout. You can see and feed animals from all over the globe including zebra, buffalo, peacocks. If you arrive early and have enough time, you can drive through the park as many times as you want! 


Garner State Park

Skip the Stores and #OptOutside this Black Friday:: A Houston Area Guide

Garner is Hill Country at it’s best! This park offers mild to moderate hiking, plus Frio river activities, camping and even nightly dances in the spring and summer. 

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is definitely not close, but worth the drive to #OptOutside! The natural beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert isn’t like anything we have nearby. The park offers hiking, wildlife & amazing stargazing, a hot springs, fossils and dinosaur bones and access to the Rio Grande! Visitors can camp in the park during winter or stay in nearby Terlingua.  
Whether you decide to stay local or venture outside of Houston this is all choosing a different path.  So this year on Black Friday, gather your loved ones and start a new tradition outdoors. And don’t forget to share your adventures on social media using the hashtag #OptOutside.
Did I miss your favorite local park or hike?  Please share it with me in the comments! 
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Brandy is a native Houstonian who currently lives in Cypress. She is a photographer and mom of three girls:: Eve {February 2011} Giselle {February 2005} and Gwen {January 2002}. Her husband’s work in the oil industry has moved her family to three different countries {England, Norway, and Brazil} but Houston kept calling them back! Now she and her husband are putting down roots and enjoying the challenge of raising three girls. Photography has been her passion since she attended Cy Fair high school, and she now owns Brandy Dykes Photography! She loves the outdoors and is determined to find all the hidden and not-so-hidden natural gems in and around the city. Brandy loves a good joke, is currently a Starbucks Gold Member and will stop to read every Historical Marker she encounters. You can find out more about Brandy on Instagram {@brandydykes} or on her blog.


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