Explore Houston

Things to Do Outside in Houston: A Guide for the Outdoor Enthusiast

Houston's great outdoors will surprise you, from natural preserves in the center of the city to quaint beach towns just a short drive south. Starting in downtown, visitors can explore the Buffalo Bayou Trails by bike or foot while enjoying the scenic parks and overlooks along the way. The park is the perfect spot for visitors to catch some rays and relax by the area lake, take the pups to one of two dog runs, watch live music at the amphitheater and more. In the same vicinity is the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, a sculptural spectacular in the heart of the city. 

Fifteen minutes east of the trails, nature awaits at the Arboretum & Nature Center where visitors can continue exploring the outdoors. In the same area lies the Rienzi Collection within the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, a serene outdoor garden highlighting sculptures, fountains and artful architecture, where gallery talks are hosted at 1 pm on the third Thursday of every month. 

Aside from laying by the beach, water sports, fishing and golfing, Galveston is an essential outdoor playground whether you're into relaxing on the beach, spending the day at the golf course, or petting stingrays at the aquarium. Also south of Houston is the Kemah Boardwalk, an amusement park featuring classic rides and vintage thrills, plus a variety of dining options. 

Standing 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument, the San Jacinto Monument is a towering sculpture and reflection pool that represents a pivotal moment in Texas history. Military and history buffs will also enjoy the nearby Battleship Texas memorial, a permanently docked U.S. Navy ship that carried soldiers throughout both world wars.

Guests enjoy championship golf, kayaking on The Woodlands Waterway and riding The Woodlands’ more than 180 miles of hike-and-bike trails. At night, The Woodlands is magical with outdoor concerts, romantic Water Taxi rides and The Fountains at Waterway Square.

Buffalo Bayou Park

Just west of Houston’s Theater District, along Buffalo Bayou, is a thriving green space with hiking and biking trails that link downtown’s Memorial, Buffalo Bayou, Sam Houston and Sesquicentennial parks.

Discovery Green

This 12-acre public park is a haven for Houston residents and tourists alike. A destination for fun, dining, art, play and relaxation, visitors get an eco-friendly experience of the downtown area.


An island getaway is only about an hour outside of Houston. Visit the indoor tropical paradise of Moody Gardens, escape with the family to Schlitterbahn Waterpark or take an afternoon to tour historic homes and indulge in mouthwatering seafood.


Part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, this house museum for European decorative arts is situated on four acres of wooded gardens in Houston’s historic River Oaks neighborhood. On display are elegant paintings, furnishings, porcelains and miniatures.

The Woodlands

Home to an expansive mall and a bevy of boutiques and restaurants, the Woodlands is a lush, upscale neighborhood with an outdoor pavilion and a Venice-like water transportation system. The Woodlands plays host to seasonal festivals and family entertainment throughout the year. 

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

Found at the south end of Williams Tower in Uptown, the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is a Houston landmark featuring a 64-foot architectural fountain, recirculating 11,000 gallons of water per minute. The serene atmosphere is a welcome contrast to the rest of downtown. Open daily 8 am to 9 pm daily.

Kemah Boardwalk

Located on Galveston Bay, the Kemah Boardwalk gives visitors an old-fashioned amusement-park experience complete with a double-decker carousel, Ferris wheel, thrilling rides and dining options ranging from fresh seafood at Landry’s Seafood House to Mexican cuisine at Cadillac Bar to steak at Saltgrass Steak House.