I know Houston is not thought of much as a top tourist destination, after all it has to compete against three giants Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, all famous and fun places to visit. Yet the biggest city in Texas often gets forgotten, yet it has so much to offer if you have a day or two to see it. I wish I could list them all but I think each one deserves to be written about independently.
What I want to talk about right now is these two fabulous parks that are on the must see list for me. To this day I still think about my time in each one often and hope to be able to return one day to see them again, yes they are that good. Imagine if you found the most romantic parks, possibly in the world and they are just minutes from where you live, well that is what you get with these two parks.
First I want to take you to Hermann Park, this park is best to visit in the early evening, when the sun is just beginning to set. We always entered the park on the far end, you begin your venture with a circle drive, in the middle of the drive is two huge fountains pouring thousands of gallons of water every second into the air, they are so large you don’t expect them in a public park. This leads you on to a small garden with a gazebo more fountains and statues everywhere. This small park alone would make it worth your time to visit, but it is just the beginning. You continue on your journey to find yourself standing in front of a large statue of Sam Houston on top of his horse, I never really understood the story of Sam Houston but to capture a picture of his statue with the sun setting behind him is one you will treasure. The after crossing yet another street, be careful the drivers in Houston are nuts, you find yourself standing right in front of inspiration pond, a cement pond that resembles the inspiration pond in Washington DC. As you continue on you find hidden in the middle of the park a Japanese garden, although locked up after dark when opened it is always free to walk thorough and well maintained.
Next you walk right up to the large lake that has a great walking path around it, as you walk the path you are met by beautiful birds of all kinds, most are incredibly friendly and will walk right up you, hoping for a piece of bread. The lake is the most romantic part of the whole park, don’t take my word for it just go there in the evening and see the many happy couples cuddled along the many bench’s along the shore. Many evenings my husband and I would sit on a bench by the lake and talk, it was a whole new kind of romance for us, there is just something magical about that lake, it makes you want to be in love. There are many other great parts about this park more than I can mention here, its home to a great Houston zoo, outdoor amphitheater, planetarium, golf course, natural history museum, art and statues of many different famous influential people from different races and beliefs. This park is truly a hidden treasure.
Next we visit Memorial park, this is not your typical park in any form. For most that visit the park it is a three mile loop around a golf course, at any given time you will encounter hundreds of runners and walkers taking advantage of it. There is also a large tennis center, baseball diamonds and outdoor fitness centers. But the real gem of the park is across the street, sure a large busy street but one worth crossing. Most know it as the picnic area, there are hundreds of large picnic areas with tables, grills and bathrooms nestled in the security of trees and grass, meant to support large groups of people which it does every weekend. Along the side of the picnic area are hidden paths, most used by off road pedal bikers. There are miles and miles of these off the path trails leading you either deep inside the “forest” or along the river.
If you are lucky enough to find a path by the river you can stop and look across the river to view some of the most beautiful homes in all of Houston. This is where the rich and successful live and you get to be so close you almost feel like you have been invited to enjoy their properties. The trails are rough at times and quite challenging to maneuver on, this is not for those that don’t like a challenge, but the overgrown forest gives you coolness even on the hottest of days. Most trails are not marked, leaving you with the impression you could get lost, you do feel like you have entered deep inside a lost forest and very few people use these trails. Fear not no trail is far from the entrance just keep going and you will find your way home. I wish more cities had great parks like these, they are real treasures in the middle of one of the largest cities in America.