Memorial Day — School’s Out and Outside is In

By Kelly Howard

As a kid, Memorial Day marked the end of school & the beginning of summer. It was the time for outdoor socials. Watermelon, hotdogs & icecream ruled the daily menu. Our tastes may have matured, but the desire to enjoy the outdoors hasn’t changed. As a salute to summers gone by, we have put together our “10 Favorite Parks to Grill & Chill In” complete with a save the day Outdoor Tip Section — enjoy!

Memorial Day — School’s Out and Outside is In1

1. Memorial Park Picnic Loop

Memorial Park has several grills and picnic tables located around the park. You can call to reserve a spot for a fee to guarantee a location. Any places not reserved are available for use on a first come first serve basis. While you are there, cool off in the shade on the hiking and biking trails or bring your waterblasters!

OUTDOOR TIP: Before you head out with a plan to grill, check the burn ban at the location you are going to. In Texas, even when we get a lot of rain, some parks might still have a burn ban in place.

2. Spots Park

Spots Park might just have the biggest Houston hill inside the loop! This little park is home to many boot camps and exercise classes. Nestled in the corner under the trees is a small picnic area. Enjoy a game of volleyball or tennis on the first come, first serve courts.

3. Hermann Park

Don’t want to cook? Inside Hermann Park is Pinewood Café with a fantastic build your own grilled cheese! For those who still want to cook, there are also BBQs and picnic areas located throughout the park. Ride the train, pedal a boat or even visit the ZOO.

4. Brazos Bend State Park

Have a large group? Rent a picnic pavilion or the Dining Hall. Smaller picnic areas and grills are located throughout the park on a first come, first serve basis. While you are there, check out the Arts in the Parks Photo Walk or one of the many Nature Walks.

OUTDOOR TIP: Respect the wildlife. Brazos Bend is home to a lot of alligators (and we mean A LOT of alligators). They are wild animals and it is recommended that you keep your distance. Personally, we think if you have to tell people to keep away from the gators, well isn’t that just evolution?

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5. Huntsville State Park

If you are looking for a place to cool off in the forest, Huntsville State Park is perfect. The pine trees, wooded trails, and paddling on Lake Raven will keep the heat away. Don’t have a boat? You can rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boats from the state park or members of Bayou City Outdoors can borrow kayaks for free.

OUTDOOR TIP: Check the water conditions at the ranger station before entering the water. With recent flooding around Houston, water quality issues could exist and can’t be seen just by looking. In addition, fallen trees and debris can be dangerous in the water.

6. Lake Livingston State Park

Too many bugs outside in Houston? Rent a screened shelter at Lake Livingston State Park. Plus, while lunch is cooking, you can geocache! Check out the Texas State Park Geocache Challenge before you go. Don’t know Geocashing? Think of it as a Treasure Hunt for big kids with electronic toys. Check out www.geocaching.com.

OUTDOOR TIP: Don’t want to pay $5 per person to enter the state park? You can buy an annual Texas State Park pass and then your entire car can enter for FREE. Carpooling and saving $ — bonus!!

7. Pundt Park

In Spring, Texas, check out Pundt Park for 380 acres of fun! With canoe launches, trails and BBQs, there is plenty to do. You can even fish in the lake. There are 10 miles of trails, a dog park and a playground so you can bring every member of your family.

OUTDOOR TIP: For your safety and the safety of others around you, keep your dog on leash in public areas. Even if your dog is friendly, the one your dog is running up to may not be.

8. Gene Green Beltway 8 Park

On the east side of Houston is a hidden gem. This park has everything; a skate park, splash park, tennis courts, dog splash park, trails, playground, picnic/BBQ area and even a BMX freestyle area! Plan a pickup game of basketball or kick around a ball in the fields while you enjoy your weekend outdoors.

OUTDOOR TIP: Always call to check on the availability of amenities. With the downpour of rain throughout the spring, some places may take longer to drain and reopen.

9. George Bush Park

Check out all of the new amenities at George Bush Park like a rock climbing wall, archery, horseshoes, dog park, tennis, volleyball, trails and even a model airplane flying area!

OUTDOOR TIP: Keep your eyes open for critters, big and little! This park is home to a large group of wild hogs and sometimes you will even see a mom with babies. Just keep your distance and enjoy the sights; they really don’t want to get to know you either. 🙂

10. Terry Hershey Park

Known for its biking trails, Terry Hershey Park has much more to offer! Enjoy

the butterfly garden, wild flower garden, and wetland habitat. Jog or bike the trails and rinse off at the runner’s shower before heading to the picnic area for a hot lunch off the BBQ.

After relaxing and barbequing at Terry Hersey Park, let Bayou City Outdoors show you around the Ant Hills. Join us on June 11th as we Walk in the Woods and hike the Ant Hills. http://bit.ly/1rDoiC6

Can’t make this walk, click here for all the outdoor adventures that BCO has to offer.