By: Marye Audet
If you only think of traffic and tall buildings when you think of Houston, you’re missing out on one of the best aspects of living here. Despite the fact that it’s a heavily populated, urban area, this city offers acres and acres of assorted habitats just waiting to be explored. Take a kayak down the peaceful, 26-mile Buffalo Bayou paddling trail. Go horseback riding on a classic Texas trail ride or get a bird’s eye view of the city from high up in a hot air balloon. We’ve got plenty of ideas for you to consider. There’s an adventure to fit every budget, and with Houston’s average of 204 sunny days per year, there’s plenty of time to work your way through the list.
1. Bike Around Buffalo Bayou
Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street, between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive Monday – Sunday, lighted areas: 6:00 am – 11:00 pm; other areas: dawn to dusk. The Buffalo Bayou biking trails will give you access to many of the following Houston adventures. Eventually, the trails will evolve into a continuous system of parks and 150 miles of trails along Houston’s major waterways, but there’s no need to wait. Several of the trails are open and allow for a beautiful bike tour of some of Houston’s most beautiful scenery, historic sites, and public artwork.
Cost: Free buffalobayou.org/visit/destination/ buffalo-bayou-park/
2. Waugh Bridge Bat Colony
One of Houston’s most amazing experiences is watching the thousands of bats that live under the Waugh Bridge emerge at dusk. The perfect place to observe this wonder is the Gus M. Wortham Memorial Fountain along Allen Parkway, east of Waugh Drive. Standing along the sidewalk near the tree line often allows you to watch as the bats fly directly overhead.
Cost: Free houstontx.gov/parks/batpage.html
3. Sam Houston Boat Tour
7300 Clinton Dr., Houston, Texas 77020
This tour offers a relaxing and educational tour of the Sam Houston Ship Channel. Get a look at Houston’s industrial side as you take in the ships from international ports hauling cargo. Although this may not be the prettiest of tours, it’s definitely an interesting one. Cost: Free portofhouston.com/community-outreach/sam-houston-boat-tour/
4. Texas Air Adventures
14722 N Eldridge Pkwy, Houston, TX 77070
Undoubtedly the most unique way to enjoy Houston’s great outdoors, Texas Air Adventures gives you the tour of a lifetime from a hot air balloon. Your day might start with a hearty country breakfast and end with a champagne reception upon landing. There are various packages available. Cost: Begins at $1,000.00 texasaa.com/about_us.htm
5. Cypress Trails Equestrian Center
21415 Cypresswood Dr. Humble, Texas 77338 There’s no more exhilarating way to enjoy nature than with a trail ride. Enjoy woodland nature trails along Cypress Creek, whether you have all day or just an hour. You’ll ride at your level so even beginners can relax and enjoy the scenery from atop an Arabian, Paint, or Appaloosa horse. Cost: Starts at $50 horseridingfun.com/adventurerides.html