Best of Houston

The Rest of the Best: Top 10 Parks in Houston

The drought over the last few years has devastated many parts of Houston's parks and green spaces, but thankfully, there are still plenty of beautiful spots to enjoy. We're listing the best of them here. (Before someone starts yelling about the fact that gems like Bell Park and Market Square aren't on this list, we've got our top 10 small parks and top 10 dog parks lists coming soon.) Sentiment played a part in some of the choices, we admit, but for the most part, we looked at accessibility, ease of use, facilities, public art and general vibe. See if your favorite made the list.

10. Baldwin Park 1702 Elgin, 832-395-7000

With Hermann Park and Discovery Green both just blocks away, Baldwin Park isn't the largest green space in the downtown/midtown area by any means, but it's populated with some of the area's oldest trees and its quick and easy to get to. Upkeep has improved over the last few years attracting more visitors and events. Weekends it's a neighborhood family gathering spot.

9. Mason Park 541 South 75th Street, 713-928-7055

Two things are especially attractive about Mason Park, located in Houston's East End. One is Braes Bayou, which winds through the park giving visitors their choice of waterside spots for picnics or PDA sessions. The other is its club house, built in a traditional Spanish style; it's one of the most attractive park buildings in the city. Mason Park includes more than 100 acres, but feels much smaller thanks to the intersection of the bayou. There's a swimming pool, several tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, a baseball field and much more. On a spring or summer day, it's hard to find a more beautiful view of the bayou.

8. Spotts Park 401 South Heights

At just over 16 acres, Spotts Park is among the smallest on this list, but it offers something that's extremely rare in Houston - a hill. Okay, a mini-hill. Built like a bowl, the park's northwest edge leads down from Waugh Drive at street level to some 100 feet down. Exercise enthusiasts and rough-and-tumble kids love the mini-hill. It's in the shadows of downtown and offers a good view of the city's skyline. Memorial Drive separates the park from Buffalo Bayou, so there's no waterfront, but there's an active basketball court, tennis courts, playground area and several large clusters of crepe myrtle trees. One of those clusters is going to be painted blue later this spring as a public art project (don't worry, it's a temporary paint that won't harm the trees).

7. Sam Houston Park 1100 Bagby, 713-655-1912

Walking into Sam Houston Park, which sits on the edge of downtown, is a bit like walking into the past. The street noise and bustle of the busy city die away, skyscrapers are replaced with historic buildings and concrete gives way to an incredible green lawn. Started in 1899, Sam Houston Park is the oldest in the city. The Heritage Society has a museum on the grounds and several restored homes of Houston's earliest residents (a 1823 cabin and the Jack Yates house, built in 1870, are among them.) There are several festivals and events held in Sam Houston Park throughout the year.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez