Best Urban Nature Spot - 2011
West 11th Street Park
Readers' Choice: Readers' Choice: Houston Arboretum
A 20-acre pocket forest park inside the Loop, West 11th Street Park is the hidden jewel that makes the Timbergrove neighborhood live up to its name. The glade's many tall pines abound with a variety of woodpeckers, from the common downy and yellow-bellied varieties to the mighty crow-sized pileated and the gaudy redheaded, a bird so flashy it inspired Salvador Dalí. It's also a rare urban spot to see huge great horned owls; almost everywhere else in urban Houston, only little screech owls can find suitable habitats. Even if you aren't into birds, the park has lots to offer. In addition to the forest trails, there's ample open space for picnicking. But it's the woods that will bring you back: After a rain, the smells of the forest deliver you far from this concrete, smog-choked, ozone-addled petropolis. It's a little island of Big Thicket in the Heights.