If you're unfamiliar with the term, parkour is basically what happens when people play Super Mario Bros in real life. You find yourself a good spot full of interesting terrain, then you jump, climb, spin, and flip off of it until you basically collect all the underwear of anyone who happens to see you. It's not for the meek, and it's amazing to watch in progress.
Outside of various gym and groups that give parkour lessons and help you train, there are at least ten good spots that will allow you to really show off your skills. Get ready to run.
Special thanks to Autumn Smith and Dakao Do of Sword to Sword for their help compiling this article as the author is on NO way qualified to physically do any of it.
10. Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark I've ranked the skatepark so low not because it isn't awesome to do parkour there. It clearly is from the above video. The problem is that you're not usually going to find space or permission to really pull off your moves. Catch them in an open mood, though and get ready to really show off.
9. City Hall As you'll see in this list there are two kinds of places for parkour in Houston; Those where the terrain is perfect, and those where the terrain is perfect, but they will absolutely kick you out if they catch you doing it. One of the best off limits sites is definitely city hall, but it's also one of the most strictly policed. Don't look for the ban to be lifted any time soon, but you might be able to pull off a speed run if you're the daring type.
8. University of Houston Downtown Another strong candidate on the not-allowed list is the downtown campus of U of H. I've ranked it slightly higher than City Hall because you're more likely to get away with some tricks before getting caught. It's not quite as locked down as some of the other no-parkour sites, and has some extremely wonderful areas to explore.
7. Donovan Park Of the more children-centric parks in Houston, Donovan Park in the Heights offers great playground equipment for leaps, spins, climbs, and flip-offs. One thing you need to keep in mind when running a playground, though, is that the fixtures were not intended to take the impact of a full-grown adult. Be mindful, gentle, and most importantly keep an eye out for the little ones.
6. Fleming Park Now if you want playground equipment that is going to stand up to damn near any punishment you can check out this whimsical little fairytale park in West U. The structures predate the softplay movement, and everything is wood and metal. It's also has a great spread of trees so the temperature isn't all that hot when running. It's a lesser known and easy to miss spot, so keep an eye out for the totem pole as a landmark.
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5. Houston Gymnastics Academy One of the few places you'll be able to train for parkour in the air conditioning is the Houston Gymnastics Academy. There is plenty of soft equipment available to start you off as a novice, and the open floor is designed for maximum wide movement. They even offer classes in parkour sometimes.
4. Bayou Place The open structure and the multi-level set up of Bayou Place and Jones Plaza across the street make it the ideal setting for any number of tricks. The only problem is that you'd better be damned fast when you pull them off. This is another place where parkour is explicitly not welcome and they will escort you off the premises.
3. Sesquicentennial Park If you stay off the Wortham Center steps (Where the guards will stop you), you'll have a blast doing parkour at Sesquicentennial Park. Known as "The Red Place" to traceurs, it's one of the more picturesque settings available, and the cascading waterfalls give you plenty of training montage mental fodder to really get yourself going. There are wide stairs and plenty of different levels to make leaps off the structures, and we want to mention especially...
2. Texas Avenue Bridge Though it's technically just another perk of Sesquicentennial for parkour the underpass at Texas Ave deserves extra mention. "There's a spot that's great for wall runs and top outs (doing a pull-up, muscle-up, and dip on the top of the wall)," Do told us via email. All the paths along Buffalo Bayou are great for a more exploratory run.
1. Tranquillity Park The best place for parkour in Houston is easily Tranquillity Park. It's got a nice combination of low walls, high walls, fat and thin rails to walk, and there are easy sloping grass hills behind the drops that are great for cushioning landings. By advised, the bars on the pavilion are not suitable for swinging or other tricks, and there have been several accidents involving broken bones by those who have attempted them. The park staff is also parkour-friendly after seeing the efforts of the practitioners who train there actively attempting to clear up litter and other unsightly debris. It's also just two blocks south from Sesquicentennial Park, meaning it's easy to hit both in the same session.
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