5 Must Do Things in Buffalo Bayou Park

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Buffalo Bayou Park | Photo: 365 Houston
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In our series of Must Do Things Around Greater Houston, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of neighborhoods to bring you five fun, tasty, and enticing reasons you should give each a visit. 

Stretching from Shepherd to Sabine, Buffalo Bayou Park offers 160 acres of picturesque scenery and skyline views, along with stellar hike and bike trails, performance and outdoor activity spaces like Eleanor Tinsley Park and more. With its epic renovation, the urban park has become an integral part of this city. While you may have visited to work up a sweat on the trails or catch July 4 fireworks at Freedom Over Texas, there are plenty of other gems in Houston’s coolest park, both hidden and in plain sight. Here are some of the best.

5 Must Do Things in Buffalo Bayou Park

  1. Explore the magnificent underground Cistern – Formerly a drinking water reservoir built in 1926, this incredible 87,500 square foot, 25-foot tall cistern was much forgotten about after it was closed due to an irreparable leak. That is, until 2011, when the Buffalo Bayou Partnership re-discovered it during the development of the Buffalo Bayou Park. Realizing its architectural splendor and historical significance, they’ve worked with the City of Houston to open the industrial relic to the public, even hosting a series of art and light installations and guided meditations. You’ll have to make reservations to get a look, and you should. The 30-minute docent-led tours are available every Wednesday to Sunday. Tickets are $9 to 10 per person; no children under the age of 9 permitted. Click here to make your reservation. Click here for directions.
  2. Go on a DIY art crawl – All along the bayou, you’ll find the park’s trails and spaces dotted with intriguing art installations. So it’s only appropriate to get your phone ready for an #Instragram worthy photo session, as you partake in an artsy scavenger hunt of sorts. There’s British sculptor Henry Moore’s Spindle, a bronze abstract work that was originally part of the artist’s Spindle series in London’s Hyde Park; John Runnels’ It Wasn’t a Dream, It was a Flood, a 20-foot stainless steel canoe sculpture that serves as the entry point at Crosby Outfall; the Dandelion, aka the Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain between Montrose and Waugh; Open Channel Flow, a sculpture by New York-based artist Matthew Geller that features a hand-pump shower fittingly near the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark; and Jaume Plensa’s Tolerance, the stunning human sculptures that represent the world’s seven continents set at the base of the Rosemont Bridge on Allen and Montrose. And don’t forget to look out for the Monumental Moments, a series of six 4-foot tall sculptures depicting words like “Explore” and “Reflect.” #WeLoveHouston.
  3. Dine under chandeliers at The Kitchen at The Dunlavy – Overlooking the lush bayou and Lost Lake, this striking “glass tree house” is packed with stunning chandeliers in all shapes and sizes. The Kitchen offers diners breakfast and lunch daily, as well as weekend brunch and an excellent selection of wine, beer, and grab and go bites perfect for a picnic in the park. Sip a glass of wine and nosh on an assortment of local cheeses and charcuterie; enjoy a light breakfast of avocado tartine and a strong coffee out on the patio; or treat yourself to a good ole’ burger and fries after a long bike ride. At night, the beautiful eatery doubles as a private event and dining space, opening to the public for the occasional pop-up happy hour and collaborative dinner (follow along on Facebook for updates). Click here for directions.
  4. See bats emerge from the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony – Did you know that after dusk, hoards of Mexican free-tailed bats spiral out from the crevices of the Waugh St. Bridge? Well, now you do. It’s truly a sight to be seen (and yes, that is what you’ve been smelling when you run under the bridge). The specific time the bats emerge is not completely predictable (especially after the colony was diminished during Hurricane Harvey), but warmer weather helps. For a unique look at the natural phenomenon, pontoon boat tours are also available. Click here for directions.
  5. Take your pups to the Johnny Steele Dog Park – Buster will love this 2-acre dog park near Allen Parkway and Montrose, which was closed for 10 months after the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The space features ponds to jump in, grass to play catch in, and dog washing areas to clean up in after your best bud has partaken in all the fun. There’s even drinking fountains complete with spigots for dogs. 7am to 8pm. Click here for directions.
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Photo courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Partnership