Walkable Houston: Memorial Park & Rice Military

Photo courtesy of Memorial Park Conservancy

While Houstonians definitely love their cars, there are nooks and crannies of the city that are best explored by foot. In our Walkable Houston series, we traverse those districts to find the prettiest parks, hottest restaurants and bars, coolest local art and shops, and most visit-worthy hidden gems.  

This week, we’ll take a look at one of Houston’s most beloved green spaces, Memorial Park. And the park’s future looks even better. After a $70 million grant from the Kinder Foundation, the visionary park’s Master Plan will be fast-tracked, with upgrades focusing on connectivity and access, protecting and enhancing its green infrastructure, preserving natural resources, revealing Houston’s history, and improving recreational assets and amenities.

Play & Explore

  • Houston Arboretum & Nature Center This 155-acre urban nature sanctuary is tucked away on the western edge of Memorial Park, open to the public daily with free admission. Escape the city life and explore nature by walking its five miles of trails; make discoveries about Houston’s urban wildlife in the interactive Discovery Room; and check out a lineup of programs (for kids, families, and adults) as well as fun events from bird walks to nature-inspired food, beer, and wine classes.
  • The Three-Mile Loop Even in Houston’s hottest months, you’ll find dedicated locals making their rounds around Memorial Park’s crushed granite three-mile loop (okay, so The Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail is technically only 2.93 miles, but 3 miles just sounds better). Lace up and hit the track for a jog or a nice walk, join a running club for some extra motivation, and look out for exercise stations located along the trail and a larger workout station near tennis center.
  • Hiking and Biking Trails The park also boasts thirty miles of hiking trails, many twisting and turning around small creeks; and cyclists and skaters can hit the Memorial Park Picnic Loop, while mountain bikers can enjoy the trails located in the southwest section of the park.
  • Fields and courts Trails aren’t all this 1,466-acre park has to offer. There are also softball fields, sand volleyball, tennis and croquet courts, and free space for pick-up flag football and soccer games.
  • Memorial Park Golf Course and Driving Range – Golf enthusiasts can hit the driving range or book tee times for the beautiful 18-hole Memorial Park Golf Course.
  • Memorial Park Fitness Center Open year-round and located at 6402 Arnot, the fitness center boasts a variety of free-weight and resistance equipment, on-site trainers, and locker and shower facilities, as well as a pool open during the summer. Daily or monthly memberships are available for a small fee.
  • Vale-Asche Foundation Playground Bring the kiddos to this bright and fun playground, located across Memorial Loop Drive from the Memorial Park Golf Course Clubhouse. The playspace was Houston’s first Playground Without Limits, designed to be fully accessible for children with disabilities.
  • Events at the Park Lookout for a lineup of fun events and activities, from brunch runs and conservation chats to the annual Picnic for the Park.
  • Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens Right outside the park on Memorial, the eye-catching Bayou Bend Collection is one of the finest showcases of American furnishings, silver, ceramics, and paintings in the world. Open year-round, visitors can explore the 14 acres of gardens and take tours of the space, housed in the former home of Houston civic leader and philanthropist Ima Hogg.
  • Buffalo Bayou Park If you’re looking to get some steps in and hit two of Houston’s crown jewel parks, you can jump on the hiking trails along Memorial and gain access Buffalo Bayou Park, which hosts its own set of hike and bike trails, plus art installations and plenty of fun things to do.
  • The Beer Can HouseYou can see the house that beer built, literally, by stopping by this Houston icon. Located on Malone just a hop from the park, the house is covered in an estimated 50,000 flattened beer cans. Admission is $5 (free for children 12 and under).

Eat & Drink

  • Becks Prime Finished the three-mile loop? Looks like you’ve earned yourself a burger at the in-park Becks Prime.
  • Food Trucks – On Saturdays, Memorial Park hosts food trucks near the Vale-Asche Playground and at the entrance to Picnic Loop.
  • Black Walnut Cafe Located on Memorial just outside the park, this local café offers breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, and happy hour. Hit it to enjoy everything from bacon jam burgers, chipotle chicken pasta, and blackened salmon Caesar to lobster benedict, breakfast migas, and Texas cut challah French toast.
  • Brenner’s on the BayouEscape at this bayou-side steakhouse off Birdsall, which offers lush garden views, cascading waterfalls, and a rustic feel. Dine in the two-story dining room to enjoy steak and seafood selections, or hit the patio for happy hour cocktails and bites.
  • Kolache Factory Stop by this Memorial Park area kolache shop to pick up the good stuff loaded with assorted fruit, cream cheese, spinach, chicken fajita, and sausage, egg, and cheese.
  • Piada Italian Street FoodOver near Memorial Park, this Italian street food spot offers greens and grains, tossed pasta, and hand-rolled piada wraps filled with things like crispy chicken, pancetta, basil aioli, romaine, bruschetta tomatoes, and creamy parmesan.
  • Snap Kitchen Stop by this nutritious spot to pick up healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner plates, from bison quinoa hash to Thai grain bowls, plus snacks, juices, and sweets.
  • Sunrise Taquito This Memorial breakfast and lunch favorite is the spot for taquitos, migas, barbacoa and more.
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Brooke Viggiano
Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .