5 Must Do Things Around Lake Houston

Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens | Courtesy of The Mercer Society

In our series of Must Do Things Around Greater Houston, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of communities and neighborhoods to bring you five fun, tasty, and enticing reasons you should give each a visit. Originally published in 2016, we are now refreshing, updating, and adding to this series, including new neighborhoods and destinations.

Just 15 miles northeast of downtown, the reservoir of Lake Houston was created in 1953. It’s a popular recreational fishing and boating destination as well as a waterfowl sanctuary; and the area around the lake has plenty to do, bordered by residential neighborhoods including Kingwood, Humble and Atascocita to the west, Sheldon to the south, and Crosby and Huffman on the east.

5 Must Do Things Around Lake Houston

  • Fish, boat, hike, and unwind on Lake Houston – Both boating and fishing are popular on Lake Houston, as the waters are stocked with catfish, largemouth bass, white crappie, bluegill, and more. Head to the northern end to find the heavily forested Lake Houston Wilderness Park (currently open for day-use and overnight camping), which offers lakeside cabins, camping facilities, a kayak launch, and 20 miles of hiking and biking trails.
  • Bring the kids to Old MacDonald’s FarmEntertaining families for around 30 years, this 15 acre outdoor park area features petting zoo barns (with a host of animals from goats, sheep, pigs, and cows to “exotic” animals like deer, llamas, and emus), pony rides, a train ride, a duck pond, play forts, and a swimming pool. It opens at 10am daily and all activities are included in the $14 admission (free for kids under 18 months). Click here for directions.
  • Experience natural beauty at Mercer Arboretum and Botanic GardensNamed after Thelma and Charles Mercer, the 300-acre Mercer Botanic Gardens is a horticultural haven boasting manicured hiking trails, a picturesque picnic area and barbecue pavilions, a butterfly house, a cypress swamp, and an abundance of animal life. It also hosts the region’s largest collection of native and cultivated plants, and it’s all free to enjoy. Click here for directions.
  • Hang out on the patio at 1886 Humble BackyardNear the intersection of Beltway 8 and Old Humble Road, this modern outdoor bar rocks totally chill, totally Texas vibes from noon to 2am daily. Hit the open and airy backyard patio—complete with spaced picnic tables, heat lamps, and Instagram-worthy lighting—for live music and steak nights, drinks from cold beer to house cherry vodka sours, and lowkey good times. Click here for directions. Find more bars near Lake Houston.
  • Sip local craft brews  – Beer nerds will want to check out Ingenious Brewing Company in Humble, where you’ll find 20+ small-batch brews and a taproom with TVs, games, and fun stuff like trivia, steak night, “yappy hour”, and food trucks. On the edge of Kingwood and Porter, Back Pew Brewing offers unconventional brews in an old church; also in Kingwood, the 15 barrel brew house Megaton Brewery rocks arcade games, video games, billiards, air hockey, and more; and right off the lake over in Huffman, Lake Houston Brewery is a family-owned spot with craft suds, fried shrimp, fish tacos and more.
Lake Houston Wilderness Park | Courtesy of Houston Parks and Recreation Department

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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 .