Thanks to miles of trails and a myriad of sporting facilities, Memorial Park, on the western outskirts of Houston, draws millions of active locals each year. The huge 1,466-acre (593-hectare) public property is one of the largest city parks in the U.S. Play a game of tennis or croquet, swim laps at the park pool, play a round of volleyball or 18 holes of golf. Joggers come in the early mornings, late afternoons and weekends for the three-mile (five-kilometer) Seymour Lieberman Exercise Trail. The granite track is lined with workout stations, restrooms and water fountains, and is lighted at night for safety.
Skate and ride on the smooth surface of the Memorial Park Picnic Loop. True to its name, it’s dotted with picnic facilities and restrooms, so on weekends it’s popular with families looking more to relax and eat than hit the pavement.
Any bike rider will tell you that Memorial Park is mountain biking paradise, particularly on the heavily wooded southwest side. Ravines along the Buffalo Bayou waterway prove challenging terrain, even for experienced riders. Hikers also take advantage of the terrain, looking to spot the abundant wildlife in the forest. Some of the trails here aren’t well marked, so make sure you know where you’re going. A compass or companion is also advisable, and don’t attempt to hike far at night.
Memorial Park has a serious side as well as being a place for fun and recreation. During World War I, this large green space was used as an army training camp. When the land was sold back to the city in 1924, it was dedicated to soldiers who died fighting in the war. There’s not much around now to remind visitors of that history, but it’s worth remembering as you stroll the grounds.
Memorial Park is a 10-minute drive from downtown Houston. Entrance to the park is free but the facilities, such as the golf course and swimming pool, charge separately. It’s open daily and free parking is available.