Dragon and Phoenix Spark Park at the Mandarin Immersion Magnet School!

Address: 5445 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77056

Just blocks from the Houston Galleria is a brand new Spark Park… the Dragon and Phoenix Spark Park at the Mandarin Immersion Magnet School!

Spark Parks are open to the public after school hours and on weekends and holidays… and this one is unique! This park has swings, bucket swings and ninja warrior style climbing structures.

You can start on one end and climb, scale and swing to the other side of the dragon. The phoenix has some spinning features and some slides… including the “broken slide” or “arm pit slide” (as named by the kids). This includes two bars you have to slide down!

The MIMS Spark Park is a cooperative venture of HISD and MIMS parents and has been a long time in the making.  They did a great job creating a unique and fun park!

Right now the park is in full sun… but the second phase of construction will add some shade and more equipment.

The park is fenced in and there is free parking in the lot.  (The lot is crazy during drop off and pick up, but there is space during other times.)  You won’t have access to the restrooms… but there is Subway across the side street.

Also, right behind the Mandarin School is the School at St. George Place Spark Park… so you have two parks to visit at one stop.  Plus, both schools have a dragon for a mascot… so you’ll see dragon play structures at both spots.

Check out the pictures below and visit next time you are in the Galleria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Enjoy the weather, the trails and the nature play area at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center!

Address: 4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024

Now that it’s not boiling hot in Houston, we’re getting back out to the urban trails! Most recently we went to the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center!

Right now the Arboretum is restoring the land on the northern portion, but there is still plenty of space open to hike and play… including in the nature playground!

The play area has moved to the east of the Nature Center and parking lot… but still has the great elements that my kids love.  There is a rope bridge, sandbox, tree stumps, rocks and blocks.

After we played we took off on the trails.  There is an inner loop and and outer loop… with trails like spokes connecting them.  It’s kind of like a wagon wheel… except it’s not round and wouldn’t roll!  See the map HERE.

The trails were well maintained and flat.  I had the baby in a carrier… but I could have used a jog stroller.  We did the loops and some of the “spokes” and stopped at just about every bench for a water and snack break (because you can never have enough water or snacks).

To make the hike a little extra fun, we found some trees to cross a dry creek bed.  (If you want a harder trail, where you have to climb over roots and ridges, try the Memorial Park trail next door.)

We saw a lot of families on the trails and we were not the only ones enjoying the nice weather.  After making the loop and playing again at the playground, we went inside to the Discovery Room and the restrooms.

The Arboretum is free to visit and there is a free parking lot.  On busy days, the parking lot will be full and you have to park at Memorial Park and walk over.

It was a great, cool, afternoon!  Check out the pictures!

 

 

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Host Your Next Birthday Party at the Nature Discovery Center

My 3rd child had never had a birthday party. Don’t get me wrong, we’d celebrate the heck out of his birthday, but never with a party.

But then he started school and started to ask how other kids knew to show up for birthday parties.  For a while I just shrugged my shoulders but this year I decided it was time for him to invite his friends to his own birthday celebration.

The Nature Discovery Center invited us out for our 6 year old birthday party and it was so good that I’m afraid we will need to go back every single year!

We had the Scales and Tails party which included a program all about reptiles: snakes, lizards, and turtles.  So not only was there a program where the kids could learn about, and touch, live animals and specimens, but we had a big pavilion, access to a full kitchen and to restrooms.  Plus, this park has nature trails and playground.

The staff was helpful, the program instructor was funny and great with kids, my son loved his day… and it was easy for me.  I just sent out the invite, set up a few tables and the rest was taken care of for us!

If you are thinking of a party at the Nature Discovery Center, here’s what you need to know:

  • There are three program options:  Bunny Buddies, Join the Insect Club and Scales and Tails.  There are also tours of the discovery rooms and nature walks.
  • Target ages are 2 to 9 (and vary by program).
  • Parties are 2 hours and there are 30 minutes to set up and clean up.
  • During our party, the kids played and ate pizza for 30 minutes, then we went into the house for the reptile show for 30 minutes, then we went on a nature walk for 20 minutes… and then we ate cake and played for 40 minutes.
  • You can bring in food and decorations… just no balloons.  There is even a pinata hook on the tree… so they are ready for parties!
  • You have access to a full kitchen, right next to the pavilions.  You can store store your cake and drinks in the refrigerators… or you can even use the stove to make dinner.  Just make sure you have time to clean up!
  • There are 3 pavilions you can use.  One has three big picnic tables.  The other ones have one table.
  • There is a little “lemonade stand” next to the pavilions.  When we saw this, my kids were determined to have lemonade to serve the guests.
  • The sinks and restrooms are right next to the party area.
  • Parking is available right next to the pavilions on the north side of the park… and more is available by the playground on the south side of the park.
  • During the reptile show, the instructor did a great job keeping the kids focused and entertained.  My birthday boy got some special attention and even got to hold the snake (and everyone else got to touch it).
  • The kids also went on a nature walk through the newly renovated park.  Learn about this park HERE!
  • After the party, the kids went to the playground and sandbox to play some more!

We had a really good time and will do it again.  Check out the pictures below and learn all about the Nature Discovery Center parties HERE!  Or find more birthday party venues HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 


From TEAS Nursery, to Construction Site to the Beautiful Evelyn’s Park in Bellaire!

Address: 4400 Bellaire Blvd, Bellaire, TX 77401

For years we’ve been walking past Evelyn’s Park… first it was the empty lot (from the old TEAS Nursery), then it was a construction site… and now it’s a beautiful Bellaire Park!

Here you can find a cool nature play area with a hillside slide and sandbox, a lot of room to run and the family friendly Ivy and James restaurant.  Evelyn’s Park has two free parking lots, accessible from Newcastle Street and Mulberry Lane and has a restroom.

The playground at Evelyn’s Park is not huge but it is also within walking distance (but across the busy Bellaire Blvd) is the Nature Discovery Center and Evergreen Park and Pool!

Also, coming next year will be a very cool Alice in Wonderland sculpture!

When you go, know that this park is big and has room to run safely… but there is no fence… so you need to be watching the little kids.

That said, this park really is a great place for time with friends.  You can eat, play… and if you are looking for more fun, walk down the street to bigger playgrounds and nature discovery rooms.

Check out the pictures:

 

 

 

 

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Another Great Urban Green Space for Houston: Midtown Park

Address: 2811 Travis St, Houston, TX 77006

During the Super Bowl, this park opened as a big green event space. Then, after the event, fences went up and major construction started.

I was curious in what Midtown Park might become… but I was not in much of a hurry for it to be ready… BUT when I saw the play area go up, I could not wait for the project to be done.

AND now Midtown Park is open!

This park has a small, fenced in, partially shaded play area with a very cool climbing sphere, sound tubes, misters, swings, rock play area and swings (with the swings are just outside the fence).

The rest of the big urban park has a reflecting pool and waterfall, big lawn, stage and dog park… plus a bayou landscape waterway and interactive water feature.

At the “Bayou”, the recirculating water mimics the bayous in Houston… including the birds and butterflies.  At “Rain”, jets and a thin sheet of water cools you off and water droplets pop up and fall like a rain storm.

We visited just as the fences were coming down, so we skipped the water area… but will be back to get pictures soon!

This park is right along the METRORail tracks on Main Street, just south of McGowen.  You can take the train or drive.  There is a paid lot under the park, metered parking on Travis (except for during rush hours) and free parking on side streets (which is what I did).

Take a look at the pictures and go enjoy this new urban green space!

 

 

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Right by the Water… Rainbow Park in Texas City

Address: 800 Bay St N, Texas City, TX 77590

Someone told me there was nothing to do in Texas City and so I went there to prove them wrong.  And then I went back again and again to be sure I’d seen it all.

We’ve now written about the Texas City Museum (which I really liked), the Texas City Dike (which had some huge waves because of the passing container ships) and some parks and pools.  We also found Rainbow Park…  right at the entrance of the Dike!

Rainbow Park has a great playground, walking trails and ball fields.  There is also a splashpad, but it was closed when we visited.

The whole park is nicely done, but the playground is the star.  There is a lot of unique equipment that my kids approved.  There is an all abilities play structure, an all abilities swing, lots of monkey bars, teeter totter, climbing walls and so much more.

We played like crazy before heading over to the Texas City Dike.  Parking is free in the lot and there was a little foot traffic in the area.  I’d have preferred more traffic in the area… so as always, do your own safety check before getting out of the car.

Check out the pictures below and swing by the next time you are at the Texas City Museum or the Dike!

(And thanks to Nancy for recommending this park!)

 

 

 

 

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Check Out the Baseball Splashpad at Godard Park in Texas City

Address: Loop 197 North (25th Avenue North) and 23rd Street North, Texas City, Texas 77590

We love baseball and we love the Astros playing in the post season… and this week’s park has a baseball themed splashpad!  It’s Godard Park in Texas City!

This park has baseball fields, basketball court, a cool playground and great baseball splashpad.  (It’s all in the sun… so bring the sunscreen.)

As much as we loved the splashpad, the playground really had some great ninja features… curved climbing walls, wheel monkey bars, broken bridges and more!

Google has this park listed ask Goddard Park, but I’m pretty certain it’s Godard Park… but if you know, you can tell us.

Also, we went just before Harvey… so if anything has changed, please also tell us.  (As far as I see online, it’s open and okay.)

Check out the pictures and check out the park next time you are around Texas City!

 

 

 

 

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There is so much to do at Jaycee Park!

Address: 1300 Seamist Dr, Houston, TX 77008

Jaycee Park has long been one of our favorite parks… but looking at our past post, I see my kids were teeny tiny and it was time to write another. So off we went to this Heights-area park.

In a very Houston-like way, Jaycee Park is surrounded by industrial warehouses on one side and a nice residential neighborhood on the other. The park that connects them is big, green, and full of things to do… and free parallel parking is available.

The are swings, a playground, jogging trail, tennis court, basketball court, baseball field and small splashpad. Many of the features are very unique and can keep you busy for a long time. And since Houston is still super hot, the splashpad looked to be the most favorite.

Over at the playground, there are the usual slides and ladders… but there are also loops for scaling across the play structure, music stations, a rope bridge, curving rock wall, spring-loaded seesaws, a bumpy slide, a fireman pole, a stand-up swing that you go around and around on… and that’s just the start of it.

The stand up seesaw is a little wild… and as my friend was telling me her son was thrown off… my 6 year old also hit the ground. It looks harmless… but if you are on top and someone jumps off, you can squish your legs or loose your grip. My big kids loved it… but consider yourself warned!

If you are looking for a big park with lots to do… and equipment you don’t see everywhere… check out Jaycee Park!

 

 

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Wild! Nature Play Area at the Houston Zoo

Address: 6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030

I cannot tell you how happy we are about the new Wild! Nature Play Area at the Houston Zoo.

This play area is free with zoo admission or zoo membership and it’s full of messy fun. Instead of playground equipment, kids play with sticks, sand, mud and water… and climb on logs and walk through gardens.

We went after school and my kids could not get enough.  We were going to stay for just a few minutes… but even after the rain started pouring down, they just did not want to leave.

First they went to the water (where kids can splash in the little pond) and then to dig in the mud box (which really is a box of mud for mud pies).  Then they saw the sticks by the sand pit and began to build a shelter (which they called a rain shelter, even though the gazebo was an actual rain shelter!).

They went around and around and around and had a great time.

 

At this nature play area, kids can interact with everything.  They will certainly get wet and muddy!

Also according to the Houston Zoo’s website, each visit may be slightly different. “The mud pit could become a pile of leaves, water may dry up or there might be more pinecones than you would see in a forest.”

Check out the pictures below and check out the Wild! Nature Play Area next time you are at the Zoo!  It’s very close to the entrance behind the Meerkats!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ninja Approved: Hometown Heroes Park and Pool in League City

Address: 1001 E League City Pkwy, League City, TX 77573

Hometown Heroes Park is ninja approved.

This League City Park has a pool, playground, community center and ball fields.  And the play structure is a long obstacle course that my kids scaled from one edge to the other.  Spider webs, floating steps and monkey bars… without touching the mulch.

Not only this, but we could also go inside the community center for air conditioning and restrooms… and on most days, we could also swim in the pool.

At the front desk, the staff was very friendly and told us the pool is closed on Fridays for maintenance, but most days is around $5 to swim (and non-residents are welcome).

We did not get to swim, but the pool is big and nice with a few fountain features.  We also saw the lifeguards setting up floating inflatables… so I bet it is a lot of fun!

Check out the pictures and decide if it’s a good park for you!

 

 

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