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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Nessler Park Family Aquatic Center in Texas City

Address: 1700 5th Ave N, Texas City, TX 77590

Not far from the Texas City Museum are giant waterslides and a beach entry pool at the Nessler Park Family Aquatic Center!

This pool is a lot like a the great pools found in The Woodlands, with 2 big slides (for kids 48″ and over), a small river, a beach entry pool and a water play structure for little kids.

Residents and non-residents can use the pool for a fee.

We went on a weekday afternoon and found lots of shaded seating and plenty of room to play.  (Check before you go, because at the end of the summer, hours change to weekends only.)

I had never been here, so I wasn’t sure what to expect… but the equipment was very new and nice, the locker rooms were clean, the patrons were nice and all the kids looked to be supervised.  One lifeguard was a little moody at the end of the big slides… but it did not seem to be an issue with the whole group.

The pool closed for about 20 minutes due to lightning, but we got back in afterwards.

No outside food is allowed but there is a reasonably priced concession stand.  Also, there are lockers for a quarter… but I couldn’t get mine to work.  Still, it worked out fine and I could watch my bag from the table and poolside.

Our visit to the Nessler Aquatic Center was like a mini waterpark… but for only $18 total for the family.  It’s obviously not Schlitterbahn, but we weren’t looking for a big waterpark experience!

If you are near Texas City, check it out!

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Now THIS is a playground! The Boardwalk at Life Foursquare Church!

Address: 501 Karankawa St, Angleton, TX 77515

Oh, friends, I am excited to share this huge wooden playground… that is part ninja course, part fort, part adventure. It’s The Boardwalk at Life Foursquare Church in Angelton… and it’s open to the public.

My friends at Fun2Go Misters found it… and if you don’t follow the page, you really should. I often run in to her crew around Houston… and by 2:00pm they’ve already visited 3 venues and discovered some brand new thing around Houston. And this time around, it was the The Boardwalk at Life Foursquare Church that they found!

This play structure is located at the church, and to be sure it was actually open to the public, we spoke with the staff in the office. They said that it is open to the public and they have maintenance team that looks after the giant structure. (Of course, you still need to watch your kids and use common sense!)

I understand that the church built this as a community and it grew and grew. Now it has a ninja warrior course and swings and picnic tables and a rock wall and so much more.

There is not much about this playground online… so take a look at the picture below. And if you go, tell us if anything has changed!








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Run the Ninja Warrior Course… Tom Bass Park, Section 3, NFL Challenge Course

Address: Tom Bass Park, Section 3, 15108 Cullen Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77047

Now this is AWESOME!

Tom Bass Park started out as a really good Pearland park… but with the addition of the Challenge Course, it is AMAZING.

This permanent and public outdoor playground is a NFL themed ninja warrior course with 11 obstacles… complete with the timer button at the end. We go from Houston park to Houston park, making playgrounds into ninja courses… but Tom Bass Park actually has a ninja course!

In addition to the ninja course, you can race your friends at the 40 yard dash… and have it timed just by standing on the starting line.

So we raced and competed and were completely hot and tried when we finished our afternoon at the park. Tom Bass has several playgrounds, and most seem to be shaded… but the ninja course is currently in full sun. (I hope it will be covered someday… but have not information on this!)

We were way too tired to visit more of the park on this visit… but check out our past review HERE. It’s a great big place to play!

When you go, be sure to go to SECTION 3 of the park. (We spent a lot of time circling section 1 and 2 before we found it!)

This is an AMAZING playground for little ninjas. And according to KHOU, there are plans to install similar courses throughout Harris County Precinct 1!




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Play on Trains at Noble Park in Texas City!

Address: 1100 9th Avenue North, Texas City, TX 77590

Trains! We were not planning at stopping at a park in Texas City, but as we drove down 9th Avenue North the kids spotted trains and we did a quick turn into Noble Park!

This park has a a big train playground, a small train playground, depot, train tracks, basketball court and lots of room to run.

We love trains so we found a spot in the small lot and ran from the play structure to the depot and to the tracks. We did not know that this park used to have a big caboose, so we were perfectly happy being train engineers with what we found at Noble Park.

Now that I look on the Texas City website, I see the cool caboose… but also that the play structure has since been made much nicer with the new play structure.

See the pictures below!





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Tour Navy Ships, Fish & Play at Seawolf Park on Pelican Island/Galveston

Address: 100 Seawolf Pkwy, Galveston, TX 77551
Cost: $6/car, plus admission to tour the ships or fish

I don’t know which is better… touring the Navy ships or playing at the awesome playground at Seawolf Park.    One of our favorite things to do on Galveston day trips is stopping by this Pelican Island Park.

Seawolf Park has popular fishing piers, picnic spots, the Undersea Warfare Center and the great playground.  From Broadway Street in Galveston, there is a long, nearly deserted, road that takes you from the busy beaches to this park.

When you pull up, there is a booth to pay for parking and admission to the ships.  (You can get the current rates HERE.)  On one side of the parking lot are the ships… and on the other is the playground.

And what a playground!

There are lots of climbing structures that let you start on one edge and climb your way to the other, without touching the ground.  My little ninja warriors tell me it is top notch.

The playground is right by the fishing piers and the water… and is also in full sun… so once we are hot we head to the ships for some shade and air conditioning.

The WWII submarine, the USS Cavalla, and one of only three destroyer escorts in the world, the USS Stewart are on dry land and open for your to tour.  (Parts of these old ships are also air conditioned.)

Restroom trucks (with water) are by the ships and port-a-potties are everywhere else in the park… so probably you want to go to see the ships!

Next time you are in Galveston, check out this out-of-the-way park. It was not too far from the busy beaches… but a really great addition to our Galveston day trip!

For more things to do in Galveston, with kids, go HERE!



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As Seen on ABC13: BigKidSmallCity’s Favorite Fully Fenced & Easy to Watch Parks in Houston!

We just published a list of our Favorite Fully Fenced & Easy to Watch Parks in Houston… and now it’s on ABC13!

See the segment here:

Enjoy the Awesome Playground & Free Pool at Jerry Matheson Park in Tomball

Address: 1240 Ulrich Road, Tomball TX, 77375

Jerry Matheson Park is one of our very favorite parks in the Houston area… and it just got better. This Tomball park has a pool that is open for FREE, to everyone, all summer long.

I’ve said it before, but Matheson Park is amazing.  I mean rambling wooden playground with giant tires, rock walls, zip lines, swinging ropes and more.  Jerry Matheson Park in Tomball is like the popular Donovan Park (in the Heights), but even more adventurous.

This park is directly across from Juergens Park (so it’s really like one giant park) and has the awesome playground, swimming pool, tennis courts, baseball field, restrooms and picnic tables.

AND when we went last week, the pool was open for the season!  We marched up after getting hot and worn out at the playground… and asked if non-residents could swim.  The lifeguards welcomed us in and told us that everyone can swim for free at this Tomball pool.

The pool is open daily over the summer, except on Mondays.  It has a small restroom (but the kind with no doors and not a lot of room to change!), a small shaded area and several picnic tables in the sun.  The pool has a shallow kids area, a big deep area and a small water slide.

Little kids can play in the shallow corner of the pool, with a few feet of water… but it is not beach entry and it is only separated from the rest of the pool with a lane marker…  so be ready to watch little swimmers!



Right at opening time there were just a few other people there.  As we were leaving after an hour several families had arrived.

The pool is not huge, but it’s in good condition, there are life guards, it’s free and it was a great way to end the trip to the park!






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Favorite Fully Fenced & Easy to Watch Parks in Houston!

Houston has hundreds of parks and a hundred amazing parks… but not all are fully fenced or easy to watch. I often get asked which parks I would recommend for parents with small multiples or kids that like to run off or just playgrounds that are easy to watch over.

Here are 11 parks to get you started… and at the bottom, some to avoid!  The map is below… as well as the ABC13 Segment.  (And always, tell us which ones to add!)

Fully-fenced, easy-to-watch, small-in-size parks:

Fire Truck Park: This Southside park is small, fully fenced and has great equipment.  There is a fire truck play structure for the little kids and some challenging ladders, bridges and spinners for big kids!


River Oaks “Pumpkin” Park: Not only does this park have a pumpkin carriage… but the playground is fenced in and has challenging equipment, swings, picnic tables and big trees.


Nottingham Park:  The play structure and splashpad are fenced in… plus there is a restroom.  Outside the fence you can find a jogging trail and a kid fit playground.


Evergreen Park: This Bellaire park is small and fenced in.


Feld Park: This is another Bellaire park with big trees, swings, equipment for big and little kids and a restroom.  (The fence was added in the last couple of years… there is no gate… but the kids will certainly be slowed down!)


Judson Park:  This West University park has a fenced in area for little kids an another one for big kids.  And big kids really need to see the boulder slide!

Wier Park:  This is another West University park with a full fence and great equipment… but it gets very busy!


Carol Fox Park: Located in Jersey Village, this park has play structures, giant sand boxes and a mommy-and-me swing!


Hedwig Park:  In the Memorial area, this fenced in park is right next to the Spring Branch Library.  There are big trees, lots of play structures and an area just for toddlers.


Travis Spark Park: This park is bigger than most on the list… but it is fully fenced in and has great equipment… including dinosaur bones and a rock wall!


Quillian Center Playground: Located next to the popular Noah’s Ark Pool, this playground is free and fully fenced in.


Playgrounds that can be hard to watch:

Levy Park:  I LOVE Levy Park… but if have a runner, it’s hard to watch with all the mounds and tunnels.

Discovery Green:  I LOVE this park too… but if you have someone that likes to run off, this space is really big and there is a lake you need to avoid.

Donovan Park: Another AMAZING park… but it can be hard to see the kids in the fortresses.

Playgrounds for All: I love the ramps for little kids and for kids in wheelchairs or walkers and I love that they usually have rubber mats… but they can be hard to watch without following the kids.



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