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Friday, February 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

Nearby parks and nature

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Photo courtesy Nicole Lhuillier

By Sara Davidson     1/18/22 11:18pm

As school gets back into rhythm and back-to-back Zoom meetings tire out our eyes, places to unwind and be immersed in nature are needed now more than ever. Rice students are lucky that Houston has a variety of parks and gardens right outside the hedges of campus, as easy as a walk or Metro ride away. With plenty of walking trails, beautiful flora and fauna and special events, these parks offer a chance to relax and unwind – and enjoy the weather before it gets humid again!

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens 

6003 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77007



This piece of nature is a short drive away from Rice and sits in the River Oaks neighborhood north of campus. The garden area is a larger extension of the Ima Hogg estate, which houses dozens of paintings and furnishings as part of the Museum of Fine Arts. The 14-acre garden is expansive and lush, with plenty of walkways and both sun and shade available to explorers. It is open year round. Audio tours of the garden are available for those interested in learning more about the flora around them. 

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center 

4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024

This 155-acre nature center, open every day, is another short drive away from Rice. With free admission and only $5 parking (and free parking on Thursdays), this park also boasts an indoor center that has aquariums and interactive exhibits in case the Houston weather warms up quickly again. Outside, you can walk the five mile path and see the flora and fauna that call the park home. The park hosts a variety of events such as group hikes and nature related celebrations, such as Arbor Day events. 

Hermann Park Japanese Gardens

6000 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030

It’s well known that Hermann Park is directly across campus, but less well known is the Japanese Garden situated within the grounds. With shrubs and trees pruned Japanese style, bamboo fences, beautiful water fountains and plenty of walkspaces, this closed-off section of the park is worth checking it out in itself. The 5.5 acres of space is plenty of room to take a break just outside Rice. 

Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden 

Montrose Boulevard at Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX 77006

Another nature center tied to the Museum of Fine Arts – this one located right outside the Museum itself – the Sculpture Garden offers both art and nature inside the city. This oasis was created by sculptor Isamu Noguchi and is a short walk or Metro ride from campus. With plenty of seating and paths to explore the art and flora, the garden is free for all and open daily. 

McGovern Centennial Gardens 

1500 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004

These gardens, like Hermann Park and the Japanese Gardens, are part of the Hermann Park Conservatory, meaning it’s another short walk from campus. This park has a variety of themed garden rooms and a walking path leading to a huge fountain on a hill, where visitors can get a view of the park. The many water elements and eight acres to explore make these gardens worth a visit for some scenery right outside Rice. 



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