While many people are tempted to stay indoors where it’s air conditioned, especially during Houston’s hot summer months, there are plenty of great places to explore the great outdoors in and around Houston. From nature trails and wild critters, to parks and wildlife refuges, there’s something for anyone interested in enjoying the great outdoors. But don’t worry about sunburns – most of these areas have great programs and offerings in the evenings as well, to help Houstonians enjoy the outdoors when it’s cool outside. Make sure you get the family out to visit some of these great places to enjoy the outdoors in Houston.

Discovery Green
1500 McKinney
Houston, TX 77010
(713) 400-7336

Nestled in downtown Houston next to the convention center and Minute Maid Park, these 12 acres of green space are the heart of many outdoor activities in downtown. Bring the family to explore playgrounds, public art and daily activities hosted by the Discovery Green Conservancy or any number of other Houston non-profits. Kids can cool off during the summer months in the Gateway Fountain, where jets of water shoot up out of the pavement. Four-legged family members are also welcome at any of the parks dog runs! End your day with a concert, musical or movie shown in the Fondren stage.

Hermann Park
6100 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 524-5876

This large park is located between the Texas Medical Center and the Museum District and has so much to offer you won’t be able to see it all in one visit! If you want to try to see the whole park, make sure to take a ride on the Hermann Park Railroad, a two-mile circle around the park. If water sports are more your thing, head over to Kinder Station in Lake Plaza and rent a paddle boat for a while. Visitors will also want to tour the Japanese Gardens, visit the expansive Playground for All Children and see a free performance at Miller Outdoor Theater.

Houston Arboretum And Nature Center
4501 Woodway Dr.
Houston, TX 77024
(713) 681-7708

The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center offers 5 miles worth of nature trails through Houston’s Memorial Park free of charge to all visitors. Visit forests, wetlands, meadows and ponds all in one place. Each habit contains different flora and fauna to explore. Within the Nature Center, families can interact with exhibits and activities appropriate for all age levels, as well as sign up for classes at the Discovery Center. Just outside the Nature Center are a series of special gardens that show how to build a habitat for wildlife – such as hummingbirds, butterflies, local lizards and more – in your own backyard.

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Bayou City Bike Tours
1824 Spring St.
Houston, TX 77007
(832) 387-5631

See a side of Houston you haven’t before on a bike tour! These tours are led by biking experts and history enthusiasts who will show you some of Houston’s most historic areas. Learn about how a small settlement on Buffalo Bayou grew into the fourth largest city in the country while enjoying a bike ride around town. The different tour routes include a trip to one of Houston’s favorite restaurants, so you won’t go hungry even when burning those calories on the bike!

George Observatory At Bayou Bend State Park
21901 FM 762
Needville, TX 77461
(281) 242-3055

Open on Saturdays, the George Observatory in Bayou Bend State Park is the official observatory of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Far enough from the glare of the big city lights of downtown Houston, the observatory and associated telescope have shown thousands of Houston families the beauty of the universe. They have classes and activities each weekend beginning at 3 p.m., but don’t wait that long to get to the southwest side! Come early and enjoy a picnic lunch in some of the great nature trails within the park itself beforehand.

Related: Top Parks For A Puppy Play Date In Houston

Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.