While Houston is a large metropolitan city, there are still ways to reconnect with nature even among the skyscrapers and seemingly endless stretches of freeway. Houston has the most green space in area than any other major city in the U.S. – more than 56,000 acres of parks and preserves.With all of these lovely parks and organizations dedicated to helping Houstonians connect with wildlife, there’s no way you can say that there’s not an opportunity to experience nature for yourself. Make sure to check out these great places to view wildlife near Houston!
Houston Zoo
6200 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 533-6500

A Houston favorite, the Houston Zoo has been entertaining families for decades with exhibits of all types of animals. Over the past few years, there have been numerous upgrades to the enclosures and the overall Zoo experience. Walk through the updated primate exhibit and see one of the largest communities of orangutans in America. This May, the Zoo opened a new gorilla exhibit featuring six gorillas – a family pack and a group of males – an exciting addition to the zoo! There are also reptiles, birds, a children’s petting zoo, and many more exhibits of wildlife for you to experience. The zoo is a great place for the whole family to reconnect with nature.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
4501 Woodway Drive
Houston, TX 77024
(713) 681-8433

Connected to Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is one of the oldest facilities in Texas dedicated to nature education. Visitors can walk the trails, take classes about nature and wildlife, visit the library and Discovery Room and see much of Houston’s native species in one area.  According to the organization’s website, the center is “a haven and… a sanctuary for native plants and animals.” The grounds are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and admission is free to the public. Special group programs for school groups, scouts and more are available on request.

Downtown Aquarium
410 Bagby St.
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 223-3474

The downtown aquarium is a great place for the ocean lover in your family to experience wildlife native to the gulf and beyond without having to step foot onto a boat. Different exhibits showcase different environments, including a stingray reef, mock shipwreck with octopus and eel living inside and much more. Aquatic creatures aren’t alone – the aquarium also features an education room with reptiles and a conservation exhibit featuring white tigers. After your visit, stop by the restaurant and dine while surrounded by tanks of colorful fish.

Related: America’s Top 5 Must-Visit Aquariums

Nature Discovery Center
7112 Newcastle St.
Bellaire, TX 77401
(713) 667-6550

Nestled within Russ Pittman Park in Bellaire, just outside of 610, is the Hana and Arthur Ginzbarg Nature Discovery Center. The park itself plays host to native vegetation and more than 80 species of birds during the migration season. Inside the Discovery Center’s Discovery Rooms, find hands-on interactive exhibits and live animals to interact with and learn about nature. The center offers summer camps and other programs for kids, as well as special events throughout the year.

Armand Bayou Nature Center
8500 Bay Area Blvd.
Pasadena, TX 77507
(281) 474-2551

This nature preserve located in Clear Lake, is dedicated to preserving the wetlands prairie, forest and marsh habitats native to the area. Visitors learn about the flora and fauna in and around the bayou and hike in groups or on their own. There is ample opportunity for bird watching as well as learning more about the live animals in display areas, including alligators, turtles and bison. The more adventurous can take a pontoon boat tour of the bayou.

Related: Top Family-Friendly Bike Trails 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.