Home»All»Burping the Buffalo Bayou – The Big Bubble in the Bayou & the Mysterious Red Button on the Preston Street Bridge

Burping the Buffalo Bayou – The Big Bubble in the Bayou & the Mysterious Red Button on the Preston Street Bridge

Address:  Preston Street Bridge, Preston and Smith, Downtown Houston
Cost:  Free
Appropriate Age: Any age
(12/30/19: This isn’t always working… so plan on THESE close by activities to save the day!)

Buffalo Bayou Trail

Have you heard about the Big Bubble in the Buffalo Bayou?  Have you seen the mysterious red button on the Preston Street Bridge?  A friend told us that their 5 year old’s favorite thing to do in Houston was to, “burp the bayou”, and we just had to know what this meant.

In the middle of the brick column on the south(ish) side of the Preston Street Bridge, is a little red button.  When you press it, the water it bayou will bubble for several seconds.  I realize that this is just a button and some bubbles, but if you are going to visit it, you really have all the materials you need for a great adventure.

First off, there is no sign above this little button.  It is just a mysterious red button in the middle of Downtown Houston.  You don’t know whether you should press it or not.  And if you do press it, what will happen?  Where should you look?  And say you see or hear the bubbles, what is causing it?  Did you wake a bayou monster?  And if a boat is traveling down the river, what would happen if you timed the bubbles just right?

For best results, tell your kids you hear there is a mysterious red button in Downtown Houston and you need to find out what it does.  Get them close to the bridge and see if they can find it.  Once you find it, ask for ideas on what it might do and see who is brave enough to push it.

Once pressed, try to find the bubbles and ask what could be causing them.  Finish up with several minutes of pressing the button, running to the side of the bridge, watching the bubbles and giggling with delight.

To get here, drive or take METRORail to the Preston Station.  Walk a few blocks west(ish) towards the Downtown Aquarium until you are over the water. On the southeast(ish) side of the bridge you will see the little red button.  The water on the south side of the bridge will bubble. (The directions assume/pretend the METRORail tracks and downtown streets go North and South, which is not exactly true, but easier to explain.)

The bubbles are to aerate the slow moving water.  The water is aerated automatically throughout the day and whenever a brave passerby presses the button.  

Go HERE to see what others are saying about this mysterious big bubble.  Go HERE to get things to do in Houston, like this goofy adventure, in your inbox each week!  And go (affiliate) HERE to learn all about Houston’s Bayous.

Pushing the Button at Preston Street Bridge

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  1. Tiffany, Adam & Samuel
    January 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm — Reply

    We are so glad you had fun. We loved it. We pushed the button quite a few times. We walked on the path underneath for awhile afterwards. Then we went back and pushed the button a couple of more times. We are planning to go back during the bayou pontoon boat rides to burp a boat!

    • January 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm — Reply

      Thanks so much for the tip. We loved it!!

  2. laura
    July 18, 2013 at 10:58 am — Reply

    Thanks for this! My neighbor and I took our kiddos recently. We all enjoyed the ‘hunt’ for the button and then pushing it to see the bubble. The kids pushed it at least a dozen times, lol. Afterwards we walked around exploring, enjoyed packed lunches and used coupons to visit the downtown aquarium. Great day!

    • July 18, 2013 at 11:02 am — Reply

      Great! Thanks for taking the time to comment! I love this part of the city.

  3. Tonya
    August 25, 2014 at 10:27 am — Reply

    I’m wanting to take my daughter to the JP Morgan Observation Deck and then to Burp the Bayou. We are new to the area and in fact live outside of Houston, can you tell me the best route to get to the Observation Deck and then to the Bayou? If at all possible using the metrorail, she loves trains and would love to ride this.

    • August 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm — Reply

      Tonya – This sounds fun! You can take MetroRail. Park at Hermann Park or in Midtown next to Natachees. Take METRORail north to the Preston Street Station. Facing the direction the train is going, the building and button will be on your left. On Preston Street, walk until you hit the bridge over the bayou. This is where you will find the button. (Note that with all the rain, there is a chance the bubble won’t be too big!) If you turn around and walk back towards the train tracks, take a right on Milam and head to the tallest building… the JP Morgan Chase Tower! This is open weekdays during working hours. Just go in and tell the guard you want to go to the observation deck.

      Have fun!

  4. October 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm — Reply

    […] 3. Burp the Bayou! This silly thing is a favorite with Houston kids. Just down the street from Market Square Park, on the Preston Street Bridge, there is a mysterious red button. It is not marked and you don’t know if you should push it. If you work up the courage to do so, you’re going to hear the bayou gurgle. It’s a goofy thing, but this activity gives you everything you need for some great storytelling and a silly adventure. […]

  5. March 20, 2015 at 12:32 pm — Reply

    […] Adventures in the city-The metrorail is free for children under 5.  Take an adventure in the city to Buffalo Bayou and “Burp the Bayou.”  Have children go on an adventure to find the red button.  When you press the red button, the Bayou with bubble. For more information, visit http://www.bigkidsmallcity.com/2013/01/burping-the-buffalo-bayou-the-big-bubble-in-the-bayou-the-mys… […]

  6. […] and head to the nearby bayou. You can rent a bike from the B Station or walk the few blocks to that mysterious red button on the Preston Street Bridge, to the Downtown Aquarium or to the miles of trails along Buffalo […]

  7. June 29, 2016 at 5:26 pm — Reply

    […] the JP Morgan Chase Tower Observation Deck Visit the Southern Pacific Steam Engine 982 Find the Big Bubble in Buffalo Bayou Visit the Houston Police […]

  8. […] noticed that mysterious red button on the Preston Street Bridge, you’ve come closer to “burping” the Buffalo Bayou than most Houstonians. The button, located in the middle of a brick column on the south side of the […]

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