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Half Day in Houston: Buffalo Bayou Park!

Having fun with the family and exploring Houston can be easy!  If you have a few hours, we have ideas on how to spend them with the kids.

In this Half Day in Houston series, find a place to park, play, explore and eat… all in one spot.  Pick what you like or combine with another Half Day post!

Skyline from Buffalo Bayou Park and Water Works Building
In this adventure, slide down the banks of Buffalo Bayou, go for a walk along the water, see hundreds of thousands of bats and enjoy the beautiful view of the Houston skyline.  Visit Buffalo Bayou Park!



Park the car once in the Water Works parking lot or along Sabine Street.  Parking is free, but leave your valuables at home because you won’t be able to see the car from the trails!



Water Works Building on Buffalo Bayou Park
1. Water Works Building & Cistern – 103 Sabine Street, Houston, TX 77007 – Free

Right next to the Sabine Street bridge, with an amazing view of the downtown skyline is the Water Works building.  In the building you can find restrooms and a visitor’s center.  (For visitor center hours, go HERE.)

If you walk to the top of the Water Works, you will be on top of the cistern and by the new stage, grass and picnic spot.  Soon the cistern will be open to the public as an art exhibit… until then, catch a glimps of it HERE!

If you walk around the skate park, you will find the gated entrance to the playground.


Climbing Net at Fish Family Play Area Buffalo Bayou Park
2. Fish Family Play Area – 103 Sabine Street, Houston, TX 77007 – Free

This play area quickly made it to my top Houston playgrounds list!  It has a slide, climbing structures, water features and drums build in to the landscape… and you really need to see all of the pictures HERE.

Bring a picnic to eat in the pavilion or just head down the Buffalo Bayou trail!


Buffalo Bayou from under Sabine Street Park
3. Walk or Bike on Buffalo Bayou

Right next to the playground is the trail.  The wide sidewalk is for bikes and the narrow one is for walkers and runners.

Get some exercise as you go on 2 mile hike/bike (one way)… or just go for a little while and turn back.  If you cross the Sabine Street bridge to the south side of the bayou, you will see Shady Grove Plaza and the Waugh Bat Colony.  If you stay on the north side of the bayou, by the play area, you can get to the Police Officer Memorial.  (You can also cross the bayou at several spots along the way.)  See the map (and even more cool things to see) HERE!

There is a lot of pedestrian traffic, but always be aware of your surroundings.


Waugh Bridge at Dusk
4.  Waugh Bridge Bat Colony – 764 Waugh Drive, Houston, TX 77019 – Free – Bats come out at dusk

About 2 miles from the Sabine Street Bridge, on the south side of the bayou, is the Waugh Bridge… and the bat colony!

If you go during the day, you will just walk under the bridge. If you go back at dusk, you can sit on the hill and watch hundreds of thousands of bats emerge for the evening! Go HERE to learn more!


Lost Lake at Buffalo Bayou Park
5. Lost Lake – 3422 Allen Parkway, Houston, TX 77019 – Free

Just past the Waugh Bridge is Lost Lake. This includes a visitor center, restrooms, paddle craft rentals and free parking. For visitor center hours, go HERE.


Climbing Up the Houston Police Officer Memorial
6. Houston Police Officers Memorial – Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77019 – Free

Look at the official park map HERE and consider looping around to the Police Officer Memorial, just north of Memorial Drive.  (You could also drive.)

The memorial is to honor Houston’s police force and the officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The memorial was designed to be a gathering spot and has includes steps that lead you down 12 feet before heading up 24.5 feet. At the top, there is a small reflecting pool, surrounded by inscriptions of the names of the officers that died in the line of duty.

This memorial is guarded around the clock by on-duty police officers.


If you are looking for a fun half day activity in Houston, consider the newly renovated Buffalo Bayou Park!  Visit one spot or see them all.  Either way, this outing is sure to give you a greater appreciation of how cool Houston is.

If you want to know more about the history of Buffalo Bayou, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership recommends THIS book.

Find the trail map HERE.  Here’s the Google map:

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