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Half Day in Houston: Walk Your Way to Downtown Houston via the Buffalo Bayou Trail

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!

In this adventure, walk your way to Downtown Houston via the Buffalo Bayou Trail.  Start the day at the nature playground, walk down the bayou trails, burp the bayou, admire the park, see the city for 60 floors up and walk across a waterfall!

Look below for a map of the walking route. Also note that some of this adventure needs to be done on a weekday, during working hours… and that I recommend taking another adult with you along the trails, just to be safe.


Free parking is available on Sabine Street and in the lot by the Water Works building. Do not leave valuables (or what looks like it could be valuables) in your car… because you will be leaving it for a few hours!


Fish Family Play Area at Buffalo Bayou Park Climbing Logs
1. Fish Family Play Area at Buffalo Bayou Park – 105 Sabine Street, Houston, TX 77007 – Free

Just around the Water Works Building, on the banks of Buffalo Bayou, is the coolest nature playground!

It has a gaint slide, climbing structures, water features and drums build in to the landscape.  It also has an amazing view of the downtown skyline, access to the Buffalo Bayou trails, free parking, new restrooms at the Water Works building… and a newly uncovered historic cistern.  Learn all about it HERE!

After you try out all the equipment, head to the trails on Buffalo Bayou!


Buffalo Bayou with Bridges and Highways
2. Sabine-to-Bagby Promenade at Buffalo Bayou Park – Sabine Street, between Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway – Free

For this adventure, you want to head towards Downtown Houston.  So, if your back is to the playground, right will take you to the Houston Police Memorial and Lost Lake and left will take you towards the Downtown skyline.

Buffalo Bayou trails are below street level, so I always recommend taking another adult with your for safety.

This part of the park shares a bike and walking trail… so be watching for bikes.  This trail also takes you to the middle of the city… under lots of highways.  It’s not the prettiest part of Buffalo Bayou Park… but the destination is going to be pretty cool.

Keep walking, jogging or biking until you see the silver columns pictured below!



Preston Street Bridge and Wortham Theater
3. Burp the Bayou – Preston Street Bridge, Preston and Smith, Downtown Houston – Free

When you see Wortham Theater on your right, you will be at in front of the Preston Street Bridge! Go up the stairs and look for the mysterious red button on the columns of the bridge.

This silly little thing can keep us entertained for a long time.  First the kids have to find the button… then they have to decide if they should push it.  And if they push it, where is the bubbling sound coming from?  And what if a boat goes over the bubbles at the same time?

Read all about it HERE.

When you have had enough, stay at street level and head to Market Square Park on Preston Street.


Market Square Park Downtown Houston
4. Market Square Park – 301 Milam Street, Houston, TX 77002 – Free

Market Square Park is Downtown’s chillest park… with a dog park, Niko Nikos outdoor restaurant and room to run.

Houston is Inspired Mural by Market Square Park
Stop to play, to eat… or to find the awesome mural right across the street.

Afterwards, look up and find the tallest building in Downtown Houston.  If you walk a couple blocks south(ish) from the park, you will be able to go to the observation deck.


View from JP Morgan Chase Tower Dowtown Houston
5. The Observation Deck is NOW CLOSED to the public.

JP Morgan Chase Tower – 600 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002 – Free – Open Weekdays During Working Hours

Inside the tower, ask the guards to point you the right way.  Once in the elevators, you will quickly go up to the 60th floor sky lobby!

Here you can look out over the city, and over the bayou trail that brought you to Downtown!

Learn more about the tower HERE!

When you’ve had enough, head back down to street level… and walk back to the bayou.


Waterfall at Wortham Theater and Buffalo Bayou
6. Wortham Theater (Outside) – 501 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX 77002 – Free

Walk a couple blocks to Wortham Theater… head back down to the bayou… and you will find the waterfall that my kids insist on walking across.

One of these days, I am certain they will get wet… but so far, so good.

Take pictures, walk across the water… or just head back down the bayou trail.


Housto Skyline from Buffalo Bayou Park and Sabine Street Bridge
6. Walk back to the Sabine-to-Bagby Promenade – Free

Take the trail back to where you started, at the Sabine Street Bridge!

This tour also takes you right by the Houston History Half Day Adventure and the Downtown Aquarium… and it includes many of the elements from the Train and Tunnel Adventure and the Buffalo Bayou Park Adventure, so add these to your itinerary if you are feeling extra adventurous!


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