Weekend explorations

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We were pretty busy last weekend. We checked out new murals in downtown on Friday and we went to the Arboretum on Saturday.

Six new murals have been painted on McKinney street, just around the corner from Phoenicia Specialty Foods and Discovery Green, two of our usual hangouts.

A game changer for us has been discovering that Phoenicia customers can park for free in designated spots in the parking garage the building is located in. I am sure we might come here more often now knowing that.

The murals are really bright, and feature catchy, and Houston/Texas related sayings. My favorite one was “Smile, y’all are in Houston.” It was a good opportunity to get some fun photos. I think these will become popular for photos because they are on sidewalks, opposed to in a parking lot, which a lot of Houston’s murals are.

We also then took a stroll around Discovery Green and snapped some shots of all of the flowers and water lilies.

On Saturday we went to the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. We go here often, but Derek hasn’t been since they have done the latest expansions and restorations. I have been writing articles about it for work, so I knew that their second parking area, along with new trails and ponds, had just opened the week prior.

The Arboretum is trying to restore the natural ecosystems, as well as give the visitors a more immersive experience. Before, the parking lot was just that, a parking lot. Now when you get out of your car, there are trees and plants everywhere, and the trails run right through the middle as well.

There is one new feature that I love in particular. It is a long curving boardwalk over a pond. It is peaceful.

With all of the restoration efforts, more animals have been seen at the Arboretum. We saw two different yellow-crested night herons on our walk.

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McGovern Centennial Gardens

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I discovered McGovern Centennial Gardens within Hermann Park by accident.

I usually park in the same lot each time I go to Hermann Park, but one particular day that lot was full, so I had to drive around to the other side of the park to find another lot. I was walking along the trail, and stumbled into the entrance for these gardens.

I did not have my camera that day, because I was not intending on seeing anything new. I was fairly mad by the time I had looked around the whole garden, because there was so much to photograph! So two weeks later, I went again with my camera in tow.

I’m still in awe that there are flowers pretty much year round here! I will never tire of photographing flowers and plants!

Here are some photos:

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Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

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I am making my way around all of the green spaces in Houston. A few weeks ago I set my sights on the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, which is entirely located within Memorial Park. It is about 10 miles away from where we live.

I got there very early, about 8:30 a.m., because I was warned that the parking lot fills up quickly during the weekends. Plus it made sense to walk before the heat of the day settled in.

I was pleasantly surprised by the A&NC. There are lots of little trails to choose from, and it seems like each one featured something different, such as a pond or a meadow. Each trail is small, so it is a good place to take your kids or your dog for a quick loop. The largest trail is the “outer loop” and even that one is only two miles round trip. I stuck to a bunch of the smaller trails near the nature center, but I would like to go do the loop some other time.

The highlight for me was the meadow trail. It was a huge field filled with sunflowers. It was breathtaking. At that moment, I felt as far away from the hustle and bustle of Houston as one could get.

Another interesting find was a very large spider in a web! I am terrified of spiders, and wanted to leave immediately, but the urge to photograph it was stronger!

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Buffalo Bayou Park

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I love being outdoors. I was afraid that I might possibly feel claustrophobic in a big city like Houston, but no worries, there are plenty of green spots to explore.

Having already explored Hermann Park, we now set our sights upon Buffalo Bayou Park, which is a large park near downtown.

We only explored half of it. It is a long narrow park, and we parked our car in about the halfway point, and walked towards downtown. We will have to explore the other half some other time.

There was lots to see, and I am sure that we only saw a fraction of it. There were so many different paths to take. In our approximately two mile hike we saw many different statues, different little gardens and some ponds filled with turtles and ducks. All the while the Buffalo Bayou winds along the paths (hence the name of the park.)

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Hermann Park

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Hermann Park is about three and a half miles from our apartment. It is in the museum district, and the zoo is in the park as well as the Miller Outdoor Theater. So over all, just a really cool area to visit.

It is a large park, and so far we have only explored the main section with the Sam Houston monument, the reflection pool with the Pioneer Memorial and McGovern Lake.

The Sam Houston monument was very grand, and the plaque on the monument offered a lot of interesting information about the man that this city was named after.

The reflection pool seemed like a very nice and peaceful place to walk around, or just sit and relax. Same goes for the neighboring McGovern Lake. However, if you are looking to up the fun, you can rent pedal boats on the lake. May have to take them up on that eventually.

There are lots of nice trails that weave around the park. We only sampled just a small portion of them, but when it gets cooler out, it will be a great place to get some exercise.

There is a cute little train that goes around the park. Tickets are $5. I also hope to do that some day in the future.

The main highlight was the Japanese Garden. We stumbled upon it, and I was shocked that it was free admission! It was an added bonus.

Looking forward to exploring more of the park in the future!

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