Buzz Summer Camp Directory
BELLAIRE • MEMORIAL • RIVER OAKS • TANGLEWOOD • WEST UNIVERSITY

Parks for small ones

Annie
Click the Buzz Me button to receive email notifications when this writer publishes a new article or a new article in this column is published.
Lillian Somers

Lillian Somers, 17 months, at Southside Place’s Fire Truck Park. The park is fully fenced, with baby-friendly turf.

Buzz Baby is a column about life with little ones. Writer Annie McQueen has three children under the age of 4.

Houston has a plethora of parks to pick from. If you’re heading out the door this spring for some fresh air with your little one, there are some elements you may want to consider when choosing a park that’s a good fit for babies and toddlers.

Personally, I couldn’t function as a mom of three young children without playgrounds and parks. My 3-year-old twins and 1-year-old daughter love the outdoors. Some of the best parenting advice I can recall receiving was: “When things are tough, Mom, just go outside.” Boy, is that true.

When I enter a park (that’s fully fenced), I know I can sit down on a blanket, enjoy the nice weather (if we have it that day) and relax a little while my kids play and run free. It’s a plus when it’s equipped with artificial turf so my younger daughter Georgia doesn’t put grass, rocks or sticks in her mouth. It’s even better when we’re at a park specifically for wee ones, so my kids won’t be in the middle of a game of tag with older kids.

It’s also important to find baby- and toddler-friendly parks that are open during weekday hours, for those desperate times (vs. heading to a school’s playground or park, off-limits during school hours).

And it’s not all about the play equipment. Lauren Israel, a mom of 2, says that when she brought her son Ethan to parks, he would explore and clean up rather than play on the actual play sets.

“All [Ethan] used to do was chase the birds and pick up trash and throw it away,” she said. “Maybe that’s why he has such a good immune system now. It was so frustrating at the time, but I look back and laugh about it. He still loves chasing the birds.”

Here are just a few of some Buzz parents’ favorite parks for children 2 and under:

Christ the King Presbyterian Church

1201 Silber Rd., 77055

Open to the public most weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Parking lot

Rainy day got you stuck inside? No problem. Christ the King Presbyterian has an expansive indoor and outdoor playground. It also has a smaller side for the younger ones and a larger side for the older kids on both the indoor and outdoor playgrounds. There is an adjacent room from the indoor playground with tables for coloring, snack time or just a short indoor break. See christtheking.com/Playground-Calendar. (Note: limited space available and based on a first-come, first-served basis at check-in desk in the front lobby.)

Donovan Park

700 Heights Blvd., 77007

Open to the public all week

Street parking

Donovan Park is a labyrinth of wooden structures that catch your eye from the street. It has a wooden train for the smaller ones to climb in and out of. There are small grassy hills that make a great spot to sit and watch your toddler master slightly larger slides and navigate the steps. It’s a great introduction to a more nature-focused park.

Evelyn’s Park Conservancy

4400 Bellaire Blvd., 77401

Open to the public all week

Parking lot

Evelyn’s Park, located in the old Teas Nursery grounds, is five acres of green space in the middle of Bellaire. The open outdoor space allows families to escape from the city to country and connect with family. Not in the mood to cook dinner? A food truck serves up park-goers on Mondays from 5 to 8 p.m. Grab your stroller and take baby for a walk around the butterfly gardens, or stop in the café for some lunch. See evelynspark.org.

Fire Truck Park

3743 Garnet St., 77005

Open to the public all week

Street parking

Fire Truck Park in Southside Place has been around for decades and is great for kids of all ages. “Structures are friendly for babies just starting to pull up and walk,” says Justin Pho. The old 1935 fire truck that gave the park its name was replaced with a fire engine play structure several years ago. After a fundraising effort, the playground got a big facelift about five years ago. It was upgraded with new swing sets, playground structures and new turf. It’s also great to host a birthday party (you can even rent the clubhouse). See www.ci.southside-place.tx.us/500/Fire-Truck-Park-Fund.

Grace Bible Church’s playground

6325 Hurst St., 77008

Open to the public all week (no private events or reserved parties allowed)

Large parking lot

The playground at this beautiful Heights-area church is a parent’s best friend. It is almost completely enclosed, allowing peace of mind for parents who want to sit on the soft turf or at the picnic tables. The ground is made of artificial turf (so no sticks, rocks or grass for baby to put in their mouth), an array of swings, climbing structures, slides, monkey bars and more. It’s the perfect spot to hang with your little ones on a beautiful Houston day.

Levy Park Conservancy

3801 Eastside St., 77098

Open to the public all week

Street parking

This modern and attractive green space recently received a $15 million rebuild. There are activities for kids of all ages, but the larger green space allows parents to spread out a blanket to watch their little one navigate walking across an open field. The park now features a playground with a splash pad, observation deck, a large green space, promenade (with public restrooms, which are key for potty training), a splash pad, community gardens, a fenced dog park and more. You can even book your child’s birthday party in the pavilion area. See levyparkhouston.org.

River Oaks “Pumpkin” Park

3600 Locke Lane, 77027

Open to the public all week

Street parking

This classic River Oaks park is situated under the oak trees across the street from St. Luke’s Methodist Church. It features a fully fenced playground with new play equipment, a lighted sports field and a trail for hiking and cycling.

In a city as large as Houston, the list of great parks could continue on. A few others that were mentioned were Huffington Park, Judson Park and Wier Park (in West University), Evergreen Park (in Bellaire), the playground at St. Theresa’s at Memorial Park, Hedwig Park (in Memorial) and Tanglewood Park at Woodway and Bering. Where will your next park adventure be?

Editor’s note: Which is your favorite park for little ones and why? Comment below!

  • Ellie Israel

    PARK PLAY Mom Lauren Israel has explored many Houston parks with her children, 3-year-old Ellie and 5-year-old Ethan, and has taken lots of pictures. These photos are of Ellie: (at left and middle) at Jaycee Park at 12 and then 18 months old and (at right) at 18 months at the pumpkin carriage at River Oaks Park.

  • Ellie Israel

    Ellie Israel, then-6 months old, at Memorial Park’s Vale-Asche Foundation Playground. The park is 90 percent accessible for children of all abilities.

  • Ellie Israel
  • Ellie Israel

More photos

Ellie Israel

PARK PLAY Mom Lauren Israel has explored many Houston parks with her children, 3-year-old Ellie and 5-year-old Ethan, and has taken lots of pictures. These photos are of Ellie: (at left and middle) at Jaycee Park at 12 and then 18 months old and (at right) at 18 months at the pumpkin carriage at River Oaks Park.

Ellie Israel

Ellie Israel, then-6 months old, at Memorial Park’s Vale-Asche Foundation Playground. The park is 90 percent accessible for children of all abilities.

To leave a comment, please log in or create an account with The Buzz Magazines, Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Or you may post as a guest.