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These Houston-area playgrounds help kiddos connect with nature

Houston Zoo play area
Houston Zoo play area (Jill B. Jarvis)

Let the kids get messy at Houston area nature playgrounds!

These local parks have sand and sticks and rocks and sand and water… and kids are encouraged to get dirty, experiment and create. (And if you know of more, let us know!)

Fish Family Play Area At Buffalo Bayou

Fish Family Play Area at Buffalo Bayou Park Climbing Logs
Fish Family Play Area at Buffalo Bayou Park Climbing Logs (Jill B. Jarvis)

Right along Buffalo Bayou, next to the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is the Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area at Buffalo Bayou Park!

Not only does it have a slide, climbing structures, water features and drums built in to the landscape, but this park has an amazing view of the downtown skyline, access to the Buffalo Bayou trails, has free parking, restrooms at the Water Works building… and a newly uncovered historic cistern. It is as cool as it sounds.

This park is free to visit.

Wild! Nature Play Area At The Houston Zoo

Houston Zoo play area
Houston Zoo play area (Jill B. Jarvis)

Wild! Nature Play Area at the Houston Zoo is free with zoo admission or zoo membership and it’s full of messy fun. Instead of playground equipment, kids play with sticks, sand, mud and water… and climb on logs and walk through gardens.

Zoo admission is required to access this play area.

Nature Discovery Center Nature Play Area

Nature Discovery Center play area
Nature Discovery Center play area (Jill B. Jarvis)

Nature Discovery Center is covered in trees and has winding trails connecting the Nature Center, Critter Classroom, Pecan Grove, Deciduous Woodland, Cypress Pond, Nature Play Area, Pocket Prairie and Prairie Wetland.

Play in the sandbox (full of trucks), explore the trails look for signs telling you what to find.

This park is free to visit.

Evelyn’s Park

Evelyn’s Park
Evelyn’s Park (Jill B. Jarvis)

Evelyn’s Park has a small but fun nature play area with a hillside slide and sandbox, a lot of room to run and the family friendly restaurant. There are two free parking lots, accessible from Newcastle Street and Mulberry Lane and has a restroom.

This park is very close to the Nature Discovery Center and is free to visit.

Houston Arboretum And Nature Center

Houston Arboretum And Nature Center
Houston Arboretum And Nature Center (Jill B. Jarvis)

The Houston Arboretum has been renovating, and the play area has moved and changed (and I bet it is still changing!)… but it’s a nature play area!

There has been a rope bridge, sandbox, tree stumps, rocks and blocks. There is also the indoor nature room and lots of family friendly trails.

This park is free to visit.

Smooth Stream Park In Tomball

Smooth Stream Park in Tomball
Smooth Stream Park in Tomball (Jill B. Jarvis)

Smooth Stream Park has an obstacle course, swings, balance beam, merry-go-round, zip line, picnic area and pond!

This park is free to visit.

Jagged Ridge Park In The Woodlands

Jagged Ridge Park In The Woodlands
Jagged Ridge Park In The Woodlands (Jill B. Jarvis)

Jagged Ridge is a small park but the equipment is great. There is a tree house playground, climbing rock, bucket swings and “fallen logs” for balancing. There is also a pavilion and BBQ pit. (No restrooms are available.)

There is not a ton of equipment, and it’s not 100% nature-scape, but it’s hard to pick which spot to play first. The tree house, the logs, the rock?!

This park is free to visit.

The Houston area also has several ag-venture farms that are open seasonally, for a fee.

This article originally appeared at JillBJarvis.com and is being featured here as part of a partnership with BigKidSmallCity.com. Click here to view the article in its original format.