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HIDDEN GEM: Houston Arboretum

Since 1967, the Arboretum has ensured Houstonians who live in a city full of concrete and parking lots can connect with nature.

HOUSTON — Houston can get a bad rap as being a concrete jungle, but it is loaded with parks and greenspaces, including a giant one right inside the West Loop: the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.

About five miles of trails wind through the 155-acre nonprofit nature sanctuary, which is just inside the West Loop. The Outer Loop stretches nearly two miles, while shorter trails, such as the Wildflower Trail, are closer to a quarter of a mile. 

"You can see a lot of different topography here and a lot of different ecosystems, which is really cool," said Christine Mansfield, the Arboretum's Sr. Marketing & Development Manager. "I know a lot of people don’t think of Houston as a really green space, but we are a very biodiverse space."

The Arboretum is right next to Memorial Park, but feels and looks very different.

"If you’re new to nature or an avid nature lover, you can see something here every time you come," Mansfield said. "We’ve got a really wide variety of wildlife that calls this space home and, if you’re not as excited about wildlife, you can still enjoy nature spaces."

You can find those spaces inside the Nature Center, where kids can learn about everything that makes its home on this land, or outside in the Playscape. Both were added during a recent renovation. 

"We’ve also gotten a lot more press specifically around our conservation efforts," said Mansfield. "We bring out goats to do some grazing. We’ve done prescribed burns here. Those two things, I think, have also raised awareness of this space."

There’s no admission to explore the Arboretum, but you do need to pay $5.50 to park.

"That’s a flat rate for the entire day. It’s free on Thursdays and, if you’re a member of the Arboretum, it’s free to you all year round," Mansfield said. "All of the parking fees go back to the Arboretum because we are a nonprofit that is protecting and taking care of this city land."

It's been doing so since 1967, ensuring Houstonians who live in a city full of concrete and parking lots can connect with nature.

"Go outside," stressed Mansfield. "Go outside whether it’s here or whether it’s in your backyard or whether it’s in a city park."

Find out more about the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.

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