The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is a non-profit botanical garden and nature center with a diverse collection of landscape plants and forest, pond, wetland, and meadow habitats through which five miles of nature trails snake. Located in Memorial Park in Houston, the Arboretum also features specialty gardens, including a Hummingbird & Butterfly Island, a Sensory Garden, and a Wildlife Garden.

Established in 1951 by Robert A. Vines, the gardens initially occupied 265 acres of land, which has been reduced in size over the years, while the nature center was founded in 1967 and the children's botanical hall in 1966.

1.Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
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The Arboretum’s gardens and flora can be enjoyed on one of several walking trails around the center, ranging from the Carol Tatkon Sensory Garden and the Coggie Pearson Trail to the 1/3 mile Palmetto Multi-sensory Trail, which is specifically designed for visually impaired individuals.

The Carol Tatkon Sensory Garden allows visitors to explore the gardens with all of their senses by touching, feeling, smelling, listening and tasting. The Alice Brown Loop / Ravine Overlook is a short loop that is wheelchair accessible and boasts beautiful views of the forest from above the canopy.

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2.More Things to See

More Things to See
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The R.A. Vines Trail is a shallow wetland and urban forest that is home to a fascinating array of reptiles, aquatic insects, fish, and tadpoles, as well as raccoons and herons, who come to hunt. The Outer Loop is an easy two-mile trail which encircles the Houston Arboretum and is ideal for spotting all kinds of birds, urban mammals and insects in the early morning. Far from the maddening crowds of Memorial Park, the southern portion of the Outer Loop has a wonderfully remote feeling as if one is in the middle of the wilderness.

Bordered by some of the largest sycamore trees in Harris County, the Coggie Pearson Trail descends a steep ravine and runs along the banks of a seasonal creek akin to those in East Texas. The trail winds through an array of fauna and flora, with fascinating views of the geology of the area that has been formed by rain run-off.

The Meadow, Pond & Observation Decks are located along the eastern edge of the Arboretum and are home to unique habitats that provide food and shelter for all kinds of small mammals and grassland songbirds. Ranging from Gulf Coast Prairie terrain to East Texan Pineywoods, these beautiful areas feature a one-acre pond offers year-round sanctuary for dragonflies, turtles and fish and turtles.

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3.More Things to See

More Things to See
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Overlooking the Buffalo Bayou, the Charlotte Couch Birding Platform provides an elevated position from which to experience a mature riparian habitat, which is home to a diverse range of birds and other wild creatures. Wild and untamed with towering oaks, pines, and sycamores, this secluded spot is just a short 20-minute hike south of the nature center building.

The Biomimicry Trail tells the story of local species that have inspired innovation and sustainable solutions to challenges we face in everyday life through a series of five interpretive signs.

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The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center offers a variety of educational programs, classes, and workshops for adults, students, and children. Adult programs include ‘Arboretum at Night’, ‘Nature Revealed,' ‘Plants and Gardening,' ‘Art and Photography,' ‘Food, Beer and Wine’, and ‘Birds.’

Family programs include ‘Arboretum at Night – Family-Friendly’, ‘Naturally Wild Families,' and ‘DIY Nature Classes.’

Children’s programs range from summer and winter camps, ‘Tyke Hikes,' ‘Tadpole Troopers’ (for ages 3-5), ‘Science Sprouts’ (for ages 4-5), ‘Naturalist Explorers’ (for ages 5-8), and ‘Home School Program’ (for ages 5-12). Other programs include scouting and girl guiding, guide field experience, Discovery Room programs, field adventures, water monitoring and other special programs.

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center plays host to a variety of events throughout the year, including the Wreath, Garland and Tree Sale, Arbor Day, Trees & Stars Winter Celebration, Tapas on the Trails, and the annual Spring Plant Sale.

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5.Visitor Information

Visitor Information
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The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is located at 4501 Woodway Drive in Houston and is open daily with free admission. One-hour guided tours are offered for both groups of children and groups of adults on Tuesdays through Fridays at various times.

The Discovery Room is located in the Nature Center and offers visitors a chance to explore Houston’s urban wildlife and natural habitats in an interactive environment, with things to touch, mysteries to solve, puzzles to work, and places to explore. Interactive exhibits and activities include microscopes, puzzles and games, Discovery Boxes, and field guides with Discovery Room naturalists on hand to assist and answer questions.

The Nature Shop can be found in the Interpretive Building and sells an array of items for nature lovers of all ages, including books, toys, jewelry, clothing and more.

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4501 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX 77024-7708, Phone: 713-681-8433

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Best Things to Do in Texas: Houston Arboretum & Nature Center