When’s the last time you ate a sandwich? Now when’s the last time you ate a sandwich while the dogs were sunbathing, the kiddos contently playing, and you were watching a movie on the big screen, all while taking in a breath of fresh air in the great outdoors? Haven’t done it yet? Well, there’s a first time for everything.
By Alicia Hetz
It seems as though in these technological times and with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we have lost a sense of family, community, and even rest and relaxation. Houston is full of fabulous, unique places to get back to the basics and really connect with each other the old fashion way… by picnicking. With spring and summer quickly approaching, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best spots in Houston to go picnicking with friends and family.
Ray Miller Park
1800 Eldridge Parkway
Houston, TX 77077
It seems only fitting that I would start with Ray Miller Park, being a writer myself and an avid butterfly lover. Not only does the park offer a picturesque view of the wetland habitat, it also has a whole slew of exciting features which include: boardwalk butterfly garden, fountain/meditation area, gazebo, picnic/barbecue area, playground, restrooms, lighted walking trail, and a wildflower area. Ray Miller was the creator and host of The Eyes of Texas, syndicated through KPRC. While at KPRC, he won a Peabody Award, the broadcast equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize. Miller was designated by The Texas Association of Broadcasters as a “Pioneer Broadcaster.” Additionally, Miller was a Knight of San Jacinto, and The Texas State Legislature also named him a “Texas Legend.” An exceptional park for an exceptional man.
Houston, TX 77030
Hermann Park, an oldie but goodie, donated by Board of Parks Commissioner George H. Hermann in 1914, allows us to partake in a multitude of events after we finish off our last lunchable cracker. You can take in a round of golf, get some exercise on McGovern Lake with its paddleboats or go for a leisurely stroll through the Japanese Garden. Too tired from lunch? Take a ride on the mini train or just sit and watch the kiddos play at the Buddy Carruth Playground for All Children.
6501 Memorial Park Drive
Houston, TX 77007
Memorial Park is also rich in history, in that its name comes from a memorial to World War I soldiers who lost their lives serving in the war when the property used to be a military camp known as Camp Logan from 1917 to 1919. Complete with a golf course, a fitness center, swimming pool, and even a bird sanctuary, there is plenty to do on your family’s picnic to this Houston treasure.
Miller Outdoor Theater
6000 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston, TX 77030
I’m sure we can all remember rolling down the famous hill surrounding Miller Outdoor Theater when growing up. A popular long-time Houston fave with the kids, this venue makes for the perfect picnic spot because you can also take in a variety of live performances ranging anywhere from theater to music to a fireworks display. The Houston Zoo and Museum of Natural Science are also located nearby, and whether you stop off at one of those places before or after your picnic, it’s guaranteed to be a day full of family and fun.
Houston, TX 77002
Donated to the city in 1854 by Augustus Allen, Market Square was used as an open-air produce market. The walkways at Market Square are paved with masonry salvaged from demolished buildings as a reminder of the neighborhood’s history. Now it’s complete with a Little Nikko Nikko’s, so if you don’t bring your picnic basket, not to fear. They’ve got plenty of delicious goodies to sink your teeth into. You can even bring Fido to their dog park, and visit the beautifully heart-wrenching Lauren’s Garden, which commemorates the life of Houston native Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, who died in the September 11, 2001 crash of United Flight 93.
Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
2800 Post Oak Blvd.
Houston, TX 77056
Considered to be one of Houston’s most photographed locations and to kids and adults alike the eighth wonder of the world, the 64-foot waterwall recirculates 11,000 gallons of water per minute as it cascades down the structure’s inner and outer walls. There’s a nice, lush, green lawn directly in front of the waterfall perfect for picnicking, soccer or volleyball.
1500 McKinney St
Houston, TX 77010
We thought we’d save possibly the best for last! Discovery Green has come to be a valued Houston treasure and a melting pot for cultural diversity, community, and family. This park offers far more than your usual picnic experience. For starters you can catch a movie on the IKEA Screen on the Green outdoor movie screen, as well as attend several free workshops for adults and kids alike. They have young writers workshops, dance workshops, yoga, and the park served as the venue for a Petapalooza pet party event last month! You’ll never get bored in this park and there are plenty of local restaurants nearby as well, if you choose not to brown bag it.
Pack a Healthy Basket
By Eric L. Zielinski
Looking for a healthy alternative to cold cuts and buckets of fried chicken for your next family adventure? This dairy-free, gluten-free recipe is a refreshing gourmet entrée perfect for any picnic. Simply pack it in the cooler with some tasty snacks and a couple handfuls of baby carrots and grapes. You and your kids will love it. And the best part is that it only takes ½ hour to make!
Mama Z’s Cold Tuna Or Chicken Macaroni Salad
Prep: 30 minutes
2 cups gluten-free pasta (macaroni, fusilli, twists, shells)
2 – 7 oz. cans tuna or chicken
½ cup Vegenaise ® grapeseed oil or mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large dill pickles finely chopped or 2 tablespoons pickle relish
2-3 hard-cooked free-range eggs, divided in fours
2-3 roma tomatoes, divided in fours
2-3 sweet bell peppers
Fresh chives and dill (finely cut)
Sea salt, paprika and freshly ground pepper
Cook pasta according to package and once cooked drain off water. Drain cans of tuna and add to pasta. Add remaining ingredients. For the garnish arrange hard cooked eggs, tomatoes and peppers alternately. Top with freshly snipped chives and dill. Finish off with sea salt, paprika, and freshly ground pepper.