Armand Bayou Nature Center

#15 in Best Things To Do in Houston
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Parks and Gardens, Hiking, Recreation Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

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  • 4.5Value
  • 2.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Flora and fauna abound at this nature center, located about 26 miles southeast of Houston. The Armand Bayou Nature Center is the largest urban wilderness preserve in the U.S., measuring more than 2,500 acres. The nature center features forests, wetlands and prairies, with 370 different species of animals including armadillos, alligators, turtles, deer and eagles calling the area home. Plus, there's so much to see and do here – the venue dozens of various activities, events and programs.

Many of Armand Bayou's guided offerings occur during the weekends, so if you're interested in a tour, it's best to come then. There are a wide range of tours to choose from, including canoe tours, boat cruises with options for a day, sunset or moonlight cruise, guided photo hikes, nighttime hikes tailored to spot bats and owls, and nature talks that cover specific animals ranging from monarch butterflies to bison. Travelers who embarked on one of the nature center's tours were very pleased with their experiences, crediting the knowledgeable guides for a great time.

However, if you'd prefer to explore alone, there are plenty of trails in the park that will take you through its various landscapes. The Discovery Loop Trail is perfect with those with just a few hours to spare: It takes you directly to the nature center's main attractions, including the McGovern Children's Discovery Area, the Interpretive Building (where you'll find live animal displays), the bison viewing area and the Martyn Farm Site, a recreation that depicts farm life in 1890s Texas. In addition to the Discovery Loop Trail, there are three more trails that go deeper into the nature center. The 1.32-mile Martyn Trail takes you through the forested wetlands while the Lady Bird Trail and Karankawa Trail take you to the edge of the Bayou.

The Armand Bayou Nature Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children and seniors. Parking is available on-site and is free of charge. It's important to know that water is not sold on the premises, so you'll need to bring your own. The nature center also suggests wearing insect repellent if you're visiting during the warmer months. For more information on the Armand Bayou Nature Center, visit its website

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Courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
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