Going to parks is a popular summer activity (even in Texas where it’s a million degrees every day), but they can get pretty old after a while. You can only walk the same trails and see the same trees and flowers so many times before you start to crave a change of pace (although natural areas like
these will always be beautiful). Fortunately, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path parks across the state that provide an experience you’ll never forget. Here are eight of the best:
1. Old Mill Pond & Parrot Park (Lindale)
This park is a blast from the past in the best way possible. It's essentially an outdoor museum with old Southern farm equipment, classic cars (including a Model T), an old gas station, and a water mill. There's even a steam whistle that blows four times a day!
2. Dinosaur Valley State Park (Glen Rose)
If you've ever had the desire to compare your footprint to that of a dinosaur, this is your chance! At Dinosaur Valley State Park, you'll see 113-million-year-old footprints that have been preserved in the Paulxy River. You can bike, hike, run, bird watch, and participate in various fun events the park hosts.
3. Kiddie Park (San Antonio)
I think we can all agree that some of our most cherished memories involved carnivals or amusement parks. Get ready for some major nostalgia at Kiddie Park, the oldest amusement park in the entire country. It's been around since 1925 and has all the classic attractions: ferris wheels, games, pony rides, and even a carousel built in 1917.
4. Sparky Park (Austin)
This eccentric park was once an electrical substation enhanced to its current beauty by a local artist. Citizens even added pieces of their own lives like antique glass, stones, and marbles to show how supportive Austinites are of the art scene in their community. If you look closely, you'll find the names of everyone who left an item engraved in the wall. It's a perfect park for kids with so many different structures to touch and admire.
5. The Orange Show (Houston)
This unique (and, admittedly, a little bizarre) exhibit was built decades ago by a mail carrier who wanted to honor his favorite fruit. Since then, it's been restored and opened to the public as a non-profit organization supporting the power of individuality. It offers workshops, performances, and the mega-popular Houston Art Car Parade.
6. Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo)
There's not much to say about this one other than that if you haven't had the opportunity to see the (in)famous row of graffiti-fied cadillacs half planted in the ground, you'd better high-tail it to Amarillo. It's basically an obligatory place to go when you're a Texan.
7. Eclectic Menagerie Park (Houston)
Don't be alarmed at the sight of a spider as big as a house or an armadillo the size of two cars - it's totally normal at this outdoor museum in Houston. The park features metal sculptures including animals, planes, cars, and more. It's certainly an innovative way to enjoy art!
8. Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park (Houston)
I don't know about you, but I like my leisurely strolls in the park to include gigantic waterfalls. This is honestly one of the most beautiful parks I've ever been to. Standing inside the enclosure with water rushing around you so forcefully that you can't hear anything else is a feeling like no other.
Have you been to any of these parks? What are some other unique parks in Texas that you like to visit?