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Exploring butterfly habitats, outdoor art installations and more in houston.

The home of NASA’s center for human spaceflight and a central hub of world economy and diverse global cultures, as the largest metropolis in the Lone Star state, Houston is filled with opportunities to get moving.

While the sprawling city can often feel like a maze of highways and cityscapes with much bustle and little breathing room for getting outdoors, if you’re looking to get Recreational, Houston is all about looking beneath the surface. Whether downtown, in the city’s historical museum district, or in the Texas medical center, stretches of urban sprawl and expansive outdoor space meet at every corner. From jogging in Memorial Park to bird watching at Buffalo Bend Nature Park, wherever you look discovery and play await.

James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace

Located on Rice University’s campus, James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace is an immersive outdoor art installation that makes use of natural sunlight and strategic architectural design to project colorful spectrums of light above and around its viewers. Many visitors access the installation via the Rice U loop, a popular walking and jogging route that encompasses campus and its surrounding Rice Village neighborhood. With 20,000 annual visitors, the piece is one of the most popular and most unique amongst all of Turrell’s skyspace installations around the world. The minimalist structure is comprised of concrete, steel, granite, all white plaster paint and LED lights. Perched a top a hill, it’s engineered for acoustic and visual art performances. The best part of it all? The experience is completely free.

Pro-Tip: The best time to visit is during sunset or sundown, when the installation’s light sequences are happening.

Photo courtesy of Rice University

Cockrell Butterfly Center

Located next to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Cockrell Butterfly Center is a rainforest and living butterfly habitat that houses hundreds of butterfly species for guests to observe and interact with. One of the most unique ways to get in touch with wildlife in the city, the three story glass-enclosed exhibit is centered around a 50-foot waterfall and is filled with tropical terrain, exotic plants, colorful flowers and tons of opportunities to get up close and personal with various types of insects and butterflies. If you’re lucky enough to stop by during the holiday season, the exhibit is filled with white butterflies and white flowers to deck the space out in wintry spirit. Species like the white morpho and the rice paper butterfly create a unique wonderland of education and entertainment alike. This is one of the most lively and interactive gardens you’ll ever come across.

Pro-Tip: If you’re a student don’t forget your ID. Admission for adults is $12 while students, kids and seniors can explore the center for $10.

Photo courtesy of urban.houstonian/Flickr

Memorial Park Running Trails

Nestled off of the 610 loop near Houston’s memorial neighborhood, Memorial Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. The park’s Seymour Lieberman exercise trail is a 2.93 mile loop that encircles the majority of the park and has been cast as the heart of Houston’s jogging community. Thanks to its scenic views of downtown and wide stretches of greenery, the crushed granite path has cemented itself a favorite amongst walkers, joggers, and all around do-ers throughout the city.

Pro-Tip: You’ll be able to reach the path no matter where you enter the park, but on the Southeast corner is the Memorial Park Running Trails Center, where visitors can find lockers for their gear and showers to freshen up post-workout.

Photo courtesy of Alltrails

Johnny Steele Dog Park

Consider the Johnny Steele Dog Park a puppy’s paradise. A newly renovated park in the city’s historical Buffalo Bayou Park, the park is known as one of the most popular spots for dog owners and their puppies to get active and get some fresh air. The park features a wide open plot for canines to roam freely, as well as amenities like drinking fountains, dog washing areas and shade structures.

Photo courtesy of Downtown Houston

Root Memorial Square

Between the city’s historic NBA franchise and a long-running roster of college and high school hoops phenoms, basketball is a staple of Houston Recreational culture. Thus, it’s only right that across from the Houston Rockets’ home court at the Toyota Center, sits one of the city’s most vibrant pick up courts in Root Memorial Square. At any hour of the day it’s likely that you’ll find games of H-O-R-S-E, 21 or pickup in full momentum in this small downtown plaza. The gazebo is lined with art and heritage lanterns to light the court into the night, and whether you’re looking to get in on some hoops yourself or you’d rather sit back and spectate, Root Memorial is one of the city’s best examples of how sport and culture beautifully collide.

Photo courtesy of Downtown Houston

Did we miss any of your favorite spots in Houston? Let us know where you love to get Recreational below.