I never considered myself a “nature lover” until recently. I’ve found that being outside and experiencing God’s creation first hand is therapeutic. I’m constantly looking for places to visit – other cities, states, countries – but never considered that there was beauty in my backyard. I’ve lived in Houston for 13 years, and never realized how many truly beautiful spots there are in the city…
The first stop on my search for beautiful places was the Butterfly Center at the Museum of Natural Science. I found some metered parking on the street around the corner, and as I headed in, I saw a small park. It was beautifully landscaped, so I had to check it out. Turns out it is the McGovern Centennial Gardens. I walked in and checked out the statues lining the entrance. I rounded the corner and came upon a rose garden – it wasn’t anything lavish or full of roses, but there were a few nice flowers. As I was snapping photos, one of the staff members, Patrick, approached and asked if I would like him to take some pictures for me. I agreed, and he got a couple of nice photos for me in the rose garden and the Japanese garden (which was basically a Japanese style gazebo). I finished poking around the park and headed to the Museum.
Admission to the Butterfly Center is $8. There is a small museum area with information about butterflies and other insects before you enter the actual butterfly house. Inside was AMAZING! When you walk in, it is extremely hot and humid, but it smells and feels like nature. The smell was intoxicating. I must have inhaled 10 deep breaths before I continued. Butterflies were everywhere. There was a beautiful water fall! I wish I had a nice, fancy camera, because I could have gotten some great shots, but I had to go with my Galaxy. There were some nice flowers inside as well. I spent about 45 minutes looking around, enjoying the scenery.
As I was headed to my car, I noticed Hermann Park across the street, so I took some time to walk around. Sometimes it is great to just enjoy the stillness. We can get so caught up with life, kids, work, social media, blogging, and capturing the moment, that we forget to LIVE in the moment. Take in the sights, the sounds, the smells. Everyone tells me I always walk really fast, but I was intentionally walking slowly (or at least I think I was). I took in the trees and the fountains. I took a moment to watch some people paddle boarding in the pond and wave to some strangers. I chuckled to myself as I watched a girl skillfully propelling herself onto a tree branch for a photo (I’ll have to go back for one at a later date). There were couples, families, solo walkers, homeless people, kids – young and old… anyone you could imagine. It wasn’t crowded, but everyone seemed to be represented. I stumbled across Miller Outdoor Theater. It is an interesting shape, and I had no idea what it was. I’ll have to go back and catch a show there. I wanted to hop on the train, but I had to get back to my car before the meter ran out.
Technically my first stop turned into three stops, so I guess Mercer Botanic Gardens would be my fourth stop. I arrived there just after 9am. The entrance to the garden is lined with bold, colorful flowers, and the aroma hits you right as you step into the garden. There is an information desk that I would recommend stopping at – I didn’t stop, but found myself kind of wandering around aimlessly. This was fine with me, but I know some others prefer a more structured experience. I assume they have maps in there. But anyway, the garden had a vast variety of flowers, trees, shrubs, and cacti.There was also a forest-looking area along the back edge. Multiple benches were placed throughout the garden, many of them in shaded areas, that would be a wonderful place to sit and relax or read. I just walked around taking in the sounds of the birds and the wind chimes. There weren’t too many people there while I was there. I noticed some prison inmates riding around on a cart (exciting, huh?). I assume they were cleaning up, but I didn’t ask. I also saw a couple of groups of children, but the place was large enough that it felt like I had to grounds to myself. The summer heat in Houston isn’t necessarily conducive to long stretches outdoors, so I was only there about an hour. I observed someone taking wedding photos. It reminded me that Patrick said that you can get married in the Centennial Gardens or Hermann Park. Both are FANTASTIC photo opportunities!
It’s funny how, in our quest to explore the world, we neglect to experience everything that is at our fingertips. I can’t wait to check out what else Houston has to offer. For those of you interested in visiting Houston, please keep in mind that Houston is really, REALLY big. It can easily take 45 minutes to get from point A-B without traffic. Be strategic about planning your day to maximize your touring time and minimize your travel time.
***Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a professional photographer. I’m just a lady who enjoys taking pictures.