What play area offers water, sand, drums, and sun? Not a beach scene from Jamaica, as one might think, but the Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area! Whether your little one loves climbing or sliding or playing in the sand, the Fish Play Area has you covered. Its location is pretty amazing, too. It’s located on the bank of the Buffalo Bayou and below an open green space with fantastic views of the downtown skyline. The play area opens to a walking/running trail, so you can stop by before or after a family jog or enjoy the play area on its own. What I found really neat was that you can “enter” the play area by sliding down the slide. There is also a ramp, but the cool kids use the slide to make their entrance.
According to the official website, the play area was “designed to inspire a love of nature within children,” and “features of the play area include: a boulder rock scramble, a rolling lawn, a stream and waterfall, climbing logs and stones, and a 33-foot slide.” If that’s not enough to pique your interest, the site goes on to describe “the most compelling component” of the play area: “a tri-level tree house/boat deck with climbing net.” Can adults play, too? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t climb that net to reach the boat deck.
We visited on a picture perfect Sunday morning and there were several food trucks offering breakfast tacos, lunch tacos, coffee, popsicles, and even dog treats! I really liked how most of the play structures were integrated into the natural landscape. For instance, tree stumps replace a ladder leading to the slide and provide a way to practice your coordination and tolerance for letting your kids get dirty. There is also a stone water table, but it was on the fritz. During our visit, my toddler enjoyed playing in the sand, water features, and climbing a rope ladder of sorts, but she really, really enjoyed the super high slide. She was barely two when we visited, so I was unsure if it she would want to try it, but she did and she loved it. It is 33 feet high after all!
There is a covered pavilion with nice benches next to one of the sand pits perfect for cooling off and enjoying a picnic, as well as a covered area with tables and chairs next to the open green space nearby.
This is one of our favorite parks because of the natural elements and location, but it gets really hot during the summer. There isn’t a ton of shade in the main play areas, so you’re better off going on a cloudy day or when the summer heat passes. Overall, this is a one of a kind play area that offers so many ways to play, just make sure to pack sunscreen and water!
- How to get there: I recommend parking at the Water Works in Buffalo Bayou Park (105 Sabine St., Houston, TX 77007) and walking through the lawn and past the Lee and Joe Jamail skate park to get to the play area.
- Official website: http://buffalobayou.org/visit/destination/buffalo-bayou-park/