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Houston Is the Unsung Adventure Capital of Texas

The city gets a bad rap: flat, boring, concrete. The flat part? That’s true. But the rest couldn’t be more wrong.

Surfing the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, an easy drive from Houston. (Photo: Matthew Wakem/Aurora Photos)
Surfing the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, an easy drive from Houston.

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Houston may be flat, but its adventure palette is robust. Presenting eight ways to get outside in this surprisingly active city.

Pull Some Plastic

Boulders are scarce around here, so get your send on at the Texas Rock Gym, then sign up for the two- day outdoor skills clinic so you’re primed for a weekend of cragging in nearby Austin. 


A photo posted by Texasrockgym (@texasrockgym) on

High Mileage 

Terry Hershey Park and its mixed-use trail are for going long. “We use it for marathon training,” says Mark Coleman, president of the Houston Striders. “It’s 30 miles out and back. No matter what you’re preparing for, you can get your distance.” 

Trail Mix

Some 10,000 people run in Memorial Park every day, and it’s easy to see why: the 2.9-mile loop is a Strava test piece, there’s a track for speed work, and trails allow you to escape asphalt. Bonus: it’s not just for runners. Many of the trails are mountain-bike legal. 


Bakeries don’t typically have a chef who trained at El Bulli, but Common Bond isn’t a normal bakery. There’s a yogurt parfait if you’re feeling virtuous, and the duck breast with a soft-boiled egg on rye is great after a long run in Memorial Park. 


A photo posted by Savanna Lim (@sarvarnah) on


The Hobbit Café opened in 1972, but the OG health-food spot has expanded its clientele beyond Middle Earth crunchies. (Paleos: the menu added meat in ’78.) It’s now a local classic. Try the Smaug’s Delight, a turkey and avocado melt. 


Houston is still full of steakhouses where oil barons wheel and deal while gnawing on cigars. But you can eat well without the artery impact, too. The best restaurant in town, Oxheart, offers a six-course vegetable tasting menu infused with Indian and Japanese flavors. 

Rubber Side Down

With espresso machines and fridges full of beer, Ham Cycles feels more like a clubhouse than a bike shop, but you can still get a brightly colored Cinelli or a cough-syrup-themed water bottle (a nod to the local rap scene). 


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Swamp Thing 

Houston is a maze of 2,500 miles of jungle-like waterways, and the folks at Bayou City Adventures, in Buffalo Bayou Park, will rent you a SUP or kayak to explore them. If there are waves in Galveston, they’ll also hook you up with a surfboard. 

From Outside Magazine, April 2016
Filed To: Texas
Lead Photo: Matthew Wakem/Aurora Photos