Five Best Houston Neighborhoods for Braving the Heat – Houston Neighborhood Series

Courtesy of www.geocatching.com

 The only things in life that are guaranteed are death, taxes and searing Houston summers.  Houston’s longest season is notorious for temperatures that can easily soar into the 100s and sky high humidity. Does that mean we stay inside the nearest bank, mall or movie theater and pray the AC keeps roaring? No way! Houstonians don’t let high temperatures get in the way of making the most out of the summer season, but rather come up with innovative ways to make the most out of sizzling mornings and afternoons. Locals use weather to their advantage by scoping out the most majestic parks in Houston and participating in activities that keep our minds off the scorching Houston summer months and our body in shape enough to fit into our swimsuits. Here’s your guide to the five best Houston neighborhoods that are perfect for beating the heat. Pack your shades and your sunblock because it’s going to be a hot one.

#1: Bellaire

Distance from Downtown: 8.9 miles
Distance from the Galleria: 2.3 miles
Distance to Med Center: 3.9 miles
Median House Price: $780,000
Median Rental Price: $1963

Bellaire

Bellaire is one of the most classic yet gorgeous neighborhoods in Houston. Perfect for families because of its excellent schools and American aesthetic, Bellaire offers some of the best outdoor areas around as well. Russ Pitman Park offers 4 acres where you can enjoy a casual picnic lunch, stroll through wooded areas and explore all that this outdoor sanctuary has to offer.  Become an avid birdwatcher as the park gives people an opportunity to see over 80 species of birds. The park houses a variety of animals like beetles, butterflies, birds and squirrels. At the north end of the park The Nature Discovery Center is available for park-goers and nature enthusiasts to explore all the natural surroundings. Mulberry Park offers a playground area for children as well as a Youth Baseball Field for future Hall of Famers to begin their love of all things baseball; after all, Bellaire High School is one of the leading high school baseball programs in the country. Equally impressive Bellaire parks include Lafayette Park, Joe Gaither Park, Locust Park or Paseo Park. Don’t forget Bellaire Fitness Playground for keeping your kids active while you enjoy a little fresh air For those who are looking to stay in shape during the summer months, Bellaire also has a multitude of fitness and sports locations to keep your mind, body and spirit in tip top shape. Grab your yoga mat and get your savasana on at Yoga One. With introductory and new student specials, summer is the best time to work on your poses and feel great doing it. If boot camps are more your thing, Bellaire offers RipQuest Fitness Bootcamp and nonameFit Bootcamp. Both are designed to increase your endurance and improve stamina and speed while giving you better balance and agility, not to mention a killer beach body.   If you want to cool off stop on in for classes at Beginners 2 Swimmers where classes are designed to teach both adults and children the importance of proper technique. And honestly, what better way to stay cool than with a pool?   Looking for a little more action this summer? Try Chu’s Kung Fu, or if you like dancing, King’s Dancing Centre and Dance EZ make more great places to stay out of the sun and relax.

“>#2: West University

Distance from Downtown: 6.9 miles
Distance from the Galleria: 3.0 miles
Distance to Med Center:  3.0 miles
Median House Price: $951,460
Median Rental Price: $3000

BrianONeills

West University’s connection to both Rice Village and Upper Kirby make it an excellent neighborhood for residents to stroll to retail, parks, and restaurants. West University has just about everything a city dweller could want, minus perhaps a fast-paced commercial section. Nevertheless, between the abundance of frozen yogurt and ice cream shops and outdoor activities, West University is a top spot for beating hot weather. Interested in joining a running club? West U has you covered. Join the Brian O’Neills Running Club, a great place to run, walk or jog with other running enthusiasts around Rice University ending with some serious carb loading at the complimentary pasta bar Brian O’Neills offers. Make new friends while getting your fitness on. We guarantee you won’t feel guilty going back for an extra helping of pasta. If running isn’t quite your thing (it’s hot… we get it!) and you would prefer an ice-cold beer during the summer season, stop on by the Rice Stadium Beer Garden. The beer is cold, the atmosphere electric and it’s a great way to beat the heat and enjoy a gorgeous afternoon in the West University neighborhood. Other options for a frosty brew include Rice Village’s wide variety of hot bars including Rice student favorite The Gingerman, Kelvin Arms, and Under the Volcano. Whitt Johnson Park offers a playground for children and a place to catch a late night game of hoops with its lighted basketball court. Picnic facilities are a must for those who come with baskets laden with food hoping to score a small quiet area in which to become one with nature. Sit under the gazebo and escape from everyday life even if just for a second. West U offers many more parks like Reckling Park, Colonial Park, Fleming Park and more. Tennis enthusiasts: get out your rackets. Joel Peters Tennis allows you to learn from a pro, literally. You’ll be coached by a certified tennis professional looking to improve your game. Private or group lessons are available, so grab your friends and hit the courts for a friendly game during summer. If you want to take in the perfectly landscaped sights West U offers stop on into Bike Barn. Avid cyclist or beginner, Bike Barn can fit you with the perfect bike to ride around West U in style. If you think Saunas are best kept controlled indoors, Bikram Hot Yoga Houston may be your answer to beating the outside heat. If you haven’t been before, remember to hydrate.  Or “beat” the heat a little more literally with; Krav Maga Houston is always looking for a chance to teach a Houstonian to tussle. Another reason West University makes this “best Houston neighborhoods” list is the countless fitness program options like  Fit Body Bootcamp, the Rice Recreation and Wellness Center and Village Crossfit.

#3: Rice Military
Distance from Downtown: 3.7 miles
Distance from the Galleria: 5.0 miles
Distance to Med Center:  6.3 miles
Median House Price: $479,500
Median Rental Price: $3,000

Rice Military is one of the greenest areas of Houston, with plenty of outdoor activities to offer. The neighborhood is one of the best places in the city to go to with a bag of everything you need and make a day of it. Houston joggers flock to Memorial Park rain or shine to lap the 2.88 miles many around the rather natural non-paved track. The park also features 6 miles of mountain and recreational bike paths. Playing fields as far as the eye can see are available for future soccer stars and little league sports aficionados to congregate.

Memorial-Park-Golf-Course-1-750x562For the more serious recreational relaxation enthusiasts, Memorial Park is home to Memorial Park Golf Course, one of the top rated municipal golf courses in the nation.  Be sure to book your tee time in advance as spaces fill up pretty quickly. One way to enjoy the outdoors without fear of sunburn is to enjoy  from underneath the cover of a golf cart. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center offers a retreat from city life without ever leaving city limits. Encompassing 155 acres, this sanctuary provides environmental education and protects native plants and animals. The 5 mile nature walk is completely free to visitors looking to expand their education on nature. The Arboretum holds Discovery classes during the summer to ensure that the love of nature and preservation is passed on to the younger generations. Classes like Tai Chi are offered to those who want to relax and exercise in this serene atmosphere. If you want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Memorial Park, stroll south to the Buffalo Bayou and find a hidden grassy beach along the bayou.  While the water is brown, the grass is green, and there will be plenty of colorful bird watching.  

#4: Heights

Distance from Downtown: 5.9 miles
Distance from the Galleria: 4.4 miles
Distance to Med Center:  2.0 miles
Median House Price: $449,950
Median Rental Price: $1,600

The Heights proves to be a contender when offering locations to kick back and relax this summer. Spotts Park is a great place for volleyball, tennis and basketball. The trails are great for endurance running, with hills and other obstacles designed to get you in tip top shape while you run along the Bayou. With plenty of water stations you can be sure you’ll stay hydrated on a hot summer day. The wide open spaces are open for those who want to enjoy a quiet date night picnic or for those Houstonians who are looking to stay in shape this summer. White Oak Bayou Trail is a 5 mile trail with scenery that makes the adventure that much more exciting for joggers and cyclers. Enjoy a picnic or bust out your binoculars for some bird watching as you are sure to see a variety of species. WHite-Oak Stude Park is home to the Stude Community Center, offering locals a variety of programs like aerobics, Zumba classes and a free play gym that locals can take advantage of. The sunset view of Stude Park is unbeatable. Fly a kite there. With color coded trails it’s easy to keep track of how far you’ve traveled for the day. Want to know what’s happening to one of your favorite parks? Buffalo Bayou Art Park is undergoing a transformation, one that will have an iconic impact on Houstonians. Restoration is under way and upgraded trails are making things better for hikers and runners. Grab your skateboard and check out The Water Works by the skatepark. Or bring your four legged friend along for some exercise at the new upgraded dog park. The Heights is getting cooler by the minute, just in time for summer.

#5: Old Braeswood

Distance from Downtown: 6.7 miles
Distance from the Galleria: 7.1 miles
Distance to Med Center:  2.6 miles
Median House Price: $665,000
Median Rental Price: $1350Bluebonnet-field-on-Braes-Bayou-near-Bill-Coats-Bridge-Medical-Center-Hermann-Park-Area-March-2014-photo-750x553
Hidden treasure Gus and Lyndall Wortham Park continues to astonish Houstonians who stumble upon  it. A smaller park, it more than makes up for its size by portraying serenity and simple beauty. Water pillars and lakes with shooting fountains make it a perfect place for photo shoots, simple picnic lunches or romantic strolls. Explore the area then sit and relax in the shade on one of the many benches that invite you to take in the natural beauty of this perfectly hidden oasis. Looking for a park that is family friendly? Look no farther than Karl Young Park. With soccer and baseball fields available it is the perfect spot to bring the family and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Jogging trails are available to fitness enthusiasts as well as basketball and tennis courts. Shade envelopes the two playgrounds; allowing a reprieve from the Houston summer and a chance for children to take advantage of a little more play time. In the heart of old Braeswood is Braeswood Park. Recently renovated this park is a family favorite due to the updated children’s play area, swings and all. For the older residents, new benches line the trails inviting Houstonians to sit and relax. Well loved by the locals, Braeswood Park leaves you feeling the love that has been put into it over the years. Old Braeswood is one of Houston’s most historic neighborhoods as well as one of the best Houston neighborhoods for getting outside. If the parks are any indication of how well-loved this neighborhood is then we can’t wait to check them out.

Did we miss any of the best Houston neighborhoods for this list? Let us know in the comments. For more on where to go in Houston, check out “Nice Spots in Houston – 5 Great Ways to Spend a Saturday in Montrose”