Buffalo Bayou Park: Your definitive guide

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Your definitive guide to Buffalo Bayou Park
Ready to explore Buffalo Bayou Park? Here are the spots you shouldn't miss!

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Perched on the edge of downtown Houston, Buffalo Bayou Park is one of the Bayou City's largest and most exciting green spaces. The park is a haven for walkers, runners and cyclists, but there's so much more to do there than just exercise! Check out some of the park's most exciting attractions and activities:

Running and biking trails

Miles and miles of trails encircle the bayou, giving runners, walkers and bikers an endless amount of routes to choose from. Up and down the park, several bridges criscross the bayou -- you don't have to travel the entire length of the park to get your run in! Choose a shorter route by crossing the Shepherd, Rosemont, Jackson Hill or Carruth bridges.

The Kinder Footpath, which runs alongside much of the main path, is reserved only for walkers and runners who want to avoid having to dodge bikers and roller bladers. It runs closer to the bayou than the main path, offering those on foot a deeper connection with the surrounding greenery.

If you're compelled to take a load off during your run, the park is full of meadows and other open spaces alongside the trails that offer a shady, peaceful place to lay out a blanket and relax.

Buffalo Bayou Park in photos

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The Houston Police Officer Memorial honors HPD officers who died in the line of duty.
Danny Clemens

Bike rentals

On any given day, the park is brimming with cyclists. If you're in the mood for a ride but you don't own a bike -- never fear! Houston BCycle offers short-term bike rentals at several stations in and around the park, including Sabine Plaza, Jackson Street at Memorial, Spotts Park and City Hall. Users can pay $3 per 30 minutes or choose a monthly membership.

On weekends, the Houston Bike Barn also offers bike rentals from a storefront at Sabine Plaza. Rentals begin at $6 per hour, or customers can choose full and half day rentals.

Wortham Grove

One of the city's most Instagrammable spots, the Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain at the Wortham Foundation Grove has played host to many a selfie -- and for good reason. The dandelion-shaped fountain offers joggers a cool mist in the middle of a sweaty run, and rainbows can often be seen emerging from the breathtaking work of art. The fountain is surrounded by a landscaped grove of trees, park benches and drinking fountains.

Eleanor Tinsley Park

Most Houstonians might know Eleanor Tinsley Park from the Freedom Over Texas concert or Free Press Summer Festival, but the park has a lot to offer even when there isn't a huge festival taking place. Park visitors can meet up for a game of beach volleyball in the park's sand pit, and the flat, open fields make a perfect spot for a game of frisbee.

And speaking of Instagrammable spots, the park offers a stunning view of the downtown skyline, no filter required.

A beautifully landscaped garden area sits just west of the park. Full of flowers and other greenery, the garden offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the adjacent city.

Buffalo Bayou Cistern

A piece of Houston history sits beneath the park! The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park is a 1920s-era drinking water reservoir. After decades in service, the cistern was taken out of commission when engineers discovered an irreparable leak in 2007. Now, the relic of the past is open for public tours and often hosts temporary art installations. Tours are available every Wednesday and Friday afternoon for only $5, but reservations must be made in advance. Free tours are available on Thursday.

Waugh Bat Colony

If you've ever walked beneath the Waugh Drive bridge over Buffalo Bayou, you've probably picked up on the bridge's distinctive smell. A large colony of 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats has taken up residence beneath the bridge.

According to experts, the bats' emergence from their home within the bridge is not predictable, and can happen just before sunset or well after night has fallen. On rainy or cold nights, the bats may not emerge at all.

A Bat Chat takes place on the first and third Friday night of every month. Beginning 30 minutes before sunset, Bat Team volunteers gather at the viewing platform on the corner of Waugh Drive and Allen Parkway to answer questions and help the public safely observe the bats. Click here for more information.

Johnny Steele Dog Park

Dogs big and small can be found frolicking through the Johnny Steele Dog Park. The park includes separate areas for large and small dogs, each equipped with dog ponds, shade structures, water play features, dog washing areas, benches and doggy-specific drinking fountains. The two-acre park is located near Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard. It is open daily from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Houston Police Officer Memorial

The pyramid-shaped Houston Police Officers' Memorial honors the HPD officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. The memorial is guarded 24 hours a day, and its design is meant to symbolize that of a royal tomb. A procession and wreath-laying ceremony take place at the monument every year.

Lost Lake

Buffalo Bayou Park's Lost Lake is a hidden gem situated just off of the bayou. Until the 1970s, a pond sat at the same location, but it drained away when a natural dam collapsed. The pond was eventually restored to its former glory, and now sits near a visitor's center with public restrooms. A private event space called The Dunlavy overlooks the lake, and The Kitchen at The Dunlavy offers breakfast and lunch service from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily.

Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark

The recently renovated Lee & Joe Jamail Skatepark is a 30,000-square-foot venue open to skaters of all levels. Helmets are required in the park, which sits just off of Sabine Street near downtown. Admission is free, but only skateboards and in-like skates are permitted in the park.