6001 Fannin Street (bounded by Macgregor & Hermann Drive)
I was on the way to Houston’s museum district this weekend when I drove past Hermann Park. How long had it been since I was there? Well, that’s too long!
In a city as sprawling as Houston, it’s hard to believe open space is at a premium -- until you’ve driven the miles of concrete, desperate for room to get out of your car or office or house and really stretch. And at 445-acres, the park, across Fannin Street from Rice University, has plenty of room to stretch -- room for strolling, for kids to feed ducks, for young people probably the age I was the last time I was there to practice martial arts games.
And then there’s the train.
There’s been a miniature riding train in Hermann Park for fifty years, but it’s gotten an upgrade as a scale replica of the nineteenth-century C.P. Huntington 4-2-4T locomotive, and expanded its route to 1.8 miles (although riders may get on or off at several stops along the route). The 24-gauge train is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
It runs from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday through Sunday, according to the park's website, www.hermannpark.org/. Intermittent showers on the Saturday afternoon I visited didn’t discourage eager riders.
Buy tickets for the train at the park’s gift shop in Lake Plaza, adjacent to the Houston Zoo, at the MacGregor end of the park. Tickets are $3 for adults and children age one and older. See the site for additional information, including the “engineer for a day” program and private rentals.
If you prefer your transportation human powered, you can also buy tickets for the McGovern Lake pedal boats at Lake Plaza. The eight-acre lake includes three islands, and offers catch and release fishing for children age 12 and younger and for adults over 65.
For wilder entertainment, try the Houston Zoo adjacent to the park, with living animals as well as an animatronic dinosaur exhibit opening May 4 (see www.houstonzoo.org/). At the north end of the park, there’s the Houston Museum of Natural Science, www.hmns.org/.
Or just jog, stroll, dream. Frisbees optional.
(Note: Welcome back, Iranian readers! I’ve missed you. This was a good week for
Asian viewers -- also from China, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.)