The Nature Playscape at Houston Arboretum

Thursday, March 24, 2022
The Nature Playscape at Houston Arboretum


Riddled with sandboxes and logs, rope bridges and tunnels, bamboo poles and tree stumps, the Nature Playscape at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is a nature-based play space for creative and endless play. A hidden forest in the heart of one of the busiest areas in Houston is where young naturalists can develop a deeper connection to the great outdoors.

This new playground is not your average play space with traditional metal and plastic play structures. The Playscape was designed to blend into its environment and foster appreciation for the natural world among all ages. 


Playscape at Houston Arboretum


At every turn of a winding trail, kids will learn how to be a little more self-confident and independent. Every section of the space is another stage of a young adventurer's journey, offering room for exploration and discovery. 

Playscape at Houston Arboretum


Many stations invite kids to make up their own games. A rope bridge, a variety of sandboxes, tree stumps, a bamboo climber, a giant spider web, a water-pumping station, and many others are the wonders of the Playscape.

Grass Climb

Everyone needs to escape to the wild now and then. Even if it's inside the city limits.  That's what we did on a glorious day in early spring. After a 40-minute drive to get to the Houston Arboretum, kids were more than happy to monkey around climbing up these bamboo-like poles. 


Grass Climb at Houston Arboretum
They seemed easier to climb than they actually were. With footholds spaced quite far apart and a completely smooth surface, it takes some effort to go all the way up to the top.  But when my kindergartner made it to the topmost foothold, she did feel like a super-achiever. A cool play to build one's self-confidence. 


Climbing Hill

This little climbing hill is best for toddlers who are just learning how to climb. Each side has a unique surface and requires a different technique to get to the top.  For maximum fun, there are three terrains: artificial grass, smooth logs, and hand and foot holds.

Grass Climb at Houston Arboretum 
Children can gradually build confidence on one side and then move to a more challenging one. In between the sides, there's a smooth surface my toddler used for sliding.

Hill Climb at Houston Arboretum



Lumber Yard

Combine the powdery sand to dig in and giant logs to climb on and you have it - a nature play staple. 

Lumber Yard at Houston Arboretum

Spider Web

This one is challenging and most popular with kids ages four and up. Working one's way through requires some solid hand and footwork skills that younger kids may still be developing. But since the web is stretched relatively close to the ground, it's fun to try to crawl it for younger children too.

Spider Web at Houston Arboretum



Stump Scramble  

Loved by all, this structure supports gross motor talents and unstructured play for hours on end.  Crawl up tree stumps, play hide-and-seek in a tunnel, use the platform for an open-ended play, or look for lizards that have made their home in between the stumps.


Playscape at Houston Arboretum
These are just a few ideas on how kids engage with the structure. My toddler enjoyed using the platform as a vantage point to launch his small monster truck down tree stumps.




Balancing Bridge

Stepping onto this balancing bridge is like embarking on an adventure. The wooden planks and support ropes seem to be spaced slightly further apart than you would normally see with some other suspension bridges for children, so it takes time and balancing skills to cross it.

Balancing Bridge at Houston Arboretum



Water Pump Station

If you need an excuse to step out into the summer heat in Houston and explore the Playscape, you have it. It's this ultimate sensory play with a manual water pump mounted on the top of a stump and connected to descending jumbo tree gutters. I have yet to meet a child who doesn't love to make a splash. Dress for a mess.


Playscape at Houston Arboretum
While kids are pumping some water, they also learn and do so much more, from strengthening those muscles to improving problem-solving skills.


All the structures burst with open-ended play ideas and will require all child's senses to explore. Climb, crawl, jump, touch, smell, or run. Nature is always a source of inspiration and adventure and this place is no exception to that rule. 


Playscape at Houston Arboretum


Houston Arboretum


Houston Arboretum



The Playscape experience teaches a child more than any traditional playground could ever will.


Other Activities at The Houston Arboretum

  • Discovery Room
  • Children Programs
  • Trails


Where: 4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024
Admission: Trails and playground are free.
Parking is free on Thursdays and $5 per vehicle all other days. 


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