By John Egan

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center has collared some high praise from pups.

The nonprofit Houston Arboretum & Nature Center appears at No. 11 on Milk-Bone's new list of America's top 50 dog-friendly destinations for road trips. But it also ranks as a favorite for plenty of people, including meeting planners.

By cross-referencing online reviews with data about dog-friendly restaurants and hotels, Milk-Bone compiled its list of dog-approved parks and landmarks. Each place was assigned a "Milk-Bone Biscuit Score," with the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center biting off 40 out of 50 possible points.

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is among a proud pack of Milk-Bone honorees, including San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, Seattle's Pike Place Market and New York's Central Park.

This isn't the first doggy distinction for the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. It's also been recognized as one of the best dog-walking areas in Houston.

Located on the western edge of Memorial Park - 4 miles from downtown Houston - the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center "offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and the opportunity to experience the natural world," according to its website. Admission is free. The center is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.

The urban oasis strives "to provide education about the natural environment to people of all ages," according to its website, "and to protect and enhance the Arboretum as a haven and as a sanctuary for native plants and animals."

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, which attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year, was one of the first nature education facilities built for children in Texas. It features 5 miles of trails that wind through forest, pond, wetlands and meadow habitats, along with a nature center, a wildlife garden and a "sensory" garden. The American Hiking Society says the center's 2-mile Outer Loop Trail "offers a glimpse of Houston before the days of concrete and skyscrapers."

Aside from being a place that garners two paws up from dogs and two thumbs up from schoolchildren and hikers, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is an ideal spot for business meetings and other gatherings. Rental hours are 8 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. Highlights include:

  • Five outdoor spaces with three adjoining meeting rooms.
  • Two tables and 30 chairs per meeting room.
  • A projection screen in each meeting room.
  • A kitchen.
  • Sweeping views of the outdoors from each room.
  • Rental of equipment such as projectors, microphones and podiums.

Whether you're a meeting planner or a dog lover, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is, as one blogger says, "a gift to the city of Houston."

Learn more about planning your next meeting or event in Houston at