Buffalo Bayou, the 52-mile slow-moving waterway that was the site of Houston's founding in 1836, has become a destination for outdoor recreation near downtown Houston. It remains in its natural state and contains an incredibly diverse urban ecosystem supporting dozens of native species of flora and fauna.
The transformation of the 160-acre, 2.3-mile stretch of Buffalo Bayou from Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street completed in 2015. The $58 million project was a public-private partnership led by Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the City of Houston's Houston Parks and Recreation Department, the Harris County Flood Control District and others. Construction began in summer 2012 to restore the area to a more natural and self-sustaining state, reintroduce native landscapes and add amenities to enhance safety and convenience for visitors. Improvements include:
- A restoration of natural landscapes, including trees and native grasses
- Upgraded or new trails for walkers and hikers to enjoy nature including places for canoes and kayaks to launch
- Two pedestrian bridges
- An extension of the distinctive blue lunar cycle lighting
- New destination features such as The Water Works adjacent to the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, Lost Lake near Dunlavy and Allen Parkway, a dog park near Studemont and Allen Parkway and modifications to a portion of Eleanor Tinsley Park
- Additional benches, picnic spots and drinking fountains
Now underway in 2016 by Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston First Corp. is the restoration of the Sunset Coffee Building on Allen's Landing, the site where Houston was founded, into a canoe/kayak and bicycle rental center as well as an event rental space and coffee shop.
Buffalo Bayou Cistern:
Built in 1926, an underground cistern was used for decades to hold a large portion of Houston’s public drinking water. After it sprang an irreparable leak, the 85,000 square-foot public reservoir was drained and sat unused and practically forgotten about. The hypnotic beauty of the chamber is reminiscent of Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern but with thin rays of light from open hatches above that illuminate the wide expanse. Admission is $2 but includes an optional reservation-only 30 minute historical tour by a Buffalo Bayou Park guide.
Canoe and Kayak Trails:
See downtown from a new perspective. Buffalo Bayou is perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Whether your destination is Sesquicentennial Park or Allen’s Landing, the bayou wharfs make take out very easy. Click here for more on canoeing and kayaking and other activities along the bayou.
Hike and Bike Trails:
From Sabine to Bagby Street, 2 miles of trails now connect the Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive trails to Sesquicentennial Park and the Theater District in downtown
Click here for information on Buffalo Bayou boat tours.
Many parks line the banks of Buffalo Bayou.
- Allen's Landing
- Buffalo Bayou ArtPark
- Buffalo Bayou Park
- Guadalupe Park
- Hidalgo Park
- Memorial Park
- Sam Houston Park
- Sesquicentennial Park
- Spotts Park
- Tony Marron Park
The Buffalo Bayou Partnership is a non-profit organization that oversees Buffalo Bayou improvements from Shepherd Drive east to the Turning Basin. The Partnership coordinates the integration of major amenities and restoration projects into the Bayou greenbelt and seeks ways to increase community involvement through pedestrian, boating, and biking amenities; educational, volunteer, and recreational activities and tours; permanent and temporary art installations; and other natural and built attractions.
- Winner of 2017-2018 Global Awards for Excellence by Urban Land Institute