10 best things to do in the woods
George Mitchell, who made his fortune in oil and is considered the father of hydraulic fracturing, had the foresight to purchase woodland from the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Company in the 1970s. The 2,800 acres of land purchased by Mitchell became one of the first planned communities in the United States. It has since expanded to 28,000 acres, but the plan remains the same: to provide pedestrianized neighborhoods with plenty of green space, reduce travel by having businesses in The Woodlands, and keep the forests as pristine as possible.
The Woodlands is 30 miles north of downtown Houston, but feels like another world. Once you exit Interstate 45 North and enter the township, public art and unspoiled mixed forests of pines, oaks and flowering trees greet you and invite you to slow down, spend time in nature. and enjoy all that the region has to offer. Niche.com named The Woodlands the best city to live in America in 2021 out of 228 applicants and number 7 out of 228 best places to live for retirees. I moved here before the report was released and I totally agree.
Whether you’re looking to settle into a warmer climate, relocate to a retiree-friendly community with a population of around 114,000, or just a weekend getaway, head to The Woodlands. Here are 10 things to do on a visit or for life:
1. Enjoy the water
Lake Woodlands and The Woodlands Waterway are the focal points of The Woodlands. You’ll see kayakers, rowing teams, paddleboarders, and people who choose to paddle a swan boat along the waterway, albeit more leisurely than others.
A vantage point of the water is like no other – whether you’re gliding along the waterway discovering restaurants, parks, and public art, or cruising around the lake admiring the mansions that line its shores.
In addition to the man-made things you will see, waterfowl is abundant in the area, including cormorants, herons, and egrets.
2. Explore a green space
The Woodlands have 140 parks and over 220 miles of walking and biking trails. You can go pretty much anywhere using any of these trails. They are paved and wide enough for cyclists to pass walkers and their dogs.
Parks range from a large green space with play equipment tucked away in a neighborhood to a large outdoor space with picnic tables, pickleball or tennis courts, wading pools, swimming pools and lakes.
For an urban stroll, take a stroll along the Woodlands Waterway that begins at Woodlands Lake. The fully paved driveway passes public art, fountains, restaurants and bars with terraces and plenty of benches to admire the view. The waterway continues to Woodlands Mall at the eastern edge of the township.
3. Attend a concert
the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Hall, named after the wife of Peter Mitchell, hosts renowned artists in the award-winning amphitheater from April through October. And all genres are represented here, from country to classical, with many musicians that baby boomers will recognize.
The pavilion is also a venue for the Houston orchestra, ballet, and opera house. Ticket prices adapt to all budgets. The open seats on the lawn bordering the amphitheater are the most reasonable.
Speaking of reasonable, a number of concerts in The Woodlands are free. The outdoor venues of Woodlands Waterway, Northshore Park, Market Street and Hughes Landing, as well as restaurants and bars, feature local and regional artists. Visit the woods calendar for upcoming events.
4. Admire the art
Public art is scattered through the woods, starting at each main entrance to the township. A giant abstract sculpture greets visitors to Woodlands Parkway while a peaceful ‘dreamer’ sleeping in the grass sits just a few miles deeper in the woods along Woodlands Parkway and to me symbolizes the ‘Hometown America’ feeling. .
Every neighborhood has its share of art, but along The Waterway, you’ll be treated to plenty. Mosaics of flora and fauna cover the abutments of bridges and artistic benches invite you to sit and enjoy the view. The tree trunks enveloped in lights add a festive touch to the region.
Pro tip: For a full list of public art, visit the website.
the Glade Gallery, a non-profit museum, showcases contemporary art by American and European artists in an airy contemporary space. The space is a perfect backdrop for permanent works of art by David Adickes and temporary exhibitions of paintings, sculpture and glass.
Pro tip: The Glade Gallery hosts jazz concerts and weekly wine tastings at the Mercury Bar.
5. Plan your trip around a festival
The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival takes place every April, when the weather is perfect for strolling from Town Green Park along the waterway to browse the stalls of nearly 200 renowned artists who work in watercolor and oil. , ceramics, glass, metal and mixed media. .
While the Arts Festival is the best known, expect to see events throughout the year, fireworks on July 4th and “Festival” food truck in September at indoor ice skate at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion from mid-November to mid-January.
Pro tip: For more information on the art festival, see The Woodlands Arts Council Web page.
the Woodlands Shopping Center is an upscale, gated, air-conditioned mall with hundreds of stores, from flagship department stores to small independent stores. You could spend a whole day shopping and dining here.
For shopping “in the city center”, go to Market Street where you will find Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Sur La Table. A short walk away you will see Orvis and Eddie Bauer. If you’re tired of shopping, you can watch a movie, people-watch in Central Park, or have a massage at The Woodhouse Day Spa.
7. Communicate with nature
It is only fitting that part of the township of The Woodlands has been set aside to remain underdeveloped. It is also fitting that a nature reserve bears the name of George Mitchell. A strip of woodland follows Spring Creek as it winds along the southern border of The Woodlands.
One of the access points to the George Mitchell Nature Reserve is on Flintridge Road. From there, an easy 3 km hiking loop offers options for shorter walks. Signs warn of snakes and alligators, although I didn’t see any when I was there either.
This part of the reserve has a 3 mile bike path that has more ups and downs than the hiking trail, as well as some sharp turns and very narrow parts. I don’t have a mountain bike, but it would be better than a road bike for this route.
The 14 miles Spring Creek Nature Trail crosses the George Mitchell Nature Reserve and joins the trail off Flintridge Road. This trail follows Spring Creek, from the Piney Woods ecosystem to marshes and wetlands. Not many people use this trail beyond the first few miles at the trailhead in the Creekside neighborhood.
All trails are suitable for dogs, provided they are kept on a leash.
Pro tip: To download bike path maps here for nature reserves. The site also features trails in The Woodlands and a public art loop.
8. Go bird watching
Spring Creek Nature Trail is popular for bird watching. Be on the lookout for owls and eagles. In the canton, blue herons, egrets, cardinals, Egyptian geese and Muscovy ducks are commonly spotted.
You will see turtles in or near almost all lakes and ponds. And every now and then you will see a nutria by the water’s edge. The Woodlands are home to coyotes, foxes, deer, and wild boars, though they are elusive.
Pro tip: If you are an angler, you can fish for catfish and bass in the lakes and ponds of The Woodlands.
9. If you have an appetite
Market Street has its share of restaurants including Schilleci’s New Orleans Cuisine which has won several times the title of “Best restaurant in the woods”.
the Republic Grid at Panther Creek Village in the Woodlands regularly serves delicious salads and fresh entrees and is a great lunch option.
To eat by the water, see by Truluck on Restaurant Row at Hughes Landing. They specialize in seafood, but also offer steaks and vegetarian options. You will have a view of the sunset and Lake Woodlands from this restaurant. Please note that Truluck’s has a dress code: no flip-flops, sports or beachwear, no shorts or tank tops.
For Japanese cuisine, head to The blue fish also at Hughes Landing.
Pro tip: View the Woodlands Restaurant Guide here. You can narrow down your choices by cuisine, alfresco dining, full bar, etc.
10. Spend the night
If you are planning to make a weekend of your visit to The Woodlands, there are a number of hotels in the township including The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. It’s a short walk from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion for concert goers.
If you are looking for a relaxing hotel and ‘pamper me’, The Woodlands Resort and Spa has what you are looking for. In addition to a spa with a full menu of services, you can relax by the pool or float in the Lazy River, use the resort’s wooded trails or play golf on one of two courses – The Oaks and Panther Trail.
Pro tip: Visit the township website for a complete accommodation guide.