Doreen's Picks

Doreen Stoller, president of Hermann Park Conservancy for sixteen years, loves spending time in Hermann Park. Some of her favorite things to do include taking in the view of McGovern Lake from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Bridge, relaxing on the Moonscape Bench and watching birds congregate on the islands in McGovern Lake, standing in the arch of the Sam Houston Monument and gazing across the Jones Reflection Pool, then stopping in Molly Ann Smith Plaza to wave to children on the Hermann Park Train as it winds its way through the Park. She also enjoys watching colorful Koi dart in the stream in the Japanese Garden and taking the pedestrian underpass to the Bill Coats Bridge to watch birds fishing in Brays Bayou. Check out Doreen’s favorite spots for yourself with this guide!

STOP 1.

TIFFANY & CO. FOUNDATION BRIDGE

The attractive Tiffany & Co. Foundation Bridge spans the corner of McGovern Lake near the pedal boat lagoon and connects the Lake Plaza and Lake Picnic areas. A $1 million grant from Tiffany & Co. Foundation in 2008 made this scenic bridge possible. The bridge was designed by Overland Partners with White Oak Studio. 

STOP 2.

BIRD ISLANDS

McGovern Lake is home to several islands that provide a protected habitat for plants and wildlife. The islands are important to the area’s waterfowl, and provide a landing spot for a stopover for migratory birds. The islands are not accessible to pedestrians. 

 

STOP 3.

MOONSCAPE BENCH

This unique bench is the work of Jesus Bautista Moroles, known for his abstract, granite sculptures. The carved stone bench was situated in Hermann Park in 1999 and offers a pleasing view of McGovern Lake. 

STOP 4.

JAPANESE GARDEN

With its waterfalls, bridges, and stone paths that wander among crepe myrtles, azaleas, Japanese maples, dogwoods, and cherry trees, the Japanese Garden is a peaceful hideaway in Hermann Park. The garden was designed by world-renowned landscape architect, Ken Nakajima. Natural materials are used, such as rock, wood, and plants, to give a feeling of serenity. The Japanese Garden features a teahouse and winding paths to explore the lush gardens.

On October 19, 2012, 20 cherry trees were planted in the garden to commemorate the original gift of cherry trees to the United States by Japan in 1912.

The Japanese Garden is open daily for your enjoyment and there is no admission charged.

Japanese Garden Hours:
March 1 - October 31: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m
November 1 - February 28: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The entrance to the Japanese Garden is near the Pioneer Memorial obelisk just off Molly Ann Smith Plaza near the Heart of the Park. The closest parking lot is Lot A located just off Sam Houston Monument circle. To get to the Japanese Garden from Lot A, follow the decomposed granite path along the Jones Reflection Pool under the double allée of trees and you'll see the entrance just off the plaza with the obelisk. View our interactive map for more information.

For more information on the history of the Japanese Garden, click here to visit the Houston Parks and Recreation Department's page. 

For information on plants in the Japanese Garden, click here.

Click here to donate to the Japanese Garden.

The Japanese Garden is not available for rentals.

STOP 5.

LAKE OVERLOOK AND MOLLY ANN SMITH PLAZA

Located on the north shore of McGovern Lake, picturesque Lake Overlook and Molly Ann Smith Plaza offer picnic areas on a raised lawn, shaded seating, and playful interactive fountains for children to enjoy. The Pioneer Memorial obelisk honors the early pioneers who founded Houston.

STOP 6.

MARY GIBBS AND JESSE H. JONES REFLECTION POOL

One of the most popular features in Hermann Park, the Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Reflection Pool measures 740 feet long and 80 feet wide. Sculpted stone edges create an attractive border for the pool and a black bottom offers maximum reflection. Both sides are lined with beautiful mature live oak trees.

STOP 7.

HERMANN PARK RAILROAD

The Hermann Park Railroad has been a favorite with children for over 50 years. The train winds its way around the Park on a scenic tour, delighting riders of all ages. Riders can board at Kinder Station, the main stop for the train, or at one of three substations. The train drops off and picks up riders at the M.D. Anderson Train Station, whose destinations include the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Two other stops accommodate METRORail riders and walkers from the Texas Medical Center and Rice University areas. Train tickets ($3.50 per person) are sold at the Conservancy Gift Shop at Kinder Station in Lake Plaza. For hours and information about riding the Hermann Park Railroad, click here.

STOP 8.

SAM HOUSTON MONUMENT

General Sam Houston, sitting atop his horse, Saracen, has watched over the entrance to Hermann Park at Montrose and Main streets since 1925. The bronze sculpture was created by Enrico Filiberto Cerrachio (1880-1956) and was funded by the Women’s City Club. Frank Teich (1856-1939) sculpted the massive granite arch that supports Sam Houston and his horse. The iconic statue was lovingly restored by the Houston Municipal Art Commission in 1996. 

STOP 9.

MCGOVERN CENTENNIAL GARDENS

Lifted Up Aerial Photography

1500 Hermann Drive, Houston, TX  77004

In celebration of Hermann Park’s 100th birthday in 2014, the 15-acre site where the Houston Garden Center previously stood was transformed into the new McGovern Centennial Gardens. The Gardens delight visitors with traditional features like a rose garden, and new areas to explore such as an interactive family garden, an arid garden, a 30-foot garden mount, and a sculpture promenade featuring public art donated by countries around the world. 

The McGovern Centennial Gardens hours change seasonally and are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The Gardens are free and open to the public. 

Summer: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. (May 26 to Sept. 3, 2018)
Fall: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. (Sept. 4 to Nov. 3, 2018)
Winter: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Nov. 4, 2018 to March 8, 2019)
Spring: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (March 9 to May 25, 2019)


The Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion and the Celebration Garden can be rented for special events. For rental information, click here.

Garden Etiquette:

For Your Enjoyment and Safety, and to Preserve and Protect This Garden

  • Leash your dogs (6') max and clean up their waste. 
  • Do not pick flowers or plants, and please stay out of planting beds. 
  • Walk your bicycle. 
  • Scooters/Skateboards/Skates are prohibited. 
  • No active or team sports, and no exercise groups. 
  • No open flames or barbecues. 
  • Keep out of the cascade, pools, and fountains. 
  • Groups require an advance reservation.
  • Weddings in the garden require a reservation

Click here to make a donation to McGovern Centennial Gardens. 

STOP 10.

PEDESTRIAN UNDERPASS

A pedestrian underpass provides safe passage below North and South MacGregor Ways and connects walkers, joggers, and cyclists to the Bayou Parkland area of Hermann Park. The underpass also provides access to the Bill Coats Bridge crossing Brays Bayou and and leads to a 35-mile trail system. 

STOP 11.

BILL COATS BRIDGE

Spanning 290 feet, this contemporary suspension bridge connects the banks of Brays Bayou in the Bayou Parkland area of Hermann Park. Named for a Conservancy founder, the bridge is an important link that connects the Park to nearby neighborhoods and to a 35-mile trail system. Cyclists and pedestrians enjoy the convenience and safety it offers.