Another great green space in Houston is just outside of the Renzo Piano-designed Menil Collection museum. These gardens are free and open to the public (as is the museum), and are well used by locals and tourists alike. The shade trees and outdoor sculptures make for a great afternoon picnic or study session.
Head a few hours west to Austin, and you'll find the Texas State Cemetery. As I travel around, I often find myself in a cemetery, as it's a great place to discover local history and remove myself from the touristy din. The peaceful gardens and ponds make it a great place for reflection and solitude. Lots of local heroes have been laid to rest here, including everyone from Stephen F. Austin to Tom Landry.
While manicured gardens are a sight to behold, sometimes there's nothing like the real thing. At the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin, there's all kinds of natural beauty for a more outdoorsy experience. I was barely out on the trail before I saw rock climbers, sunbathers, swimmers and hikers. This lush landscape is well-used, and packed full of lots of outdoor Texas-sized fun. (Images: Smith Schwartz)