The Woodlands (don’t forget the “The”) is a master-planned community in the Greater Houston area, 30 miles from downtown Houston. As it is a specially planned area right from its inception, the local government and developers ensure that The Woodlands will have something for everyone.
It’s no wonder that The Woodlands has been consistent in its reputation as one of the best places to live in the US. In 2021, The Woodlands was ranked the top city to live in the country by Niche, an online platform that guides college students and families in their moving decisions.
From high-end shopping to outdoor adventures to eating out at fine restaurants, The Woodlands has a lot of different attractions on its plate. Despite its reputation as a booming Houston suburb, it retains its idyllic atmosphere and small-country charm. Sounds almost like a real-life utopia, doesn’t it?
Check out some of the fun things to do that The Woodlands has to offer:
Paddle your way on The Woodlands Waterway and Lake Woodland
The Woodlands Waterway is one of the focal points of The Woodlands. You’ll see kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders, rowing teams, or people who choose to go on a swan boat ride along this scenic canal, although in a more leisurely manner than the others. You’ll also see waterfowl that gather in the area, such as herons, egrets, and cormorants.
Being from the vantage point of the water is like nothing else, whether you’re checking out restaurants, cafés, or beautiful parks as you paddle along or admiring the tall office buildings or luxurious apartments that line the banks.
Unless you own one, you can rent a standard kayak or a pedal kayak (single or tandem) at the Riva Row Boathouse (located on the waterway shores), and paddle on The Woodlands Waterway and Lake Woodlands.
The Woodlands is known as an oasis on the water surrounded by, well, woods, Lake Woodlands is another premier spot to do leisurely kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. The 200-acre manmade freshwater lake offers lots of outdoor recreation, dining, and entertainment Restaurants, parks (such as Northshore Park), hotels, and a boat and kayak rental shop are conveniently located nearby. Free outdoor concerts, such as the annual Rock the Row series, are also held by the lake.
Get some retail therapy at The Woodlands Mall
The Woodlands Mall is a two-story high-end department store with big-name anchor stores like Dilliard’s and Macy’s alongside small independent shops. With over 160 stores and restaurants under one roof, you could spend your entire day there shopping and dining. It might be better if you invite a friend to tag along with you in your shopping spree!
Shop ‘til you drop at Market Street
If your main idea of fun is “shop ’til you drop” (providing that you have lots of moolah or a sizable credit limit at your disposal), stroll towards Market Street. Explore some of your favorite luxury retail brands like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and Sur La Table. After rounds of shopping, grab a bite or have a cup of cappuccino at familiar chains like Chipotle and Starbucks or new local favorites. Market Street is more than a place to shop and dine. It also has a movie house and over 40 lifestyle centers, including laundry services, banking, a cosmetics store, a music school, dental services, and massage and spa services.
Be one with nature with George Mitchell Nature Preserve
Want to commune with nature? Well, this town is not called “The Woodlands” for nothing! Despite being a developed community, The Woodlands leaves a sizable portion of the area to remain green, lush, and undeveloped, leaving over a forested area called the George Mitchell Nature Preserve. This nearly 1,700-acre park is located on the southern side of The Woodlands. It is a protected area that provides home and refuge to local wildlife, making it a great place if you want to be surrounded by nature and do some birdwatching or spot wild animals.
Take your kids to The Woodlands Children Museum
The Woodlands is a family-friendly community. It’s time to take the kids out for some educational fun! The Woodlands Children Museum, which opened in 2005, provides a venue for the children to tap their curiosity and creativity. The museum’s interactive exhibits and imaginative playscapes allow the kids to experience learning and acquiring new skills at their own pace. At The Woodlands Children Museum, they are free to learn and play in a safe and fun environment.
Enjoy a scenic (and free) ride on The Woodlands Waterway Trolley
If you’re short of money but still want to have some fun at The Woodlands without blowing your budget, get aboard The Woodlands Waterway Trolley and enjoy a scenic ride.
The Woodlands Waterway Trolley is a free transit system that allows you to explore the best of the downtown. Enjoy fantastic views of the area and get off stops along the way to dine at some of the area’s finest restaurants or have a picnic or BBQ at several parks there.
Stop by at Northshore Park
While there are many great parks in The Woodlands, Northshore Park seems an excellent first choice. And it’s easy to see why. It’s not just an ordinary park! It’s a public space that offers all the facilities imaginable. They include boat and kayak access to Lake Woodlands, picnic tables, BBQ pits, belt and bucket swings, fishing, drinking fountains, play equipment for the younger and older children, outdoor fitness equipment, and volleyball courts. It also has parking spaces and restrooms. You can spend your entire day there and enjoy these amenities, most of which are free.
Get yourself physically active at The Woodlands Bike and Hike Trails
For those who crave some outdoor action or just want to stretch their stiffened muscles, The Woodlands Bike and Hike Trails offers more than 160 miles of trails scattering throughout the town. These trails are connected to each other but are separate from the town’s busy roads, making them a safe and ideal place for urban hiking, jogging, and biking without getting distracted by the typical urban noise. As you’re exploring the trails, you will pass many of the town’s top spots, such as Market Street, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, and Lake Woodlands.