Fans of Houston's park system have something to celebrate this week: news that, despite budget shortfalls, Mayor Sylvester Turner promised at this week's 100th anniversary party for the Houston Parks & Recreation Department that funding would remain in place for the city's green spaces in the foreseeable future—a fact enhanced by an additional promise from Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Gene Locke that he'd help find even more funding for even more parks.
With that in mind, we suggest a celebratory picnic while the weather is cooperative at one of our favorite bayou green spaces: T.C. Jester Park, which runs parallel to White Oak Bayou between 34th and 43rd in Oak Forest.
Start with picking up your provisions down the street at Antone's Famous Po-Boys, the Houston institution that began as an imported food store and deli in the 1960s and now offers items such as Tex-Mex cheesesteaks and barbecue pulled pork po-boys (the latter of which is a limited-run special during Rodeo season, and comes on sourdough bread with pickled red onions and a tangy sauce).
Take your haul of po-boys, potato salad and pickles to the parking lot at T.C. Jester Park—don't be the jerk who tries to park on T.C. Jester Blvd. itself—and pick a perfect picnicking spot; we suggest the broad grassy area just beyond the dog park and disc golf course. This time of year, the lush grass is punctuated by the vivid purples and cheerful reds of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes, making it an ideal selfie spot as well.
Afterwards, you'll find a nearly endless variety of ways to burn off those delicious calories: running with your pups in the shaded dog park; whizzing a Frisbee down the 9-hole 21-hole disc golf course (edit: an eagle-eyed reader pointed out that T.C. Jester updated the course recently); walking the miles of soft gravel trails that run alongside White Oak Bayou; hitting a few pitches on the baseball field; doing sit-ups and pull-ups on the stationary exercise equipment that's adjacent to a large playground; riding bikes along the smooth asphalt trails; in the summer, you can even swim laps in the T.C. Jester community pool.
But let's not talk of summer yet. For now, revel in Houston's short spring and get out there while you still can.