Llama greetings from Lonesome Dove Drive-Thru Safari in Jefferson.

And what do our most-read travel and outdoor posts of 2020 tell us about a year we'd otherwise be happy not reviewing at all? Well, that we were seeking socially distanced activities, for starters, and lots of information about our local greenspaces and trails—you may recall all the public health-related park restrictions and closures through late summer. Some of us plotted out road trips (even if we didn't take them) or feigned normalcy with our annual trek to the swimming hole (if they weren't temporarily closed or booked up, that is).

But mainly, our top posts seem to prove that this was no year for travel. Zero stars, 2020, zero stars.  It was all about getting outdoors, though, so good job, Houston. You're looking ripped.

Here now, your most-read travel and outdoor posts of 2020. May (mid to late?) 2021 be ever in your favor to roam, wanderlusters.

1. These Are the Best Drive-Thru Safaris in Texas 

By Catherine Wendlandt

"Remember going to the zoo as a kid, wandering past exotic creatures that you’d only ever seen in movies like The Lion King? All the magic and joy in the air, as you stand just outside enclosures of zebras, monkeys, and wildebeest, peering inside, ice cream cone in hand?" Digital editor Catherine Wendlandt wrote back in 2018 (when she was still but an intern, ahoy!).  

Turns out folks really wanted to remember those nostalgic days, or were seeking out a day trip with built-in social distancing, or maybe they simply discovered that drive-thru safaris exist while googling "drive-thru testing." Whatever the case, y'all wanted some zebra-in-rear-window action this year, and you definitely got it.

2. Here’s What’s Re-Opening at Houston Parks

By Gwendolyn Knapp

Hard to imagine it now, but even as late as summer, our city parks were heavily restricted and some even closed over holiday weekends to prevent crowding and the spread of Covid-19. Spoiler alert: Clicking may cause mild PTSD for very active Houstonians. 

3. Houstonians Will Be Able to Bike and Walk 150 Miles of New Trails in 2020

By Gwendolyn Knapp

Turns out we needed all these new Bayou Greenway trails to spread out on during the pandemic. Who knew?

4. 20 Texas Swimming Holes to Cool You Off This Summer

By Houstonia Staff 

When the summer heat sets in, we get a hankering to explore the back roads of the Lone Star State, searching for sweet, sweet relief from the relentless Texas sun.   

But we also had to deal with temporary closures and no-reservations when it came to our favorite swimming holes this summer.

5.  Las Vegas to Arizona: It May Just Be the Best American Road Trip

By Bill Wiatrak 

In this throwback from 2018, we have to believe our travel correspondent's week-long itinerary to drive "a giant loop through the top of Arizona, drive to the bottom of the state, then head back to the middle, see the Grand Canyon and spend our last night in Las Vegas" acted as a guide for some of Houston's pandemic road trippers in 2020. But it's a great one for any year. "It’s the ultimate road trip. If you’re looking for an alternative to Orlando or a cruise, you won’t find a better itinerary."

6. Our 5 Favorite Parks in Houston

By Katharine Shillcutt 

Also an oldie, published in 2018, this list still holds up for park goers looking for greenspace and shady spots to walk.

7. 12 Activities to Do Outside While Still Social Distancing

By Houstonia Staff

Ah, yes, back when we were new to pandemic-land, we put our efforts into bettering ourselves outdoors (alone, sadly). But feel free to also spread these out over the 12 days of Christmas.

8. We Run This Town: Our Favorite Houston Trails

By Gwendolyn Knapp 

We logged miles all over Houston to research this list, and we still stand by it today. These are some of the greatest running trails in town, with room to social distance on many. 

9. It’s the Summer of Drive-Ins

By Gwendolyn Knapp

"Perched on a prairie out in Hockley, The Showboat Drive-In is a summer dream, where the sun sets a vibrant pink, the frogs forever croak, and the looming tree line, just beyond a cluster of rusted-out truck and bus carcasses, seems like the perfect setting for an invasion of the walking dead."

Indeed, it was the summer of the drive-in. Hopefully you got in a show, but if you didn't, the Showboat should really be on every Houstonian's bucket list.

10. Tune into the Houston Zoo for a Virtual Field Trip

By Emma Schkloven
"When it feels like the world's tilted off its axis, we turn to certain creature comforts. And nothing brings joy quite like adorable animals."

Virtual field trips and videos of cute critters made hard times a little easier to digest for families this year.

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