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With the school year starting and the weather cooling down, it’s time for students to roam around Houston again with their friends. The city has so much to offer, and is home to plenty of underrated gems. Here’s a list of some of my favorite places that I think don’t get enough attention anymore:

Kemah Boardwalk
This is the perfect place for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. It’s on the outskirts of Houston, but it’s
worth the drive. The boardwalk has amusement rides, games, restaurants, shops and a view of the water. The all-day pass is $25 — great for college students on a budget. With the abundant amount of things to do here, the fun quite literally never stops!

Smither Park
Located just five minutes away from the University of Houston is this beauty. For all those who appreciate art and local artists, this is the spot to go, and it’s also the spot if you love taking aesthetic Instagram selfies. According to its website, over 300 individuals have contributed their art to this park. It showcases the creativity and diversity that Houston is home to. Smither Park is also a free attraction, which makes it that much better for us broke college students.

Hermann Park Japanese Garden
Another Instagrammable spot is the Japanese Garden located right off of Hermann Park. This is often an overlooked area, but it can be accessed through the heart of the park. I feel like this place is almost always missed by people visiting the park. I myself didn’t walk into this garden for the first time until 2020, and I’m Houston born and raised. It’s a hidden gem with flowers, waterfalls, bridges, a stone path

and traditional Japanese architecture. It’s free to the public and is dog friendly (but only to those on a leash).The best of both worlds!

Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
Located under the city of Houston, the cistern was originally a drinking water reservoir built in the early 1900s. In 2010, it was rediscovered during Buffalo Bayou’s park project. Now that it is repurposed, it’s an area for the public to see and appreciate the history of Houston through their history tours. The cistern also currently has an immersive artwork experience, “Time No Longer,” that will be open to the public until December 12, 2021. For those who might need a relaxing day, the cistern offers sound healing meditation that you can go to every Saturday at noon, and tickets are $15. To purchase tickets and find more information, you can visit Buffalo Bayou’s website. The cistern is a place that is often overlooked, as most people decide to stay above ground, but this place is worth checking out!

San Jacinto Monument
To follow the trend of looking into the city’s history, take a trip down to La Porte. Just about 20 minutes out of Houston is an important place that signifies the birthplace of our great state. This is often a place Houstonians don’t think to visit, but it’s not only a fun activity, it’s also a great learning experience. Those who visit can take a 500-foot elevator ride to the monument’s observation deck — here is a great view and the history lesson.
Whatever you decide to do with your return to campus, don’t forget to take time off of your studies to explore the city.

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